By on May 17, 2013

16 - 1985 Toyota Camry Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI thought I’d seen the rarest member of the Camry species in North America when I spotted this 1990 Camry All-Trac on the coldest day I’ve ever experienced in a junkyard. Perhaps I was wrong. Here’s one of the very few first-gen Camry liftbacks sold in this country, now Crusher-bound.
02 - 1985 Toyota Camry Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin331,120 miles on the clock, or an average of 11,825 miles per year.
09 - 1985 Toyota Camry Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe cavernous hatch makes this into something like a very large Corolla, and maybe that’s what made nearly all the Camry shoppers go for sedans.
11 - 1985 Toyota Camry Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s got some rust and the interior is pretty grimy, but this car is in good shape for something that has racked up twice the miles of most 80s Japanese cars you see in wrecking yards.
05 - 1985 Toyota Camry Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinToyota made the S engine until just a few years ago. While we’ve seen plenty of S engines fail dramatically in the 24 Hours of LeMons, they hold together very well on the street.
17 - 1985 Toyota Camry Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWill these cars ever have any collector value? It’s too early to tell.

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44 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1985 Toyota Camry LE Liftback...”


  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Not sure what’s more remarkable: an ’80s speedo that goes past 85, or the hatch struts still working.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Good points both. Over the years I’ve had cause to drive three 1988-model-year cars fairly extensively, and all three had 85-mph speedos. By ’93, I’m guessing, most cars were back up to triple-digit speedos though.

      One fun late ’80s phenomenon: As EFI was starting to give engines their mojo back, it made for cars where it was really easy to nail the speedometer. (This made me laugh: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUd265Loo9g – not bad for a 31-year-old car. ’88 was the year the Buick V6 really came into its own as the LN3.)

      • 0 avatar

        I recall my sisters ’84 Sunbird pegging the 85mph speedo pretty hard even for an 88hp 1.8l engine tied to an automatic. Dad’s 84 Olds 88 could bury the needle as well pretty easily. My 86 Pontiac 6000 couldn;t but then again it had a digital dash.

        Even my slug-tastic 77 Chevelle can bury the needle on a 100mph speedo, and then some with its box stock 305.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        Later than that; my ’95 Taurus still has an 85 MPH speedometer.

      • 0 avatar
        RatherhaveaBuick

        That video is really funny especially with the music in there…

        My 93 Regal speedo goes to 110.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        On the other hand, I don’t know why modern cars have speedometers with such high numbers. There’s no way, for example, that our 2005 Nissan Murano SL is going to get to 160 MPH, but that’s where the speedometer ends. They’d have made the instrument far more precise by limiting the numbers to, say, 120 MPH.

        • 0 avatar
          JD23

          My A4 has a ridiculous 180 mph speedometer. The car is electronically limited to 130 mph, and even if the electronic limiter were removed, it’s not going to exceed 140-145 mph.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        I had an ’87 Mercury Sable whose speedometer ended at 85. The needle just kept on going around, so closely estimating the speed was still easy.

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          My 87 T-Bird with the digital speedo went to 85 mph though if you pressed the button on the dash you could convert the readout to metric (klm). When you reached 85 and beyond, which it did a few times it just stayed there. Turbo Coupes and Sports models with analog gauges had 120 mph speedos.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Would it be a stretch to say that the Venza was the eventual successor to this Camry?

  • avatar
    technivore

    My first car! Well, the sedan version anyway. Beige ’85 camry. That was a good car. Got it up to 95 while driving through central MI one time, but I was afraid to take it any further as the vibrations at that speed got real scary.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      My 86 had a vibration since it was new starting at 70mph, took it in several times, had wheels balanced on car, nothing worked, finally just decided to live with it and avoid long highway trips, otherwise it was flawless

      • 0 avatar
        EVdrive

        I had an 86 sedan back in college that I got up to 110+ or so. This was late at night on 285 around Atlanta and I got paced by a cop. He gave me 95 in a 55. I was an idiot driver back then. Before I got my shocks replaced in it I got the funkiest wear pattern on my tires. It was a good car, but I had to replace the headgasket a couple of times when I had it.

