Junkyard Find: 1983 Toyota Cressida Wagon, Salty Pacific Ocean Spray Edition

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Since we had some rusty Junkyard Finds recently and I just spent a couple of days driving around San Francisco looking at ocean-salt horror-story cars, let’s continue with the Toyota Rust theme and check out this frighteningly oxidized San Francisco Cressida.

Cars in the non-mountainous regions of California mostly don’t rust much, unless they’re air-cooled Volkswagens. Sometimes you’ll see old Detroit cars in California with rusted-out trunk floors (from rainwater leaking in during the winter) or rust beneath vinyl tops, but that’s about as bad as it gets… unless you live within a few blocks of the ocean. In that situation, you get salt spray kicked up by big waves, plus the constant damp and fog that neighborhoods right on the ocean get. The damage tends to start on top and work its way down. Eventually, a good-running Toyota becomes more of a rusty cheese grater and must be scrapped.

This Cressida has San Francisco N Zone residential parking permits stretching from 1994 through a couple months ago. The Richmond District gets plenty of salt and chilly fog, being one of those SF neighborhoods with summer high temperatures in the 40s.

The owner of this car experimented with several types of rust-covering fillers. This appears to be Sculpey and Rustoleum.

I got so obsessed with documenting the rust “repairs” that I neglected to shoot the interior of this car. The icky Children’s Interactive Expo T-shirt as a seat cover is the only interior shot I took.

The 5M engine might still be a runner. Only one way to find out!

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.

More by Murilee Martin

Join the conversation
5 of 40 comments
  • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Jun 15, 2015

    My parents were over last night, and my dad was bragging about the 10 years worth of Hamilton County Park stickers on the windshield of his little SUV...triangular stickers lined up along the driver's side edge of the windshield...some people also make circles of the stickers, since they are shaped like pie-shaped wedges. Thrifty Cincinnati West-Side Germans like to show off how old their cars are...

    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jun 15, 2015

      LOL! I almost mentioned the park triangle-circle stickers on here the other day, but I figured nobody would care or know what I was talking about! I think I prefer them in a circle rather than lined up, it looks like a little multicolored pie. And now, I know exactly what your father sounds like, accent-wise, just from that bit of information. He would say the word plaza, as "plaeh-zeh." "I went with Kaeethey to the plaeh-zeh, but they didn't haev what we wanted."

  • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Jun 15, 2015

    Yup, that pretty much covers it...they are old school enough to say "please" instead of "excuse me" and some other Cincinnati colloquialisms. At least they don't pronounce "cash" as "caish" like my grandparents did...or call the couch the davenport, or have dinner at noon, and supper at 6. Lots of West Siders, and Northern Kentuckians also seem to end every sentence with "and that". I have no clue what it even means, but I have noticed lots of older folks saying that. Funny how quickly language changes. I blame national media exposure for the destruction of local accents...everyone sounds like TV anchors now. If I could get my kids to stop using the word LIKE multiple times in each sentence, I would be tickled.

    • See 1 previous
    • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Jun 15, 2015

      @Corey Lewis The "and that" comes out more like "an at"...used to know a guy, now deceased, who ended every sentence with "and everything else on that". Now if I can get out of town visitors to eat goetta for breakfast, and Skyline or Gold Star chili for lunch, and a Frisch's Big Boy for dinner, we're all set.

  • Charles The UAW makes me the opposite of patriotic
  • El scotto Wranglers are like good work boots, you can't make them any better. Rugged four wheel drive vehicles which ironically make great urban vehicles. Wagoneers were like handbags desired by affluent women. They've gone out of vogue. I can a Belgian company selling Jeep and Ram Trucks to a Chinese company.
  • El scotto So now would be a good time to buy an EV as a commuter car?
  • ToolGuy $1 billion / 333.3 million = $3 per U.S. person ¶ And what do I get for my 3 bucks -- cleaner air and lower fuel prices? I might be ok with this 🙂🙂
  • VoGhost Matt, I'm curious why you write that inventory levels are low at 74 days. Typically, 60 days is the benchmark for normal inventory.