Home » Someone Imported A 2005 Toyota Camry From Japan And I Just Don’t Get It

Someone Imported A 2005 Toyota Camry From Japan And I Just Don’t Get It

Jdm Camry Topshot
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Importing a car from Japan can easily involve sifting through a catalog of weirdness. You could buy an Autozam AZ-1, an insect-sized mid-engined sports car with gullwing doors. You could also buy a Honda S-MX, an asymmetric car explicitly designed for hookups. You could even buy a Daihatsu Mira Walk-through Van, which looks a bit like a 4/6-scale Toyota Tercel wearing a shed. However, I recently stumbled upon something that trumps the lot. It’s a beige Toyota Camry with cloth seats and a dent on the side, up for sale on Canada’s west coast.

Jdm Camry 2

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

On the face of it, this Camry is basically identical to the ones you can find in every zip code. It’s beige, it’s a 2005 model, it’s even the North American-style wide Camry rather than any funky JDM variant. Under the hood sits the same 2AZ-FE 2.4-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine that came standard in America at the time. It’s hitched to the same five-speed automatic gearbox offered in North America, driving the front wheels.

Jdm Camry 1

As far as exterior condition goes, this Camry appears to be in good shape, but not outstanding shape. The fog lights haven’t turned opaque from years of ultraviolet radiation and road grit, which is more than you can say about most 18-year-old regular cars. Actually, if your fog lights are looking haggard, I’d recommend just replacing the assemblies since they’re dirt-cheap for most cars. I think I paid $30 for E90 fog lights with bulbs. Anyway, what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, the Camry. It’s got a few bumps and scrapes but no egregious rust or anything, which means it’s probably good transportation for years to come.

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Jdm Camry Interior

Moving to the cabin, this Camry appears to basically be analogous to our XLE model, save for its cloth upholstery. It’s decked out with automatic climate control, a now-useless navigation system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and woodgrain trim from the reddest of trim factories. Aside from power-folding mirrors, it doesn’t offer huge equipment perks over the Camry models we got here, which shouldn’t be surprising because it’s a Camry.

Jdm Camry 4

This is the stealth mode of JDM cars, a wholly anonymous and baffling choice that most people won’t bat an eye at. Rarely has a JDM car blended into North American traffic so well. It’s impressively boring, the sort of machine Akio Toyoda railed against when he approved such cars as the GR Supra and GR Corolla. It’s so uninteresting it’s interesting, a ton of effort put towards securing a predictable outcome. Think about how far this Camry has traveled, how much of the world it’s seen.

Jdm Camry Odometer

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So why would anyone import a Camry like this from Japan? It only takes a glance at the odometer to find out. If the dashboard is accurate, this monument to normalcy has covered just 24,943 kilometers, or 15,499 miles, since new. Not bad for a car that’s listed for $8,000 Canadian, or $5,877 in greenbacks. In today’s crazy car market, where else are you finding a low-mileage Camry for such little money? Sure, it’s not the most exciting car in the world, but it’s famed for reliability and it should be easy to service anywhere in North America.

Jdm Camry 3

While bringing an exceedingly normal Toyota Camry halfway across the world isn’t the most daring choice one could make, this particular example seems unusually sensible on the face of things. It’s the sort of vehicle that could be a star a smaller car meet, yet come without the hassle of sourcing rare parts from a land off yonder. Perhaps that makes it the smart choice, the thrill of something different without any of the pain.

(Photo credits: Facebook Marketplace seller)

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Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
8 months ago

That price isn’t the whole story, though: You’re going to have spend $35 on adapters for the license plate, since the screw holes are spaced differently. Not such a good deal anymore, is it!

ScottyB
ScottyB
8 months ago

Obviously it was a burning desire to have side marker lamps.

bmw325_num99
bmw325_num99
8 months ago

Since Canada requires only 15 years to import a car (as opposed the the Land Of the Free’s 25 years), people import cars like this as normal, everyday family cars. This is opposed to the USA where its pretty much only enthusiasts or maybe mail carriers importing cars from Japan. This Camry was likely just imported from Japan because it was cheaper than buying a used one locally. While this may be hard to beleive, Japan has expensive costs in place for owning and driving “old” cars such as this car likely was upon its 15+ years old import.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
8 months ago

Some super cool JDM stuff getting brought here, but people importing these basically “normal” cars baffles me. Like who cares if your ’96 JDM Civic has a crazy period navigation system and a nicer steering wheel it’s otherwise the same econo civic you could get here with the added inconvenience of RHD.

Keon R
Keon R
8 months ago

I’m almost certain it was shipped over for postal use. From what I see in Canada, most Japanese import car dealerships sell the typical performance/oddball imports, but will also have an inventory of normal RHD cars advertised as being for postal use.

