Here’s a little something for you all to salivate over under the sun (hopefully) while a Category 5 typhoon is pummeling the Island of Honshu, with yours truly and probably Jim Brophy literally sitting in the eye of the storm. So I’m kind of housebound this weekend, which means I can do a spot of writing. As luck would have it, I just caught an interesting wagon this Friday (i.e. yesterday, as I write this), so it’s as fresh as they get. I’ll just chop it up and serve it raw. Bon appétit.
It seems the X70 platform, in all its guises, is a prime target for local devotees of the custom craze. I wrote about the Toyota X70 (a.k.a Mark II / Chaser / Cresta / Cressida) pretty recently, so it’s best not to bother too much about the history bit, and let’s not re-hash the whole hardtop-but-not-really affair, either. But here we have another rather interesting case of a body variant that outlasted its base by quite a few years.
As I snapped away, I had forgotten that factoid about the X70 Mark II wagon, and this one’s substantially modified exterior was not helping. For instance, if it had kept its original badges, I would have seen the “modern” Toyota logo on the tailgate, which would have been a clue. The fender mirrors were common, but no longer obligatory, so quite a few X70 wagons did not have them. Some also had the über-cool double rear wipers, but that was only for the top-of-the-range stuff. Our feature car was probably a plain Jane utility car, as many of these were in Japan.
It was only when I looked inside that I started to have an inkling that this car was younger than I thought. The shifter and the steering wheel looked too recent, for one thing. The whole interior felt like it was from a different decade.
For comparison, I’ll just re-post the X70 Cresta sedan’s interior I photographed a couple months back. The difference between the two is quite striking. It’s the same basic design, but the materials, colour schemes and detailing in the wagon are all very, well, ‘90s.
I managed to talk to the wagon’s owner, a very nice young lady. She told me her car was made in “Heisei 8” – i.e. the 8th year of the Heisei era, more commonly known as 1997. That’s how they count years in Japan: the Emperor’s era (which is totally different from said Emperor’s name) and a number for the year. For instance, whenever I need to fill in some kind of official bit of paper, I have to remember that I was born in Shōwa 54 – the 54th year of Hirohito’s reign. Talk about a system.
But that Heisei 8 business means this is one of the last X70s ever made. The Mark II was the only one of the three X70 nameplates, as far as I know, to have a wagon variant on the JDM. (The Cressida wagon was for foreign markets only.) It appeared in November 1984, a few months after the sedan(s), and was generally known in Japan as “Van,” as was common for most JDM wagons. When Toyota stopped producing X70 sedans in August 1988, they facelifted the Mark II Van by giving it the Cresta’s front clip and continued making it for just under nine years: the last X70 Van came off the assembly line in April 1997.
That’s a long time for an orphaned variant to carry on. Of course, this is not without precedent. Toyota played the same trick with the Crown wagon more than once, and there are other examples from around the world, such as the Volvo Duett, the Renault Juvaquatre or the Autobianchi Giardiniera, of wagons outliving their saloon parent. And it would make for an interesting CC post, too, though the research involved would be pretty daunting…
The X70 Van saw off two generations of Mark II saloons and only went out of production when Toyota’s clientele was satisfied that the FWD Caldina was up to the job. By that point in time, the 5th generation Mark II wagon was sharing the showroom floor with the 8th generation Mark II saloon.
Why did Toyota keep the X70 Van around for so long? Probably because it was a soundly-engineered vehicle, with its live rear axle and 2-litre 4-cyl., that fulfilled what the market wanted in a Toyota wagon / “van” – no frills, just loads of cargo space, and a rugged and reliable machine. Styling meant nothing and engineering a new long roof from the latest Mark II at every generation just meant unnecessary expenses. Besides, the Mark II grew bigger during the ‘90s, which would have put a wagon version in a higher tax band. A sensible car, our X70 Van, then. Just the thing to put moon discs and giant spoilers on.
