My, What A Big Camry You Have! (with bonus ad scans)

On the back cover of same 1983 issue of Omni from which I pulled a Honda CX650T ad for a post last fall, Toyota was pitching its one-year-old Camry nameplate. (Previously, the Camry name had been a variant in the JDM Celica line.) What’s doubly amazing to me is not only the original V10 Camry’s compact size in comparison to today’s bloated Camry models, but the fact that the ad copy touts its spacious, family-sized accommodations. Keep in mind that many critics ding the current Suzuki Kizashi as being too cramped for a midsized car; using exterior dimensions and wheelbase for comparison, the V10 Camry was about 5% smaller. How times have changed.
Rather than lying to you about scheduling more of these to come, I’m including three other ad scans from the magazine after the jump, in one big orgy of 1983-ness.

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  1. tonyola Avatar

    The Camry was introduced in the US for 1983 as a replacement for the Corona, whose last year in the US was 1982 but would continue on for a few generations more in Japan. The five-door Camry was pretty slick-looking for the time, but not nearly as nice-looking as the five-door 626. Why would anyone want a Fuego in 1983 when a new and very competent Prelude was available?
    <img src="; width=500>
    <img src="; width=500>
    <img src="; width=500>

    1. Syrax Avatar

      And why would they choose a spanish name? Granted, Renault Feu sounds smug and stupid but Fuego?

    2. Pug_Notsougly Avatar

      Ah, but read carefully–the Fuego has 'laser-calibrated visibility'. Can't get that in an '83 Prelude, not even as an option.

    3. Smells_Homeless Avatar

      I had a passing crush on the Fuego, for sure. They came out when I was in middle school though and I was thoroughly insulated from mechanical horror stories. So I had to rely on pure aesthetics, and I just think it was one of the most unique cars of the time.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        The Fuego always looked a bit off to me, as if it was a nice-looking design that had been inflated well beyond its recommended pressure.

        1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

          That may well be what I like about it!

  2. Manic_King Avatar

    So Toyota used most mediocre traditional styling language then already? All the other cars in ads look more modern, have less chrome and softer lines.

  3. Scoutdude Avatar

    The perfect family car for ghosts. Gotta love the Mazda add with the techy drawings and graphs and the car in motion. The Nissan "bet you're going to want" is just unbelievably bad.

  4. muthalovin Avatar

    That dude just murdered his entire family their ghosts decided to haunt his Camry. Resale value is shot.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Clearly not a murder. They were killed in some sort of accident, as evidenced by the fact that "jaws of life" were obviously used to rip off the roof and both passenger-side doors. The lack of other sheetmetal damage suggests they went off a bridge and drowned.
      And now the family roams the highways at night in their be-rended ghost Camry, searching for the callous trucker who thoughtlessly ran them off the road while dealing with the typical struggles of raising teens. Someday, once they've gouged out his heart and each taken a bite, they will be able to finally cross over to the next world.
      Ghost Camry — premiering next Thursday on USA. (I would sooo tune in every week.)

      1. muthalovin Avatar

        "It's like Quantum Leap, except ghost-yer!" – Muthalovin

  5. DrJomamachubby Avatar

    My wife had an '85 Camry for a while. That was the crappiest car I've ever had the misfortune to personally experience. It made my old Celebrity look like a CR top pick in comparison.

    1. Pug_Notsougly Avatar

      And yet, it is one Camry for which a recall was never announced.

    2. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

      My mom had an '86 hatchback. Both of us regard it as the best car she's ever owned.
      It pretty much disintegrated some time in the late '90s, but the interior was still in very good shape.

  6. Jim-bob Avatar

    Reminds me of a better time when a family car didn't have to have the leg room of a 1973 Cadillac sixty special. I wish we could go back to a time when smaller cars ruled the day. Cars today are so large that I simply can't find anything small enough to fit my needs.

    1. zsm Avatar

      Check-out the Mazda2, I was very impressed when I test drove one.

      1. Andrew Avatar

        throw a monster sway bar on it and it'll probably fly around an autocross course, one wheel cocked in the air… and then do the same thing all the way to the grocery store.
        wouldn't advise it on the return trip though.

      2. Jim-Bob Avatar

        I looked at one and was unimpressed. It's too big and needs a much smaller engine. Shave about 10 inches of height and 2 feet of length off of it and I might be interested. Put in a nice, 1 liter (or smaller) three cylinder with 40 city and 55 highway and I'm sold!

        1. dwegmull Avatar

          Sounds like you need a FIat 500.

        2. zsm Avatar

          The gas mileage was not impressive but it was very fun. You've go the right idea with the Metro certainly!

          1. Jim-Bob Avatar

            When you drive 3,000 miles a month like I do, fuel economy is about as sexy as it comes with regards to cars! My Metros are about the worst possible vehicles you can think of when comparing it the way the usual magazine would. However, when you own one and drive it for a week and use half the fuel of your normal car, you quickly learn to overlook the shortcomings and love the economics of it. It's about $200 a month cheaper for me to drive than my 22 mpg truck.

