November 27, 2022

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A bit of a super excited Olly started a project

A bit of a super excited Olly started a project

Frank Wilksen is a veteran of the Broom editorial team. He has worked as an automotive journalist for over 55 years and tested a large number of cars both at home and abroad.

He remembers some cars better than others. Frank now shares the memories with all of his Broom readers. This time it’s about the Toyota Camry V6 from 1988 – a car he’s now had a nostalgic reunion with, thanks to enthusiast Ole Karlsen.

I definitely remember the Toyota Camry from the 1980s, the first generation that came in 1982, and the second generation launched in 1987. My memories of this spacious family car relate mostly to models with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, but I also got to try the GXi The flagship V6, which was ready for the market in 1988. There, Toyota customers in Norway got the best model to strive for!

With prices starting at around NOK 280,000 and ending at nearly NOK 300,000, this model wasn’t exactly a driving element, and it’s unlikely that more than 250 of this V6 will be sold. It didn’t make selling expensive cars any easier that 1988 was the year of an economic crisis…

Most things were wrong before the restoration started. Even the lamp washer nozzles were painted white…Photo: Ole Carlsen

Joy

Of the modest number of Toyota Camry V6s sold, only a few remain, and the one who put a real effort into taking care of this model is Ole Karlsen (30) in Lillestrøm. He currently has three such cars, and one of them has been almost completely renovated. Hence, two more are on hand, and he also has a 2.0-liter GLi engine as the common car.

Where does this great interest in the Toyota Camry come from?

There’s a lot of nostalgia down here. Toyota Camry is a car model that I have a lot of good childhood memories. Grandfather had one like this – a 1.8 XL, and so did his uncle who had a GXI V6 – and sometimes dad drove a Camry V6, which he was very excited about.

The window frame, which should be black, was sprayed with white varnish.  Photo: Ole Carlsen

The window frame, which should be black, was sprayed with white varnish. Photo: Ole Carlsen

good cars

– Uncle V6 GXi was white, like the car I’m now working on restoring, so in many ways his car tried to “recreate”. I remember very well the deep blue interior which was very beautiful with imitation leather stitching – and how distinct it was with the chrome strips on the inside of the windows and on the door handles.

– In this car I tried the electric window lifts for the first time, which are great for kids to play with, so there was a little chatting! The electric antenna was also huge. Then it is also the case that I love to take care of old things, and I love to renew them and return them to their original condition. The Camry was a very distinctive car for its time, with many great practical details, ample space and good comfort. After that I had a feeling about Toyota, which I think are good cars in general, says Ole Carlsen to Broome.

This is how it looked around the doorstep before sanding and varnishing.  Photo: Ole Carlsen

This is how it looked around the doorstep before sanding and varnishing. Photo: Ole Carlsen

rare car

He got his interest in cars from his father, who lives on a small farm near Reina with, among other things, a fine example of a Volvo 940 from 1991 – and some other trinkets on four wheels…

The small farm is also of great use to Ole, with, among other things, a barn that provides garage space for several cars.

His interest in the Camry narrows down to the V6 models.

– That was my favourite, yes. A super engine and a lot of equipment – and it also became a rare car, given that the Camry V6 sales numbers were very modest. Other than that, the model was generally a big seller with more “regular” engines.

...and this is what the door sill looked like after repainting.  Photo: Ole Carlsen

…and this is what the door sill looked like after repainting. Photo: Ole Carlsen

I’ve lost a lot

– It’s a little surprising that this wonderful and famous car from just over 30 years ago today seems completely forgotten – no one talks about the Camry anymore, it seems. I think there are not nearly a hundred Toyota Camrys from the 80s left in this country. The cars simply rusted away, for the second generation it was the rear and the trunk in particular that were “gobbled up”.

– Many cars were lost because they became “youth cars” and were not well taken care of. Although the car was powerful and could handle a lot, the V6 was a bit sensitive when it came to servicing and oil changes. All of my cars are severely affected by rust. The white, now ready, says Carlsen, may have been saved by the fact that he spent most of the time in Harstad, away from the salt brew of eastern Norway.

It definitely looks as if someone used the sides of the door as a target...Photo: Ole Carlsen

It definitely looks as if someone used the sides of the door as a target…Photo: Ole Carlsen

sad status

– However, there was not much else. The car was painted so hobby that it got scratched! The window frames that were supposed to be black were painted the same white as the rest of the car, and almost everything from the plastic trim, rubber bands and chrome was painted white. Perhaps the reason was mostly poor masking. The same goes for the front bumper and black stripe in the grille, windshield wipers and headlight washers and the number plate surround, to name a few. Logos have been removed and discarded, including the rare GXi logo.

Lots of white paint also found its way into the engine compartment, on junction boxes, wires and tubes. Inside too, the condition was very sad when we started cleaning.

