Saturday, June 21, 2014

5k: Almost A Classic: 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac 4WD Wagon

This may upset some Subaru fanatics, but the Toyota Camry All-Trac wagon is probably better in most respects than an early '90s Legacy wagon.  It offers similar usability (cargo space, light snow capability, passenger hauling, etc) to the Legacy, but in a slightly more reliable package.  Today's example is just about as nice as they come and offered for a decent price.  Find this 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac 4WD wagon offered for $5,000 in SF Bay Area, CA via craigslist.  Tip from Kaibeezy.

Tipper Kaibeezy suggested doing a transmission swap in this one; it isn't clear if they ever sold the All Trac with a manual trans here in the US but that's what you'd need to do the swap. The All-Trac AWD transmissions are unique because they have accommodations for a center diff & transfer case. While it would be tempting to swap in a 5-speed, this one might be best left alone given the condition and rarity...or not.

That's a 2VZ-FE V6, 2.5 liters making about 160hp. Should be lively enough given that the car weighs about 2800 lbs max. If they did an AWD V6 wagon version of the current Camry it would weigh about 1000 lb. more.

The cool thing about this 1990 All Trac system is that it has a locking center diff (vacuum actuated). So you can manually tell the car "I want equal torque split between the front and rear axles" and it will obey.  Don't turn the wheels sharply with the center diff locked on tarmac unless you want to hear all kinds of crunchy popping noises from a 30 year old suspension system.

See a cooler wagon ready for family duty?


  1. Might also note it only has 34k miles

  2. I would love to rock this. It deserves better than the salty winters I would put it through in NE, though.

  3. California. Always California...sigh.

  4. Replies
    1. ~ I disagree, leather blows. I'd take a nice sturdy Volvo tweed, any day!

  5. Toyota All-Trac slightly more reliable than a Subaru? My money is on the Suby.

  6. Hmmmm, ad got flagged for removal on local CL. Talked to the owner last night, nice guy but wasn't sure if it was a real all trac or not. Looking at the car this evening.-Josh

    1. Ok, looked at it yesterday late afternoon. Not an All-Trac, repeat NOT AN ALL-TRAC bummer! Seller has rocks in his head thinking he is going to get 5k out of that reconditioned 90' camry LE wagon.

    2. Look on the bright side... easier transmission swap, amiright?

    3. Josh, sorry to hear of the disappointing experience. But to make good on DT's promise of AWD Camry, here's a fairly fresh looking 5-spd manual / All-Trac sedan in Colorado. Sure, it's not a wagon, and has peeling clear coat, but only $1200 with a manual might make a Camry semi-engaging to drive.

      As an alternative to an AWD/auto wagon, how about this Previa All-Trac for $1k in WA?


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