At $2,999, Is This 1986 Toyota Camry Survivor A Gold Standard?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

The seller of today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe old-school Camry says it’s worth its weight in gold. That’s obviously hyperbole, but fitting since the car is gold, inside and out. Let’s see what exactly it might more realistically be worth its weight in.

Few artists are appreciated in their own time. Perhaps in such cases, it actually takes the artist’s death to allow demand to finally exceed supply?


While not exactly an artistic expression, yesterday’s 1986 Mitsubishi Montero did represent a good bit of work, what with its adopted Delica diesel and other updates. Those may have been appreciated, whereas the truck’s $5,250 price tag was far less so. Yes, it was registered in a weird LLC contract, and it did have some issues that might make it even more limited. As its 75 percent Crack Pipe loss showed, not many were willing to let those issues pass at that price. Sadly for Mitsubishi, that’s too often the case with even their current lineup.

While Mitsubishi may have run out of talent when it comes to their offerings over here in the U.S., Toyota keeps plugging along as one of the country’s biggest metal movers. For years one of their most popular rides was the Camry, the company’s mid-size all-rounder. That was until SUVs and crossovers became the new hotness overtaking them as the most ubiquitous sight on the roads.

Being widely popular means being acceptable to as many people as possible. That’s why unexceptional beers like Coors and Bud outsell everything else, even the good stuff. That’s also why a car that’s modest in its aspirations and inoffensive in its duties can be so popular. And back in the day, you didn’t get much more modest and inoffensive than the Camry. Would it be exciting? Oh hell no. It would, however, drive you all the way through life without much issue, perhaps even into the grave if you were smart enough to get one of the wagons.


This 1986 Toyota Camry seems a fine example of the stoicism for which the model was once known. This is an old car and appropriately enough, the seller has positioned it for an older buyer. He’s done so by listing everything in his ad in a large, readable ALL-CAPS font and taking blurry pictures of the car at what looks to be its most likely natural environment—a senior center.


The seller describes the car’s color as gold but confirming Toyota’s strategy of eschewing ostentation with the Camry, the official color name here is Beige Metallic. That’s in pretty good shape and rocks a sensible pinstripe down the side, just like on the pants of a show-house usher or other servile individual. On the downside, the black rubber bumpers do show a good bit of chalking from age. That affects both aesthetics and their propensity to dirty any pantleg that strays too close.


The interior is a bit more worn, displaying holes in the carpet where years of shoes have scraped over the door jamb. The driver’s seat also looks a good bit moth-eaten, but still seems to be capable of holding asses without complaint. The rest of the seats look decent and downright inviting in their neutral mouse-fur coats. The squared-off dash looks to be un-cracked and carries an aftermarket gauge down where your knees slide in and out. Maybe that’s why the carpet is so oddly worn.


As you might expect of an ‘80s Toyota, the mechanicals are described as perfect, even down to the fully functioning R12 A/C. That boast even extends to the clutch for the five-speed stick. According to the ad, there are no leaks, drips, funny sounds or vibrations coming from the car. In fact, at 190K he says it’s just getting broken in.

He also says that this is “NOT YOUR LOCAL GRAVEL ROAD CRACK HEAD ABUSED TURD, LIKE SO MANY LOCAL CARS IN THIS AREA ARE.” That, when it comes to it, is all we can really ask in a cheap used car, right? On a less positive note, the seller uses an unfortunate term for the car’s nation of origin. I’m not going to repeat it here.


The car comes with a clean title, but unsurprisingly the seller doesn’t come with any sort of smartphone so don’t try texting him. He’d probably be too busy shooing kids off his lawn and contemplating whether 3:30 is really too early for dinner anyway.


Should you be jonesing for an old Camry like this—say you’re addicted to Radwood or just want to swim against the stream of current day corpulence—then the price is $2,999. Now, that may not seem like much, but when it comes to mass-produced cars that are more than three decades old, that can be quite the sum. For many old cars it can also be just the tip of the iceberg and your bank account is the Titanic.


That’s far from likely to be the case with this Camry, but could you still see someone dropping a buck-shy of three-grand to buy it?

You decide!


Lake of the Ozarks, MO Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Brian Jackson for the hookup!

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.