Well, here we are again with more random engineering and other (mis)adventures spotted in the junkyard over the weekend. Today’s features both involve Toyotas, curiously the last time we did one of these it also featured a Toyota, albeit a Matrix, perhaps our hero replaced his vehicle and figured it worked before, why not again.
Our first ride hails from 2002, which is over two decades old now. Where did the time go? Toyota’s first Minivan (after the Van and the Previa) that was actually popular and correctly market priced, these are still seen on the roads, but are definitely filtering through the junkyards, some with quite large mileages. Most notably perhaps, the Sienna was the first Toyota minivan with two sliding doors. However in this case, something happened to the driver’s side one.
What exactly happened we’ll likely never know, but presumably some sort of glancing impact that took out the mirror, tail light, driver’s door handle and scraped along the side perhaps somehow hooking the door to its detriment. So what could be easier than heading to one of the numerous pick’n’pulls in the area and choosing your favorite color of Sienna left hand sliding door for around $100? How about instead using a large sheet of a semi-rigid material from Home Depot or similar that’ll do the job just fine? It even comes in the correct color!
While there, a can of expanding spray foam (the ever-appropriate door and window version is best) and a roll of black duct tape that’ll tie in with the roof rack and window tint should take care of things. But it’s perhaps a little flimsy, no? Might it rustle in the wind? What about intruders? At least in the Matrix featured previously the door was still in place, just in need of some weatherproofing.
So while at the big-box store, pick up a 2×4 to provide all the necessary bracing that might ever be needed along with serving as something akin to side impact protection. Add in some scrap 1×4 lumber, half a sheet of OSB, a couple of zip ties, maybe a drywall screw or two, a little more foam (gotta use the can up), and the job’s done, high-fives all around, good as new, almost factory fresh, even the color matches the interior. This may in fact have been MacGyver’s van.
Looking almost as good as new is our second feature today, a 1991 Toyota Camry DX. Resplendent in Almond Beige Pearl (Gold for us plebes), this example looks quite good and certainly belies its three decades on the road. This one has a J-VIN, meaning it was built in Japan, however many of them were also built in Georgetown, Kentucky.
This angle too looks good, in fact I’m finding these to be fairly attractive if somewhat anonymous cars whereas back in the day I wouldn’t look twice at them. Relative rarity breeds appreciation or something like that. I think if I had a choice of any second generation Camry at no charge to me I’d like one in white with the red burlap/tweed-ish cloth interior, twin-cam V-6 and 5-speed manual transmission, I guess the wagon option would be preferred but I could live with the sedan too. I even like the hubcaps the V-6 models had, however coming back to earth this is just one of the more common 4-cylinder models as churned out by the millions.
Lookey here, only 167,463 miles on this nugget. Why oh why is it here, nobody knows and since it’s a Camry, nobody cries either.
Oh No! Someone bought themselves some (false) security by using The Club! Silly someone, when The Man decides it’s time to tow the car and drop it at the junkyard, nothing will stop him, not even an almost perfectly dust-free interior, not a shiny great coat of Almond Beige Pearl paint on the outside, and certainly not The Club!
When I first met my (ex) wife, around ’97, she was driving this generation of Camry, but in base trim (officially called “standard”, but it had no trim badging).
Manual transmission, I-4, No A/C!, manual windows and locks. She bought it new, it was probably a “bait and switch” car, and she got it for $9999 because she didn’t take the “switch”.
I’m guessing there weren’t very many sold without air conditioning.
That translates to about $23k today. Not a bad price for a famously marked up Japanese midsize back then, but people today would have a hard time envisioning a car with no real creature comforts at that price.
I think A/C might have been standard in the next generation, as I have driven several “fat” Camrys over the years with no power options, but they all had A/C. Maybe a truly base Camry was just exceedingly rarely ordered. I think they all had tape players, too.
Sticker for a 2023 Camry is around $26k and that $9999 / 23k was discounted from what seems to be just under $12k in 1991, so it still seems to be a good value, today’s car is clearly far better equipped for the virtually same extrapolated price.
A current Corolla is probably more comparable in size and quite a bit cheaper while still being better equipped. We’ve never had it so good!
Air conditioning was still optional on the bottom rung of the Camry line until the introduction of the fifth generation (!) in 2002.
Excellent finds, and photos. That short transitional period from ’80s angularity, to the softer styling of the ’90s, was one of my least favourite. So much, bland and ambiguous design. Though it spawned, one of my all-time style picks from Toyota, in the Previa.
That’s not “The Club”, which attached to the steering wheel rim and supposedly made the wheel difficult to turn, as it hit the dash, or seat, or something. A bolt cutter applied to the wheel rim took care of that. This is one of the deterrents that hooked to the steering wheel rim and to the brake pedal. In theory making it difficult to turn, as well as preventing the brake from being applied.
