Toyota sold the Tercel in North America for close to 20 years, from the time the first Corolla Tercels appeared here for the 1980 model year (the Tercel wasn’t related to the Corolla, but Toyota wanted the benefit of name recognition) until the Echo showed up for 1999. The Tercel was quite affordable and boasted impressively solid build quality, but it was always an unexciting transportation appliance. Someone at Toyota decided that a sporty little coupe based on the Tercel would be a great idea, and so the Paseo was born. Here’s a rare second-generation Paseo, found recently in a Colorado wrecking yard.
In 1995, the Paseo got a bit more power than its Tercel sibling, with 100 horsepower from this DOHC 5E four-banger (the ’95 Tercel’s version of this engine made 92 horses). Since this car weighed just over a ton, it would have been somewhat peppy.
Some pep was siphoned away by the automatic in this car, though. The base transmission was a five-speed manual (the very cheapest Tercels still had four-on-the-floor manuals at this time).
The Paseo got a snazzy-looking spoiler to go with its slick roofline.
How much? MSRP on the 1995 Paseo with automatic was $14,228, or about $28,183 in 2022 dollars. If you were willing to drive a manual transmission, the five-speed ’95 Paseo listed at $13,428 ($26,598 now).
Meanwhile, Mazda would sell you a new MX-3 for $14,440 ($28,602 today), while the cheapest possible Honda Del Sol cost $14,780 ($29,276). Hyundai undercut everybody in the cute-little-coupe market that year, however, with a new Scoupe starting at just $9,995 ($19,798).
Just over 150,000 miles, which is disappointingly low for a Toyota of this era (especially considering that the highest odometer reading I’ve ever seen on a junkyard Toyota was in a Tercel).
In Australia, a new Paseo helped you acquire stray cats.
Noisy at high speeds? That’s a selling point!
In its homeland, where it caused random passersby to dance in the streets, this car was known as the Cynos. Yes, a convertible version was available, though only briefly in the United States.