Work on developing new listings is in full swing.  Photo: Ole Carlsen

Work on developing new listings is in full swing. Photo: Ole Carlsen

bullet holes

Under the hood, there was no shortage of tasks to tackle either. Except for the engine oil, most of the fluids were old and needed changing. The car had a timing belt and water pump that was 20 years old, the fuel filter was almost clogged – the renovations worked wonders here! Other than that, we changed several engine mounts, the bushings were lubricated with rubber regenerator, the air filter changed, the servo belt changed, the shaft and oil pressure switch repaired, and the top cover gasket was changed, says Ole Carlsen.

And there was more:

Under the door gasket on the left side we found what looked like bullet holes from air guns along the entire left side of the car doors, where the door moldings should have been. I don’t want to speculate on what happened, but it wasn’t good for the car.

Toyota Camrys were good cars, but rust was a dangerous enemy, says Ole Carlsen.  Pictured: Frank Wilkinson

Toyota Camrys were good cars, but rust was a dangerous enemy, says Ole Carlsen. Pictured: Frank Wilkinson

Camry Club

How eager are you to “correct” things?

– My goal is always for the car to be as original as possible, as it originally appeared. So far, things have mostly gone well for parts, although there is no large Toyota Camry community in this country. When I started working on these cars, I couldn’t find any common forum at all. Now we are gradually becoming less of a chat group that we informally call the Camry Club. Here we’re sharing tips and tricks with each other, and hopefully there will eventually be more people involved in rescuing other Camrys, too, he says.

The driving environment of the 1988 model was not bad at all.  Pictured: Frank Wilkinson

The driving environment of the 1988 model was not bad at all. Pictured: Frank Wilkinson

very weak constitution

What are your future plans with the completely refurbished car?

– I will simply enjoy it. So far I’ve focused a lot on cosmetics, and everything from the rubber bands, gaskets, chrome details, and other loose parts have been replaced. The same applies to all lamps, gear lever and many interior plastic details.

– Since I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I still have things to do. One of the first things on the agenda is to change all the windows – new ones have been purchased. Now I will spend the winter on this, and in mastering the details. This would be quite a fun job, but it must be admitted that I had no pleasure working on the car when I started this project. The car was in very poor condition when I got it.

Beautiful 1988 interior. Photo: Frank Wilksen

Beautiful 1988 interior. Photo: Frank Wilksen

I had to wash five times

What is the cost of time and money to get the car to its current condition?

– I bought it for 33,000 NOK in March 2021, and I estimate it also cost me a lot more in terms of expenses. I have no idea what time has passed. Mainly, there was work on the car every afternoon, so it was quite appropriate for a roommate to work on his BA at the same time.

– It also helped a lot with the car, and the fact that the seats, for example, are as beautiful as they look now, is thanks to her. It also helped remove paint on the parts we couldn’t replace, as well as a lot of moral support when things went a little wrong, says Ole Carlsen.

– The seats had to be washed five times, and even then the water still looked a little yellow – there was obviously quite a bit of smoking in this interior, he adds.

If there’s something he’s missing in the car, it’s the air conditioner. This was usually standard equipment on the GXi, but for some reason this is missing in the Ole.

Ole Karlsen had to go to Belgium to find the rare GXi logo.  Photo: Ole Carlsen

Ole Karlsen had to go to Belgium to find the rare GXi logo. Photo: Ole Carlsen

automatic dream

Will these cars be sold?

– number. I’ll take the white myself. Daddy will get blue when he’s ready. At the moment, he is with an acquaintance for the necessary body work. The third, charcoal gray V6, fate has not yet been decided.

The starting point for me was to get these cars and save them for future generations. Of course, later it may become convenient for resale to seriously interested parties – there are limits to the number of cars you should own. So far there are no issues with space, and there’s still plenty of room in the shed in Osterdalen, says Ole Carlsen, who would have imagined a Camry V6 with an automatic gearbox.

The charcoal gray car has an automatic transmission, but it is not currently drivable in reverse. Plus it’s visibly rusty, so the dream is a smooth dream and goes back and forth!

Until the dream follows – open a sweet shop for adults

0-100 in 9 seconds

– There is a lot of traffic where I live, you know, and then the manual gearbox is not the best, he adds, and one wonders if the dream car is not in sight:

I tracked down a GXi V6 with automatic transmission, sunroof, air conditioning and cruise control in Troms, and I just bought it. He concludes that it has been in the fold for 10 years, and the special thing about it is that it is virtually rust-free.

The Toyota Camry GXi V6 was definitely a powerful car in 1988. The 2.5-liter V6 produced 160 horsepower and had good traction. The result was a top speed of 210 km / h, while acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h took 9 seconds. The latter was also an impressive number at the time.

The empty weight of the car was 1.225 kg, the permissible gross weight was 1795 kg, and the car could tow a trailer weighing 1500 kg. The box swallowed 505 liters. Toyota Camry GXi was 4.52 m long and 1.71 m wide. The height was 1.40 m and the wheelbase was 2.60 m. The car was front-wheel drive, but a smaller 2.0-liter GLI with all-wheel drive was also produced.

Arnljot paid 5,000 NOK for the car – then drove off

Video: This classic Toyota often stirs controversy

Dr

Dr

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