Scotty G’s Garage: 1984 Toyota Camry Liftback

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

This post is a little strange since we don’t usually show our personal vehicles here, but I thought that a few of you might get a kick out of this 1984 Toyota Camry Liftback. This is a rare bugger and as you can see it’s in fantastic condition. I found this one in Tulsa, Oklahoma a while ago and it literally doesn’t have even a hint of rust anywhere, top to bottom. It’s a loaded LE car with every factory option offered and is the last of the quad-headlight Camrys. The early Camrys are iconic, to say the least. Let’s check this thing out!

This is what all the hubbub is about, bub: the infamous liftback, or as we wacky Americans usually say, hatchback. There is a lot of room back there and I just like the unusual shape. Most of these Camrys were four-door sedans, as seen in this YouTube Toyota commercial, but there’s something about an extra bit of funkiness that always draws me in. And who doesn’t like a rear wiper and washer, especially in a 1980s car? Bonus: you can land your drone on the rear bumper! This car is in incredible condition for being from the early-mid-80s.

There are a couple of flaws other than rust, however. There is a slight crease below the right rear door and something is going on with the right rear bumper. It may have backed into something at some point, it’s a little misaligned. But, that unique shape and just having no rust really makes this one a winner to vintage Japanese vehicle collectors. Not to mention that this is an LE model with every factory option available in 1984. Cha-ching.. the base price on this car was $10,848 but with the options it came to $15,033! That’s $35,246 in 2017 dollars, well within the price of a new Camry.

There’s a decent amount of room in the back and that package shelf thingy that rides up and down with the hatch.. I mean, with the liftback hides your goodies, thus confirming to criminals that you do in fact have valuables back there. The back seats fold down if a person needs even more room, which I often do.

As ridiculously nice as the exterior is, the interior may be even nicer, other than some odd spots/stains on the floor mats and carpet in a few areas. In 1984, Toyota added an overdrive lockout switch for the automatic transmission, which you can see on the shifter. This car cruises at such a low RPM on the freeway that I wouldn’t doubt the 30+ mpg claim by Toyota. There are two switches by the shifter for “economy and power”, and believe it or not there is a bit of power in this engine. There are only 53,898 miles on this beauty. Some of the options were $650 for the power package (windows, locks, cruise), $500 for the sunroof, $480 for the audio system (cassette / amp / equalizer), $195 for the two-tone paint, $675 for AC, $445 for the aluminum wheels, and oddly an expensive $170 for a full-sized spare tire.

Yes, there is a decent amount of legroom in the back, and in the front, too. I’m 6″-5″ tall and I have more than enough room for my legs in front. My one problem area is with headroom due to the power sunroof zapping a couple of inches out of the headliner.

The sunroof has a switch that you have to press to close it. I thought it was broken the first time I opened it and then I notice that switch; whew. You can also see the cool rear louvered shade on the top of the rear window. I think it’s for keeping the brunt of the sun off of the rear seat passengers more than totally keeping out the sun from the entire rear window. It’s a nice detail feature, whether it works or not. The ride is a little bouncy, maybe it needs struts. After 33 years that’s a good bet.

The main flaw with the car happened during shipping, as is often the case. Does anyone have any bad shipping stories? That’s really unfortunate that it happened because to fix this correctly the whole bumper should come off so as to not get any paint spray inside of the almost-Pebble-Beach-like engine compartment.

I did not expect the engine to look this great when I first opened the hood. This is one incredibly-clean engine compartment. The only real flaws that I’ve noticed are the top of the radiator paint is worn a bit and the hold-down clip for the hood prop-rod is missing.

This is Toyota’s 2S-ELC, transversely-mounted, fuel-injected 2.0L inline-four with a shade under 100 hp. This car easily keeps up with modern traffic so that low hp rating is a bit deceptive. You aren’t going to do a Jay Leno burnout with this car, but you have other vehicles to do that with. This car is for taking to vintage Japanese car shows and blowing young people’s minds with an all-original and important car, a predecessor to what has been one of the top-selling cars in history. Thanks for coming along on this mini-garage tour!

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Comments

  1. Jeff Lavery Jeff Staff

    The engine bay and the carpets are just mind-bendingly clean.

    9+

  2. Big Al

    Awesome example. Really clean. It’s no Chevy celebrity but nice. I just don’t get these. Heck, just get a station wagon.

    2+

  3. Todd Zuercher

    Super nice example!

    6+

  4. Chuck Sibio

    Someone I know had one of these.
    It ran well into the 200K mile range. Probably still running. For sure it’s still ugly.

    4+

  5. That Guy

    Definitely a classic now, especially the liftback. And this is the best color scheme too. Nice find! I had a neighbor who drove their first-gen Camry into the ground, and it took 480,000 miles to do it.

    4+

  6. rustylink

    wow – I remember looking at these back in the day and with those options this one cost a bundle. Even used ones at the time were quite expensive. These were really bullet proof cars that provided a reasonable amount of comfort, pep and economy and most off all dependability – so the used car dealers always put a premium on them.

    6+

  7. Fred W.

    That engine compartment is mind blowingly clean and original. I like the hatchbacks, all the practicality of a wagon without all the boxiness.

