By on October 22, 2014

13 - 1990 Toyota Cressida Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Toyota Cressida was very reliable (partly because first owners tended to be the types who did regular maintenance) and held its value well, so it took until about a decade ago for them to start showing up in cheap self-service wrecking yards in large quantities. We’ve seen this ’80, this ’82 this ’84, this ’86 wagon, this ’87, this ’89, and this ’92 in this series so far (plus some bonus Michael Bay Edition Tokyo Taxis, courtesy of Crabspirits), and these proto-Lexus big Toyotas just keep rolling into America’s wrecking yards. Here’s a 160,819 refrigerator-white ’90 that showed up in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard without a speck of rust.

05 - 1990 Toyota Cressida Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMechanically speaking, this car was a close cousin of the Supra, and it had the same 190-horse 7M-GE straight-six under the hood.

11 - 1990 Toyota Cressida Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRear-wheel-drive, of course.

01 - 1990 Toyota Cressida Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is pretty well used up, which doomed this car to the junkyard when it got some parking tickets and/or a mechanical problem that cost more than $150 to fix.


Here’s a very long promotional video for this car. It’s worth skipping forward a few minutes to the part where the potential Cressida driver encounters a “STEEP GRADE NEXT 1,000 MILES” road sign.


In Australia, it was pronounced “Cress-SEE-duh” and was all about quietness on primitive dirt roads.


In the motherland, this car was known as the Mark II, and it got triumphant music in its ads and an optional supercharger under the hood.

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35 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1990 Toyota Cressida...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I had a friend in the early 80s who had a Cressida coupe. I was thoroughly impressed and realized for the first time that the Japanese were making a far superior automobile to anything Americans were making

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I want one for the next 1,000 mile steep grade I encounter.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Just make sure it’s had the headbolts and headgasket replaced before you do!

      Last time I was in Novosibirsk I rode in a well worn 1990-ish Toyota Crown “Royal Saloon G Supercharger” (supercharged 2.0L 1G-GZE) to the airport. Very comfortable cars, with a touch of “brougham” thrown in. Neat little green ‘supercharger’ light would come on the dash every time the driver stepped on the accelerator significantly. Throw in the driver’s chain smoking and techno music at 4am, it was quite an experience lol.

      • 0 avatar
        sexyhammer

        why go through all that trouble? you can run a 2jzge from a GS300 on the 7m electronics if you’re strapped for cash. UZ, xJZGTE, all would be more worthwhile and cost you about as much as the labor your typical HG job would run. plus, the 7M is notorious for more than just BHG.

        those crowns fall under the 25-year rule now and you can pick up some pretty awesome hi-spec models for dirt cheap if you ever feel inclined to replace the driver from your story with yourself.

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      I, too, would call a 1000-mile steep grade a “special situation”.

      But, could you live with owning a car that would have narration, reminding me of the fact that I have cruise control and MacPherson struts?

      I’d rather have a car that doesn’t have a female narrator that constantly reminds me of these things.

    • 0 avatar
      sexyhammer

      you might get 1,000 miles uphill with the stock engine before it pukes chocolate milk or oil starves on a turn and spins a bearing. but then you can coast all the way downhill and roll it into a chipotle parking lot where you can (hopefully) pawn it on one of the fanboys parked there for the local meetup for 3x what you paid.

    • 0 avatar
      alwayssmilin

      I unfortunately live in the rust belt.Finding cars like the cressida is extremely difficult. I see a car in a junkyard with no really minimal rust on the frame or body. I say that I hope someone on this site or somewhere,buys this car to save it from the crusher.An engine can always be had and suspensions. But once the classics are gone thats it. So heres hoping for someone to save these great cars.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    2 things

    I saw one of these in NYC with blown rear shocks… was pretty funny to watch it pretty much bounce off the ground over frost heaves. Pretty dangerous

    2 Im surprised nobody has jumped on this… as you said these are pretty much Supras under their skin and make for great drift/track cars

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      “Im surprised nobody has jumped on this…”

      There are plenty of them to go around. Smash it up drifting, just swap to a new chassis. You’ll have no problem finding one for less than $600. One of my friends could barely give away his fully caged, freshly painted chassis. Remember the maroon one from the Transformers article? I actually tracked down what happened to it. The reason was allegedly that “he didn’t need it anymore.” As far as I know, it still ran and drove fine. There aren’t enough people out there to care.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    My buddy had one of these quite a few years ago. He brought it used from the local Toyota dealer in Hempstead NY. He took his wife out to Montauk point for the weekend and the engine started to knock. Long story short the dealer was to have replaced the engine with a new one but he ended up with a used engine. Not a happy camper. After months of BS he gave up and just bad mouthed the dealer. He had that car for about 5 years and it served him well except for using a quart of oil about every 1500 miles. No smoke from exhaust but used oil for 5 years. Very nice car nicely appointed but rode just like a Buick. He finally gave up putting oil in the car and traded the car in for this time a new car. In my neck of the woods they are all gone .

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    James was just furious.

    The crack team at AZN Motorsport was pouring over the Cressida. One of the techs called James away from the dilapidated MX73 wagon resting in the corner of the lot. He wiped his hands on a red rag. “I think I found the problem.”, he told James in a foreboding tone. The tech shined his Maglight in the top of the thermostat housing. “See the bubbles? That’s your HG.” “My HG?”, said James, puzzled. Another tech overheard from across the shop, and holla’d “HE GOT A BHG!” The lighthearted atmosphere of the tuner shop quelled his nerves for a moment, and James smiled. That was, until the tech extinguished his Maglight along with his dreams of becoming a drifting sensation, exclaiming “It’s F____d.”