Curbside Classic Capsule: 1986 Toyota Cressida Station Wagon – The Timeless Toyota ‘B-Body’ Wagon, by PN
Curbside Classic: 1987 Toyota Cresta GT Twin Turbo (GX71) – The Faux Hardtop That’s Hard To Top, by T87
Wow! I never knew these stayed so long in production. These were sold as the Cressida in South Africa. Cressida’s were really popular here. I still see them around. Here is one converted for hearse duty.
Let me try and insert pic again..
Try reducing the size, that’s usually it.
I always wondered whether this generation of Mark 2 wagon had an independent rear end like the sedan. Tats has solved the mystery. This wagon was not sold in Australia, although we did receive the 2 previous generations as wagons. I love those twin rear wipers.
Question: what RWD Toyota wagon had an independant rear end? The Lexus Is200/300 Sportscross doesn’t count.
Other orphaned wagons that spring to mind:
Mazda 323. When the second generation 323 (now FWD) came out, the old RWD wagon carried on, leaf springs included) with a new front clip made to look like the FWD model.
Chryliser/Mitsubishi Sigma wagon in Australia and elsewhere circa 1977/8. The second generation sedan has a wider body, and everything that goes with that, including an independent rear end (for JDM models only) . The second generation wagon was really the first generation wagon with a new front clip making it look similar to the new sedan. The new wagon also had a new dash that echoed that of the new sedan.
It’s possible the Corona RT142 wagon – the ultra-square ’83-’87 one in Aus, which I (just quietly) admit to liking now – did have an independent rear for some sedans, ones with the concrete-mixer injected 2.4: just don’t know if wagons got that set-up too.
For a local orphan that’s still quite commonplace, the Aus Falcon continued as BF wagon into the FG series.
First the unpleasantness out of the way (very boring model about to be mentioned).
Yes you are correct Justy. The EA Falcon wagon chassis, which was already derived from the XD, which was derived from ancient history etc etc outstayed its welcome for a very long time. Due to its ubiquity, and frequent taxi use, it had escaped my mind as an orphan wagon. It always irked me that the jacked up Ford Territory was considered deserving of an independent rear end, yet no development of the wagon occurred, even thought it was still selling.
Now to the Coronas. 😁 I know they are square but for some reason I don’t mind them, as long as that ghastly 2.4 R motor is not under the bonnet. Even back in the day, this engine was savaged by the critics. And yes I once drove one myself. And to think they also fitted this engine the the Celica in Australia.
I’ve always lusted after the 2 door hardtop version of these that Australia never got.😑 Like a previous CC post re the hardtop Corona, JDM (Just Drink More)…..
I’ll have a medium blue GTR-R in manual, analogue dash, sunroof and rear wiper please, if the JDM Gods are listening….
The Avante sedan (only with the lead free petrol update) and possibly the SR sports sedan (again only when the lead free revised model came out) had the independent rear. The cheaper sedans and all the wagons did not, but at least the wagon now had coils.
Thank you both for your suggested orphan wagons – sounds like a post on the subject might be worthwhile. It’s on my to-do list.
Antisuv: I can answer your question, with pictures, too. But you will have to wait for the post. Hehehe..
Another example of an orphaned Japanese wagon is the E70 Corolla. The following generation (E80) didn’t come as a wagon, but in at least some markets (not the U.S.), the E70 wagon remained available.
I can’t wait Tats. Love your work. 😀
Yes indeed – sat in yesterday and listened to the rain and win – luckily no damage here – hope your area was spared too. Feel sorry for the folks near the rivers where the levies broke.
Yes, these wagons stayed in production because they had a well deserved reputation for thrift and reliability. Most were sold to tradesmen who didn’t need a larger van and used as work vehicles. They’re somewhat of a cult vehicle now. This is a very nice example. Jim.
