These vans were actually Americanized versions of popular Japanese models. During the time period, the Japanese vehicles were threatening to take a substantial market share from the U.S. carmakers, according to
Sold in the U.S. from 1984 to 1989, this 1980s Toyota van had a very old-school look that probably brings back memories for some people. In fact, because of crash regulations at the time, the 1980s Toyota van had a massive, protruding chin bumper up front, just like other 1980s Japanese vans.
The Toyota van was first available as a passenger version in 1984, and a cargo model was added the next year.
, the 1986 model was a forward-control van that actually had its engine under a hump between the front seats.
Overall, about 170,000 of the 1980s Toyota vans sold in the U.S., according to Autotrader. So while it probably wasn’t the most popular vehicle, it also wasn’t a complete failure.
In 1991, it was replaced by the Previa, so you don’t really see the 1980s vans around anymore. As Jalopnik describes it, the Previa “stands today as one of the most interesting and innovative models Toyota has ever sold in the States.”
, that was still around. It was selling for $6,500 and had 174,000 miles on it, but the listing indicated that the van still ran great. A few of its parts had been updated and modernized.
That van was blue with a brown vinyl-upholstered interior and custom wood paneling in the back. Sound-deadening was also added to the back, which also featured a ribbed rubber floor. It was equipped with a 102-horsepower 2.2-liter inline engine.
It had recently received a rebuilt power steering pump and new air filter. In addition, instead of its factory wheels, the van featured aftermarket turbines. This particular van only had two front seats, which meant it was probably used to transport items around more than people.
Some other 1980s vans
The Toyota model wasn’t the only notable Japanese van from the time period. There was also the Mitsubishi van, which was produced from 1987 to 1990, according to Autotrader.
It was reportedly just a U.S. version of the L300 Delica but lacked the trim levels and powertrain options that make the Delica popular in the U.S. today. About 23,027 Mitsubishi vans were sold from 1987 to 1990. It was replaced in 1992 with the Expo, a compact minivan.
The Nissan van, which was produced from 1986 to 1989, is less common than the Mitsubishi van. It was an Americanized version of the Vanette, which was marketed globally.
What was interesting about the Nissan van was that the automaker had to make a larger engine so that it could handle American highway driving and include air conditioning. In some cases, the cramped quarters led to overheating and fires.
As a result, Nissan was forced to recall every van in 1994, so you probably can’t find many of them on the road today.
If you’re in the market for a classic car, you’ll want to make sure you have appropriate car insurance to go with it.
Lisa Steuer McArdle is an insurance writer with over 15 years of experience writing and editing content in a variety of industries, including insurance and personal finance. Lisa specializes in taking deep dives into make and model-specific content that helps car owners and buyers make solid money-saving choices. Lisa has written over 350 articles for Jerry on topics including electric vehicles to classic cars. Before joining Jerry, Lisa worked in various aspects of the printing industry as a content writer, developer, and editor and earned her bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Lycoming College.