By on March 22, 2021

2000 Toyota Camry CE in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsToyota offered North American car buyers the opportunity to buy a new Camry with a manual transmission from the time of the car’s introduction here in 1983 all the way through the 2012 model year. As I’ve found during my junkyard explorations, many Camrys sold here during the 1980s had five-on-the-floor rigs, and this setup remained reasonably popular into the early 1990s. After about 1993, however, automatics rule the American Camry universe, and I’ve been on a years-long quest to find the newest possible manual-equipped junkyard Camry. After peering into thousands of discarded cars, I managed to find a 1997 Camry CE with three pedals, and now I have surpassed that discovery with this 2000 Camry CE in Colorado.

2000 Toyota Camry CE in Colorado junkyard, manual gearshift lever - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsCamrys have always been screwed together very well, and their reputation for reliability boosts resale values enough that older ones tend to get fixed rather than scrapped when something breaks (and that ugly ones get re-sold rather than scrapped when traded in). This means that I have a tough time finding junkyard Camrys built after about 2005… but even so, the rarity of 21st-century manual Camrys is striking.

2000 Toyota Camry CE in Colorado junkyard, pedals - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIf you search Craigslist for manual Camrys, 99 percent of the results will be automatic cars mistakenly listed as manuals because so many car sellers believe that “manual” means “gearshift lever not on the steering column.” The newest genuine stick-shift Camry I was able to find in a few minutes of searching was this ’09 in Southern California.

2000 Toyota Camry CE in Colorado junkyard, emblems - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBy the middle 1990s, American Camry buyers who opted for anything above the very cheapest trim level got an automatic at no extra cost. For 2000, the bargain-basement Camry was the CE, which stood for Cheap Edition (OK, fine, it stood for Classic Edition), and you got a five-speed manual as standard equipment. I’m not sure how much more the optional automatic cost on the ’00 Camry CE, but it added 800 bucks to the list price of the ’97 version. You may recall the ’02 Corolla CE as the very last new car available in North America with a three-speed automatic, so the Cheap Edition was very cheap indeed.

2000 Toyota Camry CE in Colorado junkyard, engine - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Cheap Edition came with the four-cylinder engine making some uninteresting number of very dependable horses. If you wanted the V6, you had to move up to a higher trim level and pay extra on top of that.

2000 Toyota Camry CE in Colorado junkyard, interior - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI think most Camry CEs with automatics became fleet cars, while civilian CE buyers who got the five-speed either loved the stingy $17,418 price tag (about $27,140 in 2021 clams) or simply preferred driving a manual and felt willing to endure the car’s zero-luxury confines in order to do so.

2000 Toyota Camry CE in Colorado junkyard, interior - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis car endured some hard knocks during its final years. In addition to layer upon layer of body damage and badly-applied body filler, it features a front passenger door glass made of a taped-on trash bag.

2000 Toyota Camry CE in Colorado junkyard, tape glass repair - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsA leaky rear-door window got the packaging-tape “weatherstripping” treatment.

2000 Toyota Camry CE in Colorado junkyard, Vanillaroma Little Tree - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Beanie Babies hanging from the sun visors and the Vanillaroma Little Tree didn’t do much to brighten up this car’s “I’ll be parked next to a Sentra at U-Pull-&-Pay pretty soon” interior.

2000 Toyota Camry CE in Colorado junkyard, Covid-19 mask - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFor decades after the Covid-19 pandemic recedes from the front-page news, we’ll be finding state-flag face masks in junkyard cars, just as I still find AOL FREE TRIAL disks in discarded cars to this day.

2000 Toyota Camry CE in Colorado junkyard, Hyundai wheel - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe right side of the car sports Hyundai alloy wheels, thanks to the 5×4.5″ wheel bolt pattern used on the Camry to the present day and shared with many other easy-to-find makes and models. The left side has cheapo steelies, so we can assume that the final owner of this car put the nice wheels on the side visible from the house, rather than the side visible from the street.

2000 Toyota Camry CE in Colorado junkyard, heartfelt note to tow-truck driver - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe final chapter in this car’s street career ended when it broke down and its owner wrote a heartfelt note in Sharpie on the decklid. As we know, such notes seldom work.

