NEWS: The Toyota Camry — 30 years old, 10 million cars sold

1985_Camry_liftback_and_sedan

The Camry. Much derided punching bag for self-respecting car enthusiasts. Scapegoat for all the world’s automotive ills, its clueless drivers, and the decline of automotive culture as we know it. Where would we be without it? 

1986_Camry_color

Toyota USA is celebrating 30 years of the front-wheeled wonder and its eleventh straight year as the best-darn-selling car in America. Added together, that’s over 10 million units. Park them bumper to bumper and they would circumnavigate the earth with enough left over to cross Russia. Perhaps an even more astounding statistic: one out of every five Toyotas sold in the US is a Camry.

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That makes it as American as baseball pie. Go to Japan and you’ll see about as many Camrys as you would hakosuka Skylines in the wild. It’s not sold at all in Europe. It’s ranked as having the highest amount of American-sourced content by the US government. And perhaps most ‘Murrican of all, it runs in NASCAR.

2013_NASCAR_Camry_005

The Camry was created during Toyota’s Great FF Reformation of the mid-80s. In America, it replaced the FR Corona as Toyota’s mid-sizer in 1983 (though the Corona also switched to FF and continued to be sold in Japan). From Day One it was promptly condemned as an appliance on wheels, but buyers were swayed by its no-nonsense approach to good, honest transportation.

1984_Camry_sedan_and_liftback

In turn, that appeal made it one of the fattest, fertile-ist golden egg laying geese ever imagined by man. It earned billions for Toyota, money which the company then spends on projects like the Scion FR-S, Fuji Speedway, and the gigantic Toyota Automobile Museum in Nagakute. Without the Camry, there’d be no Lexus LFA, for which Toyota takes a loss on every supercar sold.

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Here in Los Angeles, you can still see 25-year-old Camrys scooting around on a regular basis. Nearly two thirds of all Camrys sold, about 6.4 million, are still on the road. They are apocalypse-proof. Sure, as enthusiasts we’d rather get behind the wheel of a 4AG-powered screamer or one a monster turbocharged Toyota straight-six. But let’s face it. If your mother asks you which car she should buy because she doesn’t want a death trap, money pit, or something that’s going to leave her stranded on the shoulder in a rainstorm, you’re going to put her in a Camry.

Gallery: 30 Camrys, 30 Years.

Photos courtesy of Toyota.

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17 Responses to NEWS: The Toyota Camry — 30 years old, 10 million cars sold

  1. Nigel said:

    Camry the “bringer” of average and normal things.
    (I did see a touring car version back in the 90′s).
    Happy birthday Camry.

  2. acbpanda said:

    Happy birthday Camry! Sometimes i wonder what cars that aren’t JNC but just generally Japanese would look like lowered a little with some nice rims… I think that some would look stunning.

  3. Greylopht said:

    The ultimate cockroach car. I have driven allot of V10 and V20 Camry’s and I really do like them for what they are. A point A to point B commuter (Or screamer if you get the V6, face it newer Camry V6′s are really pretty quick!) And while they may be bland and boring the V20′s are absolutely bullet proof with the 4 pot. I know and service several Camry’s with well over 300,000 miles on the clock and all of them seem to be doing VERY well and all of them are on there original drive train. (Even the two Automatics) They are the epitome of the bullet proof Toyota after the Hi Lux.

    The world is in smoky ruins, your best friend has stolen the last Hi Lux.. But you can believe that your ancient Camry will still start and drive across the wasteland.

    Happy Birthday Camry, and lets hope there is another good 30 years ahead.

  4. Patrick Strong said:

    I had forgotten that the first generation was available as a 5-door. It actually looks rather handsome to me, in a sort of near-Gallic boxy way.

  5. invinciblejets said:

    I’d take an all trac camry…….. 3sgte swap… hmmmm camry doesn’t sound so bad all the sudden.

  6. Dave said:

    Camry hate is such a cliché these days, it’s like saying “I’m so weird” or “I’m the biggest nerd.” Camrys are awesome. They’re comfortable, relatively economical, and ridiculously reliable. It’s the best car of its kind. I especially love the V10 wagon (it’s cavernous, and those dual wipers on the rear hatch are cool!) as well as the V20 (so ’80s! And let’s not forget the All-Trac). The 5-door liftback of the first generation is also awesome.

  7. Mike said:

    It’s worth noting that the Celica Camry was released in 1980, which is really the first Camry…..

  8. Ken said:

    My wife’s 93 camry is close to 200K and runs alright. It is the V6 model 3VZ to be exact and I am certain that it needs the HG replaced on at least the rear bank of cylinders if not both. I have to say though, that as long as I routinely check the fluids and top them off when needed, it starts and gets her around town just fine. The suspension is getting a bit ‘klunky’ for her but it keeps motoring on. Happy birthday Camry!

  9. TheGrifCannon said:

    Here in Australia they are the most common car you will probably see, hell we have two of them as daily drivers. They are unkillable, economical, parts are readily available and if you need a car you can pick one up fully registered with low KM’s for only a few thousand. They have also been built here since 1987 so they are very important to the Australian auto industry and are the mainstay of Toyota in this country.

  10. Theo said:

    well, happy 30th birthday camry…

    haha, i literally love these cars, like cockroaches but in a good way

  11. pstar said:

    All you clowns praising the camry are a joke. I just hope you realize that the car was literally invented for the clueless north american soccer mom market, who didn’t and don’t even know what front wheel drive or rear wheel drive means. I’m not saying that fwd sucks, I’m saying the target market of the camry are morons who literally know nothing about cars, and have no desire to know anything about cars. These are the kind of idiots and hypocrites who really should stick to public transportation. A car for people who despise cars and car culture.

    I wonder if all you camry loving hipsters have the same burning passion for nissan altimas or chevy cavaliers. Maybe windstars or caravans are up your alley as well. THUMBS DOWN

  12. Sdrd said:

    Haha! That guy above is funny.
    Sure not everyone shares a passion for cars as we do but that doesn’t make the car and what it stands for a bad thing. Bottom line is reliability and comfort.
    Most people don’t want to worry or care so much for their cars because its not they’re hobby or “lifestyle”. If everyone cared for their cars as much as we do, then it would be pretty hard for those of us who put effort into ours to be noticed or acknowledged for the hard work that goes into a project. Because then everyone’s car would be a “project”
    I own a gen 4 and love the car. I’m pushing 280k and with regular maintenance it has never let me down on a daily commute or long road trip.

  13. ToyotaGuy said:

    Another Camry Bullet Proof story:
    I’ve owned Toyotas since 1973. My first Camry was a 1994 V6 LE Wagon used as our family soccer mom car. Except for the normal maintenances; oil changes, radiator flush, trans service, brakes, etc.; the only odd repair was replacing the VC joint boots a couple of times. After 11 years and nearly 300k miles, the torque converter went out. The wife said she is done with the car so I sold it. I got $1200 for a none running car, and the new owner was happy as a clam to tow away a rare, super clean Camry wagon. About two weeks later the new owner called to say the transmission was fixed and it was running great.
    I currently have a 2007 4-cyl, 5-Speed manual SE with 65k miles – just ‘breaking it in’.

  14. ewokracing said:

    *yawn*