    5+

  8. AJR

    just geogeous

    5+

  9. Greg

    That explains alot…

    2+

  10. Howard A Member

    Toyota was trying hard in the early 80’s, and they threw everything they had into this. And it obviously worked. I read the Camry is like the best selling car for years now. And it pretty much started with this. Cars like this didn’t last long in the rust belt, so to see this, in it’s incredible condition, well, I don’t remember them new looking like this. Not sure I’m at the liberty to say, but if you like this car, I bet Scotty might part with it. ( not sure if he mentioned that in the text, I have no idea how much) Can’t go wrong here. Not sure about collectibility, but be a heck of a nice car.

    4+

  11. Jubjub

    Nice ride.
    Damn, haven’t seen one of these in in a hot minute. There was a nice sedan in this color scheme that kept popping up on Louisville Craigslist. I think it was a charity donation car somebody bought and flipped. Last time i saw it, it was for sale cheap but the tranny had some issue.

    My dad cross shopped these, Maximas, Tempos and Accords but went for a 626. He really wanted the hatchback, but they were apparently out of them and weren’t getting any more. The Camry was more bullet-proof than the 626, but after having spent time in both I can see why he went with the Mazda. They were sportier and seemed more sophisticated. And they had the cool oscillating dash vents!

    3+

  12. Jw

    Looks just like the dash of my 83 Toyota tercel sr5

    3+

  13. Royal

    My cousin had one of these, but it could have been an 86. I think it was either dark blue (or maybe light blue though) and her two bratty kids who are now adults with their own broods were responsible for scratching up the car with their bikes. It was her way of not being forced by her husband (who was an executive VP at Digital and had a Black 84 Mercedes 300 SED) into either a station wagon or the then new mini vans which were typical of women in their mid thirties at the time. I recall riding in this car in August 1989 when I went up to see her and her family in central Massachusetts back when I was just about to start my Senior Year at Marist College. They had just moved up there three years prior from NJ. I remember that she had a horrendous time trying to start this car of hers and that it used to run rough and/or had a high idle until you got it warmed up. My impression of Toyota’s was tainted by this car (along with my folks 1982 Toyota Corolla Wagon that they bought in 1983 and was a marshmallow of a car to learn how to drive in). Back then I was a Honda fan with my 83 Accord at the time and my friend’s brand new 88 CRV. It wasn’t until I bought my first Toyota in 2007, a Camry Hybrid that I became hooked on Toyota reliability and would go onto purchase my 02 Prius, which once I worked the bugs out of I put on 115K in two years miles throwing papers and doing courier work before the negative battery cable snapped and damaged something in the on board electronics. That has been laid up for 2.5 years now.

    3+

  14. Peter

    My parents had one of these. (One of several generations of Camry) My best friend had a tendency to mock Japanese manufactured cars. He bought an ’84 Buick Regal. Within 3 years he was the proud owner of a rattle trap. Within 7 years the rust had eaten through the front and rear bumpers. The cloth seat material on the bolsters, areas of the carpet and the plastic chrome plating (to name a few items) had worn away. At the same time, my father’s first-gen Camry with twice the mileage, was as solid as the day he bought it and still retained a near new presence about it. Over the years the Camry made its way through several family members before being sold with 283,000 miles. My friend doesn’t know where his Buick ended up and he never really cared. He only buys Japanese branded vehicles.

    6+

  15. fordfan

    My dad bought a ’85 sedan ,liked itso much he gave it to me and then bought a 1990 camry
    Easiest car to change the oil on ,the oil filter is in front of the block and the drain plug faces foward
    The the moast uncomfortable steering wheel ever
    There are two little bumps at the bottom that dig into your palms during a road trip

    3+

  16. jtnc

    I recall that in 1985 or 1986 my family and I rented one of these Camrys in the NYC area for a family wedding and we were stunned at how well it drove. At the time we already were into Japanese cars owning both an ’82 Celica GT and an ’83 Mazda 626. This Camry was a more sophisticated driving experience than either, closer to a BMW (though the Camry was FWD of course). In the ensuing 30 years the Camry (and every other mid-size) has of course benefitted from way more power and feature content, but I’m not sure the driving experience is much better. The styling is attractive in a rectilinear way, the sedan version was just too square. The next gen Camry came in ’87, I think, and introduced some curves.

    4+

  17. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Nice car, Scotty – and as you know, I like four door hatchbacks. I think I like the styling of the 626 better, though, and I’m partial to Mazdas. But there’s nothing like Toyota reliability and gosh, that’s one heck of an engine compartment and interior!

    4+

  18. Car Nut Seattle

    I remember when the first generation Toyota Camry looked like this. At the time, I didn’t find it very attractive. But next to today’s Toyota Camry, I actually like it.

    4+

    • grant

      First gen Camrys STILL look like this lol. Nice car Scotty.

      2+

  19. Tommy

    My uncle had one with well over 300k miles on it. Bulletproof cars!

    4+

  20. Car Nut Tacoma

    My parents had one when I was a boy. Theirs was a 4 door notchback sedan. I would’ve preferred one with the TurboD diesel option, but it was not available where I lived.

    4+

  21. Melvin Burwell

    How much are they asking for it?

    0

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