I spend a lot of time strolling the rows in large American automobile graveyards searching for attention-grabbing automotive tales to inform. In current years I’ve been peering into each one of many 1000’s upon 1000’s of Toyota Camrys I see, searching for one factor: the gearshift lever of an exceedingly uncommon 5-pace guide transmission. Even although Toyota USA provided a 5-on-the-flooring Camry from the very first ’83s during the 2012 mannequin 12 months, you see, the overlap between the “Americans who desire a new Camry” group and the “Americans who’re keen to drive a guide transmission” group turned vanishingly small beginning within the early Nineties. Last 12 months, I managed to identify a guide-outfitted 1997 Camry and, six months later, a 2000. After that, I remained caught on the final 12 months of the twentieth century (which was 2000, not 1999) in my three-pedal Camry quest… till a number of weeks in the past in Northern California, once I ran throughout this battered 2001 CE in Vintage Pearl Red.
One of the principle causes that automatics turned a lot extra common right here within the Nineties was a easy one: buy value. If you wished a brand new 1985 Camry Deluxe sedan with an computerized, it value you an additional 800 bucks on a $8,948 automobile (about $2,105 on a $23,574 automobile in 2021 bones, or clams). That’s an addition of just about 9% to the out-the-door value, and the relative value of a two-pedal rig went up because the automobile’s sticker value went down.
By 2000, a guide-outfitted Camry CE began at $17,675 whereas its slushbox-ified counterpart value $18,475 (about $29,105 and $30,420 at this time). That’s nonetheless an $800 computerized ($1,315 in 2021), but it surely added a mere 2.75% to the price of the automobile. For that value, why would any Camry commuter be wiling to juggle a Big Gulp, a cellphone and a shifter in cease-and-go site visitors?
It’s value noting that the unique purchaser of this automobile paid $778 additional for the elective Value Package #1, which included air con (not customary gear on the bottom-grade CE Camry), energy home windows and energy mirrors. This means that the client wasn’t simply going for the most cost-effective attainable Camry, however as an alternative was the uncommon form of driver who prefers a guide however nonetheless desires a no-nonsense sedan that can final a jillion miles.
American automobile consumers had been in a position to step right into a Toyota dealership in 2001 and purchase a brand new Camry LE with a 5-pace guide and a 3.0-liter V6 engine making 200 horsepower. That automobile would have been an entertaining sleeper, but it surely value $22,385 (about $36,860 now). On high of that, such a automobile shopper would have been drawn to the sleeker (and cheaper) Solara coupe. Meanwhile, a brand new 2001 BMW 325i sedan with 5-on-the-flooring value simply $26,990 and had rear-wheel-drive, to not point out the 2001 Volkswagen Passat GLS V6 sedan and its 190hp for $24,050. If any of you’ve ever seen a twenty first-century Camry LE with V6/guide setup, please let me know.
I’ve at all times thought that Toyota’s CE trim degree stood for Cheap Edition, however in reality it means Classic Edition (somebody pried off the CE badge on this automobile, however the construct tag says it is a CE). Most of the 2000s Camry CEs you will discover could have began life as fleet vehicles, however few (if any) fleet patrons will select something with a guide transmission and thus this automobile was purchased by an bizarre civilian purchaser.
The digital odometer means we’ll by no means know what number of miles had been on this automobile when it took that closing tow-truck trip to this place, however I’ll wager it was effectively into the 200,000s and perhaps past that. I’ll maintain searching for an ’02 or later three-pedal Camry throughout my future junkyard explorations, however do not maintain your breath for a junked guide-outfitted 2012 mannequin any time quickly.
US-market Camry tv promoting received much less thrilling because the many years wore on.
In Japan, the ’01 Camry adverts had been barely funnier.