Toyota Tercel Deluxe (L10): red copy from 1980

The Toyota Tercel is a subcompact car manufactured by Toyota from 1978 until 1999 across five generations, in five body configurations sized between the Corolla and the Starlet. Manufactured at the Takaoka plant in Toyota City, Japan, and sharing its platform with the Cynos (aka Paseo) and the Starlet, the Tercel was marketed variously as the Toyota Corolla II  — sold at Toyota Japanese dealerships called Toyota Corolla Stores — and was replaced by the Platz in 1999. It was also known as the Toyota Corsa and sold at Toyopet Store locations. Starting with the second generation, the Tercel dealership network was changed to Vista Store, as its badge engineered sibling, the Corolla II, was exclusive to Corolla Store locations.

The Tercel was the first front-wheel drive vehicle produced by Toyota, although it was the only front-wheel drive Toyota to have a longitudinally mounted engine. For example, the E80 series Corolla’s frame (except AE85 and AE86) is similar to the L20 series Tercel’s frame. Also, Toyota designed the then new A series engine for the Tercel, attempting simultaneously to achieve good fuel economy and performance and low emissions. Choice of body styles increased as well, with the addition of a four-door sedan.

First generation (L10; 1978)

The Tercel was introduced in Japan in August 1978, Europe in March 1979 (Geneva Motor Show) and the United States in 1980. It was originally sold as either a two- or four-door sedan, or as a three-door hatchback. The hatchback’s rear design was the result of using taillights similar in design to those used on the bigger Mark II: the Tercel was originally intended to be sold through Toyopet Stores, alongside the Mark II.

The Tercel ended up being marketed through the Corolla Store and the Diesel Store locations in Japan, while a version badged “Toyota Corsa” was marketed in parallel through the separate Toyopet distribution network. In the United States it was named the “Corolla Tercel”. Models sold in the US were powered by a 1,452 cc SOHC four-cylinder 1A-C engine producing 60 hp (45 kW) at 4,800 rpm. Transmission choices were either a four- or five-speed manual, or a three-speed automatic available with the 1.5-litre engine from August 1979 on.

In the Japanese market, the 1,500 cc engine developed 80 PS (59 kW) at 5,600 rpm, while the 1.3-litre 2A engine, added in June 1979, offered a claimed 74 PS (54 kW). In Europe, mainly, the 1.3-litre version was available, with 65 PS (48 kW).

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