After my stolen Explorer was recovered, I used two of those steering/brake locks, triangulated on the steering wheel. I positioned it so that two cuts would have to be done to free the wheel. I was hoping that the next thief would look through the window and move on to easier pickings. My ’97 Explorer was the only car parked on the street, for blocks around, that didn’t use a chip key. It was a simple matter for the thief to smash the driver’s window and break the ignition lock. He then just stuck the broken lock cylinder back in the hole, and could start and stop the motor.
Years ago a friend of mine used one of those steering wheel/brake lock bars on his ’64 Dart convertible (Slant-6/4-speed, really nice car). One day he parked it in the street, put on the lock bar, went about his business, came back after dark, started the car and put it in gear, released the handbrake and let out the clutch. If you think there was something missing in that sequence, well, there was; he forgot about the lock bar. KRASH! Not as nice a car after that. 🙁
Worse, that OSB had been laying in someone’s backyard for a few years before it was used as a door.
I have only owned one Toyota, a 1970 Corona Mark II, and it was not impressive enough to make me want another. My Isuzu built Chevy LUVs were vastly superior.
The minivan photos of replacing a door, illustrate one of the following concepts:
1. It may not be wise to employ a vehicle mechanic to perform complex home renovations.
2. It may not be wise to employ a home remodeling expert to perform complex vehicle repairs.
That’s not just any piece of OSB; it’s been properly aged, wetted at least 14 times to get to that nice dark brown patina. In Oregon, it would probably be sprouting mushrooms.
I am guessing that that minivan had its accident somewhere “on the road” and the materials used were literally what was on-hand. After driving it around for a bit…maybe just back to its home base…it was decided that enough was enough, and that it maybe didn’t run so well anyhow, and so off to the yard it went.
Probably some sort of contractor’s van. Although not necessarily a contractor who I’d want working on anything that I owned.
How in the heck did the van pass the annual inspection process? My state has the most minimal annual inspection, but the van door would have been a safety reject.
Colorado is a state based on the concept of freedom. The wild west and all that. Fire at will.. /s. 🙂 So no inspections beyond emissions checks if you register your car along the Front Range.
In your state, if you pass the annual check and get the sticker or whatever, could you in theory then do this same mod the next day and then be good to drive it around until the next inspection?
CO used to have safety inspections but they were discontinued decades ago. Do any states still have them? It seems pretty old fashioned, like something they’d have in an EU state.
15 states still require safety inspections – mostly on the East Coast, but also Louisiana, Missouri, Texas and Hawaii.
Several states have discontinued their inspection requirements in recent decades – people come to see the inspections as more of a rip-off than anything else (like when you’re charged an exorbitant amount for new wiper blades in order to pass inspection), and in many states the concept of inspections loses political support. It’s too bad because the main elements of an inspection, like brakes, tires, lighting, etc., are a good idea and many drivers never check those systems on their cars.
…and many of the remaining state inspections are a cursory, lackadaisical joke, catching only those vehicles even a legally-blind nincompoop could clearly see shouldn’t be on the road. We just don’t care on this continent.
When I lived in Utah they were required annually on anything over ten years old and bi-annually on anything less than 10. I live back in CO currently but I live in Pueblo County where they were never required. When I grew up in Denver I remember folks getting them done and I did for the first few years of driving but left Denver in 2007.
“Why oh why is it here,?”
High miles. The Camry was likely sent to auction and salvage yard was the highest bidder. With over 150K miles, dealers won’t touch it.
Bring a Trailer buyers want low mile older “survivors”.
All those online posters who want others to “save all old cars”, well go out and buy them. Then, see how much it costs to insure, store, keep running, rare parts, and all the other expenses. Not all can be “saved”.
Your BaT comment is generally true. The car I won on BaT, however, has more miles on it than this.
I was speaking more in a rhetorical sense…
My local Toyota dealer has ten cars with over 150k miles on them.
Most used car dealers in the area would advertise a 150k miles car as “low miles”, especially a Toyota.
There’s no reason a Camry should be done at 167k miles, closer to 300k is more the norm, especially if the condition is this good at this point. It’s just as likely the owner lost the key to the Club 🙂
Oh, I get it, I see what look like perfectly viable cars junked all the time. And if they do have something wrong with them, someone vaguely mechanically inclined could probably fix many of them in short order. But I’m the first to understand that not everyone can or wants to fix stuff, not everyone wants to deal with people who only want to pay minimal money for something and not everyone wants a 30yr old car without airbags, ABS, and all the other stuff that makes today’s cars attractive to most.
