My New Beater Wagon

JOD

Messages
3,577
Location
PNW/WA
I really don't expect most folks to understand, but this is pretty much my dream car. Modest dreams! Bottom line: I'm cheap, and thought this would be a fun project. After looking at everything from Caprice Wagons to A4'Avants, I ended up back to where I once was before... I put about 200K miles on one of these and did zero repairs--and that one is still our there running. So, when I saw this one for sale I couldn't pass it up. The good: -full service history from day one. I mean every single record, except for fuel. Oil changed every 3K until later in life, and then much more frequently as the elderly guy cut down on his driving. A couple of trans fluid changes (not enough, but it still functions fine), regular coolant changes. A couple of brake flushes when the brakes were done. -The body and interior are in excellent shape. -The clutch are rear main seal were done about 5 years/12K ago. This is a biggie for me, because like clockwork at 20 years or 200K, this seal lets loose (right about the time you need a clutch). The transmission weighs about 50 lbs, so this isn't a horrible job, but I'm glad to not have to do it anytime soon. -owner was a non-smoker. I'm also guessing he didn't have kids, and had a skinny wife who didn't travel with him very much! The passenger seat looks almost new, rear seats are basically new. The driver's seat was recovered, and looks reasonably close to the original fabric. ->174 compression across all cylinders, all within 2 p.s.i. The bad: -Pretty much every suspension component is original. It really shows. The indifferent: -tires and t-belt were done about 6 years ago, but have very little mileage. There's some sidewall cracking on the tires, and I don't think the WP and cam seals/tensioner were done, so I'm not sure when to do them. It's a non-interference engine though, so I'm in no rush. I'll play around with the suspension first. Overall impressions: -The car pulls strong! It only weighs about 2,800 lbs, and boy that makes a difference. -There is a ton of space in this thing. With the seatbacks up, the rear folds totally flat (one of my few absolute requirements). -I got 32mph on the first tank of gas, in mixed driving--and some idling while I ran a can of 3M intake cleaner though it. Not bad! -The gearing. For the love of all that is holy, why can't manufacturers get this right in new cars? I swear, this is the main reason I ended up buying a 25 year old wagon. TALL GEARING!! NVH is lower, full economy higher, and I can actually use first gear. Yes, I actually have to shift out of 5th on the highway going up a grade>4%. It's not the end of the world to shift... Future plans: -sort out suspension -change valve cover gasket which has a small leak, check out 190K worth of Pennzoil sludge!! -post pics of above on BITOG! Besides that, there are some coolant hoses and vacuum lines that should probably be replaced as they're all original; but, everything functions as it should so I'm in no rush. I've changed all of the fluids except the oil, which I'll do after the valve cover. It'll basically be a fun project to "restore", and then I'll be looking for another beater wagon since I won't want to be using this for dump runs... With no further adieu: [/img] [/img]
 
Messages
36,272
Location
ME
Awesome! I like the cheap 14-15" tires, the great greenhouse with skinny A pillars, and the shared form factor with the Japanese domestic market. IIRC the next gen Camry was "US-ized" and got bloaty.
 
Messages
214
Location
WA
I used to have an '88 Camry sedan and that was a great car. Ran great when I sold it with 215k on it. I did new moog ball joints, new moog variable rate springs in front, new moog inner and outer tie rods and new mevotech rear sway bar bushings and new KYB gr2 struts/shocks on it a few years before I sold it and it was like it was on rails. It had Pirelli P4 tires on for the last couple years and those things had grip like you wouldn't believe. The only parts of the car I don't miss are the distributor and the ignition coil mounted inside the distributor. The spark plugs needed to be replaced almost yearly to keep it running really well. Other than that it was an extremely solid and reliable car (except for a differential failure at 127k... that was with the auto tranny not the manual like you have). My brother had the same car and his liked to leak a lot of oil so we pulled the engine and put all new gaskets throughout and that solved that problem permanently. Also, the timing belt isn't very hard to replace on that car if you need to do it.
 
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Messages
40,432
Location
Great Lakes
Nice find. Congrats!
Originally Posted By: JOD
TALL GEARING!! NVH is lower, full economy higher, and I can actually use first gear. Yes, I actually have to shift out of 5th on the highway going up a grade>4%. It's not the end of the world to shift...
How tall is tall? What RPM are you turning at say 75 mph in 5th gear?
 
