Junkyard Find, Crabspirits Editions: Toyota Cressidas, Transformed By Michael Bay

by Crabspirits
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junkyard find crabspirits editions toyota cressidas transformed by michael bay

To preface, this intrusion into the thunder dome that is Murilee’s arena isn’t going to be a regular occurrence. If you’ve ever seen him once-over a suspect entrant at a Lemons race, you know he is master of his domain. I’m not just any geek off the street myself though when it comes to the junkyard. I’ve seen my share of rare iron, intriguing clues of the final ride, and ill-advised repairs that command attention. However, there are special times when I walk through these hallowed grounds and see something that makes me come to a halt as quickly as an Iron Duke stripping it‘s plastic timing gear. This was such an occasion.

I drive own a Toyota Cressida. With architecture pulled from the Supra, an MX83 Cressida makes a brilliant enthusiast car, after you ruin it swap out the failure prone engine, the automatic transmission, the bouncy seats, the too-tall final drive, all of the luxury damped suspension, and graft on a more stylish front end off a Japanese market cousin that is appreciated by 1.3% of the population. This makes it the car of choice for like-minded individuals who don’t take cars or motor sports very seriously. Since a running Cressida is a feat in itself, you come to realize a few things when you join this exclusive fraternity. Along with the endless search for a rust-free and straight example, one of those things is the keen eye you develop for spotting what is, to most people, an ubiquitous-looking Japanese Buick LeSabre. That is why these Hong Kong taxi cabs caused quite a stir when they were spotted by a fellow Cressida enthusiast last fall outside of Chicago. They must be for some sort of movie (we are becoming used to stuff like that around here). What movie would that be? More importantly, would they be available for purchase later?

The answers to those questions respectively would turn out to be, the fourth installment of the Transformers films, and sadly, no.

This one had evidence to suggest it took one of it’s final drives to an ATM in Moreno Valley, CA. Judging by their condition, I would surmise all of them were trucked in from the Los Angeles area. The prop department put in a nice effort loosely disguising the cars as the Toyota Crown Comfort sibling commonly found overseas.

In addition to the chrome vinyl “grille extension”, and blacked out trim, the sunroofs have been painstakingly deleted.

I can’t read what this says, but the oddly familiar skyline leads me to believe that it could be some sort of easter egg made by the prop department.

The 7M series engine’s propensity for spitting out head gaskets is legendary. Allegedly, this was due to a last minute design change from an asbestos gasket, combined with a fumble in the head bolt torque spec for the new one. This lead to a painful ownership experience for many initial owners of Cressidas and Supras. The 7M faithful will tell you that the remedy is simple, and that it’s an outstanding engine. They are probably right. I wouldn’t know for sure. Mine was totally wrecked, never ran, and was promptly replaced with a 425hp turbocharged Nissan VG30.

Almost an LS400. Almost. I must say that I’ve seen more tortilla-chip-crisp Toyota leather interiors covered with the beater hallmark ratty T-shirt than in GM cars. Sorry, but they just do it better.

This next car, marked “Reel”, was super clean.

I imagine this example will be stripped to the bone by the Chicago horde, who are not used to the luxuries of corrosion-free sheet metal.

At 273k miles, it’s head gasket was surely blessed at one point.

This pales in comparison to our next car…

…with only 54k miles. That puts it right there at the point of the dreaded BHG. Paramount probably got themselves a great deal on this, probably not running, example. I thought the little sticker indicating overspeed at a scorching 55mph was a nice touch. I imagine it was applied last minute on this ‘89 as a result of some sort of mandate.

This car was, at one point, an exact twin to mine.

It has been thoroughly destroyed.

The drive train was removed, and the bottom fitted with this steel blast plate, which is apparently very effective at coaxing a Cressida into the air.

To say you have parts on your project off of a car that was destroyed by a Decepticon is sort of cool (to this Gen-X’er anyway), so I wanted something, anything of value off of this guy. I managed to wrench some A-pillar trim that I needed free of the mangled windshield, but that was pretty much it. I was especially depressed that the tail lights specific to the early models were not spared.

It has those automatic mouse track seatbelts, pioneered by the Cressida, that you know and love. To be honest, this setup has never really bothered me. I even find it’s servo action, blaring klaxon, and emergency “ejection” handles sort of charming in a geeky way.

This MX83 of the typical fender-rolled, “stanced-out” variety makes four, and the most I’ve seen in one place.

The junkyard, certainly more than meets the eye. (Groan)


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2 of 42 comments
  • PandaBear PandaBear on Mar 31, 2014

    One of my uncle in Hong Kong was a taxi driver that used to own one of these before he retired. The real HK taxi, other than the RHD, has bench seat up front and the entire interior made out of vinyl instead of leather or cloth. Due to the bench seat, the shifter (they are all stick shift) are column mounted. Used to be diesel powered, and requires a rebuild about every 100 km or so, a lot of the new ones are LPG powered (not CNG). Red ones goes all over the city, green ones have different medallions and a lower rate, but can only go the more rural part of town (because of the reduced public transit coverage).

  • Cgarcia89 Cgarcia89 on Jul 01, 2014

    One of these many Toyota Cressida's is MY old car!!! :) I sold it last year, and when the guy came to Albuquerque, New Mexico to pick it up for the buy he told me he was traveling to different states to find these exact cars... I asked him why so many of these specific cars. He then told me they were going to be used for a part in the new Transformers movie coming out in summer 2014!!! Something cool to tell my 6 year old! I miss this car. So many fun times 🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌

  • Parkave231 I'd rather they remember how to manufacture the things they have before adding more trims and options.
  • SCE to AUX "as if 775 lb-ft of torque in a pickup isn’t enough"Exactly. How about doing something hard instead, like getting your electric truck to meet 'truck' expectations first? That would sell better than a Raptor-like truck.
  • Akear They sell only 20,000 Mustang EVs a year. They better keep the current Mustang!
  • Jkross22 We're thinking about the 500e all wrong. This is a 'new' old car. All of the tooling and R&D is done. Easy way to move an 'Italian' car up market and boost fleet MPG. Plus... dealers can move all unsold models into demo/fleet usage so when Jeep and Durango owners come in for service, they can use this as a loaner.
  • Namesakeone Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. A light truck coming from Ford. We have never seen anything like it. (This is me trying to sound like I'm excited.)