Junkyard Gem: 1994 Toyota Camry Coupe

From the beginning of North American sales for the 1983 model year, the Toyota Camry could be purchased as a four-door sedan or (from 1987 through 1996) as a four-door station wagon… except for a brief moment during the middle 1990s, when a flirting-with-sportiness Camry coupe was available. With the passing of a quarter-century since the last new Camry Coupe rolled out of a Toyota showroom, these cars have become uncommon sights today. Here’s a first-model-year ’94 Camry LE V6 coupe in a Denver car graveyard.

Sure, a Camry Solara coupe was made for the 1999-2008 model years, but its Camry origins got decreasing emphasis with each passing year and its aspirations to coolness just seemed frivolous. The true Camry coupe, which was a proper cheaper-than-its-sedan-counterpart transportation appliance exhibiting little frivolity, was built in Kentucky for just the 1994 through 1996 model years.

This one is a fairly snazzy LE V6 model, which sat just below the top-shelf SE V6 Camry in 1994. List price of the LE V6 coupe was $21,588, while its sedan counterpart cost $21,878 (about $39,435 and $39,965 in 2021 dollars, respectively). In a sense, the Camry coupe was something like the “business coupes” that Detroit sold in the middle 20th century: simpler and better-looking than the four-door and sporting a lower price tag. Honda continued selling Accord coupes here all the way through 2017, so the formula stayed at least semi-viable for many decades.

In true Camry fashion, this car stayed on the road until its odometer reached a very impressive figure. In fact, it needed just another 57 miles to hit the magical 250k-mile mark. Not quite as well-traveled as, say, a certain 1988 Tercel 4WD wagon I found in the same yard, but respectable.

With 188 horsepower, this 3.0-liter V6 made the 3,064-pound Camry coupe reasonably quick (in a sensible, Camry-appropriate manner). The cheaper 2.2-liter four-banger produced just 130 horses.

I have made it my personal junkyard quest to find the latest possible Camry equipped with a manual transmission; though new three-pedal Camrys were available here — in theory — through 2012, the newest discarded example I’ve managed to find was a 2000 Camry CE. As far as I can tell, American Camry buyers couldn’t get a V6 car with a manual in 1994 (the newest manual V6 Camry I’ve managed to find was a 1990 model).

With two doors, you get fewer potential leaks and rattles plus less wind noise, at the price of more difficult back-seat access. Many 1994-1996 Camry shoppers found that formula appealing, but most of these cars have been used up by now.

So romantic… and so American!

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