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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

No, really, here's a beige Camry you'd consider owning

The Toyota Camry is the butt of many an internet joke, and not just for car enthusiasts. Much like minivan jokes from two decades ago, everyone pokes fun at the ubiquitous Toyota sedan, especially when finished in a light brown tone. Some call it gold, while Toyota insists on word salads like "Sandy Beach Metallic."
https://www.hagerty.com/media/car-profiles/no-really-heres-a-beige-camry-youd-consider-owning/
57 REPLIES 57
hyperv6
Racer

I would rather buy a good pair of shoes before I buy that.

Life is too short for boring cars.
Sajeev
Community Manager

Yeah but it's not boring. It just looks boring. 

Tsaxman
Advanced Driver

Putting Descartes before De Horse:

It looks boring, so therefore, Satis taediosum est.
Oldroad1
Technician

To me boring is good as long as boring is solid and lasting performance. The Toyota Camry has always captured solid and lasting since the beginnings of the model.
CitationMan
Gearhead

Gotta be able to walk in another man’s shoes before you can say that. I would have loved to have a beater this nice when I had no money.

Sajeev
Community Manager

Well said! (applause) 

hyperv6
Racer

Careful don’t judge what you don’t know. 

No it is boring. Been there done that. 

audiobycarmine
Technician

Except that Sajeev DOES know...
Did you read this article?
hyperv6
Racer

I have worn out that man’s shoes. 

I have owned several beaters that I drove for two years and invested nothing and made money on them. 

My first was a 63 Ford Galaxie that had 70k miles and no rust. It still had in the original exhaust and the paint was great. 

Added a set of radials since it still had bias tires on it and a set of original used Ansen wheels from the 60’s and it made for a cool looking and fun ride.

 

$500 was my investment barrier from dad because I had no money. 

I have done this with several cars over the years. 

Oldroad1
Technician

Bet you wish you had that car back. 63 especially the fast back were the best of all the Galaxie models in my opinion. Spent a lotta time as a passenger in a 63 in high school on fri nights looken for trouble and sometimes we found what we were looken for.
audiobycarmine
Technician

Or boring, uninformed hourly comments.
nobody
Intermediate Driver

I'm glad to hear the shifter in these was good. I test drove a 1998 Camry with a five-speed and found the shifter in that generation terrible, especially when compared to the 1994 Accord I was replacing: long throws and no feel. I ended up with a 1998 Passat V6 (30V) instead, which was far more fun despite the electrical issues. (And it had a much better shifter, thanks to being essentially a stretched A4). I always wondered whether the later manual Camry manuals were any fun, but they were pretty much impossible to find.

How was the handling on this? I test drove a 2016 Camry Hybrid a few years ago (basically the same platform I think?) and found the handling a bit worrying (surprise understeer in a traffic circle I entered quickly, but not THAT quickly).
Sajeev
Community Manager

Yeah I was surprised it had a fair amount of feel in the shifter, and how accurate it was. It won't impress a purist, but it was quite nice...especially considering the vehicle its in! 

 

Handling? It was just like any other non-SE...if you want a Camry that turns, upgrade it with SE shocks/swaybars to reduce a large chunk of understeer and body roll. If I were to buy this car, it'd get SE'd pretty quickly. 

FatBabyDriver
Intermediate Driver

The ambiance of the Family Dollar and check cashing joint in the background is just perfect. It needs a forever home Sajeev!
Sajeev
Community Manager

You are a bad, bad, baaaad influence. 

JeepCJ5
Intermediate Driver

I'd vote for buy it, replace the shifter knob since that bothers you and it's cheap, and then do nothing to the outside appearance. Drive it for what it is - a daily beater.

