By on September 2, 2012

Everyone knows about the Cressidas of the 1980s, but we often forget that Toyota sold Cressidas in North America through the 1992 model year. That means that the Lexus LS400 and Toyota Cressida were available at the same time for three model years, giving Toyota shoppers the choice of two different rear-drive luxury sedans. I can’t recall ever seeing a ’92 Cressida prior to this one, so here’s a super-rare Junkyard Find from Denver.
I was at the junkyard on this trip to pull the digital cluster out of the ’84 Cressida, which meant I didn’t have a proper camera on me. The affirmations painted on this car’s steering wheel, however, show up just fine on a cellphone camera’s image.
The V8 in the LS was quieter and more powerful than the L6 in the Cressida, but the 7M was still a reasonably luxurious engine.
83,000 miles? How is that even possible for an early-90s Toyota?

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48 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1992 Toyota Cressida...”


  • avatar
    prndlol

    Unless the head gasket blew, and that’s pretty unlikely at 83k, some steering wheel-tagging owner is a complete idiot. This was a great car.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      ….Or the Transmission gave up.

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      No, it’s VERY likely. Lifespan of a 7M head gasket was about 75k miles and this is quite typical of a junkyard Cressida. Allegedly, the head bolt torque was designed with an asbestos head gasket in mind. When a non-asbestos gasket was mandated, the bolt torque was not calibrated for it. It was a major problem on the Supra as well. The head gasket repair isn’t actually too bad of a job on these. If the engine is allowed to sit with coolant (usually filled with 100% water when the cressie starts drinking it) in the cylinders for too long however, the whole engine is trashed.

      The A340 transmission in these was used in many other Toyotas and is a pretty sturdy unit. At least, for the brief time owners of these had a running car.

      There are aftermarket remedies for the HG problem. If can fix that and find one that hasn’t had a trunk water leak, the Cressida is an incredibly smooth car.

  • avatar
    gmrn

    “83,000 miles? How is that even possible for an early-90s Toyota”?

    HG failure due to bolts I reckon?

    Also, with my shocking experience of a ’93 T100 V-6 that needed a 2nd HG replacement needed at less than 125k miles, I assure you that while ‘Yota quality may have been excellent in many areas, they were truly on auto pilot in others…

  • avatar
    65corvair

    83,000 miles. If you had a Matrix with the manual transmission, you believe it. Yes, even Toyotas fail long before there time.

    • 0 avatar
      JoeHill02

      I had a 2003 Pontiac Vibe base, with manual transmission. Drove it for 140,000 miles, then gave it to a family member. It is still going strong. No problems with the powertrain on that Matrix copy!

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        2005 Pontiac Vibe manual trans (wife’s car) gave up the ghost on 3rd gear sycros at 30,000+ miles. The car is approaching 60,000+ miles and I fear that the 3rd gear sycro is once again begining to fail.

    • 0 avatar
      toplessFC3Sman

      Odd, my parents have an ’04 Pontiac Vibe GT with the 6 speed manual, and even though neither of them are very good with the clutch or trans (oh that poor clutch), they haven’t had any problems besides needing the clutch replaced around 60k and again at 110k (which really is their own fault). Definitely no synchro or other engine/trans issues tho

  • avatar
    Kevin Jaeger

    I suspect the owner couldn’t abide another day of those idiotic seatbelts and junked the car instead. I can’t think of any other reason such a low mileage Toyota would be there.

  • avatar
    roger628

    When I was in Saudi Arabia, I saw a lot of this generation of Cressida. In that market, they were bare-bones, only having AC.
    No power windows or anything.

    • 0 avatar
      Lightspeed

      I went to get gas for my 90 Cressida and the young guy at the till was from the middle-east. His eyes bugged out and he said, “That’s a Cressida, I love those, my dad had one in Bahrain.” I let him have a seat in my car and he told how Cressidas were really popular in Bahrain and Saudi. He said it was considered equal to Mercedes. And then his co-worker, and older guy from Egypt, came over to see it and said the same thing about Cressidas in his home country.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The actual mileage is probably 1,083,804. Time for Toyota to add another digit to their odometers.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I say the timing belt snapped (if these used one) and the owner didn’t bother to replace it.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Good guess. I didn’t realize these had belts(they do), but that can befall any old car driven by someone that writes daily affirmations on the steering wheel. The remarkable things it that this car died in spite of not having a thick steering wheel cover.

    • 0 avatar
      acuraandy

      @Ryoku75

      A (former) coworker of mine in sales picked up a ’92 Lexus LS400 on the cheap a few years back. It had the V8, and none of us (being Acura people) realized it had a timing belt until it had about 150k mi on it.

      She had it changed by another guy in the shop as a side job. The belt that was removed was starting to SHRED. NOT crack, or shine, but SHRED. We estimated it would’ve lasted another 50-100mi at most before falling apart. I’ve never seen a timing belt in such bad shape that hadn’t broken.

