Tarago Diaries #3 – The Lettuce Leaf

Reflections on the impact of the Toyota Tarago on musician life.

Author:  Mark Seymour.

Date: 19 October 2018.

Original URL: https://www.facebook.com/MarkSeymourOfficial/posts/1664475036992162

Article Text

She exploded onto the rental market in 1983, back in the days when people still picked up hitch hikers, smoked cigarettes inside, ate non-franchise take away, drank warm slabs, held a straight line on the left hand side of a two-lane highway and thought the world was ok. Pretty much.

The ‘one-box’ vehicle, she was called. Later known as the people mover. Complete with 1200 cc engine, She re-defined the meaning of rakish.

*Note the front end.

and the cool contoured decal down the side..


For convenience, the driver and front passenger sat with their legs hanging over the front axle. Smart move.

But the real game changer was up the back.

The fold-down seat. You could jam an entire five-piece back line up to the roof and squeeze the personnel in as well. At a pinch. Touching body parts of course. But hey. whatever.

It was brilliant.

Despite the puny 51kw, The thing was so light she quivered like the a spent lettuce in the wind, at 110 KPH, nose into gravity, four cylinders howling like a ride-on mower in full flight. Hence the name:

the ‘lettuce leaf’.

She changed the art of rock travel forever.

There were two distinct types of musician. Those who loved to chat and those who HAD TO DRIVE. And the odd one who liked to do both. Usually the guitarist although there was one time when a bass player donned the role, despite his reserve.

It was all a matter of compulsion really.

A rocket to fame or oblivion, she went to wherever, north or west, out of Melbourne, The Hume or the Great Western, musicians mouthing off, about who sucked and who didn’t, until the euphoria wore off, the pall of boredom descended in a funk of sweaty bodies, nicotine, stale beer, and the dull buzz of an overworked 1.2 litre Toyota.