Toyota Cressida: 4 Reasons Why it’s so Awesome

The Toyota Cressida is probably not a car you’d think of when thinking about cool JDM cars. But, the Cressida is one of the best-hidden gems in the automotive world. Although it’s pretty ugly, it’s also very luxurious.

The Cressida also lead to the Lexus LS400, which ended up being a pretty huge success. let’s dive into the four reasons why the Cressida is so awesome.

4. Sleeper Looks

In a world of loud cars everywhere, sleepers are becoming increasingly common. What happens when you want to fly under the radar? Well, you need a car that is A. ugly, and B. clearly a grandma mobile.

Most people won’t even know the model of your car since it’s so hideous. Furthermore, even if they do, they’ll know that it was designed for grandmothers and couldn’t possibly be a fast car.


This goes without saying, but the Cressida is quite honestly an ugly car. If you look at it for long enough it might become semi-attractive, but it will never truly be a good looking car.

However, that actually works to the Cressida’s advantage. Like I said above, ugly cars fly under the radar, so almost no one will expect much out of an old and ugly Toyota.

3. Luxurious Interior

You know what the nicest part of grandma cars are? The luxurious interior. Think about this logically, what makes a grandma car, a grandma car? Well if you’re old and probably experiencing lots of joint pain, you’ll want a comfortable interior in your car.

This benefits you even if you’re not old. Luxury car interiors are rather obviously a lot nicer to drive around in than standard interiors.

RELATED: Here’s Why The Lexus LS400 is so Awesome

The downside to this is that it adds a lot of unnecessary weight. If you don’t plan on going to the track this obviously isn’t going to be a problem. But, many Cressidas end up being turned into drift cars, and that awesome granny interior always ends up going in the trash.

2. JZ Power

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the last 15 years, you would’ve noticed that the internet loves the 2JZ. We’ve written plenty of other articles about both the 1JZ and the 2JZ so we won’t go too in-depth about why they’re so awesome.

Basically, the 1JZ and 2JZ both have the ability to make insane amounts of power with as little as a turbo and fueling upgrades.


How does this translate to making the Cressida better? Well, remember what I said at the beginning? The Cressida and the MK3 Supra share many other their components, including their 7M-GE engine.

This engine can super easily be swapped out with the much better 1JZ. A swap is pretty much as simple as changing the wiring harness and computer.

RELATED: 1UZ-FE: Everything You Need to Know

This swap will take a Cressida from a pathetic 190 horsepower to over 350 horsepower really quickly. You could, of course, turbocharge the existing 7M-GE, however, you’ll be missing all of the reliability benefits you’ll gain from the 1JZ.

If you’re not a fan of the JZ engine you could always install a 1UZ out of a Lexus.

1. Drift Community

Luckily most of the people in the drift community know what the Cressida is capable of. They embrace it as one of the oddball types of drift cars. That’s not to say that it can’t performance with the big boys, though.

Since mostly everything from the MK3 Supra bolts right onto the Cressida it doesn’t take much to get one track ready. This also means that the Cressida benefits from the MK3 Supra’s aftermarket, which is larger than the Cressida’s.

Below we’ll share a video of some Cressidas slaying some tires on the track.


Overall I think the Cressida makes an excellent sleeper. It’s pretty ugly, old, and everyone thinks it’s a granny mobile. But, it’s pretty luxurious on the insane, and you can stuff a 1JZ/2JZ into it pretty easily.

It being related to the MK3 Supra definitely makes it even more attractive to modification. Let me know what you think of the Cressida down in the comments below!

14 thoughts on “Toyota Cressida: 4 Reasons Why it’s so Awesome”

  1. Not a whole lot interchangeable between the ls400 and mx83, also mx83 isnt double wishbone rear and the series 1 mx83’s not having a rear sway bar actually made for sloppy cornering, 1jz’s are far from unreliable/laggy

  2. I built a 1J cressida when you could still get the jzx81 front cuts. It was a fantastic car and I still kick myself for selling it. Not that many around in good shape now. If you can get a good one for not much then it’s worth it.

  3. Can go even cheaper. Take the turbo 7mgte out of a MkIII Supra that someone else has decided is unreliable…swap with extreme ease. Torque the head CORRECTLY (the factory manual had incorrect specs and this is the main source of troubles). Apply standard turbo car protocol and get lols with stock looking setup.

  4. Had a 1989 it was my first car. That is the only car I have owned that I cried when I got rid of it. Blew the head gasket and it had like 190,000 miles so didn’t want to put a new engine in it. That car was so ahead of its time with CD and motorized dash board features!

