THIS is my favourite car of all time.
Yes, this humble first-generation XR10/XR20 Toyota Estima minivan. Not some exotic supercar.
Also sold in other markets under different names; Previa in the US, Tarago in Australia, and Emina/Lucida...a more narrow bodied version only sold in Japan. The reason for the difference between the smaller Emina and Lucida models is the vehicle tax system in Japan, which is based on the product of length and width of the car, and the smaller variants fall into a lower tax band.
Aesthetically, it resembles an egg. Just look at that shape. Imagine back in 1990, when most cars were boxy and still had some 1980s look left over, when Toyota launched this futuristic egg shaped van. I can only wonder how the jaws dropped when the public first laid eyes on the ‘UFO’...!
My dad had two of these super reliable and spacious ‘space age’ vans. He has this first generation one, then later bought the final iteration of this shape, the XR20 that came supercharged. I always enjoyed the space inside! It was like no other MPV I had ever sat in. Because of the mid-engine layout, the clever designers were able to maximise the cabin layout to be more cab-forward and thus creating more legroom and trunk room for the occupants.
It was a shame he was forced to sell the Estima due to some financial problems. He’s always maintained that if not for that terrible period, he’d have almost kept the van running forever. I definitely think it can go on forever, seeing that it is a Toyota!
Anyway, back to this 1/40 scale toy. It is made by a Japanese toy maker Diapet Yonezawa, and it is my first toy from them. I bought it along with some other vintage toys (like the Corgi Volvo 760 saloon I featured earlier). Being a car I associate with my childhood, I immediately bought it without hesitation. The model is rather heavy, with all the parts except chassis made of metal! Makes an excellent paperweight. Opening parts include the doors and boot.
Even if I had the money to buy one of these old Estimas now, they would cost too much to restore. It’s such a shame, but I can hold on to this miniature replica and hark back to a much simpler time when my family and I would go on road trips in this awesome people hauler and have such a good time together.
Thanks for viewing!