I'm in the middle of kind of an experiment myself. My daily driver was a 2000 Ford F350 dually with the 7.3 and an automatic. Other options are a 1985 F250 and a 1986 F150, neither of which I want to daily. Diesel and gas prices are only increasing, so I bought a 1999 Lexus ES300 with 230,000 miles from a friend for $2000. The car runs and drives just fine, but the clear coat on the hood is gone, and the roof is down to grey primer in a lot of places. Other than appearance upgrades it could use a few things here and there to make it less annoying, like hood struts instead of using a cut off broom stick to hold the hood up. But the goal of this car was purely to save on operating costs. It had a recent timing belt and oil change, good tires, cold A/C, so I'm going to drive it with its flaws and all until fuel prices come back down. Unless something catastrophic happens, I should be able to get my money back out of it and maybe a little more in the next year or two. Factoring in insurance and oil changes and a little fluff for small repairs, it's saving quite a bit on the commuting. But it's definitely not a fun beater like a stick shift Camry would be. Wish I still had that 1990 Corolla Wagon 5 speed I bought last time fuel prices got so high.
CitationMan
Gearhead

There is something to be said for basic cars like this, so thanks for featuring this. Locally I see a purple Geo Metro convertible that is someone’s daily driver. Always brings a smile to my face, more than any upscale car would.

My favorite vanity license plate of all time was on an old rusty brown Camry LE.

The plate: CAMRY LE

ap41563
Intermediate Driver

I saw a Camry with one with a personalized plate that said " MY CAR" Thats when you realize some marketing wise at Toyota came up with the name "Camry" ha
audiobycarmine
Technician

MY favorite car-related plates are...
On a Renault LeCar: LE PLATE
And on a Chevy Impala: VLAD
ap41563
Intermediate Driver

Growing up I always thought the 92-96 Camry's where just perfect from a style standpoint. At the time I did not know how reliable they would be as today in my town I can catch 1 or 2 driving around each time I am out. The 97-01 models are around, but again I see about 3 or 4 of those driving around each time I am out and of course the numbers go up from there for each generation. Some are clean and some are beat to death. Lately though I find myself in the need of a new daily driver for work for out of state trips. I want a sedan and I find myself looking at New Accord and Camry's since used cars including Camrys and Accords ones are stupid expensive.

I know the enthusiast in me should go for the Accord, but I keep thinking long term what is my goal here? It has a Turbo with a CVT. Will that live and be reliable for 10 + years? Or would the Camry with it's naturally aspirated 4 cyl and traditional 8 speed automatic be a better idea?

I have to have something quite and comfortable for a 3 hour drive for an appointment and then work all day and then a 3 hour drive back that won't beat me to death.

Which reminds me growing up my Grand Father lived in a snowy climate and had a beach house. So he had a 92 Subaru Legacy and a Cadillac. 1 trip he drove the Subaru to the beach for the MPG compared to his Deville running premium fuel. When we went down to the beach my Dad looked at him and said "What is this doing down here?" and his response "You'll never see it down here again I am dog tired after a 6 hour drive and beat to death. You don't realize it when you drive this this around town but it sure doesn't do the highway like my Deville"

Which is why I start thinking more and more about a new Camry. Pay it off in a few years and have a very reliable "work" car that may be boring but will get me there every time. Once it's paid off keep it and then buy something fun.

The thought of having something that will live for 10 + years with regular maintenance and nothing major such as a flywheel replacement or a head gasket needing to be done. Well honestly that appeals to 40 year old me who really wants a Porsche but will only be able to afford a 10 year old + one.

They say life is too short to drive boring cars... and I agree but sometimes you just need to get to work on time every time.
Greg_I
Hagerty Employee

You get that generation Camry with the V6 and they are downright quick. A friend of mine has one as a beater. My 69 Grand Prix with the 350-horsepower 400 had a very difficult time pulling away from it off of a stoplight. These cars might not look like much, but in the right trim, they're an understated enthusiast car.

Sajeev
Community Manager

Good thing you didn't race him when they do a 6-to-3 downshift on the highway. Those V6 Camrys are stupid fast. 

kyree-williams
Detailer

I'm in the same boat, and I hate driving cars that look like they're in poor condition

Last month, I bought a 2011 LS 460L AWD for cheap that needs about $3,500 in work.

