The Toyota Previa Was A Wonderful Egg-Shaped Mutant Of A Minivan

It’s okay to love a supercharged, mid-engined, Japanese quirk-mobile.

byChris Teague|
Toyota News photo


Truthfully, the 1990s turned out some of the world's most abstract vehicles, from the Subaru SVX to the Isuzu Vehicross. That said, the '90s van scene is where it's really at. There was the Pontiac Trans Sport, the Ford Aerostar, and the best of them all: The Toyota Previa, a supercharged, mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive people carrier that's still being built today. We only got it in the United States during the last century, though, and nice examples are few and far between. 

Petrolicious recently put together a wonderful highlight on this 1991 Previa that just so happens to have 300,000 miles on its odometer—more than enough to drive to the moon, where this quirky minivan would look right at home.

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The Previa represents the funk and complete disregard for modesty that we’ve come to love from the decade that brought us Nirvana and Pulp Fiction. Its admittedly egg-like styling was decisively weird and, in reality, we can't find much reason to build a mid-engined van aside from having a heavy dose cool factor.

When it was new, the boosted 2.4-liter twin-cam made 158 horsepower, though with hundreds of thousands of miles, this Previa is probably sporting a little less than that. But who really cares? The powerplant is mounted under the floor between the front seats. Toyota even had to tilt the engine to make sure the floor was still flat. 

Since the engine is in such a weird spot, accessing it can be a challenge. There’s a floor panel that opens up to reveal a small part of the engine bay, but for real maintenance jobs, a cramped crawl under the van is required.

The owner notes that, despite its age and undeniable flaws, she loves the old egg. The rest of the world is slowly catching on as well. The Smoking Tire bought one from Craigslist and made All Cars Go to Heaven 2, and Doug DeMuro worked his quirky magic with one of the vans in a YouTube video a couple of years ago. There’s also the "Radwood Effect" where every reasonably weird '90s vehicle gets snapped up for absurd money, but as the owner notes, the van has some real high points as a driver. 

She claims that the Previa’s mid-engine, rear-drive setup makes it the perfect trainer for endurance racing, but for everyone else who's never actually driven one, it’s a futuristic reminder of the not-so-distant automotive past that just happens to be more fun than most other minivans.

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