Pete Owens
Pete Owens
8 months ago
Reply to  Keon R

nah, I’m in BC and there’s tons of people driving regular stuff like this who are definitely not postal carriers. RAV4’s, Odysseys, Prius, etc. I dont even know if we have postal workers who drive their own cars in this province. I’ve certainly never seen it.

Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
8 months ago

Mirai, mirai, on the wall, who is the beigest one of all?

Eric Busch
Eric Busch
8 months ago

Maybe some people like to reverse their way through the drive thru.

Chris Hoffpauir
Chris Hoffpauir
8 months ago
Reply to  Eric Busch

An RHD car is actually quite useful if you frequent old-school double drive-thru chains like Rally’s/Checkers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checkers_and_Rally%27s#/media/File:Rally's_drive-through.jpg

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
8 months ago

I was looking at a JDM car import website the other day and was blown away by how cheap their ordinary used cars are. I’ve been so discouraged by how expensive used cars are in my state and yet in Japan you can buy a good-condition low-mileage basic used car for under two grand and have it shipped to the U.S. for supposedly only a couple grand more.

So as insane as it seems at first, I think this Camry makes perfect sense. The world is insane, the used car market is doubly so, and in this crazy world we live in, sometimes you can get a better used car for less money by importing one from another country, shipping costs and all.

At this point I’d absolutely consider doing this just to get a basic commuter car, nothing exciting or special, just a normal JDM car for doing normal boring car things. I don’t need or want any of the fancy digital nonsense in modern cars, I just want something that works, and reliably so, and Japan has them for dirt cheap in great shape. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be ogling JDM Daihatsu Charades and whatnot.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
8 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

Rich overland people will literally ship trucks around the world for a vacation and nobody cares

Chris Hoffpauir
Chris Hoffpauir
8 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

Your theory checks out. You really can’t get more practical than a Camry.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
8 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

I did this. I have a 1996 Toyota Caldina Wagon (ST195G) – super stealth mode but every so often it makes someone’s day. Cost me $1,400 at auction, $3,800 to bring it to NYC titled and ready to go. It had 70K miles when I got it, aside from having to import four replacement shocks from three different countries it has been sheer pleasure.

Cake_taco
Cake_taco
8 months ago

As someone who lives in Vancouver this is super common. I see JDM 2nd gen Priuses all the time, Mazda MPVs, etc. My favourite is a beat up JDM Toyota Vitz (Yaris) that is used as a local delivery vehicle.

Last edited 8 months ago by Cake_taco
Sklooner
Sklooner
8 months ago

Where’s the dent ?

Chris Hoffpauir
Chris Hoffpauir
8 months ago

There’s a demand for RHD cars in the U.S., albeit a small one. For example, rural letter carriers often use their own vehicles, and a car like this Camry would be a prime choice.

HW
HW
8 months ago

This is nothing to more than a regular 15 year or older import car that Canada allows in regularly. The dealer must have gotten it for super cheap to sell it for CAD8000 and still make a profit. Would I want it? Probably, but only if I’m desperate for a used car immediately.

Gee See
Gee See
8 months ago
Reply to  HW

A lot of dealers commit to import a certain amount of cars to get discounts with shipping. There are only finite number of Godzillas, Paos etc out there to import, I got a feeling that supply is running dry. These days it seems to be 00 and up, and those quality aren’t just as good / interesting. Trucks and Vans have huge demand from places like Australia/ New Zealand. There was a shortage of cars just a while ago in North America not so long ago. Also Canadians like to drive frugally and most insurance are not punitive to RHD cars.

Last edited 8 months ago by Gee See
Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
8 months ago

The reason for this is simple: they wanted luxury options with cloth seats. Something only available in Japan now

Bill D
Bill D
8 months ago

Could one import this to the US because it’s substantially identical to a USDM vehicle except for the RHD, or would you have to wait for the 25 year clock to run out?

Nolan Orr
Nolan Orr
8 months ago
Reply to  Bill D

The sheet metal for the firewall, brake systems routing, and safety components are different on LHD and RHD versions, even if only mirrored across the center line of the car. I think this would likely need to comply with USDM crash standards for the model year, or you would need some kind of confirmation from the manufacturer that it complies with USDM crash regulations for that era.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
8 months ago
Reply to  Nolan Orr

Yeah, you would need a letter from Toyota affirming that it meets US standards. Barring that, it has to stay in Canada until it turns 25.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
8 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

I don’t see Toyota (or any manufacturer) doing that. Risky and theoretically undermines the value of other used Toyotas.

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