Mechanical stuff:


- It has the dreaded valley coolant leak that various Toyota V6 and V8 engines have, including the 4.6-liter in my car. The gasket needs to be replaced, but it's nestled deep in the vee of the engine.
- The valve cover gaskets and HPFP gaskets are leaking. The HPFP gaskets are on the valve cover, so it's really one job
- The boots on the CV axles are torn
- The battery tie-down hooks are missing
- Two of the TPMS sensors are bad

I can get all that done for about $2,500, and the parts are ordered. The mechanic will install them once they come in. It's way better than the $6,600 that the Lexus dealer wanted for it all.

Cosmetic stuff:

- The front bumper fascia mounts are broken, and the bumper is torn at the bottom. Someone has had a go at trying to re-secure the bumper with hot glue and hardware-store screws
- Additionally, the covering that goes under the bumper and stops you snagging it on curbstones is missing. I dang near ripped the bumper off the other day
- The trim pieces that sit on the side of each fog light are missing
- The corners of the rear bumper, where they butt up against the rear lights, are coming away. This is a common LS 460 issue.

I was quoted $1,500 for the bodywork--including parts, paint and labor--and they can't get me in until late March.

Additionally, I have also agreed to buy a 2000 BMW 525i from a friend who sells mostly 60s-and-70s-vintage European cars. It's a 5MT, and I've never had a manual-transmission car at all. And I want more practice. While everything works mechanically, the exterior looks *rough.* I think my partner and I will have fun restoring it. After all, it's less trouble and has more aftermarket and community support than any of the previous cars I've restored. And E39 parts are cheap and plentiful.

 

As far as the Camry goes, I think you should buy it. I know you've got other projects going, but it's not the sort of car that would get away from you, nor is it one where you need to go to the painstaking effort of finding period-correct 80s FoMoCo trim pieces and upholstery...as you do with your other projects. It looks like it just needs a little polish and cosmetic effort, and then anything else you do will be better than it was new.

Sajeev
Community Manager


@kyree-williams wrote:

I know you've got other projects going, but it's not the sort of car that would get away from you, nor is it one where you need to go to the painstaking effort of finding period-correct 80s FoMoCo trim pieces and upholstery...as you do with your other projects. It looks like it just needs a little polish and cosmetic effort, and then anything else you do will be better than it was new.


Oh man, you know me too well! 

AG1962
Instructor

In 2020-21, for around 15 months, we had as a “second car” for occasional use a 2008 Pontiac Vibe (Toyota Matrix) with a five-speed manual. The paint was dull and had various scuffs, the interior dull and whiffy (dog), and the AC compressor had quit. But it had only 57,000 orig. km when I bought it and after getting all the fluids changed, it inspired full confidence, esp. with its free-revving 1.8 four with a timing chain. It was great fun as a beater. But no-one else in the family wanted to drive it: one hated the smell, one hated the look, one still has not learned stick, and everyone objected to the absence of side-curtain airbags. But I sure liked to throw it around the corners. I finally gave in and sold it to finance cars more to my family’s liking. I broke even on purchase, tax, and maintenance — the least I have ever paid for over a year’s driving. Buy it and drive it hard! At that mileage and with that paint, it does not need to be babied or fussed over. Ideal beater.

merlebalke
Advanced Driver

Yay for the Kentucky shout out.The giant Toyota plant is just a few miles from me.
Sajeev
Community Manager

If I recall correctly, the Camry was (and still is?) the most American car made, on the basis of American made content inside it. Gotta give Kentucky some love for that! 

Reinhold_Weege
Instructor

Not true. The propaganda pieces that Toyota put out through their proxies factored in "sales volume". Otherwise, how did a sedan like the Chrysler 200...

