Almost New? 21K Mile 1986 Toyota Cressida

This 1986 Toyota Cressida is a claimed low-mileage, garage-find example that spent many years locked away after its doctor owner passed. The seller believes the 21,250 odometer reading is accurate and describes the car as being “…almost new.” These high-end Toyota sedans have always had a small following, even if they rarely command big prices. This car has some indications that the mileage is as low as claimed, but there are other details that let it down. Find the rear-wheel-drive Toyota here on eBay with bids over $5K.

The Cressida retains lots of little details that would otherwise have been lost if it was pressed into daily duty for decades. The body-color mudflaps, for example, rarely all stay attached over years of driving. The door edge protector and black beltline trim all loom new. The paint still shines nicely, but the pinstripe is surprisingly faded. The wheel faces have either some form of paint fade or clearcoat failure going on, which again seems odd for a vehicle that, conceivably, didn’t spend much time in the sun or exposed to harmful road chemicals.

Then again, things perk up in the interior, where the seat upholstery and carpets present as new, as does the steering wheel and all of the sometimes-fragile plastic trim and center stack components. The shifter surround remains nice and lustrous, and there’s really nothing that immediately detracts from the overall presentation inside the car. The backseat looks practically unused, which would make sense as the description seems to indicate that the doctor owner lived alone given how long the car remained in the garage until being sold by the family.

The seller has put approximately 1,000 miles on the Cressida since acquiring it, and notes that it will need a “engine head valve gasket” – a term I find confusing. Does it need a valve cover gasket or a head gasket? One of those is a cheap and low-labor job; the other is a considerable expanse and has ramifications depending on whether it’s an internal or external leak. There’s some questions for me here but I’m not the one buying it; if the mileage is verified, even a weeping head gasket is a minor flaw in the grand scheme of things.



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  1. Bakyrdhero

    I always thought these were nice cars. RWD if I remember correctly and replaced by Lexus. There is a famous murder case from 1989 in The Boston area where I grew up. Charles Stuart murdered his pregnant wife Carol in a blue one of these. They showed the car on the news and I remember thinking as a kid “wow that’s a nice looking car, I wonder what ii is”. I guess it took me some time to grow into my empathy…

    Like 12
  2. Fred W

    A friend had an ’83 and it served him well- the very beginning of the high quality Toyota is now known for. If this is only a valve cover gasket, someone should snap it up. No reason a head gasket would fail at 21K without overheating.

    Like 6
  3. ace10

    Pinstripe looks like one of those cheesy stick-on types the dealers used to sucker buyers into. I think the lighter areas are adhesive residue. Overall, looks to be a wonderful example, even if the wheel finish degradation is still a mystery.

    Like 2
  4. Superdessucke

    Good memory.

    If you look at the bottom picture on the first newspaper article, you can see the same factory Toyota mud flaps on that car that this one has, and the automatic seatbelts in the first photo.

    Like 5
    • Bakyrdhero

      Wow. Excellent research. I can’t believe how old that picture looks. I remember seeing it on the news and the car looked brand new. It was dark blue in color. Horrific case also. Charles Stuart jumped to his death off the Tobin bridge after he left that trail of horror.

      Like 5
    • David Ulrey

      I clicked the link and read everything there. I had no idea that had happened. I was 28 at the time and had other things going on in my life so news wasn’t a top priority. Thank you for posting that link.

      Like 3
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      The first thing which came to mind about the case was that Stuart had asked the EMT’s who were transporting him to the hospital whether he would likely have to wear a colostomy bag.

      Funny how people connect inanimate objects to human interactions, and often with negative links. Readers have mentioned being uncomfortable with the idea of even sitting in the driver’s seat of Donna Mae’s Corvette. And I think that if this Toyota happened to be the same car which was the scene of the Stuart murder… Yea, only the extremely morbid would have any interest in that one.

  5. Howard A Member

    I didn’t think of this, but bears repeating, “See your doctor if Cressida is right for you”. Many issues await the new owner, I wouldn’t touch this with a 10 foot pole.