    The Cressida misfired it’s way through Vallejo on four, sometimes three, cylinders. James looked in the rear view mirror at every stoplight, hoping the white steam would miraculously disappear once the Block Seal coursing through the veins of the 7M took hold. The needle on the left was climbing into the worry zone again. Time to pull over for more water, and Taco Bell.

    While James chewed through some soft tacos, he signed up on the JZXProject forums. He hurriedly crafted an application for this masonic X-chassis fraternity. Before he had even finished his meal, several forum members had gutted him on the internet. They were most unimpressed by the pictures of the stock Cressida parked in front of T-Bell, as well as his laundry list of plans. The other thread he had started, “Is $4k too much for a 1JZ swap?”, didn’t go over well either. One even commented “Go r__e a dog. Just give up now like all the other Johnnycomelatelies and get an S13. Get the f__k outta here.” Jason put the Iphone down, and relaxed back in the hard plastic chair. He slowly chewed his last bite of supreme-optioned soft taco, and tried not to cry.

    Jason refilled the gallon jug with water in the Taco Bell bathroom, and placed it back in the spacious felt-lined trunk of the Cressida. The 7M eventually started after a lengthy battery-draining crank. The driver’s seat belt motored back on it’s track against James’ chest, chewing itself further on the zipper that ran down his hoodie. Light was fading on the man’s Sunday, and it was getting a bit chilly. He stabbed the OPEN/CLOSE button on the HVAC panel. The panel motored out…it…motored…okay, well not quite. Jason grabbed the face of the panel in frustration and forced it’s evil hand. Success was accompanied by the sound of several pieces of plastic within being destroyed. Now he could turn on his fan.

    The malcontent six under the hood throbbed across the bridge. James dreamed once again of his vision behind the wheel of this car. A vision where he wasn’t grasping this ratty blue wheel, but a $500 buckskin-shod Key’s Fossa Magna. The sumptuous floaty ride would be replaced by the road feel of firm Stance coilovers. Instead of a ratty leather throne, his body would be held fast by Bride’s finest bucket. He imagined rowing the R154 into third, dropping the hammer on the Exedy twin plate. The 1JZ would emit an unholy electric shaver wail, with the Advan T6’s just scrabbling for traction right to the rev limiter. JUST LIKE that Ilia guy from Team Proceed. Slowly Jason emerged from his wet dream. It was time to exit the highway. He clung to tiny fantastic morsels as he banked away. Each one, valued at several paychecks from Verizon.

    It had been two weeks since the 7M had finally locked up in his parent’s driveway. Jason lit a fire in the Venture’s 3400 on the way to work. He had to get there. He had to get to Final Bout2, somehow. Clearly, the Cressida wasn’t going to cut it. He was certain of that. He just didn’t want those cretins to be right. He didn’t want to be a Johnnycomelately. They didn’t need to know though. He could keep this under his hat.

    Johnny posted an intro onto the Club4AG facebook page, giving himself a mental fistpump while gloating about his new-found rusty Corolla SR5.

    “This was my old 1JZ MX83 that I had. I sold it to fund my hatchi build.”

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      MX73? MX83? R154?

      Can I get some translations please?

      • 0 avatar
        Crabspirits

        I take it you already googled “Fossa Magna”?

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Well I was able to figure out that’s a steering wheel, and MX73 and MX83 are clearly some kind of car model code, and R154 is probably a gearbox?

          But other than that, I’m stumped.

          Also, I saw a first generation Camry (well, the first generation that was just called Camry and not Celica Camry) today and for some reason this car reminded me of that.

          • 0 avatar
            greaseyknight

            R154 is the heavy duty 5 speed trans used for Toyota 6’s. The 4wd version is prized for 6 cylinder swaps for 4wd pickups.

            Awesome job Crabspirits! A very accurate portrayal of the wanna be drifter with no $ or skills.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    (Sigh) I need those tail lights.
    My story is stuck in the spam folder btw.

  • avatar
    maxxcool7421

    Somewhere, out there… is a boosted 2jz waiting to put in this straight no rust body.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    I’ve always kind of liked these, along with the Mazda 929 of the same vingage. Simple & clean Japanese styling.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d say the 929 was clean AND gorgeous. Mazda styling was really on a roll in the late 1980s / early 1990s, with the 929, Miata and MX-6. Even the first gen Protege was nicely styled, like a miniature W124 Benz.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Japan in general hit a design peak with the “pillarless coupe” sedans of the early 90s. Lexus ES, Mitsubishi Diamante, Acura Legend, Nissan Cefiro, Mazda 929, Subaru Legacy etc etc they were all derivative but all very beautiful.

  • avatar

    I saw a ’92 bring $1400 with 123k miles at an auction three weeks ago. And they didn’t sell it. WTF?

  • avatar
    ciscokidinsf

    160K Miles? Yeah, sounds about right. 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 between 100K-150K (I dare you to find a 90-92 Cressida in CL above 160K miles) This one had a long life

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

    I bought one (a 1992) 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 and was getting the parts. But the car blew the head gasket on the 2nd day of ownership. Undaunted, I bought a gasket and got ready to fix it, 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. All bodies were straight.
    – One engine ‘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 so it was dead.
    – 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
    CoreyDL

    Can’t believe how far the power and volume is from the tuning and presets!

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Sigh, love my 90 Cressi. Doesnt handle well, but the ride is amazing and it’s much smoother and quieter than my Lexus on the highway. Wife hates RWD in the winter though, so need to replace it with a Jeep. Too bad, it’s a time-capsule, you’re right about previous owners (2 in this case) looking after these cars.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Thanx Crabspirits ! .

    I love reading your stories .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    alwayssmilin

    Unfortunately I live in the rust belt. If I lived near junkyards that had rust free bodies and frames,I would try scoopin up that cressida for scrap prices. Actually id be lookin at lots of cars.But no way id let that car get crushed. I hope someone rescues that car.


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