Junkyard Find: 1989 Toyota Cressida

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1989 toyota cressida

You rarely see first-gen Cressidas, such as the junked ’80 I found last week these days; it seems that the third-gen (84-88) models make up the bulk of survivor Cressidas in North America. Fourth-gen examples— like this one I spotted in a Los Angeles self-service yard— are about as common as Crowns.

Toyota’s reputation for reliability wasn’t all that strong when the first-gen Cressidas hit the highway (we often forget that Malaise Era Toyotas were actually quite flaky by modern standards, though they held together somewhat better than most of the Detroit and European competition back then), but that had all changed by the time today’s Junkyard Find rolled out of the showroom. Why, then, did Cressida sales fall apart by the early 90s? Blame Lexus!

Potent and smooth as the 7M-GE was, this car was really a Supra under the skin and luxury-car shoppers— who had come to associate the Toyota name with downscale Corollas and Celicas— knew it. Meanwhile, the second-gen Camry was cheaper, roomier, and less thirsty. Sandwiched in the ever-narrowing space between the LS400 and Camry, the Cressida was gone by the 1992 model year.

Leather! Luxury! I’m going to keep my eyes open for these things on the street.

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  • 84Cressida 84Cressida on Nov 02, 2011

    You're greatly exaggerating the "rareness" of the MX83. They're not difficult to find if you are looking for one, and they're certainly far more prevelant than any Crown.

  • Crabspirits Crabspirits on Nov 05, 2011

    Ahhh, the MX83. I had an 89' that I sold earlier this year. I did a Nissan VG30ET swap with a 5 speed into it and tuned to 420hp (search YouTube). It was a real pleasure to drive. One of the funnest cars I've owned. The stock 7M was a head gasket victim. When that happens and it's not taken care of promptly, coolant will sit in the cylinders and rot the thing out. The JZX81 MarkII and Chaser siblings in Japan are very popular drift cars, so these have taken off here as well. You always find them in non-running form, but pristine interior and body, and around 80k miles. Around here in the midwest, nobody just throws away a car like that, so they pop up from time to time. I would imagine in Californy, where they don't let you have cars sit around not running, they've all been crushed.

  • Gray Not bad, including the price. A little worn, but it's 34 years old and looks complete and original. The 318 is one of their best workhorse engines, and is easily modifiable to 400 hp. If I needed something to drive, I'd consider it. I think those are stock wheels, btw. Fifteen inchers look tiny these days.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird One of the reasons why Mopar dropped the removal top version was that the marketing department found that few owners, maybe 20% took the trouble to unbolt and remove the heavy fiberglass roof.
  • Zerofoo The UAW understands that this is their last stand. Their future consists of largely robot assembled EVs that contain far fewer parts. Factories moving to southern "right to work" states and factories moving to the southern-most state of Mexico.I don't think lights-out auto factories are on the horizon, but UAW demands might move those automated manufacturing process timelines up.McDonalds opened a fully automated restaurant in Texas in 2022 in response to a $15/hour minimum wage demand. I'm fairly certain that at $130/hr - fully robotic car factories start to make sense.
  • Redapple2 Cherry 20 yr old Defenders are $100,000 +. Til now.
  • Analoggrotto So UAW is singling out Ford, treating them slightly better in order to motivate the entire effort. Mildly Machiavellian but this will cost them dearly in the future. The type of ill will and betrayal the Detroit-3 must be feeling right now will be the utter demise of UAW. I just hope that this tribulation is not affecting Mary Barra's total hotness.