  • avatar
    marc

    I don’t think anyone was confusing these with “very large corollas” back then. They were smooth and comfortable, a sheer delight in an era of cheap Japanese econoboxes and leftover malaise era Detroit iron.

    We had an ’85 manual hatchback. Brown. In our little farm town, people thought we were driving one of the sporitest, most luxurious vehicles around. I still look back fondly on it.

    Between 85 and 86, Japan began heir relentless assault with product that was just miles ahead of Detroit. This car was a great example of one of those. I guess it’s most direct US competitor was the Citation. I rest my case.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Indeed. It’s like Toyota looked at the Citation, and deleted the bean-counter engineering and random GM stupidity (sideways radio! Fake plastic stitching!). And planted the seeds for the best-selling car in America. Oh GM, what could have been.

  • avatar

    an old girlfriend’s parents had one of these, it was a nice if small car, and I liked the looks of them

  • avatar
    DownEaster

    These were a very practical and good car design. Easy to see out of with no blind spots, could hold a lot of stuff, and very easy to accessibility to the engine parts as compared to the new cars. I wish the new cars were as practical. A lot like a Malibu Maxx or a Chevy Citation in design.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    On the speedometer 55 isn’t highlighted in dayglow orange or red. Is it possible this car didn’t start it’s life in the USA?

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      It’s virtually certain to have been first sold in the US. Canada had long since switched to metric instruments by then, and the only other place in the world to use MPH speedometers by that time has them on the other side of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Both the 85mph speedo and 55 highlight requirements ended in ~83. My ’84 VW Jetta GLI had neither. And I pegged its 120mph speedometer on more than one occasion in my misspent youth. :-)

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Nice old Toyota , you said it’s AWD ? .

    A wonder they didn’t sell many more in the snow/rust belts .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      In the days of the “voluntary import quotas”, Toyotas were both very expensive and very rust prone. And until about this generation of car, mostly RWD, so they had a reputation for being lousy in the snow. The AWD cars were REALLY expensive. Subaru really got a toehold in the late 70′s/early 80s and never let go. They were cheaper, and were FWD from the get-go. Rusted just as badly though, if not worse.

  • avatar
    RatherhaveaBuick

    It looks so….Japanese…the picture of the back seat makes it look very cavernous and comfy though. Maybe this is the first and last generation of Camry that I would own…

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    ’83 Camry liftback was my first Toyota, Camry’s first year in the USA, and my longest owned car at 9 years. Auto trans had 3 modes but Toyota made overdrive switchable for ’84 to improve performance. Low HP required downshifts on CA. grapevine to keep up with traffic. Brakes and timing belt proved weak: frequent brake noise/rotor imbalance, 60K mile- rated timing belt broke once (fortunately engine was non-interference design and survived freeway coast-down). Ocean air rusted hood interior, but metallic paint withstood 9 years of CA sun before fading. Did ok on long trips.

  • avatar
    Shamwow

    The way the hood as rusted is interesting to me.

  • avatar
    naterator

    My friend’s mom in elementary school traded her yellow on brown ’83 300TD wagon for one of these in ’85. I still don’t know why.

  • avatar
    Wscott97

    Besides being dirty, the interior looks like it’s in pretty good shape. Nothing that a good carpet cleaner and a gallon of spot remover wouldn’t clean.

  • avatar
    jcwheels

    I bought one of these in 2001, it was a 1985 model, silver, and had been in the same family. The father passed it on to the son, who took it to college, then gave it back to the father, who then sold it to me. It had over 169,000 miles when I bought it. Over the next six or seven years I mostly did basic maintenance and replacement of wear and tear items. It was dependable, practical, and economical, and far from being the most stunning thing on wheels, but that’s what made it cooler. I eventually sold it to a friend from Switzerland, and he described it as running like a sewing machine, perfectly no-nonsense and going about its business the way it was intended. He left the country and another friend came over and took possession of it, and with new tires and maybe new brakes took it up and down California when he wasn’t using it as an urban commuter. He even managed to stick his surfboard in it with the front passenger headrest off. He had to sell it unfortunately when he left the country.

