Tuesday, August 12, 2014

3k: Battle Of The Bore: 1988 Camry vs 1983 Accord

How do you make the world's most boring dull-machines a bit more exciting?  Carbon fiber wings, fart can exhaust and neon underglow?  Nope, not even close.  Try leaving them 100% stock, but make sure they are low optioned, manual transmission as original as possible...then, and only then will the buyers come running.  It just so happens that two discount specials from appliance city just fell into our tips inbox...time for a comparison! If you had 3 large burning a hole in your pocket, would you pick the 1988 Camry or the 1983 Accord?

The basic truth is that neither one of these cars will ever be remotely collectable, but that isn't the reason you should consider one.  The real reason is that you can plop down less than the deposit on a new car and drive away with something that should run a few more 100k miles with only simple hand-tool maintenance.

Up first is this 1983 Honda Accord 2-door offered for $2,600 in Kila, MT via craigslist (Tip from Oldsmobuick.)  With 82k miles on the odometer, this one is the winner in terms of miles/use, but you gotta wonder, who only puts 2,600 miles per year on a low-option Accord?  Did it rack those miles up like a normal commuter and then sit for a few years as indicated by the seller's diagnosis of carb issues?  Finally, a seller who has only owned the car for a few months never leaves a nice taste in your mouth either.

On the other hand, this thing looks really nice on the inside for a 31 year old commuter.  Under the hood is a 1.8 liter Honda EK1 engine good for around 72 horsepower and mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox attached to the front wheels. 

Up next is that 1988 Toyota Camry offered for $3,000 in SF Bay Area via craigslist (Tip from Kaibeezy).  This Camry has a decent number of miles on the odometer, but at 146k it is still young for a 2nd generation Camry.  The key to this car is that it is being sold by the original owner, making it more desirable than something that has been passed around to a bunch of college kids.

The US spec Camry could be had with an optional V6, but this car uses the 115 horsepower 3S-FE twin cam inline-4.  It is a DOHC 16 valve engine equipped with fuel injection and mated to the front wheels via a 5-speed manual gearbox.  If you have to drive a Camry, this is gonna be as fun as it gets.

See a better 5-speed equipped beigemobile?  tips@dailyturismo.com


  1. Most boring? Bite thy tongue, sir! A bone-stock, low-mile '83 Accord with a 5-speed is a perfect starting point for anyone wanting to learn to drive a stick. And for anyone who wants to learn about torque-steer, or anyone curious about the braking distance of front-heavy imports without ABS. Or the adhesion limits of 13-inch tires. Or anyone who has never heard valves float at 7k RPM.

    Seriously, though -- my first car was an '83 Accord 5-speed, so I admit my bias openly. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for 80's Accords. Slick manual. Great gas mileage. Wonderful visibility. Reliable -- dare I say, unkillable. The only thing that killed my Accord was rust.

    This appears to be a rust-free car so it's awfully tempting.

    oh, and to hell with Camrys (Camries??).

  2. I think the accord wins for me. A clean 80's hatch is always a good thing. And with all sorts of engine swap options to make this from mild to wild is why I choose the accord. Since I know of a smashed rdx sitting just down the street I think if it fits without cutting the hood I would give an 83 accord that heart.

  3. Since I would only be buying one of these to have as a DD, I would have to take the Camry. Original owner, no known issues, 146k is nothing in means of miles on this platform, and this was the generation that made the Camry name. Unfortunately (or not as your perspective sits) I already have a boring DD, '07 Malibu with 165k. For those of you who wonder why we should even waste time on these; they help us by being the almost maintenance free drivers that make us yearn for our "needy" cars.

  4. Hatchback for sure. In a cosmic coincidence, we just came across a gen 1 Accord hatch race car: http://www.fastinfastout.com/2014/08/1978-honda-accord-race-car/

  5. I'm rather fond of the early Accords, but that said the Camry's probably a bit quicker as it sits.


    It's got motor-mouse belts which are the spawn of the devil as far as I'm concerned, back in the day I had the glasses ripped off my face more than once by the things. I would never own a car with passive belts.


    If you're fond of that generation of Camry, perhaps fond enough to plod your way over to one of the JDM engine suppliers and find yourself a late BEAMS 3S-GE powertrain and try to slip it past the smog Gestapo, then you should also do yourself the favor of finding some seatbelts and pillar trims from a Canadian-market car or some such.

  6. Just dumped my 180000 mile Camry. I bought it new, but got tired of dumping lots of money into it. Started to leak oil in the driveway which turned out to be a seal in the distributer. Dont know how other ones get 300000+ miles, but mine did'nt.


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