• Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

Junkyard Gem: 2000 Toyota Camry Solara SE

Bynewsmagzines

May 7, 2023
Junkyard Gem: 2000 Toyota Camry Solara SE

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Toyota began selling the Camry in North America in 1983, replacing the rear-wheel-drive Corona. Most U.S.-market Camrys have been four-door sedans, though wagon versions were available from 1987 through 1996. There was a brief moment in the middle 1990s, however, when new Camry coupes appeared in American Toyota showrooms. Few seemed interested in buying those two-doors, but Toyota refused to give up completely on the idea of a sporty car based on the Camry platform. The result of this persistence was the Camry Solara, a slick-looking machine available for the 1999 through 2008 model years. Here’s an early Solara, found in a Colorado car graveyard recently.

The kind of American car shoppers who might have wanted a rakish coupe were moving over to truck-shaped machinery as fast as they could by the time this car was built, and that process would continue at breakneck speed throughout the 2000s. Adding a Camry Solara convertible in 2000 helped a bit, and Toyota increasingly de-emphasized the Camry name in the Solara’s marketing materials as the years went by, but sales were never spectacular.

This car is the SE V6 trim level, which had an MSRP of $21,648 (about $38,582 in 2023 dollars). The base SE with four-banger cost $18,938 ($33,752 today).

Those prices were for cars with five-speed manual transmissions, and that’s just what this car has. The automatic was an extra 800 bucks in the SE ($1,426 now).

The last time Americans could buy a new Camry sedan with three pedals and a V6 engine was early in 2001; four-cylinder Camry sedans with manual transmissions were available all the way through 2011. It appears that 2002 was the final model year for a Solara with V6 and five-on-the-floor manual; four-cylinder Solaras could be bought with stick-shifts all the way through the end in 2008.

Junkyard shoppers have purchased most of the front body components from this car.

With an electronic odometer here, I can’t check the final mileage without powering up the ECU (which is possible, though not easy, in the junkyard). I’d wager that it got past the 200,000-mile mark.

It’s not one of those Camrys.

Don’t get a wife, two kids, a dog and a Camry sedan. Get a dog and a Camry Solara instead! My parents drove a 1967 Ford Custom two-door sedan and a 1949 Cadillac Club Coupe when I was a toddler, making me living proof that childhood can be survived with just two doors per family car … but the rules have changed since then, apparently.

An entirely different kind of Camry.

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