The Toyota Camry has long been one of the top choices for people looking for a nice, relatively big saloon car. Over the years, Toyota's midsize sedan has established a reputation for being, quiet, comfortable, and refined. However, it wasn't always the car we're all familiar with these days. 40 years ago, it was a different story.

The first Toyota Camry is nothing like today

While many of us grew up with the Corona was Toyota's mid-size sedan, the Camry has been around since 1980. The thing is, it wasn't supposed to be an executive saloon. Instead, Toyota marketed it as a sporty four-door. Dubbed the Celica Camry, and it's the polar opposite of the latest model.

The 1980 Celica Camry was rear-wheel drive and had a variety of engines available. Base models had a 1.6-liter, carbureted mill. Those who wanted more power could get a 1.8-liter with dual carburetors. A fuel-injected 1.8-liter soon followed, along with a new 2.0-liter engine. Then there was the GT 2000, which had twin-cams and electronic fuel injection. The GT 2000 had 135 PS at the front and it sent all of it to the rear, making it a proper sport sedan at the time.

The first Toyota Camry is nothing like today

Sadly, the Celica Camry had a very short production cycle as Toyota ended it in 1982. That year, Toyota had made the car front-wheel drive and changed its intended audience. Instead of being a sporty four-door, it became a plush, comfortable sedan.

However, changing the Camry's target market did wonders for Toyota. The second-generation Camry became a smash hit in the U.S. The third and fourth-generation models would push the car further upmarket. By the fifth-generation, it had established itself as an executive saloon worldwide.

The first Toyota Camry is nothing like todayThe first Toyota Camry is nothing like today

The Camry of today is nothing like the first model. If Toyota kept the original formula, the modern version would, essentially, be a four-door GT86. On the other hand, if Toyota didn't turn it into a luxury car, the name Camry might not be around anymore.

Toyota has sold over 13 million units of the Camry worldwide, making it the best-selling mid-size sedan of all time. Knowing that, we think it's an awesome way to kick off the Camry's 40th birthday.