    Like 3
    • ken tilly Member

      What makes you say that Howard? In South Africa these cars were famous for their longevity, economy, reliability, resale value, interior space, build quality etc. etc. etc. I bought one, full of rust that I needed as a donor car, at an auction in Johannesburg. I then drove it 350 miles down to Durban and decided that it was such a fantastic vehicle that I had the rust fixed, re sprayed and sold it on for a handsome profit, to a taxi driver who had it for several years before he brought it back to me for a trade-in against a later model Corolla. It was then re sold and I never saw it again. In 1989 I visited USA and hired a Buick to drive from San Diego to Los Angeles, gas cost for 300 miles was $21. Later I hired a Cressida to drive from Baltimore to Harrisburgh, PA. for the Hershey swap meet. 300 miles, gas cost $10. Believe me, the Cressida was the better car in every way, and I’m a true blue Buick lover.

      Like 13
      • Howard A Member

        Hey ken, here in the US, parts are hard to come by for anything Asian. I have a friend that needed a rear strut for a Nissan something, practically unavailable, and the car wasn’t that old. Cars like this are wonderful when new, but, and I may be wrong, don’t expect a Toyota dealer to have ANYTHING for a 35 year old car. You have to rely on the internet, and good luck with that.

        Like 3
      • Jim Bennett is your friend with a car like this…

        Like 1
  6. Pete

    I had an Ice Blue 86 Cressida, I bought it with 58k miles on it, or so I thought. Years after I bought it Carfax became available and I ran the VIN. I found out the car had 148K on it 4 years before I bought it. Who rolled the miles back I don’t know. But it must have been pretty easy to do. I figure when I got to close to 300k miles I started having problems. Timing belt issues.

    This car appears legit. I wouldn’t worry about those pinstripes. They were a dealer add. They came on a big roll and the detailer would run them down the sides and they would bump up the price of the car 75 bucks. If the surface wasn’t perfectly clean it would detach, especially in hot as hades FLA. The head and valve cover gasket could simply be oil spilled down the front of the motor at the fill cap. Even if you needed to do it that wouldn’t be that painful for a great car.

    Like 3
    • Miguel

      Pete, I would bet somebody just replaced the gauge cluster with one from a junk yard or something with the lower miles.

  7. Mike

    I had a white 1984 Cressida that I bought new and owned for 21 years and put 230K+ miles on it. The only repair it ever required was a rebuilt tranny after 200K. I sold it to a coworker who kept it for several more years. It was absolutely the most reliable car I have ever owned! Many fond memories!!!

    Like 3
  8. Car Nut Tacoma

    Sweet looking car! I’ve always loved the Toyota Cressida. My only serious complaint has always been the use of automatic shoulder harness for the driver and front seat passenger. I’m rather old-school. I prefer buckling up my own seat belt, rather than having the car do it for me. Otherwise, I’ve always loved Toyota Cressidas. I hope this goes to a good owner.

    Like 3
  9. Jay


    Stop the madness

    Like 2
  10. Poppapork

    My first car was a direct competitor to this, a 1982 mazda 929

    Like 1
  11. 68custom

    I knew a guy that had over 300k on one,with regular timing belt replacements and maintenance still ran strong!

    Like 1
  12. mallthus

    My parents’ best friends had one of these when I was in college. One summer, I house sat for them and “got” to drive theirs.

    Although it was arguably a better made car than the GM cars my parents cleaved to, I recall thinking it had a wallowy ride, terrible mileage, and all the acceleration of a shopping cart. After a day of errands, it went back in their garage and I happily went back to my less reliable but much more engaging Saab.

    Like 1
  13. WH

    Um… Most car people would know that you don’t necessarily rely on the car dealership to buy parts for a 30+ yo car.
    Most mechanical and serviceable items are available in the aftermarket. Some of them are even made by the same company that made it for the car manufacturer.

    Like 3
  14. Miguel

    My memory of a car like this was buying one for parts and when we were done we tried to crush it with a tractor.

    We had a tractor on top of one of these and couldn’t crush the car.

    That impressed me as I am sure it wold be very safe in a side impact crash.

  15. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Sold for $7500!

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