The Toyota Camry first appeared on our shores in the spring of 1983, shoving aside the venerable-but-cramped Corona. Sales of the quirky-looking first-generation Camry continued through 1986 and were respectable enough but not overwhelming. The bigger, smoother-looking 1987-1991 second-generation Camry, however, struck terror into the hearts of American car-industry executives. Here’s the wagon version of one of those cars, found in a northeastern Colorado car graveyard.
If we’re going to split hairs about Camry generations, today’s Junkyard Treasure is really a third-generation car, because Toyota sold a sedan-ized Celica with Camry badges in Japan for a few years in the early 1980s. Since we never got that car over here, only the most fanatical of American Camry enthusiasts (are there any?) will quibble over this definition. This car was built at the Tsutsumi Plant in November of 1986, so it’s one of the very first second/third-gen Camrys sold in the United States.
Digital instrument clusters were all the rage during the 1980s, and Toyota felt compelled to keep up with the wilder Mars Base-style dashboard offerings from the likes of Nissan, Mitsubishi and Subaru. The Camry version appears to have been sourced from the much more expensive Cressidas of the same era, and very few of the extremely sensible pool of 1980s Camry shoppers proved willing to spring for such a frivolous luxury; this is only the third Camry digital cluster I’ve managed to find in 15 years of junkyard crawling.
This car has power windows, power locks, air conditioning, automatic transmission, power remote mirrors, and a bunch of additional options that must have fattened up the price tag quite a bit. The 254,133 final mileage tally shows that every owner (I’m guessing there couldn’t have been more than one or two) took meticulous care of this car, keeping the interior nice and performing all scheduled maintenance.
These cars weren’t exciting to drive, to put it mildly, but they held together forever… unless you happened to live in a place where the Rust Monster lives. In Maine or Michigan, corrosion claimed second-gen Camry bodies long before the running gear failed. Most parts of Front Range/High Plains Colorado haven’t used road salt for decades, though, so the rusting process took longer here. This car has a bit of wheelwell rust, nothing too bad but sufficient to knock the value way down on a high-mile, 33-year-old non-truck.
The automatic transmission, which went into an increasingly large share of 1987-1991 Camrys as the years went by, may have propped up the resale value a bit… but Coloradans want truck-shaped machines with all-wheel-drive these days, not ancient wagons with scary odometer readings.
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