      We also reckoned it was the original. With almost 20 years and 150k mi on it. Impressive.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        More like lucky. What’s the maintenance schedule for the timing belts?

      • 0 avatar
        acuraandy

        Toyota guys, correct me if im wrong, but I think the t-belt interval was 60k mi.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I am no automotive engineer, but can someone explain to me why the great Toyonda, in their golden years no less, phoned it in and put timing belts on their upper tier models? I was under the impression this cheapo tactic (vs a chain) was done to save money and on a lower margin models, as the dollars saved add up in nice margin (in addition to rewarding the stealership). Why is it GM put a chain in my ’98 Saturn (msrp $14500) but the 60K LS400 flagship couldn’t cut it? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

      • 0 avatar
        Japanese Buick

        90k mile timing belt interval on my 98 LS400

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      IIRC, both the 7M in this Cressida and the 1UZ used in the LS400 were non-interference engines.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark_MB750M

        28 Cars,

        Probably they went with a belt for NVH reasons. Although gear drive is considered the most durable and accurate compared to belt/chain, it also is noisier and transmits combustion shocks up to the camshaft.
        Belt tends to be quieter than chain, and is probably lighter as well. Replacement might be simpler as well – and chains do need to be replaced. Just because it’s metal doesn’t mean it doesn’t wear or slacken.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        +1 on the 1UZ V8. No engine damage if the belt snapped. Good design on Toyota’s part. 250 hp from a 4.0 liter engine was hot stuff in 1990, too.

      • 0 avatar
        kmoney

        Timing belts during this period were used on some of the top models because chain tech of the time was too primitive to produce a chain quiet enough for their intended application. For a DOHC v8, as in the LS400, length (and thus weight as well as nescessitation of more complicated idler/pulley systems) becomes a problem. Today advances in material science have allowed for these to be essentially non-issues, and have brought a return to the use of timing chains.

        Chains are also not immune to stretching — Google “Mercedes chain stretch” for example and you will see that the long chains in this type of application sometimes arent more durable than belts.

      • 0 avatar
        acuraandy

        @Mark, 28-cars-later:

        See GM 3.6L V6, Honda/Acura K24 I4, old school Chev 305/350 V8:

        FWIW: those who followed Honda’s interval (pre-maintenance minder) of 5k mi oil changes in the K24 engines (or ignoring it altogether and going 5k-10k mi), instead of going the traditional 3k mi, especially if not driving the car often AND/OR CHECKING THE OIL are now experiencing oil loss. Usual cause: TIMING CHAIN AND GUIDES.

        At least while replacing a t-belt the only fluid you get all over the place is coolant from the water pump. And isn’t as much of a pain to replace.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        ” And isn’t as much of a pain to replace.”

        For me anyway, doing a chain on an OHV enigne takes me about 1/2 the time of doing a belt or chain on a DOHC engine.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I have a 90 Cressida and a 2000 Lexus. In a lot of ways the Lexus is built in exactly the same way as the Cressida. My Cressida had 113,000km when I bought it last year and I had the head gasket replaced and the head re-torqued on spec. No trouble with the automatic, in fact it shifts very nicely, smooth and quick. These are surprisingly fun to drive and what I really like is how light the car feels. When you combine that with the low belt-line and big greenhouse, it’s very different from the tanks we drive now.

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      What most people might find surprising, is that the Cressida shares a lot with the Supra of this era. Depending on the model, they are 200lbs lighter than the Supra as well.

  • avatar
    ciscokidinsf

    Actually, this is normal, if a bit early for this one.

    As some comments have mentioned, the head gasket on the Cressidas with this engine the 7M-GE (and a few Supras) were under-torqued from the factory. They usually (sometimes fatally) fail about 100K-150K (I dare you to find a 90-92 cressida in CL above 160K miles)

    The other problem was that the head gaskets blew taking the engine down with them. This engine commonly failed (from a warped head to, dead cylinders, to holes in the engine block) when the gasket blew up.

    I just bought one (a 1992) this summer as a daily driver, with 140K miles, with extensive service paperwork, etc… I KNEW that the first thing to do was to re-torque the gasket. But the car blew the head gasket on the 2nd day of ownership. Undaunted, I bought a gasket and got ready to fix then…

    - The head was warped, so it would need rework. Too much $$
    - Went to local pick-n-pull, who had 3 cressidas (90-92) and 2 supras with the same 7M engine, 4 of them with a blown gasket, All cars below 125K miles. Bodies were straight.
    - One ‘looked’ clean, so we bought the block, but upon arrival at garage, we saw that it also had blown up, 4th cylinder was dead.
    - New engine (or used one) would’ve taken another $1300 in parts & labor
    - Last, my mechanic noticed that the block had gauges where the cylinder blew up.
    - Spending $1,800 in total for all , so the junkyard buys it for $350? Priceless.