By the way, the new style (Viking with a cowboy hat) Toyota icon was introduced at different times on different models. Our 1993 Corolla used it, but our ‘93 Land Cruiser just had Toyota in letters on the grill and steering wheel. The combination of aero kit, spun aluminum hubcaps and skinny whitewalls on this wagon is odd, but somehow works for me in conjunction with the black paint.
Why, I LIKE this old Emperor, and if it was a democratic decision, and if the one here was not an inanimate object, and if liking he made a material difference to his sense of being wanted or indeed, any difference at all, I would, if I were a Japanese citizen eligible so to do, have voted for him.
But, as it isn’t and he is, and it doesn’t and it couldn’t, and I am not and I am not, I didn’t.
Toyota did set-square subtle-handsome well for a long time, and this is one such. Even when mooned and denuded of even a single back wiper.
Love it! I love me a boxy wagon and this fits the bill.
The seats in this one remind me very much of those found in European cars of the 1960s, in their general shape and minimalist headrests. They look quite comfy.
One with a 5 speed and an inline six would be better, but I would take this one in a pinch.
A great wagon and a fascinating way to denote years. Of course there is a webpage to translate it all…
I hope you avoid any unpleasantries in the typhoon. Tornadaos are bad, but typhoons take their sweet time in leaving.
MTSH = Meiji Taisho Showa Heisei. Until earlier this year the four eras of modern Japan. But now there is a new one, Reiwa. Maybe they will change it to MTSHR
I didn’t realize they lasted in production that long, and while not normally a fan of the moons, it works with the rest of the aesthetic on this particular one, perhaps because it just looks so out of the ordinary but oh so ordinary if that makes sense.
Such a superbly useful vehicle with lots of space, a comfortable driving position and never having to worry about the mechanicals. The only issue is caring for all that black paint but looks like the owner is doing a great job of it.
Ah yes the van version, I had an example of the cheaper Corona van looking all the world like a wagon I thought I’d bought at a damaged vehicle auction, Not so, when I searched the model code it was found amongst Toyota’s commercial range the rear axle was a simple tube affair mounted via leaf springs, it could carry a fantastic amount of firewood rugged 2C non turbo diesel engine and auto trans manual locking but AC and a drink fridge in the centre console, the fold down rear seat was not designed for humans to sit on the padding was extremely thin, I ran that thing for 11 months and after new seals in the injector pump and crankshaft it ran reliably and economically, though quite slow on the highway it got around town quite well it did have power steer a simple car, the body was a FWD version of the long running leftover RWD model sold into the mid 80s in OZ Justy mentions, Nissan did the same thing with their Bluebird in the early 80s fitting a FWD subframe into the RWD body examples of which still exist in NZ, Aussie never got them.
again, an amzing post from – to me at least – the most fascitating car country around the globe. I am a sucker for a Mark 2! Great photography as well!
I would argue, however, that the Caldina was a different sort of class than the Mark 2 wagon. Even though I am not expert on the JDM, I do drive a first gen Caldina (which was called Toyota Carina E in Europe where I live) and at least it feels a class below the class what I make out the Mark 2 to be in. I had always thought that the Toyota Mark 2 Qualis was the, sort of, direct succesor to the Mark 2 wagon – even though (despite its name) it was based on the widebody XV 20 Camry wagon! (how is that for a nomenclature confusion….)
Then again, you are the expert and while I am at it, I would love to see a post on the Caldina (and Corona, too)!
Anyway, looking forward to the next oddity from the land of the rising sun!
Agreed re the Caldina – my partner had a gen-3 2005 Caldina wagon as a company car from 2014-16, and although it was a higher-spec ‘ZT’ variant, it didn’t have the quietly classy ambiance of a Mark II/Cressida. A Mark II Qualis is far closer to Mark II/Cressida levels of ambiance. Of course a wagon returned to the Mark II range with the 9th-generation from 2000-2007. The gen-9 wagon was the Mark II Blit, quite a few have made their way to NZ, but I’m sure Tatra87 has one lined up for our future viewing and reading pleasure too!