CC Outtake: 1983 Toyota Cressida – Metamorphosis

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Not long ago, Toyota Cressidas were very plentiful in Eugene. They had a loyal following, given their status as high priest in the Church of Toyota. These six cylinder sedans (and wagons) were never cheap, and one could buy a lot bigger car for the money from Detroit. But of course, buyers of Cressidas weren’t even looking that way.

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Realistically, Cressidas were not “conquest” car, designed to get Americans out of their beloved Olds Cutlass Supreme Broughams and into one of these instead. It was a step-up car for loyal Toyota buyers, the ones that had started out with Corollas in the early 70s, then bought a Corona, and were ready for something nicer, as befitted their climb up the socio-economic ladder.

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And they were quite nice; built with high quality materials put together in that typical Toyota way. This was as close to a Toyota Brougham as it got.  But under its skin, changes were happening.

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The Cressida was essentially the Japanese market Mark II, and also sold in a Toyota Chaser version. Outside of the US, a wide variety of four and six cylinder engines powered them, but the biggest 2.8 six, the same basic engine that also found itself in the was the Supra, was the only one in US-bound Cressidas. For American standards, that was a good call.

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This generation Cressida was built from 1981 through 1984. But the 1983 and 1984 models had some significant differences, including the 5M-GE DOHC version of the 2.8 six, which made a pretty healthy 145 hp, for the times. And the solid rear axle gave way to a semi-trailing link independent rear suspension. Both of these were also used on the Supra.

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This was the transitional Cressida; it’s successor had legitimate sports-luxury sedan creds. The Cressida evolved from a Brougham chaser to BMW chaser, and it mostly happened under the same exterior skin.

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This generation Cressida was still rather dorky on the outside, but it was undergoing a quiet and subtle metamorphosis. While its successor wasn’t quite as overtly sporty as a BMW, it was probably about as close as its buyer base wanted it to be.

More: Jim Klein’s COAL on his 1986 Cressida