A photo Series For Sunday: 1982- 1986 Toyota Camry DX

This could well be another item in the Japanese-theme series we’re running. The title would then be so long I’d have no room for the rest of the article.

1982 Toyota Camry DX
1982 Toyota Camry DX

The short story about this car is that it’s Toyota’s first front wheel drive entrant in the mid-size market. The previous Camry had rear-wheel drive. Wikipedia has all the nitty plus all the gritty details of engines (this is probably a 1.8 litre four-cylinder car) and product evolution. They also explain the difference between the cars sold in the two lines of Toyota dealerships (very little). One channel is the Toyota Corolla Store and the other is the Toyota Vista Store. The European models at this time received the Toyota Vista Store grilles, making it more like the Japanese-market Toyota Vista than the Japanese market Toyota Camry or US Camry. I’ll get to the bottom of this dual line of dealerships one day. It’s more confusing than string theory.

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Bearing in mind our discussions of Italian influences on Japanese design I had a go looking at this car two ways while it was right in front of me (as night fell). The photos don’t show this up at all well so you will have to bear with me.

If I looked at the car directly, focusing on parts and roaming around I saw the mass of small lines and edges. And that’s how I have always looked at cars. If I look at the car without moving my eyes – focusing on the centre, for example – the impression of the lines fades away and I see the overall form and not one detail. In that way the faintest hint of Peugeot comes out. It’s in the slight fall of the roof and the way the front wing only starts inflecting as it goes forward over the wheel arch. If I revert to staring at the car in small bites, the car resumes its boxiness and I lose sight of any curvature. Try looking at the lower edge of the photo but concentrate your attention on the image which will be slightly outside the centre of your field of vision.. You can see a “different” car that way. It’s not an easy way to look at something: mostly we direct our attention at the same spot our eyes focus on.

Just to be annoying I added some lines to how the side lamps might have looked if the designer had not yielded to the compulsion to make the top of the lamp parallel to the top of the wing (side view). It’s the same thing as happened on the CUE-X we had here recently. Seen side on it looks alright. Seen head on it looks alright. Seen in three-quarter view it’s not right, to my eyes.

Where did I see that rear wheel arch before?

1983 Fiat Regata: honest john
1983 Fiat Regata: honest john

And maybe it goes back a little further…

1963 Triumph 2000: source
1963 Triumph 2000: source

The source of the Triumph photo is worth a closer look.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

7 thoughts on “A photo Series For Sunday: 1982- 1986 Toyota Camry DX”

  1. When I tried to have an unfocused look at the image, it wasn’t Peugeot that first came to my mind, but Volvo 740 — The staight lines, the proportions and the shapes of doors and windows.

    I remember this Camry quite well. It was the time when Japanese cars started being really popular in Switzerland, and this was one of the more common ones. I think it was only sold as a hatchback here. Its successor was also available as an estate, which easily made it the best selling Japanese entry in the Swiss mid-size market.

  2. What strikes me with this generation of Camry is how un-designed it looks. The next gen was clearly designed, by Toyotas hip LA-based design firm, if I remember correctly. And made with the ear closer to the ground on current design trends. This gen is completely bland, if I ever saw a car that could be a model for the “car as appliance” adage, it’s this one. This is your basic 3-box mid sized sedan, nothing more, nothing less. It’s interesting how uninteresting they made it look.

    1. Ingvar: I used to take that view as well. I won´t call it a masterpiece of expressive industrial design but actually it was designed if that means shaping something beyond the engineering minimum. There is quite a lot of ornamentation at the level of small lines and grooves which for all the world remind me of the way Georgian interiors have mouldings made of grooves of different widths.

    2. That may be so. But the end result isn’t any better for it. The point is, if it was intentionally designed, why design it to that result? It’s to my eyes still a completely bland car. They couldn’t have made it any blander even if they tried.

  3. What a coincidence: a few days ago I saw exactly such a Camry; it was even a saloon (that was in Austria, they are more inclined to this format than we here in Switzerland). It seemed to be in a very decent state and looked almost good in its dark grey or blue livery.

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