It took many years before the first (non-wrecked) Toyota Priuses began showing up in the big self-service car graveyards I frequent, partly because Toyotas tend to hold together pretty well and partly because buyers of early Priuses seem to be the kind of car owners who obsess over the proper care and feeding of their vehicles. This ’03 Prius in Denver, painted in I Love Gaia Green™ (actually, it’s Electric Green Mica), appears to be one of those well-loved cars that finally just wore out.
The first-generation Prius went on sale in Japan in 1997, but we didn’t get them on this side of the Pacific until the 2001 model year. Sales of these cars, all of which were four-door sedans, continued through the 2003 model year. That makes today’s Junkyard Find an example of one of the very last Prius sedans built.
When you buy a car, do you read the entire owner’s manual? Better still, do you take notes while reading the owner’s manual, on a separate notepad to avoid desecrating the original factory-issued book? That’s what this car’s owner did.
It gets better. Among all the original documentation in the glovebox was this EAT MY VOLTAGE sticker, reverse-printed for application to the inside of the rear glass.
Yes, you could show your commitment to advanced technology and the environment by adhering this decal to the back window of your Toyota. Today, some Prius owners recreate these stickers.
Hybrid-electric cars were still fairly new and mysterious in the early 2000s, with the Honda Insight beating the Prius to the American market by just under a year. The Insight could be purchased with a manual transmission and its 60-mpg fuel economy made the Prius seem like a planet-ravaging gas hog, but it had just two seats and looked nerdy to boot. The 2001-2003 Prius looked a bit goofy, but it was a car that handled real-world car duties very well and proved very cheap to operate. I noticed a sudden leap in the quantities of Volvo 240s in the junkyards of the San Francisco Bay Area (where I lived at the time) right after the early Prius hit California showrooms, as Volvo owners traded in their safe-but-thirsty bricks for the futuristic new Toyota.
I can’t check the odometer reading without powering up the ECU with a fairly substantial portable 12VDC battery, but I’m guessing this car has many, many miles on it. The interior looks clean, but that’s usually the case with ridiculously high-mile vehicles in junkyards.
A sedan with a real trunk is nice to have. These days, Japanese car buyers can get the 20-million-yen Century with a trunk and a hybrid powertrain!
All the nodding donkeys set free by Toyota.
The true car of the future is the one that helps ensure we have a future.
Toyota had a smash sales hit in the home market with this car, and now you’ll see gasoline-electric Toyotas of all descriptions all over Japan.
For links to more than 2,100 additional Junkyard Finds, including many Toyotas, please visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.