  5. A well built, quality eclassic. Lots of engine swap options. Great suspension options via excessive manufacturing, Serial Nine, and others. Drifters are buying them up, so clean umolested ones are getting harder to find and are a lot more expensive than a few years ago. This was Toyotas flagship model, and a real sport touring car. I believe the only reason for mediocre sales was it was too much money for a Toyota so future luxury cars got a new banner “Lexus”..

  6. I’ve got two of these cars. I live in Australia and these cars were very popular here but are getting hard too find good ones. Lots of 1j / 2j & 1uz swaps here. I fixed the heads up on them with steel head gaskets and tighten them down too original specks with new head bolts.The heads on these cars and a lot of the Toyota range are designed by Yamaha. Super reliable car and the baby Lexus.

    • I have now a series 2 mx83 in ice blue pearl. I had the car for 6 yrs now bought it when it had 99,000 Kim or 60,000 miles it now has 120,000klm or about 70,000 miles . Original paint original car all round, love it as it is dead stock and not many people preserve these cars as they are getting hard to find really nice ones.

    • You need to tighten the bolts from the factory 78 N m to 105 N m (arp studs specify 108 N m/80 ft lb). If you tightened them to factory specs your engine will blow another gasket
      The head bolts on these are NOT torque to yield bolts…or at least, the factory manual doesn’t state that they are single-use items.
      Retorqued bolts + oem gasket is fine for NA engines.
      Retorqued studs + oem gasket is definitely plenty fine for NA builds. It’s also perfectly fine for turbo engines that aren’t running too much boost. There’s a supra owner who has this setup with 14 psi on the turbo, 50,000 km and no issues so far.
      Retorqued studs + MLS gasket is overkill for the above two, but essential if you’re chasing huge power numbers (500 rwhp etc.)

  7. I torqued mine to 82 or 84 can’t remember but not the typical 72-74ft lbs. Also re checked the torque 3-4 times. Will try to check again soon. Used regular graphite style gasket. The head lasts typically a lot longer on the 7mge than 7mgte. Mine popped at 149k and could have been nursed home but we towed it, it kept the block and head in great shape that way. I also had the head serviced i left the cams in so they did those as well. Scrapped the bottom of the valves myself. The 7MGE is what a slightly heavier older but tougher motor? Sounds like a win win to me also more DIY friendly because of the older tougher bolts ect. I spent about a month doing the head gasket job making sure all the old graphite was shaved off and all the stop leak previous owner put in was removed from small coolant tubes. It’s been 11k miles does great on oil and coolant. Hit a deer changed trans filter and put a triple row radiator electric fans seems to run cooler but heat up the interior more because I run them full blast all the time. My interior is still somewhat stock but I ditched the ashtray, stereo, little compartment and turned it into a big box for whatever I want. Also thinking about putting in smartphone stations for the rear passengers ashtrays. I don’t rev mine often I’ve only revved it to 5k. A few times never hit the limiter. I go off the line with it but usually around 30 to 70 percent throttle. Also this thing is damned fast. It’s faster than any U-Haul I’ve driven including pickups and my Chevy Aveo which is newer and lighter but about 1/4th the price. They aren’t slow especially at highway speeds a lot of top end left where 4cyl NA will crap out.

    • The stock clutch fan should be more than sufficient, people fall for the electric fan meme all the time but from best to worst, it’s hydro fan > clutch fan > electric fan
      Hydro fans run off the power steering pump and have ridiculous amounts of air flow. Electric setups rarely ever compete, and ones that do aren’t cheap at all.
      Clutch fans are ok, but you may need to change the oil if you think it isn’t cooling enough. Default is 10,000 cst oil (forgot the part number but toyota still sells little bottles of them) but you can get higher or lower viscosities depending on whether you want more cooling, or less noise.
      Lots of people have electric setups in their supras and get overheating issues. Some of them go back to the stock clutch fan and never have problems after that.

  8. if you are planning on getting your 7m head gasket fixed, take the head to a performance/race or engine shop, rather than a machine shop. You pay more but that is the value of knowledge and experience. Check that the head is straight, and if not, get it straightened, before getting it ground/lapped/milled.
    Make sure you get the head ground/lapped, not milled (always exceptions though, like if your head is really fubar). This is also why you should avoid going to a machine shop; they will want to cut/mill the heads, which affects compression. You’ll get better results and a better finish with a lapped head. This is also a good time to get the exhaust studs helicoiled if needed, as they tend to strip when you torque up the manifold. Worth noting that the factory studs only go ~15mm into the head, whereas the holes in the head are 23mm deep. May be worth getting custom studs made that go all the way in. If you clean off the years of rust from the studs they may be fine though.
    You can also drill a hole in the back of the head to allow coolant to flow there; there is a hole in the gasket and block, but none in the head, so the #6 cylinder will always get hot, especially if you don’t have/deleted the egr system


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