Hooniverse Classic Toyota Weekend – Fascination of the Boring; A Series of Postings from Autofrei

Hooniverse seems to attract the best and the brightest, and here is more proof. We received a detailed communication from Raphael Orlove, and you may recognize him by his username raphaelinberlin. Mr. Orlove has an interesting site of his own called Autofrei, and he dropped us a line after I put this posting up. So sit back, relax, and catch up on some musings of our very own raphaelinberlin….

I’ve written extensively about Toyota’s curious years through the 1980s, when voluntary export restrictions really set the company down its path towards blandness, all the while producing all kinds of interesting niche vehicles along the way. I wrote a fuller history on my site in relation to a 1985 Camry I saw on the street as well as in an article on a late ’80s front-drive Corolla GT-S I spotted. Sometimes you really have to embrace the boring, soak in it, cover yourself in the blandness of it all, but that might be a little much for the more enthusiast vibe of the ‘verse.

Read his Camry Article here.

Still, if there is anything on the automotive fringe, it’s deep adoration of the most utterly invisible, dull cars. There is really only one candidate for the most invisible car in the world, the one you are the least likely to remember or even notice when you walk past one on the street, and that’s the ’87-’91 Camry, which I wrote a piece on. I also covered a lot of other old Toyotas that perhaps fit into what other hoons might more readily qualify as interesting, but the best article of those, I think, would be a piece I did on the late ’80s front-drive Celica. Traditional knowledge goes that when it switched from rear wheel drive, Celicas stopped being lustworthy or interesting.

However, not only have 4th gen Celicas become wonderful examples of what is for so many working-class Americans a real sports car, but the fourth gen Celica, as it turns out, was styled after the 1960s Panhard 24-series, which is pretty interesting in itself and worth a mention.

The 4th generation Celica posting is one of the best I’ve read. Take a look for yourself.

I really do have plenty of articles up on the site on old Toyotas, from a first-gen Cressida, a first-gen Celica Supra, and a couple beater Puerto Rican AE86s. If any of these sound interesting, or even sound interesting in how extremely uninteresting they are (I assure you there is something wonderful even in a 1990 Cressida), just let me know.

Well Raphael, you have us hooked on you keen insights and distinctive writing style. The AE86 in Puerto Rico is a great read, and you can check it out here.

He also sent a link to all of the other Toyota postings, and you can take a look at them here. If you want to see more of Raphael musings, check out his site Autofrei. You won’t be disappointed.

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  1. skitter Avatar

    Spectacular writing and photography. I especially liked the fascination on the '89 and '90 Camry.

    1. Adem Avatar

      My first car was one of these. The total anonymity of the car allowed me to get away with far, far more than those rich kids who got Mustangs and Cameros from their parents.
      When they were new, they were the best selling cars in America. I still see many of them on the road, ~20 years later, putting miles down on the road despite the fact that every one I see seems to be more rust than steel.

      1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

        camaro. please. please. please. CAMARO.

  2. facelvega Avatar

    As an academic who lives in New York and still keeps his old place in Berlin, I approve this promotion. Raphael is also the only hoon ever to scoop me on a picture of a car parked in my own damned neighborhood– a certain ex-Tirolean fire dept. Rover 109 that always seems to appear when I've forgotten my camera or it's already dark, but when I once mentioned it RiB already had a photo of it handy. Cheers, man.

    1. raphaelinberlin Avatar

      I loved that old Tiroler – I wonder if it feels strange amongst the urban canyons of New York, or if it secretly wants to drive up fire escapes or go offroading in Central Park. It certainly looked well traveled and I bet it has fine stories it could garble out in Südbairisch.

  3. Manic_King Avatar

    Thumbs up, great site Raphael! Love that eighties Celica, it was my dream car in the beginning of nineties when I started to buy cars. I never had enough money to get that recent model. Bought 84 notchback instead during one of my misguided trips to Germany with a plan to buy nice E30 (but always went back to home with something else like Celica, Sierra XR4i). Went and looked at mobile.de and these are now available from 1000 EUR. Cheap, but doesn't feel exotic or project-y enough.
    I also checked out linked CAR's 1988 comparo Celica vs. 4 WS Prelude and had preferred probably Toyota even if Honda had much nicer interior and sportier feel. Not at all an Japanese car fanboi but damn, that Celica somehow is all right.

    1. raphaelinberlin Avatar

      Wow, those Celicas on mobile.de really are cheap – I need to get myself back to Deutschland. I've always wanted to take the wheel through the German forests, and I wouldn't mind a blast down AVUS either.

  4. chrystlubitshi Avatar

    i really like the '86 (U.S.) notch-backs as opposed to the liftbacks… they managed to have more rear-seat head room and (seemingly) more trunk space at the same time…. plenty of room for medium-sized luggage for two (separate) people (2 bags each) and a 1.5 cubic foot sub-woofer box.. only problem (for us) was the fact that the heater wasn't quite up to par… so we had afghans… it was awesome. (great road trips)