A very luxurious Camry, the Lexus ES 250 from 1990


Today’s rare race was the only another car accompanying the Lexus LS 400 at dealerships in 1990 and 1991. The chicest Camry offered in the United States was a badge conversion of a Camry sold in the Japanese market.

But consumers saw through the masquerade, as the high-effort LS 400 soared from the showroom floor, the minimal-effort ES stayed there.

Much like the ES as it stands today, the first ES 250 (based on the V20) was front-wheel drive, had a V6 engine, and was designed for two-lane comfort cruising. As Toyota neared the launch date for the flagship LS, they realized that it wouldn’t be a good appearance to sell a singular vehicle under its highly anticipated all-new brand.

The answer came from the Japanese market V20 Camry, which was launched in Japan in late 1986 for the ’87 model year. The V20 was a quality Camry that was built in Kentucky and established the nameplate in the US market. Camry would then take off with the now legendary redesign of the 1992 XV10.

While the V20 was sold in its sedan and station wagon variants in North America, one body style was chosen: a frameless window pillar hardtop. Known as the Vista or Camry Prominent (after 1989), the luxurious Camry edition wore entirely different body panels than the sedan, although it did look at almost the same. The Vista was an inch lower for a sleeker appearance, which meant it had significantly less headroom than the cheaper sedan it was based on. The Vista was never intended for export markets and was the official replacement for the five-door body style of the previous generation.

“It will have to do the trick,” Lexus management said. Thus, the Vista became the ES 250 and was coded VZV21. The interior and exterior were quickly transformed into the Lexus. On the exterior, the ES developed a larger grille and taillights, additional chrome accents, and adjacent wheels to the LS. All first-generation ES 250s had a premium two-tone paint scheme. The interior of the Vista has been transformed via real wood sconces, gathered leather (usually), and plenty of beige materials. ABS, airbag, power sunroof and CD player were standard. All of the ES 250s used the same 2.5-liter V6 from the Camry, although consumers had a choice of transmissions (wow!), And chose from a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic.

Lexus marketed the ES as “the luxury sedan for sports sedans,” which didn’t quite hold up given its 159 horsepower, and very smooth engine. everything else. Customers weren’t too intrigued by a 1990 price tag of $ 22,000 (adjusted $ 47,803) and saw it for what it was: a stopgap until a true SE could be developed. Thus, the ES remained in its first generation only in 1990 and 1991 before being replaced by the ES 300 based on XV10, much more successful. Lexus sold less than 40,000 Es250s in those two years.

And that makes today’s Rare Ride a particularly unusual find. Beyond its 38,000 miles traveled, it combines a blue fabric interior (!) With a white and beige exterior. Your author has never seen an ES 250 with fabric, and never a blue interior with a white exterior. The ES is yours for $ 6,000.

[Images: Lexus]

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