Forget the Skyline GT-R and the RX-7, the Previa is the real JDM legend!

On the surface, the Toyota Previa looks like any other ordinary people carrier but assuming as much would be very, very wrong.

In a way, the Toyota Previa is like the Mazda AZ-1. On paper, they both sound like they should be supercars. The AZ-1 has gullwing doors, a mid-engine layout and rear-wheel drive and similarly, the Toyota Previa was available as a car that was supercharged, all-wheel drive and had a mid-engine layout. So, what do they have in common? Both of them are hopelessly slow in reality.

One key difference, of course, is that the Previa is in fact a people carrier and not a sports car at all, which makes its credentials even weirder.

The Previa base model came in a rear-wheel drive format that had a manual gearbox, even in the US (where everyone likes automatics), and the engine was not supercharged and produced around 138 horsepower. The upgraded model, whoever, did have a supercharger and produced a not-so whopping 161 horsepower which was paired with an all-wheel drive drivetrain because why not?

The weirdness of the legendary Previa doesn’t stop there, though. Although the engine wasn’t technically front-mounted, the car  just about qualifies for the ‘mid-engine’ title because the power unit resides just behind the front axle, sitting awkwardly under the floor between the driver and passenger seat. One can only imagine the difficulty a mechanic would have to properly access it, through a flap of cut-out carpet underneath the front seats that lifted up when needed.

Following the theme of overengineering, the windshield washer nozzles were integrated into the wipers themselves, a feature that is also seen on luxury cars like the Mercedes-Benz SLK and you best believe that Mercedes made a video about this feature to shout from the rooftops about how cutting edge it is!

One no-so-luxurious feature (but still very weird) was found on the sun visors. In most cars, the driver’s sun visor will have a mirror and that mirror will have a cover on it. Also on most cars, that cover will be hinged at the top, but not in the Previa. The mirror cover in this supercharged, mid-engine people carrier is hinged at the bottom, meaning when it’s unfolded the cover is completely blocking the driver’s view of the road, hanging below the sun visor itself.

Other quirks include the single rear sliding door on the passenger side, the 2nd row of seats that can swivel 180 degrees and become rear-facing and of course, the fact that it’s rated to two 3,500 lbs, despite having a 161-horespower engine.

We love the Previa! Let us know what you think, in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this, you may also like: ‘Mazda AZ-1: Weird Car of The Month

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