Jewel of the junkyard: 1991 Toyota Cressida

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Toyota’s first major sales success in North America was the Corona, which went on sale here in the 1966 model year and proved to be a lot of car for the money (my first car was a 1969 Corona sedan, which I bought for $50 at the age of 14, so I admit a touch of Corona bias here). Toyota did really well selling cars here in the 1970s and 1980s, but never really took in the big yen from the American luxury sedan segment until the debut of the Lexus LS 400 for the 1990 model year. Motor Sales USA getting Americans to buy luxury Crowns and Corona Mark IIs, without any notable success. Finally, the 1978 Toyopet Corona Mark II appeared here with Cressida badging, and some Americans felt ready to buy this big luxury six-cylinder machine. Cressida sales never really took off here, but Americans could buy Cressidas through 1992. The 90’s Cressidas are almost impossible to find in junkyards these days, but I managed to get it done a few months ago in Sparks, Nevada.

The LS 400 was an engineering masterpiece, with its brand new V8 engine and all the other innovations, and it scared the daylights out of the suits of the major European car companies. It also made the Cressida a bit small and old-fashioned, so it’s surprising that Toyota kept it for sale here in the 1990-1992 model years.

Under the skin, the Cressida was always a close relative of the Supra of the same year. That meant the suspension and drivetrain were generally similar to Supra hardware of the same era (much like the rear-wheel drive Datsun 810/Nissan Maxima shared a lot of engineering DNA with the Z-Car).

This car has the 7M-GE straight-six engine rated at 190 horsepower and 185 pound-feet (the Supra version got a little more power).

While the 1991 Mark II could be purchased in Japan with a five-speed manual transmission, American Cressida buyers had to take the four-speed Aisin automatic.

These cars held on very well, although this one just completed 172,794 miles from the end.

In 1991, the Lexus LS 400 had an MSRP of $36,955 (about $81,490 in 2022 dollars), which undercut the Mercedes-Benz S-Class by a staggering amount, but created problems for Toyota sellers who sold $22,198 ($48,945 today). ) were trying to get for a new Cressida.

The Cressida was quite luxurious that year and very well built, but the new Lexus looked like more car per dollar at the time.

Toyota continued to install CD/cassette combo players in Lexuses well into our current century. Of course this Cressida has that harness.

I think this is the first Ouija board I’ve ever found in a junkyard car.

Unfortunately, we never got the supercharged version here, nor a Cressida Grande.

The most trouble-free car sold in America!

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