Junkyard Treasure: 1986 Toyota Camry LE Liftback

The Camry first appeared in North America for the 1983 model year, replacing the Corona. The liftback version is very rare.

Believe it or not, most US-market 1983-1987 Camrys had manual transmissions. This one has the luxurious automatic.

It’s pretty rough, but then it has better than 300,000 miles on the clock.

Toyota put various versions of this transmission-control switch on most of its automatics for decades.

Toyota sold rear-wheel-drive Coronas in North America from the middle 1960s through the early 1980s, when the first-generation Camry and its space-efficient front-wheel-drive design became the Toyota family hauler on these shores. These cars weren’t exciting machines, but their amazing reliability made their competition seem like shoddy money-wasters. I still see plenty of these cars in wrecking yards, since a lot of them held together just fine for three decades, but nearly all of them are ordinary sedans. Here’s a rare liftback Camry, spotted in a Denver yard last month.

If a Camry doesn’t make it to 300,000 miles, there’s a problem.

That’s just over 9,181 miles for every one of this car’s 33 years on the road. The final owner tried to sell it for 600 bucks (as seen on the signs painted on the glass), but a beat-up Camry with an astronomical odometer reading won’t get many takers.

Liftback sedans were all the rage in the middle 1980s.

The liftback design made cargo access easy and (presumably) helped fuel economy, but it also made these cars look even frumpier than their sedan siblings. Still, 300,000 miles gets you the last laugh.

2.0 liters, 95 horsepower.

In theory, American car shoppers could buy a diesel Camry in 1986, but I’ve never seen one. This is the 2S gasoline four-cylinder, rated at 95 horsepower; that was enough for a car that weighed less than 2,500 pounds. Toyota began building North American-market Camrys in Kentucky starting with the 1988 model year, so this is one of the last Japan-built Camrys sold here.

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