356-mile 2003 Toyota Matrix is an unlikely time capsule

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If you could go back to 2003 and buy a new car, what would it be? You're in unexpected luck if your answer is a Toyota Matrix: while very few of these hatchbacks have survived, there is one example that has currently only driven 356 miles that is listed on Cars & Bids.
According to the seller, this matrix was bought new by a retired teacher who fell ill shortly after delivery. The car was reportedly parked in an air-conditioned garage for many years and apparently not driven much. Fast forward to 2022 and we take a look at what is probably the most beautiful Matrix left. It's not perfect, there are a few scratches on the front end, but otherwise it looks the same as it did almost 20 years ago.
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What are the chances 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 hit their eighth owner (and/or 200,000th mile), they tended to look like they'd survived The Walking Dead and smelled like a sarcophagus. This one was spared. Its Cosmic Blue Metallic paintwork gleams, its cloth seats are crack-free and its engine compartment looks straight out of the sales brochure.
Toyota offered three trim levels in the 2003 model year, named Basis, XR, and XRS respectively. This is an entry-level model, so it's delightfully simple. It is equipped with 16-inch steel wheels with plastic hubcaps, manual windows and manually adjustable door mirrors. Still, it has air conditioning and cruise control, and the first owner paid extra for a four-speed automatic transmission.
Only the top XRS trim benefited from the 180-horsepower four-cylinder engine. Base and XR variants came with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 130 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque. It turns the front wheels; the original owner apparently did not need all-wheel drive.
If Blink-182's "Take Off Your Pants and Jacket" isn't enough to assuage your nostalgia for the early 2000s, head over to Cars & Bids and bid on this one-way ticket back to 2003. Bids are currently $7,100 with six days remaining in the seven day auction. For comparison, The Matrix had a base price of $14,670 with no destination in 2003, a total that equates to about $23,700 in 2022.
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