1982 Toyota Cressida Station Wagon Is Junkyard Treasure

Toyota entered the 1970s with strong (and growing) sales of the screaming-good-deal Corona in North America, then spent the rest of the decade giving Detroit industry execs the shaky sweats with sturdy and affordable machinery such as the Hilux, Corolla, and Celica. Starting in 1977, Toyota began importing an Americanized version of the Chaser—itself based on the swanky third-gen Corona Mark II—with a name taken from a 1602 Shakespeare play. Here’s one of those cars, an ’82 Cressida wagon found in a boneyard near Pikes Peak.

You may recall the California-only 1982 Toyota Owner’s Guide and its Lech Walesa/Saddam Hussein mustaches from last month. I found that book in today’s Junkyard Treasure. The car was full of maintenance documents and registration paperwork indicating that it was purchased new in California’s Inland Empire and spent most of its life knocking around the region. At some point it migrated to the Colorado Springs area, and that’s where I found it a few months ago.

The Cressida was the most expensive and prestigious Toyota car offered for sale in the United States during the early 1980s (the Land Cruiser four-door wagon cost a bit more, but it was a Warlord Grade truck built to last a million miles), and its build quality was extremely high. This one didn’t quite make a quarter-million total miles, but 235,399.9 is very impressive for any 1982 car.

This car has a 2.8-liter 5M-E straight-six rated at 116 horsepower, giving it a better power-to-weight ratio than the similarly sized 1982 Ford Granada wagon.

With an MSRP of $12,699 (about $36,940 in 2021 dollars), the 1982 Cressida wagon cost more than the base price of just about any American station wagon, even much bigger models such as the Mercury Marquis Colony Park ($10,252) and the Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser ($9614). The 1982 Buick Electra Estate Wagon just barely managed to out-sticker the Cressida wagon, at $12,911.

Detroit wagons really weren’t the true competition for the Cressida longroof, however, nor was the nearly-immortal-but-far-costlier ($31,945, or about $92,925 today) Mercedes-Benz 300TD. Audi didn’t offer any wagons here in 1982 (that didn’t happen until 1984), while only the bravest American wagon shoppers looked at the Peugeot 504 Familiale and its 71-horse French diesel engine (price tag: $11,900) and said “I’ll have that!” No, the plush and gadget-laden Datsun Maxima wagon and its Z-Car underpinnings stood in the Cressida Wagon’s sights, and its $11,859 price tag made it a tempting choice.

Americans could buy new Cressidas all the way through the 1992 model year (though the wagon version disappeared after 1987), but the debut of the bigger, faster, and more modern Lexus LS 400 in the 1990 model year started the clock ticking on what was once King of American Toyotas.

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