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CHOTW: 1997 Toyota Camry V6

1997 Toyota Camry V6 in Foster City, CA, $600.

Welcome to the first installment of Cheap Heap of the Week!

We’ve long maintained that once you purchase a Toyota Camry, you’ve basically announced to the world that, automotively speaking, you’ve given up. Based on the one and only image associated with this ad, the same is true when you go to sell it.

But first, we need a bit of transparency on this post. First, it goes against our core tenant of only featuring ads that include decent photography. Second, this car doesn’t technically run. But it’s really close, and was running well enough before the… well, you’ll just have to keep reading.

In a way, this is most Camry ad for a Camry possible. It clearly indicates a position – selling a car – but the initiative barely registers. The mileage is either “about 250000….might be 255k I would have to look.” The seller cannot be bothered to get up and snap one single photo of the car itself, but doing so would get them just that much closer to reading the odometer.

There is a lot of other information in the ad – little of it salient – but mostly indicating indifference at best. The engine has had a noisy lifter for long enough (roughly 190k miles) that the car earned the nickname “The Ticker.” The starter used to work, then would work when beaten with a crescent wrench, and now does not work.

Maybe the seller is secretly a genius. He knows the car is completely anonymous, and that any potential buyer won’t care what it looks like in both design and condition. So by submitting a simple line drawing of the most generic car possible instead of an actual representation speaks to not only his own innate mechanical and aesthetic vehicular apathy that Camry ownership has clearly bred, but also the projection of those feelings of apathy to a future owner. It’s kind of meta, actually.

For the record, this is a 1997 Camry:

As is this:

And one more, just to be sure:

Now I will admit the Toyota Camry in general is not a bad car. In fact, there is ample evidence a Camry is one of the best cars you can buy. Probably explains why since 1997, with one exception, it’s been every year the best-selling car in America. Or it explains that in 1997 consumers just stopped caring.

Digging into the ad itself shows this is a 1997 model – I put that information up top, dear reader, to help you – which is even better. Four-cylinder or V6, automatic transmission or manual, this generation of Camry will accrue moonshot mileage without blinking, and with somewhat regular timing belt and oil changes – this example has been treated to Mobil 1 – will run until the sun goes out.

Our nanny has a Camry of this vintage, and I’ve wrenched on it. In addition to being easy to work on, it’s put together like a mini Lexus. The materials, even at this age, are very high quality. After replacing the front brake pads and rotors – a cinch, I might add – I drove it around for about 30 minutes.

I was shocked at how civilized it was. I dare say it was a little fun, too. So nice was it, in fact, I came home and started digging around for a V6 model with a 5-speed manual. One of those with some suspension and decent tires under it could be a fun commuter.

And that, folks, is why this Camry is a Cheap Heap of the Week.


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