Far more interesting than its Toyota Avalon descendant.
Think of the Toyota Cressida as the more interesting predecessor to the Toyota Avalon. The Cressida left the North American market in 1992 before the Avalon arrived in 1995. But the Cressida, unlike the Avalon, was not boring. For starters, it was rear-wheel drive while the Avalon has always been built on a front-wheel-drive platform. In some ways, the Cressida is also something of a spiritual predecessor to the Lexus GS RWD sedan, which first arrived in 1993, one year after the Cressida was dropped.
The Cressida was the most premium mainstream model Toyota supplied to North America and, depending on which market, could be had with inline fours, sixes, and even a couple of diesel engines.
The fifth-generation Cressida, the subject of this week’s Craigslist find, came with advanced options (for its time) such as a CD player, digital gauges, standard woodgrain trim, and even secondary radio controls located next to the steering wheel for easier driver access. Its exterior design was unquestionably conservative, but that was Toyota design in general up until very recently. Why did Toyota decide to drop the Cressida nameplate in favor Avalon? After all, one of the Cressida’s main competitors was the Nissan Maxima, a sedan that, at least for now, remains in production.
Because the planned changes for what became its Avalon successor were so big the car deserved a new name. Along with the switch from RWD to FWD, the straight-six engine was dropped for a V6 and the sedan grew in size. The Cressida was still considered mid-size sedan while the Avalon has always been full-size.
While there are countless Avalons on the road, there are far fewer Cressidas still kicking around, but we managed to find one. This 1987 Cressida up for sale on Craigslist is quite clearly not stock. It was recently professionally restored by JDM-Car-Parts and Restoration in Torrance, California. Nothing was left untouched, but the restoration process was made even easier because the donor Cressida was in solid shape. Built originally for SEMA and the JCCS Japanese Classic Car Show, this Cressida is completely rust free with only 80,000 actual miles.
Despite being restored, its builders retained its original paint color and VIN stickers on every panel. Other body upgrades include flared rear fenders, restored emblems, and a new grille. The straight-six was given a complete overall with new valve lifters, rings, and bearings. The timing belt, tensioner and water pump were also replaced.
The entire list of mechanical upgrades is too long to post here, but you can check out the ad and you’ll see what we mean. The exterior has been restored in JDM “Bosozoku” style, the Japanese biker gang style that reached its peak in the 1980s and 90s. Inside you’ll find a new Nardi wood steering wheel with quick release and even JDM Toyota Cresta (the Cressida’s sister model) seat covers. Heck, the original radio is still there as is the owner’s manual.
The seller claims this Cressida is the cleanest one in the country and they’re probably right, hence the $13,885 asking price. Not only is this thousands less than a new Avalon, it’s also a thousand times cooler.