    A few months ago I found a 1986 model, top-of-the-line for its year, with only about 37,000+ miles, and bought it. Have spent a little bit of money to do basic maintenance and repair (flush coolant, thermostat, flush brake fluid, new master cylinder, new control arms), and it’s running around like a sewing machine, so smooth. Have managed to carry one bike with the rear seat down and another one on a rack out back. It’s old, a bit dorky-looking, and has no airbags, but it will keep on running without a hitch for a long, long time. Love the Camry Liftback!

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      It’s awesome when a car is able to be passed from person to person and still keep going. That speaks very highly of Toyota quality, however boring people may think they are…

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    The rarest Camry would be this generation, but not this particular model. This 1st generation Camry was also offered with a diesel engine. I have never seen one at all; except for a very rough one on ebay last year. Never seen one in the metal and have never had a call for parts for one. Had a customer call for a diesel Hilux once, but that was it and even so I couldn’t get the parts he needed since it was discontinued (the injectors)

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    Wow, it’s like someone at Toyota saw the Citation and though “what if we did this, only not shit?”.

  • avatar
    Repo

    I’ve always loved these 80′s Japanese hatchbacks: the 626, Camry, Stanza. My favorite was definitely the 3rd generation 626 Turbo hatchback (87-92). Too bad Americans didn’t buy enough for Mazda to continue importing the Mazda6 hatch, or Ford Mondeo/Fusion hatch for that matter.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    “makes this into something like a very large Corolla”

    I saw my coworker’s 4th gen Camry on a lift while he was doing some CV joint service and the “very large Corolla” description fits quite well.

    The car is very simple down there and the layout is almost identical (although in a bigger scale) to that of the pre 2002 Corolla.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’m so pleased to see I’m not the only one who saw the similarity to the Chevrolet Citation X Car and who also thinks those could have been great .

    Although I don’t own Toyotas (O.K. , one BAD mistake , a ’91 V-6 Camry LE) , I am very familiar with how they soldier on for decades with simple , basic routine care , I think the ’70S & ’80′s vintage Toyota 4 Bangers were all pretty good vehicles regardless of how some looked or felt like appliances ~ that’s what Toytoa was shooting for at the time : Gas ‘N Go Mobiles capable of swallowing big Americans running them hard as hell for 150,000 miles before discarding them .

    The damn Camry of course , blew the head gasket and needed another engine as it’s cheaper to buy a low mileage takeout Japanese engine than it is to repair or rebuild the 171,000 mile old one .

    Of course , to do the job right , there’s a myriad of seals , gaskets , hoses and so on that really should be changed if you want it oil tight like new again so the killer deal $1,200 car got a $3,700 engine job then off to the paint shop……

    Tires soon , I’m so glad the Lady who owned it new , never smoked in it so the interior is choice and the AC blows ice cold .

    It’s near perfect now and prolly worth $1,500 ~ I hope the College bound kid I built it for , doesn’t wreck it .

    Next time I’ll just buy a Corolla stripper =8-^ .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Zelgadis

    Ah, this is almost exactly like my first car. It was a 1984 Camry DX hatchback. It was a very good little workhorse, though I’m very much willing to bet that the transmission has been replaced at least twice and the power steering rack at least once. Besides those two things, they’ll go a long, long time.

    It isn’t the rarest Camry, however. If you want that, see if you can find a diesel of the same era. I’ve only seen one in my entire life

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Umm . . . I can’t think of any other nation that uses miles rather than kilometers.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Maybe its the general shape and the appliance white paint. But it looks like my Mom’s ’80 something Nova from the NUMMI plant.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Waiting for a red light in Pasadena , Ca. last night , a poop brown one rolled up next to me with Granpa driving and Grandma riding shotgun .

    It was as clean as you’ll fine , decent original paint and chrome etc. , ran nice too .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Andy D

    heheh . Brown was the defining 80s car color, just like pu-eer avacado green was for the 70s


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