In most of California we have regular emissions checks but no safety inspections. And sadly, our town has more than a few vehicles like this Sienna that I occasionally see driving, more frequently parked in one of our many “homeless” parking areas. Sienna’s and Odyssey’s are popular in this role, along with Astro’s and the occasional Windstar or even Aerostar. As for the Camry, this was the only version where the wagon could be equipped with a manual. We missed it by a year, getting a manual Corolla wagon instead. No A/C and a strong discount off list; we added Toyota A/C for maybe $600-700 dollars, installed at the dealership. Wind up windows and no power locks or mirrors either.
Regarding state vehicle inspections;
1. The University of Michigan conducted a study over 40 years ago concerning the advantages and disadvantages of requiring a state vehicle safety inspection [UM-HSRI-79-41 2]. The basic conclusion indicated an inspection system, Periodic Motor Vehicle Inspections [PMVI] did result in some vehicles being repaired or removed from the roads, the overall rate of accidents and injuries remained the same.
A summary submitted to Congress said in part: “Many attempts have been made to justify PMVI on the basis of its benefits from the standpoint of safety. These attempts have been largely unsuccessful, or their conclusions have been, at best, debatable. A recent report by the General Accounting office’ states that the effectiveness of PMVI, from the point of view of enhancing vehicle safety, has not been demonstrated with any certainty”. […] “The direct relationship between inspection and accident frequency has, however, never been satisfactorily demonstrated; thus it is difficult to state the value of PMVI in a cost benefit sense”.
The final result of this study was the State of Michigan ending all required vehicle safety inspections, and it was noted that vehicle accident and injury rates did not change.
2. Starting in the mid 1960s, Maryland introduced one of the most difficult to pass inspections. The inspection requirements along with frequency of inspections, was basically written by the Maryland Car Dealers Association, to make it difficult for private owners to sell their own cars, thereby giving the dealers an advantage when selling vehicles. The original regulation required all used vehicles to be inspected AND PASS THE INSPECTION, prior to being offered for sale. That was the only time a vehicle needed to be inspected – When it was to be sold. There was an exception, if the vehicle was being sold for rebuilding or for parts.
Today, the MVA has backtracked on the requirement that the inspection be done before the vehicle is offered for sale by a private owner, but not car dealers. All vehicles on a dealer’s lot must have a certification of inspection displayed on a window of the vehicle, showing it has passed inspection. The way the inspection is handled now for private sales is the BUYER must present the certificate along with the title and registration application,
New, untitled vehicles, are exempt from inspection. I bought a 1973 Dodge B-200 van new, and until I finally junked it 35 years later, it NEVER was subject to any official inspection, even with close to 300,000 miles. My 2008 Camry [also bought new] is approaching 300,000 as well, and has never seen a safety inspection.
Because the original inspection was designed to be difficult for older vehicles to pass, the inspection requirements are massive, and the typical car inspection takes at least an hour.
In the 1990s I sat on the Maryland MVA Administrator’s advisory panel, and at one of our meetings the State Police [who run the program] wanted to add a requirement that a steering wheel flunk the test if it had any cracks or missing pieces, and lace-on steering wheel covers would not be allowed. The claim was that it was possible clothing or jewelry could get caught in the cracks or lacing, resulting in an accident. During the questioning phase, I asked the State Police representative for any studies on this problem, and was told they knew of no studies or cases where it happened, “But it might happen”. The amendment was added and is still in force today.
The original regulation governing passenger cabin glass windows did not allow any visible de-lamination, cracks, or other defects, anywhere on any glass panel. It took a long time, but the advisory board was finally able to change the wording and add “…in the driver’s line or sight, or longer than 4″ from the edge of the glass panel.”
Maryland has a requirement that steering tie rod ends have ZERO play in the ball-type joints. Those with any play must be replaced with new parts to pass the inspection. About 25 years ago I inherited a Ford Taurus wagon from a grandparent, and had it inspected. The car had under 15,000 miles, yet the tie rod ends failed because they had about 50 thou play in each. Ford’s published limit for tie-rod play is 250 thou, but under Maryland inspection requirements they failed, so I replaced them with new parts from the local Ford dealer, and when re-inspected they passed, even though those new tie rod ends had over 50 thou in play! So technically the new parts allowed the car to pass, but in a subsequent inspection, they would fail.
As I intended to keep the wagon, on returning to my farm I replaced the new parts with the old ones, cleaned up the new ones & returned them to the Ford dealer.
I find it hard to belive accidents are not caused by un inspected vehicles but then most of my career was at the lower end or service end of things .
Many times I’m scared to look at rusted out frames or loose and audibly knocking ball joints, tires beyond bald, showing the _second_ layer of cords worn through etc..