Almost ten years ago, we acquired a second-hand, New Zealand-new stationwagon. The Boy, seven at the time, took one look at the Advanti Racing alloy-shod Camry 220 GL and declared it a sportswagon. I suppose when you’re seven and you’re a Holden V8 fan with a cap and jacket to prove it, you make do with what you get.
I grew up with a succession of Ford Falcon stationwagons. A lot of my childhood holiday memories include lying in the rear cargo area, in a cocoon of blankets and luggage, en route to some faraway destination; if I got bored, I played polite games of shoot-’em-up with the driver of the vehicle behind us.
I never thought I’d end up driving a Toyota as an adult. They’re so ubiquitous that… well, I thought Other People drove the damned things. Not me.
But the Camry grew on me. The 2.2-litre engine is a good compromise between around-town trips and our annual cross-country holidays. It’s wide enough to give each occupant room to move — on long trips, the kids would fill up the backseat and footwell with a myriad of items to keep them occupied. The rear cargo area can accommodate: luggage for five; film-making gear; a month’s grocery shopping; or firewood aplenty (with the backseat folded forward). It’s a workhorse, baby, and it can take on any job you throw at it.
I know that, alloys aside, we’ve got a stock Camry. But there’s something about our ‘wagon that makes it stand out from the rest of the ‘wagons out there.
And you know what it is? They’re not sportswagons.
(This post started out as a bit of a love-post in 2007. I thought I’d published it ages ago but obviously haven’t. So why now? The Camry is about to be retired. We added 200,000+kms to the odometer, traversed State Highway 1 innumerable times in it, and it has long been Fortress Mamea’s faithful and reliable war- and work-horse. A farewell ceremony involving fish ‘n’ chips and lipstick is scheduled in the very near future.)