Junkyard Find: 1987 Toyota Cressida

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

How long does the typical Toyota Cressida last? Based on my recent surge in wrecking-yard Cressida sightings ( this ’92, this ’84, this ’89, and this ’80) after decades of the Cressida being a once-every-six-months junkyard catch, I’m going to say that your typical Cressida lasts about 25 years, give or take a half-decade. Part of this longevity is due to the fact that few Cressidas are driven by leadfooted hoons (and those few have all had manual-trans swaps done by drifter types) and part is due to Toyota’s frighteningly good engineering and build quality during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Here’s a California Cressida that just made it to the quarter-century mark before its last owner gave up on it.

These cars weren’t exactly exciting to drive— for that, your best Toyota choice in 1987 was the manic little Corolla GT-S FX16— but they were very competent.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the labeling on controls of 1980s Toyotas; it’s clear that engineers and not focus groups made the call on, say, the font for this MIRROR HEATER button.

For how many years did Toyota go with the overdrive-button-on-shifter-handle/ECT-button-on-console setup? Many.

Is it pronounced “CRESS-ida” or, as in this Australian-market ad, “Cress-EE-da?”

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Sobe80s Sobe80s on Jul 19, 2014

    I've an 87 Cressida with 80k miles with leather and in awesome condition. I've had it for years - it's extremely reliable, the driver's seat is great therapy for an ailing back, the wonderful scent of quality leather greets me when I open the door, the performance is even adequate today and it is a great long distance ride. While it does not garnish compliments such as my MKII Supra or RA29 Celica, people often ask me about the year of the car. Sure, the tufted leather seats with buttons reminds me of a grandmother's sofa or car but I love her just the same. I can't imagine ever parting with this car for which only superlatives come to mind.

  • Laserwizard Laserwizard on Feb 18, 2016

    The reason you don't see many of these in the junkyards is because few were sold. These were outrageously priced when new. Combine that with blue hairs buying them and being driven 2k miles per year and you have a reason for their "durability" - they weren't really treated like a regular car.

    • Drzhivago138 Drzhivago138 on Feb 18, 2016

      You're really reviving the 4-year-old threads today, aren't you?

  • ToolGuy "Selling as I got a new car and don't need an extra." ...Well that depends on what new car you chose, doesn't it? 😉
  • El scotto The days of "Be American, buy America" are long gone. Then there's the mental gymnastics of "is a Subaru made in Lafayette, IN more American than something from gm or Ford made in Mexico?" Lastly, it gets down to people's wallets; something cheap on Amazon or Temu will outsell its costlier American-made item. Price not Patriotism sells most items. One caveat: any US candidate should have all of his/her goods made in the USA.
  • FreedMike Well, here's my roster of car purchases since 1981: Three VWsTwo Mazdas (one being a Mercury Tracer, full disclosure)One AudiOne FordOne BuickOne HondaOne Volvo I think I hear Lee Greenwood in the background... In all seriousness, I'd have bought more American cars had they made more of the kinds of cars I like (smaller, performance-oriented).
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X I'll gladly support the least "woke" and the most Japanese auto company out there.
  • Jmo2 I just got an email from the dealership where I bought my car and it looks like everything has $5k on the hood.