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Asian Woody: 1978 Toyota Cressida


One of the things America does quite well is applying wood trim to vehicles. And when you look back on the original Town and Country models from Chrysler, or any number of vintage woody wagons, no one comes close to our ability to use actual wood paneling as the exterior of the car. So perhaps imitation is the best form of flattery as it relates to this 1978 Toyota Cressida wagon here on eBay, which remains in nice condition with few issues. 


I would love to know what the consumer focus groups at the time had to say about the obsession over applying wood to the outside of a vehicle. I suppose there was a prestige factor involved, as this choice in exterior design seems to be aligned with higher-end vehicles. The Cressida was Toyota’s more upmarket offering, so it’s not surprising that it chose this model to wear simulated woodgrain on the sides.


Cressida models benefited from a nice-driving inline six with rear-wheel drive. The car remains popular today among the drift racers for its drivetrain, with a torquey six up front and power sent to the back. However, this wagon model clearly has been spared from the rigors of youthful offenders, a condition I’m sure was helped by the snooze-fest automatic transmission this engine is paired with.


Ah, yes – drink in the woodgrain in all of its handsome, fake-hickory glory. The Cressida is an interesting choice for an entry-level classic, as it was important to the company as it explored more upmarket offerings and also rare to see today due to corrosion issues that plagued so many early Japanese cars. The seller is asking $4,000, which doesn’t seem unreasonable – but there is the option to make an offer.


  1. Howard A Member

    I believe, in the late ’70’s, this was as nice as it got. ( Asian wagon-wise, that is) Look at it. It had everything. In-line 6, rear drive, this was a nice car. Compared to what American’s had to put up with in the late ’70’s, this was a breath of fresh air. Too bad Toyota was just catching on in the 70’s, so this car wasn’t too popular. Fact is, I bet people that bought the Volare wagon wished they would have bought this. We almost never saw these “big” Toyota’s in Milwaukee. We just put up with the offerings from Detroit. Can’t go wrong with this one.

    Like 2
    • Howard A Member

      WHAT? There was nothing in this post to generate a thumbs down.

      • Yellowjax Member

        You haven’t noticed yet, but on this site there seems to be “someone ” who no matter what you write they will give you a thumbs down. It can be about summer,ice cream, convertibles, and blonde you can even add kittens and you will get a thumbs down.

        Like 1
  2. 68 custom

    kinda homely looking but I would be proud to own it…

  3. Fred W.

    Toyota already had the reliablity thing down at this point. Keep it in a garage and away from salt and it would last forever. Few did though, they became passed down beaters.

  4. roger

    Nice car,but be wary of rust
    The japanese cars were bad to rust where suspension connected to body.Bad design on their part,I guess

  5. Joe

    I bet people that bought a Toyota Cressida wagon wished that they bought a Buick Roadmaster wagon instead. The Toyota wagons are almost all rusted away and crushed. The Buick wagons are still running.

    • Blyndgesser

      There was no Roadmaster in the late ’70s.

  6. ccrvtt

    Nice car for Crark Grisword. One egregious lapse in taste for the normally more sophisticated Japanese.

  7. Creekerdad

    I had the 78 Corona LE wagon with the wood paneling for 3 years (85-88). It was a great car that had been Ziebarted when new in Cincinnati. 5 speed, velour interior and a deep cinnamon color, I never saw another one like it. I bought it at a Porsche Audi dealership when the husband of the first owner traded it with 39k on it for an Audi 5000…… wish I hadn’t traded it on a new Aerostar😖

  8. RichS

    Awww, my aunt and uncle had one of these probably 25 years ago. He bought it used for her to putt around town in – was exactly like this except the exterior was beige. Not long after she died suddenly he got rid of the car because it made him sad seeing it in the driveway. Would have loved to have had it but I lived 900 miles away and found out after it was gone.

  9. Gay Seattle Car Nut

    Lovely looking car. I find this generation Toyota Cressida to be one of the most attractive cars Toyota produced.

    Like 1
  10. Toepfer

    So I know this is old, but I bought this back in December 2016.

    Transported it from California to Louisiana. Glad I didn’t drive it though. Discovered a few days later the radiator had a pinhole. I replaced basic things over the course of three years but in 2017 I drove it back to L.A. for a 4000 mile round trip. Did my honeymoon on RT66 with a stop in ToyotaFest. You can see the wagon in the 2017 ToyotaFest coverage. A couple of hickups along the way from over heating. Best I can tell stuck thermostat. Replaced it when we got back and it ran well for the next three years. Until about four months ago I popped the head gasket.

    I’ve got 39 years of Paperwork from myself and previous owner so I know she replaced the head gasket twice and decked the head once. Instead of replacing it again I’m in the process of putting a 2JZ in it. You can probably find my posts on Japanese Nostalgic Car forum or facebook.

    Overall it’s been a good car. And I plan to take my family on future road trips in it. Hopefully get a small trailer to pull behind it. It’s not a Buick Roadmaster. But find a me a Roadmaster with LT1 that gets 20+mpg. And with the 2JZ I’m shooting for 25+mpg. The Roadmaster will tow more and fit more people though. So there is that. But even after swapping the motor I’ve spent less than any roadmaster I could find for sale.

    Currently 94k miles on the odometer. Looking forward to rolling it over this summer probably. One last road trip before the baby comes.

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