If there’s one thing Toyota is known for, it’s sedans. Yes, the Camry is basically the default car that pops into most brains when the word “sedan” is uttered, but Toyota also has a mean portfolio of old school, rear-wheel-drive mobbers. From Cressida kaido racers to VIP Lexuses to the king-daddy Century, Toyotafest had them all.
Before the transition to an all front-wheel-drive lineup, the valiant Cressida carried the Aichi flag with pride. From Hector Martinez’s X30 with a 5M-GE swap and custom dual headers to Joanna Tiu’s 1UZ-powered X70 to Johnny Lim’s Supra-wheeled X80, every generation was represented.
Cressidas can be extremely versatile. A simple drop on some rare wheels like Tyson Martin’s Impul Pro Spokes results in a cool shakotan sled. Or, you can go all-out with a JZ swap like Richard Rabe, Derek Kloog, Rodney Moenadi and Kristian Leyden and form your own X80 drift crew.
Andrew Cosino’s X70 Cressida is another example how a stock-bodied example needs just a slight drop to be a sweet 80s cruiser.
Some of the biggest head-turners at this year’s show were a group of kaido racers. Our favorite was Randy Beard’s imported GX71 Toyota Mark II. It dripped with Japanese traditional style, because it was in fact built there and imported pretty much as is (we’ll have an in-depth look at this car in a separate article).
Matt Reynolds’ shark-nosed MX73 Cressida rocked a subtle theme — see if you can guess what it is. The custom-fabbed steering wheel and exhaust pipes, as well as its graphics were definitely eye catching. Kids, especially, loved it. Several little humans gawked at it excitedly while we took photos, proving it’s important to have fun with your cars too. It probably helped that there was a killer, sparkly, radio controlled Mark II kaido racer sitting on the roof as well.
The Moonlight Runners X30 Cressida showed up with a new look, now sporting a metal flake purple paint job, massive bubble flares and the craziest takeyari exhaust we’ve seen stateside.
Lloyd Letherman’s X30 was one the earliest to adopt the bosozoku style in the States. With a 2JZ-GE underneath its patina’d hood, it’s a serious drift machine as well, making it a rare combination of style and purpose.
Another standout was Kiavash Shariloo’s X60 Cressida, which evoked the same Japanese roots with a low-key style. A simple drop with Techno Toy Tuning coilovers, air dam, wide barrels, and a custom exhaust — all tied together with a gorgeous shade of Toyota 4A9 Cinnamon Metallic — gives this sedan a strong nostalgic flavor.
If the prevailing Cressida modifications are too garish for your sensitive tastes, fear not. Long-time Toyotafest sponsor Cabe Toyota brought a bone-stock X60 to settle your stomachs. Mike Bingham, a manager at the Long Beach dealership, told us that the car was traded in by an elderly gentleman who then went home with a brand new Camry. It is being offered for sale for $3,500.
Bridging the gap between old school Japan and modern VIP style was Brian Lueck’s 1991 Toyota Mark II 2.5GT turbo. Imported from the motherland and wearing an understated Japanese two-tone, a lowering over SSR Professor MS1 wheels brings it into the 90s tuning era.
Though we focus on nostalgic cars, Toyotafest includes new slabs of Aichi steel as well, and the lawn at Marina Green Park had no shortage of VIP-style Lexuses. Some of our favorites included Rodel Villanueva’s S190 GS300, Paul Vang’s UCF20 LS400, and Jarell Casilan’s IS300 SportCross.
Again, if stock cars are your bag, then Allan Schein had you covered with his first-gen LS400. All original except for the Alutec wheels, it wore the license plate F1PRJCT (F1 Project), the internal Toyota code name for what became the Lexus LS.
Among the field of bagged Lexuses stood a lone VG40 Century, stately and dignified with a self-leveling air suspension straight from the factory. Jordan Cohen’s 1991 model had the full executive treatment, with curtains in the rear windows and lace seat covers. Its built-in flag posts flew, appropriately, both the stars and stripes and the hinomaru.
Carrying a bit of the Century’s noble demeanor was Joji Luz’s 1972 Crown Wagon. Mostly stock-bodied but lowered and fitted with a variable-valve timing 2JZ-GTE to replace the stock straight-six, its cargo carrying capability proves that the world would be just fine with sedans and sedan-based wagons.
Sedans were once considered the stodgy automotive default. Toyota has certainly gotten its share of scorn by selling so damn many of them. However, in an age where crossovers outsell everything and automakers are calling trunked cars an endangered species, it was refreshing to spend an afternoon immersed in sedans and see them celebrated in a diversity of customization styles. Long live the four-door.
To be continued…
We’ll have more 2018 Toyotafest coverage coming up, but in case you missed it, see Toyotafest 2017 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, and 06, as well as spotlights on a restored Celica Liftback, pair of Drag Celicas, KP47 Starlet and an incredible TE27 restoration), Toyotafest 2016 (Part 01, 02, 03, and 04), Toyotafest 2015 (Part 01, 02, and 03), Toyotafest 2014 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04), Toyotafest 2013 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04), Toyotafest 2012 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04), Toyotafest 2011 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04, 05), and Toyotafest 2010 (Part 01, 02, 03).