Junkyard Find: 1988 Toyota Camry Wagon With Five-Speed

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
Car writers are expected to love wagons with manual transmissions, but most of my love is reserved for the likes of three-on-the-tree-equipped Ford Country Squires and maybe the occasional 4-speed Datsun F-10 Sportwagon. Still, when I run across a Junkyard Find as rare as a second-generation Camry wagon with five-speed, I photograph it.Here’s one that I spotted last week in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard.
The Camry station wagon never was a big seller in the United States, and the preference of Camry buyers for manual transmissions shifted from “slight” to “damn near nonexistent” as the 1980s wore on. Has anyone ever seen an American-market ’97 Camry wagon with five-speed? In theory, such a car exists.
You won’t see many BMW E34 wagons with this kind of odometer reading, although you will find quite a few (compared to the Camry) with five-speeds.
Remember these hateful automatic seat belts? Could be worse.
This car served its owner or owners well for better than a quarter-century, but the damage from its final fender-bender wasn’t worth repairing.
The dawn of a new day for the station wagon.
In Australia, the Camry wagon was so powerful that it snorted the white lines right off the highway.
Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Gedrven Gedrven on Dec 13, 2016

    Technically true, meaningfully false; some E34 wagons came with 5-speeds - the rest 4-speeds - but they were all automatics (on this side of the pond). All E34 wagons were relatively uncommon to begin with, but of those surviving, a reasonable proportion have that kind of mileage and above. They are more vulnerable to overheating and general neglect, but less vulnerable to rust. They also had normal seatbelts and a relatively benign bong/chime (compared to the horrid shriek of some contemporary Benzes). Mine has 262k. And a 6-speed :) I have never seen a 92-96 Camry wagon with 3 pedals, but once drove a MT coupe, which was the least enjoyable MT car I've ever been in. Also drove an ES300 with a 5-speed manual - one of... four? - and it was much better. Starter interlock may be more annoying, but is easier to correct than these seatbelts. They're one of the main things holding me back from buying/building one of what you found here.

  • DownUnder2014 DownUnder2014 on Dec 17, 2016

    My Dad had a 1989 Camry Sedan CS-X w/ 5-Speed Manual in Australia back in 1994 for a short while before it got replaced with a 1995 Ford Falcon (EF) GLi (not the greatest car, left us stranded a few times when relatively new). The Camry was relatively unremarkable but being a CS-X, Power Steering, A/C, 4 Speaker AM/FM Radio Cassette Player, Electronic Antenna, Central Locking, centre console storage compartment, remote fuel filler release, variable intermittent windscreen wipers, digital clock and rear centre armrest were all standard so ours was relatively high spec (in 1989). Was alright to get around in, and more reliable than the 1995 Falcon we had afterward. Not even the 2010 Camry Altise we had some 15 years later came equipped with the rear armrest... These are literally fridges on wheels, but they also do seem to be reasonably sturdy, considering the fact I still see them occasionally even today (even the elusive Ultima or V6 trims) in Australia, which is more than can be said for some of it's then-current competitors...

  • 2manyvettes Tadge was at the Corvette Corral at the Rolex 24 hour sports car race at the end of January 2023. During the Q&A after his remarks someone stood up and told him "I will never buy an electric Corvette." His response? "I will never sell you an electric Corvette." Take that Fwiw.
  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon
  • Alan My comment just went into the cloud.I do believe its up to the workers and I also see some simplistic comments against unionisation. Most of these are driven by fear and insecurity, an atypical conservative trait.The US for a so called modern and wealthy country has poor industrial relation practices with little protection for the worker, so maybe unionisation will advance the US to a genuine modern nation that looks after its workers well being, standard of living, health and education.Determining pay is measured using skill level, training level and risk associated with the job. So, you can have a low skilled job with high risk and receive a good pay, or have a job with lots of training and the pay is so-so.Another issue is viability of a business. If you have a hot dog stall and want $5 a dog and people only want to pay $4 you will go broke. This is why imported vehicles are important so people can buy more affordable appliances to drive to and from work.Setting up a union is easier than setting up work conditions and pay.
  • El scotto I can get the speedometer from dad's 72 Ford truck back. I can't get dad back.