We just passed the Winter Solstice which of course means it’s time to start thinking about top-down summer driving in cars like today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Solara. Let’s see if this forgotten Toyota is priced to make those future memories.
Hotrodding has long involved the cramming of big mills into little cars, as an appreciable power to weight ratio will always engender a good time. That was the idea behind last Friday’s custom 1999 Porsche Boxster. That was a once entry-level model now imbued with a big six out of a 911 and making it an hochfrisiertes Auto which I’m pretty sure is German for hot rod.
The Porsche’s $15,000 asking price was apparently pretty hot too, earning it a solid 66 percent Nice Price win.
When it comes to cars, you don’t get much more engaging than Porsche, the venerated marque having specialized in cars that stir the loins for more decades than most of us have been alive. That being said, that specialty is a niche in the car market, and while Porsche builds cars for a select few, there are other manufacturers that seem fully content to serve the masses.
One of those manufacturers is Toyota. In fact, I’d wager that no other carmaker has dipped its wick into as many automotive categories as has the Aichi Prefecture-based Toyota Motor Corporation. Over the years that please all/do all attitude has gained Toyota the reputation for building cars and trucks that, while competent and capable, have been lacking in… well, emotion. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been the occasional standout, the AE86 Corolla is highly sought after today for its engaging attitude, as is, for different reasons, the Land Cruiser and original Hilux truck.
Here we have a car that straddles the chasm between desirable and deathly demur. It’s also a car that I’ll bet you—and you—likely have forgotten ever existed. I’m speaking of course of this 2002 Toyota Solara convertible, which represents from the model’s first-generation, and shares its platform with the contemporary Camry, albeit with a generally better-looking body.
Solara production was handled by Toyota’s Canadian branch, specifically its factory in Cambridge, Ontario. The convertibles began their lives there but left in un-finished form for a trek to American Sunroof Company (presently American Specialty Company) for decapitation, soft top installation, and reinforcement of the surrounding structure.
The convertible conversion added about 300 pounds over the coupe, but when fitted with Toyota’s 3-litre 1MZ-FE V6 as is this car, that extra weight isn’t too noticeable.
Oh sure, you’re not going to be hitting the gymkhana in this, but with 200 horsepower and 241 lb-ft of torque, daily driving duties should be well within its purview. In fact, the seller of this Lunar Mist Metallic over black leather ’02 claims that they have been using it for extended weekend jaunts all around LA.
That, of course, has added to the car’s 172,000 miles but there doesn’t seem to be any major evidence of a hard-knock life here. The bodywork is appreciably stock, and all the wear items—top, headlamp lenses, etc.—all seem to be in perfectly serviceable shape. There are a couple of nicks in the paint on the bumper but other than that it seems clean as a bean.
The interior has not only held up its end of the bargain but looks, dare I say it, quite elegant. No, you won’t find major modern accouterments like touch screen nav or even steering wheel controls, but there’s a simple sophistication that’s reminiscent of Mercedes interiors. The black leather on the seats and steering wheel also look to be in pretty nice shape, as does the fake wood trim.
The seller claims no mechanical issues on the car and touts regular maintenance and decent tires as bonafides. There’s no word on the age of the timing belt and might-as-wells underneath so that may be a bone of contention should you want to discuss taking ownership.
You’d probably want to discuss price too, and the starting point for that discussion would be the seller’s $3,000 asking. That’s baby bear fare, but seeing as there are a ton of used cars in this price range, what you have to ask yourself is whether you could see anyone paying that much for this Solara.
What do you think, is this somewhat rare and tidy top-dropper worth that $3,000 asking? Or, at that much would you be happy to go back to not remembering these cars exist at all?
H/T to Doug D for the hookup!
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