Should you buy a Camry, or should you buy a car from Elon Musk? If you’re shopping on price alone and live in California, the choice might become a lot simpler after this news. Reuters recently reported that the Model 3 can become less expensive than a new Camry if buyers can capitalize on federal and California state incentives.
Toyota sold new Camry station wagons in North America from the 1987 through 1996 model years. I've found a couple of examples of the first-year longroof Camry during my junkyard travels, but the final-year cars remained elusive… until I spotted this one in a Silicon Valley car graveyard in April.
When American Motors introduced the Eagle for the 1980 model year, followed by Audi beginning Quattro sales here a year later, it was finally possible to buy cars—not trucks—that powered all four wheels with no confusing decisions demanded of drivers. Toyota's response to this was the All-Trac AWD system, which first appeared here in 1988 models. Here's one of those first-year cars: a Camry All-Trac found in a Denver self-service yard recently.
The Toyota Camry has been called many things over the years, but unpopular is not one of them. The car sold more than a half-million units globally last year, though the RAV4 outsold it. But while the suddenly-more-exciting sedan is a hot seller in most markets, its home country of Japan isn’t so in love with the car.
The Toyota Camry and RAV4 are beyond ubiquitous at this point, as they’re the go-to cars for people wanting dependable transportation that doesn’t take a lot of thought. Newer models are surprisingly sporty, though they’re still the unfailingly practical commuters Toyota has always offered. The current generation vehicles are now several years old, however, and the automaker is expected to issue brand-new versions in 2024.
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.
The Toyota Camry made leaps and bounds after the model debuted as a sedan sub-variant of the Celica in 1980. The first Camry to stand on its own was the V10, a very boxy four-door on sale for just four years, from 1983 to 1986. In the North American market, the front-drive V10 Camry replaced the rear-drive Corona as Toyota’s compact offering. And though the V10 was designed in part with export markets like North America in mind, its successor the V20 used the North American customer as its starting place.
Last week we challenged you to pick a Buy from V6 versions of the 2007 Toyota Camry, Nissan Maxima, and Honda Accord. The overwhelming feeling in the comments was in favor of an Accord purchase (and I agree with you). Today though, we step back a decade to the 1997 model year.
Does the Accord still win your vote in the Nineties?
In contrast to the Try Very Hard Japanese sedans of the Nineties, the early and mid-2000s period was a time for Japanese manufacturers to rest upon their laurels. It was a time to save some cash, and put in a bit less effort than in the tiring decade prior.
And lucky you, today you get to pick one to buy.
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.
I once wrote that the Toyota Camry is a jack-of-all-trades kind of car – a balanced machine that does lots of things well but not one thing in any spectacular way. I’ve also long told anyone shopping for a mid-size sedan that while the Camry is great, if they want something sporty, they need to give their attention to Honda and Mazda.
Toyota has decided to do something about that.
Rare Rides has never featured a Camry previously, and that’s mostly down to the model’s general abundance in salt-free locations. However, a fine liftback like today’s example in brown, brown, and tan is well worth some coverage!
Come along as we check out the Camry body style which passed away long before any of the others.
Killer Instinct: The Toyota Camry's Positive Post-shutdown Pandemic Performance in a Segment That's Still Dying a Little Bit on the Inside
The Toyota Camry may well go down as one of the ultimate soldiers in the American automotive marketplace: shooting straight despite distractions, marching forward undeterred by the terrain, somehow finding small victories when the losses are mounting, always ready to carry new recruits on its shoulders.
Somehow, amidst all of the recent economic turmoil and political unrest, and healthcare crises, the Toyota Camry’s U.S. sales trendline is outperforming the market at large while also embarrassing its direct rivals.
In one sense, the Camry’s just doing what the Camry’s always done. Winning.
In another sense, the Camry’s doing the unexpected. It’s winning at a point in time when everyone else seems to be losing, at least to some degree, and it’s winning in a major way just as its specific category approaches an inflection point. Is the midsize sedan segment, broadly speaking, on its last legs? Or is a post-shutdown pandemic performance like the Camry’s indicative of a midsize-sedan segment that’s finally set to round the corner?
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