Christmas Day 2001, the day I got the Camry. This picture cracks me up. If only you could see what it looks like now...it's not recognizable compared to this picture.
My dream for the Camry would be to keep it until near death, then let Ben and TH take it to "Grindaddy's" to give it a redneck redo and treat it like they do their 4-wheelers and tractors. It's the only end that I think is fitting for my dear car that is practically a family member.
Really, I want to be by her side until her wheels can turn no more. I want to know how it ends.
Turns out, we need the money??? Whatever. I don't think you can put a price on such a devoted and loyal member of our family.
I thought I would recap the past 10 years, 10 months, and 20 days of my life with the most beloved car of all times. That's 3,977 days to be exact. I know you were wondering!
First, let me tell you the story of the day I got the car.
I turned 16 in the spring and knew I wouldn't be getting a car immediately. I drove my mom's maroon Toyota Previa when I needed it. If you want a mental image, think of Juno Macguff driving in the movie Juno minus the baby. I drove it sparingly. In fact, the only time I remember driving my mom's van anywhere was for show choir practice. I showed up late and left when it was dark so no one saw what I was driving.
Brent and I started dating in August of 2001. My now FIL traveled a lot with his job and bought the Camry in '96 to drive for work. I distinctly remember my dad telling my FIL that he was interested in buying the Camry if he ever sold it.
Fast forward to sometime near Christmas in December 2001 and my dad went to meet my FIL one evening after dinner. That wasn't completely out of the ordinary since our families are friends, but for whatever reason that event stuck out to me. On Christmas Eve, I had a feeling I was getting the Camry for Christmas. Brent was driving me home that night and we passed a local business near my parent's house. And I STILL remember the incredible excitement when I saw a white Camry sitting alone in the parking lot. It was as if Santa and his reindeer had just left the ground. I swear it was covered in a dusting of gold sprinkles straight from the North Pole. Of course, I screamed loud enough to make Brent think he was about to drive off a cliff. Then, I started asking all kinds of questions...to which he knew no answers. All I knew was I was 99.9% sure that was MY Camry sitting in that parking lot.
Christmas day I was a nervous wreck. Our tradition is Santa stuff with my parents in the morning, then Christmas with my dad's side of the family that afternoon. So, really, the car could have been given to me at any moment.
Well, the morning came and went and Santa didn't bring me a car.
Then came gift time at my grandparent's house. Of course, I knew the car would be the last gift given to me. My dad walks off and comes back with this HUGE wrapped box. For half a second I was let down, but I was determined there was a key or some hint to the car wrapped inside. If I remember correctly, there was no key, but there was some sort of note about going to look outside. I began to walk outside, meanwhile in my head I was practicing my pretend surprise reaction, and what do you know? I was right! My Camry was sitting in the front yard.
I still remember the first CD I ever listened to--Jewel "This Way". My brother gave it to me that same Christmas. Now, there are 3 CDs stuck in the player because it quit working about 3 1/2 years ago.
The Camry took us many places, one of them being Captiva Island for our honeymoon.
Timeline of Drivers of the Camry:
Sometime before Nov '96: The brand new '97 Camry is parked on the corner of a dealership. A car on the street runs a red light, hits another car, which then hits the Camry and totals it. Poor thing was almost killed before anyone ever bought it. Camry is sold to a local business man that rebuilds and sells Toyotas.
Nov '96: My father in law buys the car from Billy Graham (the local business man, not the evangelist) with a rebuilt title and a mere 21 miles on it.
Feb 2000: Brent gets his license and drives the Camry until he gets his own car.
Dec. 25, 2001: The Camry is given to me with 128,000 miles on it.
May 26, 2007: Brent and I get married and not only does he get me as his wife, he gets my Camry. For the most part, I drive his Pathfinder. At this point, the Camry still looks decent, so I don't mind driving it every once in a while. We came SO close to buying a new Camry shortly after we got married, but obviously we decided not to.
September 2009: With Lily coming along and our lease almost up on Brent's car, we trade the Pathfinder in for a van. The Camry now only has 3 hubcaps and the paint job is getting worse by the second. The Camry is officially Brent's car.
March 2011: Brent starts a new job and desperately needs a nicer looking car because no one wants to buy insurance from a guy who drives a car with now only 2 hubcaps and a rusty paint job. My father in law becomes the driver of the Camry again so that Brent can drive his car.
March 2012: As much as we joked about it, the Camry really does live to see the day that Brent's brother Ryan turns 16. However, Ryan doesn't want the Camry (can't imagine why???), so Brent gets the Camry back.
November 5, 2012: Brent starts a new job and gets a company car. The poor Camry just sits in the driveway :(.
November 14, 2012: We put the Camry on Craigslist and within 2 hours it's sold with 260,500 (approx.) miles on it.
I got a hubcap for Christmas 2007. The first of three attempts to keep hubcaps on the wheels.
Because the car was totaled and rebuilt, it has a few quirks:
One quirk is that the steering wheel sings to you. Seriously. Every turn of the steering wheel, even if it's oh so slight, the wheel sings.
Another quirk is the car alarm goes off at any moment for any length of time and there isn't a THING you can do about it. There have been times that either I or Brent (and probably others) have been locked in the car while the alarm was going off. All you can do is sit there and wait patiently and wish you had a sign for all the onlookers, "Sorry, but this car is special and I can't turn off the alarm."
Another is that you can take the key out without putting the car in park (thus, the reason I ALWAYS put the emergency break on in any car I park...habit, thanks to the Camry). One day while Brent was in middle school, his dad came to pick him up. The Camry was parked in the school's parking lot. It proceeded to roll down the hill and hit a tree. We are thankful the tree was there, otherwise it would have rolled onto a busy 4 lane street.
Speaking of the same quirk, one late night after we were married, the Camry rolled out of our flat driveway, turned a hard left in our flat cul de sac, and ran over the neighbor's mailbox. Completely knocked it out of the ground. The police and neighbors were baffled at how a car could do that by itself. They assumed Brent did it after he had been drinking.
The car kept me safe for nearly 11 years of my driving life. I never once had any type of accident in it. However, there was one summer I was keeping my cousins at their house. The Camry was parked in the street and the neighbor backed into the car. Which only means there is one part of the car that looks good and presentable--the back left panel. The paint job is so bad that there is a color difference between the old white and the new white.
Once while Brent's dad had the car for the second time, the car caught on fire on his way to work. We were all sure it was the end of the car's life. Nope. It was just the battery.
So, if you are keeping up (and if you are still reading this long post), the Camry has been in 4 wrecks. None of which were there any people in the car. How many cars can say that? That is an impressive statistic!
We sold the Camry to a man that runs a used car lot. He is going to paint it and give it a complete set of matching hubcaps! I told him to please send me pics when he is done! I'm so glad we sold it to someone that is going to improve it. The Camry is getting a new lease on life. It truly is immortal!
My last time to ever sit in the Camry