When I walk the rows of a big Ewe Pullet-style self-service car graveyard, I always take a look inside every 2000s Toyota Camry I see. I do this because I wish to document one of the most elusive of all junkyard inmates: One of the final Camrys sold in the United States with a factory-installed manual transmission. Prior to today's Junkyard Find, the newest discarded three-pedal Camry I'd found was a 2001 model in California. We're pushing the record another five years forward today because I've found this five-on-the-floor-equipped 2006 Camry in the very same yard.
Whatever you think about Acura’s usage of the vaunted Integra nameplate, I think most of us can agree it’s leagues better than the alphabet soup to which we’ve been subjected over the past 25 years. All they need to do is trot out the Legend and Vigor names once again and we’ll be in business.
Now the model’s made the rounds after its official launch, Acura is ready to put a price tag on the thing. If you seek a copy of this turbocharged five-door liftback, it’ll set you back no less than $31,895 including destination.
Toyota engineers have been fairly adamant that there would eventually be a manual version of the Supra sports coupe since its formal introduction in 2019. By February of 2020, chief engineer Tetsuya Tada even confirmed that the car has been tested extensively with a clutch and choose-your-own-adventure gearbox. But Toyota explained that the automaker opted against having one at launch due to a desire to lead with the model yielding the best specs on paper. Toyota was also fretting over customers modifying vehicles, claiming the eight-speed automatic could handle far more torque before giving into physics and dismantling itself.
However, the automaker has recently begun teasing the Supra with a three-pedal setup over social media, later stating that an-all new manual transmission was indeed on the way for the coupe. But why now?
Dodge decided to nix the six-speed manual for Challenger Hellcat models last November, indicating that it would be a temporary issue. The automaker allegedly planned to deliver an updated version and said it was actively calibrating the powertrain to see what worked ahead of pulling the old version from the assembly line. It was minor news and everyone following the industry promptly forgot about it, assuming three-pedal Challengers would be back in action before anyone noticed.
It’s now four months later and the option is still nowhere in sight.
A common knock on the new Toyota Supra, besides its close ties to a certain BMW, is its lack of a manual transmission. Sure, there are umpteen reasons why a well-sorted automatic is (on paper) better than a stick – but the involvement and entertainment of a slick-shifting manual cannot be denied.
Now, well-placed rumors are suggesting Toyota is going to offer Supra buyers a chance to row their own gears.
Several hooptie-centric road rallies take place every warm season in Front Range Colorado, including the 24 Hours of Lemons Rally, the Rocky Mountain Rambler 500 Rally, and the Colorado Gambler 500 Rally. Teams will build crazy stuff— say, a Lincoln Continental Mark IV filled with three tons of engine-heated water or a gutted Volkswagen R32 converted to a doorless post-apocalyptic Astroturf nightmare— or just acquire some random cheap car, decorate it, and beat it half to death on Rocky Mountain fire roads. As you’d expect, many of these cars go right to the nearest boneyard when the rally is over, and I find quite a few of them during my junkyard travels in northeastern Colorado. Here’s the “Good Vibes” Pontiac Vibe, found in Denver over the summer.
Toyota 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.
Chrysler’s run of selling rebadged Mitsubishis began way back in 1970, when the rear-wheel-drive Colt Galant arrived here for the 1971 model year. Those cars sold very well in North America, with sales continuing through 1978. After that, Colt badges went onto the front-wheel-drive Lancer Fiore (later sold here as the Mirage). Here’s one of those first-year FWD Colts, found in a Denver-area yard in nice condition and equipped with the extremely cool Twin-Stick dual-range transmission.
We’ve had back-to-back oddball three-pedal cars in this series ( a Suzuki Forenza and non-SHO Taurus), so let’s make it three weeks in a row with today’s Junkyard Find! Saturn S Series cars were always cheaper with manual transmissions, but nearly every Saturn wagon shopper insisted on an automatic. I knew I’d find a manual Saturn SW if I kept searching junkyards, though, and here it is: a low-end ’96 with single-cam engine, Ignore Me Silver paint, and a 5-on-the-floor manual.
After the Daewoo brand fled these shores in 2002 (leaving Manny, Moe, and Jack in charge of warranty service and the company’s founder on the run from the long arm of the South Korean law), the sprawling GM Empire found a means to continue selling the Leganza and Nubira here: as the Suzuki Verona and Suzuki Forenza/Reno, respectively. Here’s a banged-up Forenza in a Denver yard with the extremely rare five-speed manual transmission.
When I visit a car graveyard, I’m always on the lookout for three things: puzzling examples of badge engineering, crazy high odometer readings, and manual transmissions in unexpected cars. One of the rarest of all is a non-SHO Ford Taurus with three pedals, sold under the MT-5 designation for the 1986 through 1988 model years. After a decade of searching, I found my first discarded Taurus MT-5 in Phoenix, three years back. Now a junkyard near Pikes Peak has provided the second example of this extraordinarily rare Junkyard Find.
The General established the Geo brand for the 1989 model year, as a way to move low-priced iron designed and/or built by Toyota, Suzuki, and Isuzu (for some reason, Daewoo-built cars didn’t get sheltered under the Geo banner, so the LeMans retained Pontiac badges for its entire 1988-1993 sales run here). Of all the Geos, the Corolla-twin Prizm proved the most durable, and so I still find plenty of Prizms during my junkyard travels. Here’s a ’90 with an exceptionally high final odometer reading, found in a Denver-area yard last month.
As the manual transmission gradually joins the wheel-mounted throttle lever in the automotive history trash bin, we’ve been wondering which manufacture would be the next to take a bold stance against be-clutched vehicles. Today we have our answer, thanks to a tweet explaining the brand’s research boss had indicated Mercedes-Benz doesn’t have room for manuals in its current restructuring program.
“The head of @MercedesBenz’s R&D operations, Markus Schaefer, has confirmed the company will ‘eliminate manual transmissions’ as part of cost-cutting initiatives that will also see a ‘substantial reduction in platforms’ and a ‘very dramatic reduction in combustion engines,'” automotive journalist Greg Kable explained via social media on Tuesday.