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25 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2000 Toyota Camry CE with 5-Speed Manual Transmission...”

  • avatar

    Sad that this fine example of consumer friendly engineering didn’t get better care in its senior years. Having an opaque pass side window seems like an invitation to a side impact crash.

  • avatar

    I know a guy who has one of these, bought new, and he say’s he’ll never give it up.

    • 0 avatar

      I think anybody with some decent wrenching skills in a non-corrosive climate should be able to do that. These are like S-10 pickups, so many were manufactured that every aftermarket mfgr makes replacement parts and they’re low cost because of that.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    “willing to endure the car’s zero-luxury confines’. That seems hyperbolic. A/C, AM/FM/CD player with multiple speakers, nice cloth upholstery rather than cheap vinyl, thicker carpeting than what comes with many current vehicles, a tach, adjustable front seats, what looks to be power windows and door locks, passenger side mirror. For many of us who are ‘middle aged or older’ that is a plethora of luxury options.

    After reading this article I wonder why I didn’t acquire one of these models while Toyota was offering it.

    • 0 avatar

      I *still* think of the seat fabric on my ’00 Camry. Sold it in ’15 and the seats looked brand new. And I was NOT a clean guy in my 20s.

      I’ve still not had a better car. My new Mazda6 might be “sporty” but it feels twice the size and the visibility is terrible.

    • 0 avatar

      “willing to endure the car’s zero-luxury confines’. That seems hyperbolic.”

      yeah I was just thinking of how we get spoiled. My first three cars were all 70’s used cars. None had A/C or power windows and such. And even my first new car, an ’86, was decently optioned it still had hand crank windows. My ’92 was my first car with power windows.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        My personal timeline with conveniences:
        1981 – first new car; rear window defroster, PB & PS
        1988 – A/C, power windows and mirrors, sunroof, cruise
        2001 – automatic, power & heated seats
        2013 – Navigation
        2020 – distance cruise, blind spot

        The only things on my bucket list are ventilated seats and hybridization. I see that happening in 2023 since the 2020 becomes my daughter’s car.

  • avatar

    Off topic, the taped-up window bit translates to “my a** is broke.” Well, speaking as someone whose a** was broke for quite a few years (thanks to the state of Colorado’s brilliant deduction that since I had the unmitigated gall to be born with testicles, I needed to have sole custody of my kids AND be an indentured servant to my ex-wife for five long years), the solution is easy: figure out how to replace window regulators.

    Now, I get why people decide to just go all duct tape-y with this problem – shops will quote you upwards of $300=400 to fix windows – but this is an easy repair. The regulators on my old Buick were about $50 apiece, and it took maybe 45 minutes to replace them.

    There’s even free training on how to do this, via YouTube.

    Thank you for attending my TED talk.

    • 0 avatar

      I always cringe when I see half-hearted and ineffective repairs like the packing tape above. I always take a moment to ponder what was going on in that person’s life that this type of repair seemed like a good idea.

      No time, no money, lack of mechanical skills, distracted by bigger problems, learned behavior from parents, influence of substances or mental disorders, etc?

      Same thoughts when I see cars that haven’t been minimally maintained.

      I hope my kids never have to be in a situation where they can’t/won’t take care of their vehicles correctly.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s usually money. In my case, I literally had zero dollars to do this kind of repair with. And it’s scary – you wonder if you can do this on your own, but you also worry about f**king your car up to the point that you’re STUCK dropping money you don’t have. It’s definitely anxiety-inducing, and anxiety makes you do things that don’t make any damn sense sometimes.

        Having no money makes it awfully hard to see the forest for the trees sometimes. Hard to explain unless you’ve been there. All I can say is that I’m thankful not to be there anymore. In my case, I found some youtube videos and was able to get this done very cheaply.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          @FreedMike. Absolutely. Poverty becomes a debilitating mindset. You become tense and afraid. It starts to rule your thoughts.

          If you remove that interior door panel and attempt to repair that window and something goes wrong, you may be worse off than when you started.

