I have never felt that my enthusiasm for cars was anything I could share with those close to me. I’ve never been friends with other gearheads and have been wary of boring anyone with the details of my biggest obsession. How pleasant, then, that my partner and a mutual friend of ours have been happy to accompany me on walks through Bloomington to find rare and/or noteworthy automobiles.
The most recent of these excursions unearthed a very unusual version of a car already uncommon, even when new. Taking pictures of this car in front of its owner’s apartment complex felt somewhat awkward, so I captured what I could as rapidly as possible. While I was excited to see one of these best-ever Cressidas in such stunning shape and in such an appealing color, it’s what I found within its oxblood confines that justified my efforts.
Yes, folks, that’s a five-speed transmission; an unexpected delight, if I ever saw one. At first I thought this was a very rare car ordered with a manual transmission, which would be exciting enough. A quick search shows, though, the four-speed auto was standard in the US market, so this car has obviously had a transmission swap (how does one say “surprise!” in Japanese?).
As these cars shared their 7M-GE straight-six engines with the contemporary Toyota Supra, it was probably a rather straightforward swap for any mechanically inclined owner with spare time and a helpful buddy. And as the very clean, seemingly original installation demonstrates, the persons responsible took pride in doing a thorough job.
It’s nice to see that whoever currently owns the car has continued to take good care of it, as it was the only car in the area not caked with dirt. Given their apparent enthusiasm, I can only hope that this car was also given a Supra limited slip differential, with its lower final drive. I also hope some work has been done on the suspension as rear drive Japanese luxury cars from this era were made with suburban driving in mind and can get quite twitchy and tail-happy when pushed. While big wheels and lowering springs would mar the car’s appearance, rolling stock from a Supra with a very minor, less-than-one-inch drop would keep things subtle, yet sexy for those in the know. These cars have a loyal following, so such an effort would not be out of reach.
One feature of the car which did not surprise me were its Washington State plates. My sister told me some fifteen years ago that the Pacific Northwest was a Mecca of well-preserved Japanese steel, and a lot of posts on this website have confirmed what she told me. In Southern Indiana, car lovers gravitate toward classic American cars from the ‘60s and ‘70s, pony cars and, at the lower end, Civics and Cavalier coupes with fart-cans, loudly straining through their torque converters. Out here, this car and its enthusiast owner are most definitely far from home.