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midniteson Reader
11/26/17 3:15 a.m.

A couple of months ago, my  grandpa fresh 95,000 mile 4cyl camry daily driver was stolen out of my driveway and totaled into another vehicle. I only had liablity insurance So, i was in the market to replace it for as cheap as possible. I called it Gramp's 

RIP Gramps



The front end was severley damaged, but the motor in gramps still ran exellent. I decided to look for another 97-01 camry so that i can use all the spare parts i had now. and swap motors down the road. 

 I hated the beige, paint tan interior and automatic, so i figued now would be a great time to find a high mile manual version with a color combo i liked, so that i might actually enjoy driving my appliance around. 


midniteson Reader
11/26/17 3:22 a.m.

I found a craigslist ad for a black 2000 camry with a manual transmission for $1000, 214000 miles. 

It stated the car died and would not restart. owner bought a new car and wanted to get rid it.

I have a buddy with a trailer so i contacted the seller and arranged to look at it. 

The seller was in his early 20's and did not know much about cars. He said he recently had a mechanic replace the timing belt water pump, radiator alternator and battery, and the car was running fine before it died on him.

The car was fairly clean, with a grey interior, and a few dents and scratches but over all the black paint was in good nick No rust  and from the condition, looked like it had been garaged most of its life. I confirmed the motor was not seized and threw him an offer.

Knowing i have every part i would need to fix the car i threw him an offer for $600 bucks He accepted and threw in the stock 15" alloys and tires. After some paper work we drug her on to the trailer. 

It is the 99 camry i would have ordered from the factory. Black, Grey cloth interior, sunroof, 5 speed, Tinted windows, and Some very sweet 16" Konig wheels and good tires. 

Meet Black Betty:


JamesMcD SuperDork
11/26/17 7:18 a.m.

Looks like a cool project. 

Opti HalfDork
11/26/17 10:16 a.m.

In high school 2 of my buddies had these, all auto though. One seized after a very hard life  at 312k miles, the other is still kicking around the family at close to 400k miles.

I strongly believe this is probably the best cheap appliance mobile you can buy for a couple thousand (or the lexus sister). Do a tbelt and some struts (i have never driven a car were wore out struts affect the driveability so much) and your good to go. These things are stupid reliable.

sleepyhead HalfDork
11/26/17 10:27 a.m.

are these 5x100 or 5x114?

either way... looking forward to Gramps living on

jfryjfry HalfDork
11/26/17 11:08 a.m.

Expecting a quick and easy motor fix followed by massive profits from selling unneeded parts

midniteson Reader
11/26/17 11:41 a.m.

In reply to sleepyhead :

5x114, i now have three sets of wheels in 14" 15" and 16" lol. Betty has lots of shoes.

midniteson Reader
11/26/17 11:46 a.m.

In reply to Opti :

I whole heartedly agree. I have to drive 300 miles every other weekend, through zones with no cell reception, so reliability is key.With only 214000 miles this ones just getting broke in lol.

midniteson Reader
11/26/17 11:50 a.m.

Gonna Go work on Betty today try to see why she will crank but not start.  Hopefully somthing simple. Right now i am $785 into the car.

$600 purchase price

$100 for the 200 mile tow back home

$85 for the Title transfer.

The Goal is to get this thing running and driving for under $1000 

JamesMcD SuperDork
11/26/17 12:01 p.m.

Do these have the same engine as the celicas from the same period?  My brother had one of those and once experienced the same symptoms. It turned out to be the ingnitor module.  

midniteson Reader
11/26/17 12:18 p.m.

In reply to JamesMcD :

It has the same 5sfe that came in the Celica GT models. But i think the Celica's got a distributor, while the camry's went to coils.

Opti HalfDork
11/26/17 1:37 p.m.

Ive seen the main 100amp fuse blown causing a cranks no start condition.

Also broken timing belts and bad cam/crank sensors or wiring to sensors.

midniteson Reader
11/26/17 7:11 p.m.

So we got it to fire for just a few seconds...the horrendous knocking noise was very clear. 

Betty's heart is bad. 

So the plan is to pull the heart out of Gramps' corpse and revive Betty with the heart from his carcass. 

Here are some Graphic Post mortem Gramps photos

Viewer Discretion advised:




To be continued....

sleepyhead HalfDork
11/26/17 8:07 p.m.

wow, those konig's look even better in the sunlight, nice score on those

bummer about the work, and good luck with the transplant!

Vigo UltimaDork
11/26/17 10:16 p.m.

Cool project!

onemanarmy New Reader
11/27/17 7:15 a.m.

looks like a new front strut assembly, a new side mirror, and maybe a new tire and you'd have gramps back on the road

malibuguy New Reader
11/27/17 8:33 a.m.

Hell yeah yoter love!

My friend had a 01 auto back in the day we beat the snot out of it.  

Of my version of beating the snot out of a vehicle and someone elses are usually very different.  I still have mechanical sympathy.  No neutral bombs or purposely driving over rocks o stuff like that.  Just WOT very often, handbrake turns, burnouts etc.

Ebay short ram intake on these 5sfe is damn near the loudest intake you will ever hear.  We also threw a DNX twin tip muffler on it for a very deep lovely tone.

Crackers HalfDork
11/27/17 10:01 a.m.

Wow, I worked on dozens of these as a tech back in CA, but didn't know they were ever even available with a manual! LOL

midniteson Reader
11/27/17 12:55 p.m.

In reply to onemanarmy :

not pictured is the hole that got punched in the passenger floorboard by the bent suspension pieces. Both airbags deployed as well. Gramp's already had a salvage title from a previous rear hit, so this injury sealed his fate. 

sleepyhead HalfDork
11/27/17 1:24 p.m.

once you make the transplant, you might offer the shell up in the $20xx classifieds... there might be life left in it for a challenge entry, although that's probably a stretch unless they choose "mid-size vanilla sedans" for the 2019 special class

Billy_Bottle_Caps Dork
11/27/17 1:34 p.m.

Great build, love 5hese cars. Keep the window regulators out of gramps, they tend to go bad.

midniteson Reader
11/27/17 8:18 p.m.

In reply to Billy_Bottle_Caps :

Didn't think about those, I'll ad them to the list of pull and save parts.


06HHR HalfDork
11/27/17 9:17 p.m.

I'd grab the exterior door handles from Gramps too, IIRC they aren't the most robust and I don't believe junkyard replacements are easy to find.  

midniteson Reader
12/2/17 8:24 p.m.

In reply to Crackers :

They are definitely much more rare with a manual. It took a lot of hunting. I had to go 200 miles to get this one.

The handfull of cars that had a manual were either very nice but asking for a lot of money, or really trashed inside and out, and still asking for around a grand. I lucked out on this deal.  

I could have bought a running version with high miles and an auto, but where is the fun in that:)

To me its worth the trouble of swapping motors so i can shift my own gears. I'll throw in a new clutch while i am at it,  and still be below my $1000 budget.

I might just have to copy the old GRM camry project car suspension and take this thing to autocross or two.


ssswitch Dork
12/2/17 10:44 p.m.

I have had pretty bad luck with the 5SFE in my '90 Celica GT-S, but then again I bought one with a blown head gasket and a valve cover full of sludge. The trick here is probably to keep from doing too many "while it's out" repairs.

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