356-mile 2003 Toyota Matrix is an unlikely time capsule | Autoblog

If you could travel back to 2003 and buy a new car, what would it be? You’re unexpectedly in luck if your answer is a Toyota Matrix: While very few of these hatchbacks were preserved, there’s an example that has covered merely 356 miles currently listed on Cars & Bids.

According to the seller, this Matrix was purchased new by a retired teacher who got sick shortly after taking delivery. The car was reportedly parked in a climate-controlled garage for many years and evidently not driven much. Fast-forward to 2022 and we’re looking at what’s likely the nicest Matrix left. It’s not perfect, there are a few scratches on the front end, but it otherwise looks just like it did nearly 20 years ago.

What are the odds of finding another first-generation Matrix (especially one from the first year of production) in this condition? These were cheap, cheerful hatchbacks that were mass produced and mass destroyed; by the time they reached their eighth owner (and/or their 200,000th mile) they tended to look like they’d survived “The Walking Dead” and smell like a sarcophagus. This one has been spared. Its Cosmic Blue Metallic paint shines, its cloth-upholstered seats are free of tears, and its engine bay looks just like it did in sales brochures.

Toyota offered three trim levels called base, XR, and XRS, respectively, during the 2003 model year. This is an entry-level model, so it’s delightfully simple. It’s equipped with 16-inch steel wheels covered by plastic hubcaps, manual windows, and manually-adjustable door mirrors. It nonetheless features air conditioning and cruise control, and the original owner paid extra for a four-speed automatic transmission.

Only the range-topping XRS trim benefitted from the 180-horsepower four-cylinder engine. Base and XR variants came with a 1.8-liter four rated at 130 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque. It spins the front wheels; the original owner seemingly didn’t need all-wheel drive.

If Blink-182’s “Take Off Your Pants and Jacket” is no longer enough to soothe your nostalgia for the early 2000s, head on over to Cars & Bids and place a bid on this one-way ticket to 2003. Bidding currently stands at $7,100 with six days left in the seven-day auction. For context, the Matrix carried a base price of $14,670 in 2003 excluding destination, a sum that represents approximately $23,700 in 2022. 

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