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Or the aforementioned Kizashi. A grossly under-appreciated car, IMHO.

      1. Andrew Avatar

        If they made an awd/manual configuration, it would have some appeal. As it is, I'd run out and grab an RX-8 before they're all gone.

      2. SSurfer321 Avatar

        as is the rest of Suzuki's line up. I've heard the SX4 is quite fun to drive and the cheapest AWD you can buy.

  7. Cynic Avatar

    Nowadays, apparently this is a family car:
    Note how it's so goddamn obese, it floods out of the back of the parking space.

    1. Alff Avatar

      Of course. Who amongst us hasn't put on a little weight since 1983?

      1. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

        Indeed, I've probably put on 220lb since 1983. (The Camry's gained nearly 1000)

  8. Black Steelies Avatar

    I pick the 626 out of the above. I imagine it being the most fun to drive for no reason at all.

    1. CJinSD Avatar

      I had a friend with a couple younger brothers. The middle one lucked into a 626 4-door hatchback similar to the one in the photo. It was practically trouble free, certainly compared to their other cars. The only problem I can recall was that their mother told me about how a girl that he was dating kicked the windshield out from the inside. "He told me he was tickling her."

    2. Alff Avatar

      I learned to drive in the earlier generation, tail-happy RWD model. I'll bet it isn't more fun than that one was.

  9. CJinSD Avatar

    Just because the new Suzuki is bigger on the outside, it doesn’t mean that it has more room on the inside. Doors are thicker. Crumple zones are longer. Architecture is more tortured by style than ever. The ’83 Camry’s roofline didn’t trade rear seat headroom for being part of an idiotic sloping trend.
    I never had much interest in the first Camry. They were boring to look at, and seemed expensive and indifferent in the magazines. I dated a girl in college who loved hers though. She was from a wealthy family that owned Saabs and Jeep Wagoneers. Her first few cars were 900s and a Wagoneer. When she got her boxy Camry, it was a complete revelation. She was mad when someone confused it with the Audi 4000S quattro I drove at the time, because in her eyes the Camry was otherworldly great. She’d never had a car before that could be counted on to complete any trip, then start up again and take her home afterward.

  10. Tomsk Avatar

    Fun fact: The first gen Camry was available in the U.S. with a 2.0L turbodiesel four banger producing an asphalt shredding 74hp.
    Yes, I'd be sorely tempted if I found a five-door one in decent shape.

    1. CJinSD Avatar

      I don't have any memories of the diesel Camry, but that would have been formidable power for the day. The Jetta turbo diesel made 68 hp. That was a big step over the 52 hp of the Rabbit and Audi 4000 diesel. My MB 240D made 62 hp and was a pretty substantial car. I think the Camry would have weighed at least 500 lbs less while having 20% more power. It might have been almost as fast as a really slow gas powered car!

  11. Van Sarockin Avatar
    Van Sarockin

    Y'know what's big? An Avalon is big. I'd rented a Focus in Ireland, but all they had was the Avalon. It was large, but perfect. Must have gotten over 30 mpg. enormous inside gargantuan trunk and very comfy for cross country touring.
    Camries, I hate.

  12. ptschett Avatar

    "Your mileage may vary" was an understatement back in the day. 44 highway MPG? Maybe down Berthoud Pass.

  13. From_a_Buick_6 Avatar

    I came home from the hospital in an '85. It replaced a Corona and was replaced by another Camry. And today, my dad drives…wait for it…a Camry.
    It's easy to knock this car today for being beige and boring. But you can't forget what a revelation these cars were to Detroit-weary customers in the '80s. For awhile, my mom's Toyotas shared garage space with my dad's company cars, which were a succession of front-drive GM garbage. There was simply no comparison, and once he stopped getting company cars, my old man never went near another domestic product. Now, you can go on about how improved GM is today, but why abandon a make that's been dependable for 30 years and go back to one that dumped on you repeatedly?

    1. Scoutdude Avatar

      Because Toyota is the new GM with it's quality and durability on a downward spiral for about a decade now.

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Our first Toyota was a revelation for my family, too. My mom traded in her fully-optioned '76 Ford Granada Ghia Landau Coupe for a stripper '81 Tercel 2-door sedan. Even with no radio, no carpeting, 5-speed manual and 60 HP, it was a helluvalot more enjoyable car.

  14. Maxichamp Avatar

    Omni magazine. Now that's a blast from the past.

  15. austinminiman Avatar

    Fuegos have the most comfortable seats ever put into a vehicle. I can't say anything about the car, but I have Fuego seats in one of my Minis, and they're perfectly padded, bolstered, soft….
    Of course, it meant finding matching upholstery for the rear seat: 1987 Camaro!

  16. dukeisduke Avatar

    You could even get the Camry with a diesel back then. I've seen a few for sale on eBay over the years.
    Those AMC Renaults? Garbage. I don't think I've seen an Alliance, Encore, 18i or Fuego in decades.

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