Messages
18,431
Location
Michigan
Car looks great for it's age! I would be a rust bucket here... frown Maybe it's just me owning an old cavalier wagon, but I have a thing for old school wagons.....
 
Messages
22,188
Location
Colorado Springs
Nice find! I'm also an old Toyota guy. I like older Corollas. Is that a Corolla or Camry Wagon? It's kind of hard to tell. I'm also interested in the gearing on the trans and what rpms it does in 5th on the interstate; my 94 Corolla 5 speed does 3500 rpms at 75mph, but will still get 35 mpg. It's geared fairly short; I rarely need to downshift on the highway. It needs a 6th gear overdrive for flat highway cruising. The great thing about Toyotas is there are loyal owners; you can always find 1 owner vintage models with all service records if you look hard enough.
 

JOD

Thread starter
Messages
3,577
Location
PNW/WA
Originally Posted By: ls1mike
Looks good, did you tell them nothing out here in Washington rust? wink
Yeah, with the rust situation out here cars basically last until you total them or get tired of them! I may have this car for an embarrassingly long time... I eljefino's post I have to confess I forgot what it's like to actually look out the windows and see stuff! It's a very odd feeling... The car turns about 2800 rpm @ 75mph. This is a 110hp wagon, so when I hear that the Honda Fit "needs short gearing", I just want to stab myself in the eye with a pencil. I'll say right now that I would have bought a Fit if it weren't for the terrible gearing in the MT.
Originally Posted By: anonobomber
I used to have an '88 Camry sedan and that was a great car. Ran great when I sold it with 215k on it. I did new moog ball joints, new moog variable rate springs in front, new moog inner and outer tie rods and new mevotech rear sway bar bushings and new KYB gr2 struts/shocks on it a few years before I sold it and it was like it was on rails. It had Pirelli P4 tires on for the last couple years and those things had grip like you wouldn't believe.
That's hilarious, as I've ordered almost these exact same parts, except Whiteline bushings for the sway bars and trailing arms. I'm going to do the engine mounts as well. The distributor and wires were changed w/OEM about 12K miles ago, but that was also a few years ago--and there's some weeping at the dizzy gasket, so I'm going to change that out. I'll do the plugs when I do the valve cover gasket, as I'm gonna pull them anyway to check valve clearance. That said, unless the valves are too tight there are no issues, because the engine sounds really smooth.
 

JOD

Thread starter
Messages
3,577
Location
PNW/WA
Originally Posted By: Drew99GT
Nice find! I'm also an old Toyota guy. I like older Corollas. Is that a Corolla or Camry Wagon? It's kind of hard to tell. I'm also interested in the gearing on the trans and what rpms it does in 5th on the interstate; my 94 Corolla 5 speed does 3500 rpms at 75mph, but will still get 35 mpg. It's geared fairly short; I rarely need to downshift on the highway. It needs a 6th gear overdrive for flat highway cruising. The great thing about Toyotas is there are loyal owners; you can always find 1 owner vintage models with all service records if you look hard enough.
It's an '88 Camry, which has the S51 transmission. It's way taller (about 3K at 80mph), and it also isn't prone to the input shaft bearing issue of the Corollas. This is the 2.0 I4, 3S-FE, btw--not the 2.5 6 cylinder. I would have gone for a Corolla wagon as well if I had found one in this condition, but I do like the extra space. Crazy thing was looking through the service records, and seeing this guy's health and handwriting deteriorate. By the end it was obvious that his motor skills had really declined. He ended up getting rid of the car after he was deemed unfit to drive any longer.
 
Messages
3,870
Location
NEUS
Neat! I much prefer smaller wheels to the fragile giant wheel and low profile tire combinations. My old Dodge Dakota had 15" wheels and 31x10.5 tires. My 2013 Forester has 16" and the smallest available on the 2014 is 17". Bah.
 
Messages
505
Location
Winston-Salem, NC
Congrats on the find! Its good to see a fellow (old) Camry guy. Comfortable, great utility, good fuel economy, easy and cheap to repair; whats not to love! Not to mention cheap insurance. I even see an all-trac around here occasionally!
 
Messages
11,660
Location
NorthEast
Man what a great find! I still think you need to find factory alloy wheels and spolier kit for it :-)
Quote:
3M intake cleaner though it
Need your before and after impression.
 
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