    All in all, probably the WORST Toyota car to buy used. They do look great, awesome interiors, etc… but I would INSIST to ask the owner if the car had a new gasket installed, if answer=no, run, run away.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Was it in a fender bender and then ‘totaled’ by ins co?

    The hood is bent. If it was a Camry or Corolla, it would be back on the road fixed by a BHPH dealer. Or, if at an auction, maybe only a scrap yard picked it up?

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    Only 83,000 miles. Wouldn’t you commit suicide if someone wrote Live. Love. Laugh. on you?

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Anyone else think it’s ironic that an obvious hipster drove such a big (and i’m assuming gas guzzling) car?

    ‘Give blood, play rugby’…epic. lol

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      For the win: This was mom and dad’s old car which was gifted to her after dropping out from the Art Institute. She now drives another freebie, a five speed Daewoo Lanos and dreams of a purple Hyundai Veloster.

    • 0 avatar

      “Obvious hipster” …?

      So now every 17-20 year old girl with a white marker is a hipster?

      Also, hipster != tree hugger. If not a ironic 80s minivan, then hipsters generally love classic cars, just not the typical ones.

  • avatar
    sexyhammer

    i spent the day getting my 1jz pulled out if my ’89 so i can clean up the car and do some transmission maintenance. im really debating putting it back in without a 2jz bottom end and the rebuilt holset ive been sitting on… these card are so great that i would pick one over any current model in a heartbeat.

  • avatar
    RGS920

    Reading this article a few days after seeing Mighty Car Mods Cressida build episode. Anyone else watch MCM on youtube?

  • avatar
    Joss

    Anyone else think it’s ironic that an obvious hipster drove such a big (and i’m assuming gas guzzling) car?
    ‘Give blood, play rugby’…epic. lol

    Cressida was quite good on gas for the day @23 mpg combined.

    Cressida still around rebooted FWD with a 6 – Avalon.

  • avatar
    geo

    Those feel-good phrases are getting so irritating. I’d hate to see this lady’s coffee mugs or home decor. No, you dance like nobody’s looking.

    And I’ll bet her cupboards are full of potato chips.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    The body seems to be in pretty good shape. Just put in a 7M-GTE and turn it into a drift-mobile!

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    So after dabbling with homosexuality at Rhode Island School of Design (her girlfriend played rugby), Kathleen “Kat” realized that a degree in Modern Art means you can either apply for a coveted job as manager at the local Five Guys, or move in with your parents and write protest poetry and canvas the local neighborhoods for Hope and Change 2012.

    On a run to the local community garden, the Cressida, which like all old Toyotas could run for tens of thousands of miles without any major service, finally decided to simultaneously eat its head gasket and transmission after spending most of its last four years parked on the street without a tune-up, oil change, or tranny flush, and a windshield full of parking tickets outside a four bedroom townhome mom and dad emptied their nest egg to pay for.

    With no cash for clunkers to buy her a new car, and cars with Gen Why becoming obsolete, Kat bought a fixie bicycle in an ironic shade of purple with orange rims and a green chain. The junkyard fee of the Cressida paid for the bike, although it was still her parents who really owned the car.

    She rides the bike every day to the local community garden and covered it with stickers proclaiming how she is the 99%. She also hopes to marry rich, but well to do men can’t stand the smell of patchouli, so instead she moved in with Rick, the tattoo artist, who has a Rage Against the Machine cover band.

  • avatar
    mccall52

    @FJ60: Loved the story.

    Do all of these have automatic seat belts? I dont have much Cressida exposure, but I have yet to see a Cressida online after 1980 that doesn’t have them. I like the car, this one and the two previous generations I could live with, but I’m not sure if I could live with the belts, always wondering if that is the last time they’ll work.

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      Every Cressida in the US (Canada did NOT have them) from ’81 on has the automatic shoulder belts. The Cressida was the first mass-produced car to have them as well. The belts are pretty reliable and aren’t an annoyance. My passenger side one had the track rip a few years back with the motor still working. I put in a new track module and it worked perfectly.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I remember sitting in one of these in a Toyota showroom and wondering why it was still being sold compared to the 92 Camry V6 my folks bought. It did feel old inside and not as much rear seat room due to the RWD. The straight six might have been a good engine, but the 3.0 V6 was 185 hp in 92. And those moto belts, ugh…

    Might have been a good car, but with the Lexus addition and the 92 Camry (and ES300) being so good, Toyota did the right thing by letting this car go to pasture in the US.

  • avatar
    jetcal1

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Toyota-Avalon-WAGON-145K-NEAT-CLEAN-CRESSIDA-FACTORY-SUPRA-2-8L-6CYL-RWD-COLD-AC-PWR-PK-CAMRY-BIG-/261066123507?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item3cc8c0e8f3


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