          That is why many on the borderline (including myself at one time) prefer to purchase/lease the cheapest available new vehicle. They understand that the operating costs are ‘fixed’ for at least the warranty period. Rather than a possible costly repair bill or the vehicle not operating and possibly costing them their job.

      • 0 avatar

        I’d say lack of money is #1 and since a window being stuck down doesn’t prevent the car from driving it is a low priority. IF they have a few dollars set aside for emergencies they are better off saving it for something that does need to be done to keep the car on the road.

  • avatar

    Test drove a ’98 Camry CE 5-speed back in 2001 when replacing a ’94 Accord 5-speed (which, sadly, I had slid down an ice-covered hill into the back of a stopped X3). The Camry was not half the driver’s car the Accord was. It felt slow and like the engine didn’t have much to give (somehow my Mom’s Camry with a 4-speed automatic felt faster). The shifter was not at all pleasing, with really long throws and a very rubbery feel.

    Ended up buying a ’98 Passat V6 5-speed instead, which was a lot more fun to drive, though I’m sure I spent more keeping it running than I would have on the Camry.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    A rare bird. I’ve been thinking of a manual Camry for my next car, but there are very few 2008-2012s out there in decent shape.
    Interesting how the manual take rate on the Accord is WAYYY ahead of the Camry.

    • 0 avatar

      I think Honda has always trended more toward the “sporty” and Toyota toward the “dependable utilitarian”.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed, as a matter of fact I used to own a 2010 Accord EX 4 dr with the 5 spd manual. It was hard to find but not as much as I thought; the LX base versions and 2 dr coupes were much easier to find, though. I liked it because it was super roomy, reliable, and sipped fuel with the base 4 cyl. The 5 spd manual was kinda fun as well and it was actually pleasing to drive because it had all the features I wanted (sunroof, pwr driver seat, decent sound system, rear a/c vents, etc). I also looked for Camry, Legacy and Fusion, but the Camry was impossible to find at the time.

  • avatar

    I had a friend in college that had this but with the V6. She was such a smooth ride. I imagine V6 Camrys with 5sps were incredibly rare.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    For the coupe inclined you can find a number of Solaras on the market with the manual and either the 4 banger or V6.

  • avatar

    Almost pulled the trigger on one in ’98. They weren’t on the lot but the dealer could get one relatively quickly. I was too broke though and ended up in a Civic EX instead.

    In ’15, I bought an Accord Sport manual. It was the only one in the state as I recall, and I can’t count how many times the dealer service reps said they’d never seen one before when I’d go in for oil changes. It needed a starter in its later years and it was very hard to find one. I out of 100 is probably a good guess as to how many were sold in that era.

    Now you can’t get a Camry or Accord with a manual.

  • avatar

    A manual trans is the only way I could tolerate a boring sedan, especially a Camry. Maybe. A 3 kilowatts stereo would be required also.

  • avatar

    I could only dream about this Camry in 1990s in Russia. Forget new, even used ones were too expensive. MT of course and no AC. Camry with V6 was a true luxury car completely out of reach, only for rich dudes. Even though I liked 1992 more, still was too expensive for me. I owned used Carina II.

  • avatar

    In some ways, we live in incredible times. My local Toyota store has several Camrys in the LE trim for $25,588…all nicely equipped as they used to say, for LESS money in 2021 dollars than this nearly stripped Camry CE was back in the day. Amazing.

  • avatar

    i guess ill finally sell my 02 manual camry since there arent a lot of them im greedy

  • avatar

    I own one of these cars. Bought it in 2000 and still driving it. Has over 413k miles on it! I want to get to 500k at least, but she’s starting to have some issues with the transmission, and got a bad rebuilt last year that is just now showing its weaknesses. I don’t want to junk her, she’s been my BFF all these years. I am at the point of deciding – should I continue to put $$$ into her, or get another vehicle? It’s heart-wrenching. I wish I could post a picture of her here. She’s a really beautiful gun metal gray. Still really clean interior and body. Just that darn transmission, misfire on #1, front cat converter out (she was born in CA, so has 2), and slipping 5th gear. And, she has used oil for like forever. Always had to top her off, with no visible sign of a leak anywhere. Still, I love her. It’s like breaking up with a long-term lover.

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