Stamped in Sterling Heights, MI
Assembled a mile north,
Engine from either Trenton or Dundee, MI
Trans from Kokomo, IN
Styled, CAD modeled, mocked up, procured, marketed and tested in Auburn Hills; or Chelsea, MI (or Yucca, AZ)

...rank below the Camry? Easy, they made it up on volume. Emphasis on "made up". It's in the fine print.

And I could make that same argument for a bunch of other cars as well.
Sajeev
Community Manager

No I am referring to percentage of components made in America, not an aggregate with units sold (which I agree is a cop out). From what I see here the Camry has 80% US content and the Chrysler 200 has 81%. But to that effect, it's a shame people didn't buy the 200 at the same frequency they do the Camry. 

Reinhold_Weege
Instructor

I believe there is a dollar-value component in that component percentage equation. In which case, the devil is probably in that detail. And if you consider the value of the higher-dollar engineering support work vs. hourly labor to assemble, I'll be those numbers get further apart.

People may not grasp all the details when they say things like "the money stays here", but they aren't wrong either.
Rider79
Technician

Considering that that generation of 200 was rather ugly (unlike its companion car, the Avenger), no surprise the Camry sold better. Of course, a new 200 came along, looked really good, and still didn't sell well...
Reinhold_Weege
Instructor

In terms of styling, I do agree. Although it got better when it changed from Sebring-to-200. So much better that the Dodge became the ugly duckling. 

Jfslater98
Intermediate Driver

Alright... beige camry. Gotta pour a little out for my homey. Had a 2003 Camry XLE V6, in Desert Sand Mica, from new. 370K on the clock when it was felled (just over a year ago) by a putz who couldn't even bother to slow down when hitting it. I wasn't in the car when it happened, thankfully, but still miss it to this day. Not as awesome as a manual transmission version, but I supposed I could have made that happen. I've since fallen into a BringATrailer sink hole (3 in, might not be done), so there's another reason to maybe miss the old beast. I'm biased, but I think a 5th gen SE with the V6 and the manual is the way to go.
Sajeev
Community Manager

(wipes tear from eye) that was beautiful. 

MrKnowItAll
Advanced Driver

I remember when tri-five Chevy 4 door sedans were totally uncool and only useful as parts cars, or beaters. They were everywhere. I turned down a 25,000 mile '57 BelAir 4 door sedan, schoolteacher friend of my moms selling, because it wasn't a 2 door hardtop. No way!
They gained their reputation because they were good, dependable cars, cheap and easy to work on.
Toyotas have this reputation today... the pre-Tundra small trucks are rising in value, and the non-interference 4 bangers in the Camry are noted for longevity. Add manual transmission, a low buck car at the nadir of resale.
Give them time.
MoparMan
Advanced Driver

The manual in this one would cause me to buy it, and then work on changing expectations of it. Manual transmissions have caused me to buy cars that i wouldn't ordinarily look at (4 and a 5 speed Escort station wagon! and a two door hatchback Escort!) I was able to sell both at a profit after working my magic, driving (& enjoying) them for a number of years! A guy showed up at a local Coffee & Chrome in slightly earlier model than this one, decked out in what appeared to be retro Cragars, and boy did it get the looks!! 🙂
SteveNL
Detailer

This whole matter depends upon how you define what a good car is. When I look at the on-line auto auctions, I'm amazed how people buy expensive cars that tend to need a lot of service and are hard to fix.

A Great car needs to be well built, dependable, fun to drive, good looking and easy to work on. A Really Good car needs to be most of the above, minus the good looks. A gold Camry would certainly be good for flying under the radar. I've owned a number of Toyotas, including an old Land Cruiser, Celica and Tacomas. All of them were dependable, economical to own and easy to service.

