Vintage R&T Review: 1983 Toyota Camry – Toyota Joins The FWD Family Fray, And Comes To Dominate It


The first Camry. Who would have thought in 1983 that this would come to dominate the passenger car best seller charts for so many years, only to be finally displaced by Toyota’s own RAV4? No one, presumably. But the qualities that made it America’s favorite sedan were already very much on display. It should have been obvious, perhaps.

The first paragraph is the most important one in this whole review’ “Toyota has built a reputation second to none for reliability and anvil-like durability in its cars. This is the result of building fairly simple cars and exercising excellent quality control. Recently, however, Toyota has been getting into considerably more sophisticated areas of design and the Camry reflects the changing face of the products of Japan’s largest automaker. At this point we can only speculate about its long term reliability, but the attention to detail and quality control are evident.”

The Camry essentially was Toyota’s Citation, the company’s first FWD product in the hot family sedan class. But the results in comparison to GM’s couldn’t be more starkly different. The X-Bodies, GM’s Deadliest Sin, were riddled with quality and durability issues; the Camry was essentially perfect from day one. Toyota nailed it.


And the Camry was no lethargic slug either. It’s new drive train, even when teamed with the excellent four speed automatic, was a bit quicker than an Accord with the 5-speed manual. Yes, the ride was aimed at the mainstream American buyer, on the soft side, which meant it was never going to yield the skid pad or slalom number of some of the sportier sedans. But Camry buyers couldn’t care less; they got exactly what they were looking for: a compact, economical, reliable and durable alternative to American sedans, which were mostly lacking in all of those qualities, except perhaps the first.



The Camry was a big leap forward from the rather obsolete RWD Corona, and would come to be Toyota’s hottest seller, once folks became disenchanted with their Taurii.



CC 1986 Camry: Toyota Builds a Better Citation, Forever

CC 1980 Chevrolet Citation: GM’s Deadliest Sin