I was handed down the Camry sometime in the year 2000, passed on from my dad. To start with, it was a stick - which I had no clue how to operate. The closest I'd been to a stick shift was episodes of Knight Rider. My dad gave me a 20 minute lesson in a local parking lot, and then we somehow determined I was ready to drive it (!?). This was the kind of preparation Danny Tanner would have given DJ (DeeJay?) on an episode of Full House - and then assume everything would be fine. Comedy ensues.
The Camry's most endearing feature was that the driver's door handle did not work. This was a sweet little trick for picking up women at the time, because the only way into the car was to go in through the passenger door. So, when I walk around and open up the passenger door - said lady immediately thinks I'm some sort of an old fashioned gentleman. This image immediately fades when I awkwardly get in first and jump across to the driver's seat. I always enjoyed that awkward moment where she realized...."oh, k, riiiiiight." It was Dukes of Hazard in reverse. I'm still shocked I was able to maintain regularly steady girlfriends the whole time I drove it.
Another fun little feature was that the heater didn't work - so any drive from November to February was pretty much limited to 20 minutes before frostbite set in. Nothing says hoop-dee like numb toes and ice crystals on the dash.
I once got pulled over by a cop for having a tail light out. In addition to the door not working, the driver's window also couldn't roll down. So when he came up to the window, I just had to yell at him through the glass:
"The window doesn't work!! I'm sorry officer!"
"Son, could you step out of the car?"
"Yeah, I can...sorta, but the door doesn't work either! (still shouting through the window) So I'll just crawl around!" (I kind of figured I'd either get shot or chased, and I didn't want to sprint with my frozen toes since the heater didn't work.)
I think he took pity on me, as he just sent me home. Smug cops and their working doors and luxurious heaters.
It finally died late one night as I was heading to a friend's house. There was a huge gunshot-like noise that came from the engine as I was making a turn. Loud noises and pops weren't out of the ordinary, so I kind of ignored it. When the smoke started billowing - I was kind of hoping it meant the heater was finally kicking in. To no avail. It was some pump or something - never to run again.
When I look back on it - I think I had far more lady prospects driving that Camry than I do now, so maybe there was something to it. Coulda been that smoky dusty paint job, or maybe the scattered rust that was a turn on.
Anywho, here's the new ride - the 2007 Infiniti G35x. Its coolest feature is that it has an internal 10 gig hardrive, and every CD you put in automatically burns to the drive. Kind of an iPod on wheels. The backup camera also works well for stalking people behind you.