Regional Distributors and Modifications

*Some may find the following topic and subject a bit boring. You've been warned!

When I happened to spot this 4th generation Camry today, something immediately stood out. This particular Camry was two-tone. I was perplexed, since I was pretty sure that no 4th generation Camry was available in two-tone in the US except for the 2001 Collector's Edition and 2001 Gallery Series. This most certainly wasn't a 2001 Camry. In fact, it appeared to be either a 1997 or 1998 Camry.

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(2001 Gallery Edition Camry)

Two-tone paint was available overseas on the JDM Camry Gracia, and on some Australian models. However, this was definitely a USDM model. After some research, I finally got my answer: These Camrys were the result of Gulf States Toyota Distributors.

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Way back when Toyotas first arrived on US soil, Toyota did not run their own distribution network. Instead, they relied on deals and agreements with people in different regions to act as distributors. The Toyota you bought was not sold by Toyota, but by your region's distributor. As Toyota became more popular in the US, they started to buy out distributors in order to run their own distribution network. There are currently two private distributors left, one of which is Gulf States Toyota Distributors. Gulf States Toyota Distributors is based in Texas, and covers Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas.

One thing that distributors tend to do is develop their own accessories, special editions, and trim packages. Sometimes, these special editions are composed entirely of accessories and options already produced by Toyota, just grouped together and given a special badge.

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This Camry had a special color option from Gulf State Toyota Distributors, where the lower half was painted a contrasting color. From what I've found, the cars were shipped from the factory in the solid factory color, and the lower half was repainted by the distributor. Very little information exists due to this not being a factory option, and I'm not sure if other distributors did this exact "upgrade". This Camry currently resides in the former Mid-Atlantic Toyota Distributors region, however, I'm not sure which region it originated from.

It would be interesting to see other examples of this behavior, either on Toyotas or on cars from other manufacturers.

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