If Sajeev wants something to drive that's exciting, the Camry can always be a good winter driver. No one on this website is likely to think that you should just own one car, after all.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

Sajeev maybe you need a little beige in your life. Be careful with your shift knob choice, you may lose 5-15 JDM horsepowers! A friend of mine bought a beige Corolla with a manual. It's quite fun and completely anonymous.
thetossedtool
Intermediate Driver

You know what's really cool on a cold winter morning? A car that starts!
drhino
Technician

As I’ve said here on other occasions; a manual transmission makes almost anything cool and desirable to me. (And any sort of automatic completely eliminates it from my perusal.)
MATTMERICA
Technician

You should absolutely buy the car. Maybe somebody on here will come up with a super cool nickname for the beige car and that will push you over the edge. I tried thinking of some but I ate too many tacos at lunch and I'm fading fast.
audiobycarmine
Technician

How about TTT? — for taco-tan-Toyota?
wjones1954
Intermediate Driver

The Accord kept the manual a few years longer than Camry. Still, my wife wasn’t about to put up with that when we bought our Honda. Darn. Of all the sins Toyota may or may not have committed over the years the most egregious one was in the early years of Camry marketing. Remember the slogan “The Family Camry”? The Japanese marketers must have thought that rhymed. It didn’t.
dhaugh
Detailer

Okay Sajeev, I can relate, completely! 3/12 years ago my niece called me from Cincinnati and wondered what they should do about her husband's Corolla that was said to need either a trans or a clutch, they wouldn't know until the tore it apart. I advised her to spend the 500 bucks and find out, it was the trans.

I then advised her to clean the car inside and out and put all the bits in the trunk, which she did. I then sent her to IAA (Insurance Auto Auctions) where the general public can sell a car, just not buy one. Two years later the car is still sitting in her apartment complex outside lot wasting away, I could take it no more. My bride and I loaded up the 4Runner with all the appropriate gear, jack, stands, ratchet straps, zip ties, big hammers in case the parking brake seized and the car wouldn't roll. Turned out to be a great mid pandemic get away and for 79 bucks for a U Haul dolly and we were on our way.

We got it home and realized sitting outside was not good for the pressure plate, rotors or splined axle ends that are supposed to live in a lubed environment. Lots of parts from ebay, rock auto and I still needed a new trans. Manual gearboxes for a 2010 Corolla in Milwaukee were tickling 1300 bucks, and I had just given my niece 1200 for the car. Turns out, manual gearboxes from the same salvage company are 700 in Canada, and that's Canadian dollars.

I had two issues, how to import it and how to ship it. I met with our traffic department who could get it from Buffalo to Milwaukee for 100 bucks, but how to import? Turns out that the Ontario CN LKQ makes regular runs to Buffalo, for freeeeee!

A week of sorting and I had a great little machine, it's fun to drive, satisfies my salty road stick shift fix, and it's got front and rear factory spoilers, (it's a Corolla S). All I added was a BT45Toy Blutooth adapter to the factory radio so that I could talk on the phone while shifting. And, it gets ridiculously good gas mileage, even while redlining all the gears.

Sajeev, ya shoulda bought the Camry, you're missing out big time.

P.S. For those looking to get a really good price for a piece of crap car, I highly recommend the IAA people, it's the best place to get top dollar for something you don't want and you don't want to sell to someone else
Sajeev
Community Manager

This is an amazing story, because we never hear people taking the time to save manual transmission Corollas...or any other sedan for that matter! 

It's still for sale, but I donno....

CitationMan
Gearhead

While I love this Camry, or rather the idea of this Camry, I say drive your other cars more. In the future there will be another unicorn you will not be able to pass up.

richard2
Intermediate Driver

Seriously, dude. It's BEIGE. 'nuff said.
Rider79
Technician

Gotta say, as a lover of true gold cars (such as GM's colour of the late-1990's), this Camry does look gold, not beige. Beige = bland. (Ironically, my first car, in 1973, was a 1969 Beetle in Savannah Beige).
Rider79
Technician

Almost bought a 2011 Camry V6 back about 2014, in a beautiful Clearwater Blue, but it did not handle as well as my 2009 Lacrosse Super, was not quite as quick, and just wasn't as "special" (no pun intended, you old-times Buick fans) as the Super and its LS4.