Considering the 102 horse-power engine, “Silver-Bullet” was a bit strong as a nickname for our family’s 1987 Toyota minivan, especially with us four kids in the back. Three key features worth knowing: an overdrive button, winter character, and road-bump magnification.
The over-drive button was near magic. When Silver-Bullet was struggling up a steep road, Dad could press that button to great effect. Bullet jerked forward, made a lot of noise, and filled the cabin with exhaust.
Winter driving had its quirks. Back-wheel drive meant you could fishtail and do donuts like a boss—only in times of great need of course. The heater resisted upper-midwest winters only pitifully; so pitiful in fact that you could watch the condensation frost from the inside edges of the windows, which did keep out the wind.
Finally, the car somehow magnified road bumps. With a short and narrow wheelbase, driver and front passenger sat directly over the engine and front axle. When road bumps were the right distance apart, the van would toss us kids around. Sometimes we’d hit our heads on the ceiling. Who says traveling an interstate to visit grandparents can’t feel like a wild-safari ride?
Little wonder that one sad day someone stole Silver Bullet from our driveway. (You could also turn the ignition with only a screwdriver, but I don’t know how the thief knew this.) Still, the police brought you back to our family! Even after having the power steering cut, losing a back bumper, and cutting the wire to all the maintenance lights, you served faithfully. We miss you.
Photo from Toyota here.