There’s nothing like a big Toyota sedan, and Toyotafest was full of ’em. Whether you’re talking about the brilliant luxury of a Lexus LS or the deadbolt reliability of a Camry, each one had its fans and fastidious owners. With sedans going the way of the dodo thanks to the crossover takeover, let’s take a look at this class where Toyota has excelled.
First of all, the lineup of black Lexus LSes was so deep, Marina Green Park looked like the site of a yakuza summit.
We were taken, however, by the somewhat rare Silver Jade Pearl color on John Paul Chau’s UCF20. Not only did it have an Evolution Exclusive V2 VIP kit on some 20-inch Leon Hardiritt Waffes, it rocked what is possibly one of the last factory green interiors ever to appear on a mass production vehicle.
There were no less than two VG40 Toyota Centurys this year. Steve Kopito’s recently imported 1991 was somewhat unusual for stateside examples of Toyota’s ultra-exclusive sedan in that it was a very, very, very dark blue. So dark, it almost looked black until you were standing right next to it.
Eric Roehm rolled in like a state dignitary with two flags mounted in the bumpers, the Stars and Stripes in on the right and the Hinomaru on the left. The 1991 model was fitted with a top-grade interior with wool upholstery and showed just under 120,000 km (74,564 miles) on the odometer.
Well-presented with its very old school owner’s manual, white chauffeur’s gloves, and an Imperial seal license plate, the car exuded an air of majesty. The pièce de résistance though had to be the branded watch on the dash. It was no surprise that it walked away with an award in the general Lexus category.
Nicholas Trujillo’s 1989 Crown also received one of three awards in the general Lexus class. Surely if the S130 Crown had been sold stateside it would have been called a Lexus.
We saw a slew of JDM imports. Top Rank had a sleek X90 Chaser modified in period Tuner Era Shuto cruiser fashion.
Brian Lueck’s 1991 Mark II displayed a subtle sleekness not typically seen on equivalent US-spec X80 Cressidas.
When it comes to Toyota sedans though, one cannot ignore the bosozoku stylings that favor the Mark II platform. Matt Reynolds and Randy Beard’s X70 Cressida and Mark II respectively are pioneers of the form stateside (For a detailed dive into Randy’s Fukuoka-style Mark II, see this spotlight from last year’s show).
Jon and Astrid Madrid’s home-built 1980 Cressida exemplified the most extreme cues of the bosozoku breed. Their excellent work in the style earned them an award in the Cressida class.
Brandon Thompson’s X60 Cressida journeyed all the way from Colorado to join the festivities. finished in a rare Light Topaz Metallic offered only in the 1984 model year, it was a beautiful specimen. We liked the clever Helvetica grille badge painted in the 80s Toyota racing tricolor as well, and we hope this doesn’t become an overused trend.
Kevin Lowry’s X60 Cressida was finished in an equally uncommon 1984-only Toyota 2R2 Brown and Light Beige two-tone — about as rare as its Crossline RC201 wheels.
There were two blue X70s Cressida on SSR MkI wheels, a nice choice for the boxy 80s sled. Daniel Cuevas’ factory Light Blue Metallic 1985 sported a 5-speed swap and what looks like an increased steering angle. A three-pedal configuration really makes the Cressida come alive, but factory equipped ones are insanely hard to find.
Joanna Tiu’s 1986 Cressida won a well-deserved prize in the Cressida class for her Lexus V8-powered X70. A host of performance mods like a welded diff and BC coilovers paired with it, but the thing we appreciate most about it is its subtlety. Despite a JDM front fascia and quad-headlight configuration and some light aero, nothing takes away from the body’s original boxy form.
We know that Robert Pia’s 2011 Prius is far from nostalgic, but we wanted to highlight his build purely for how utterly fun it was. Starting with a VIP’ed Prius, Robert added every graphic, registration sticker, and badge to convert it into a Nihon Kotsu (and actual cab company in Tokyo) taxi.
A toplight, coin tray, and green commercial number plate all add to the detail and authenticity. Robert also spent the day dressed in a complete taxi driver costume, even including the white gloves. He won a Kosoku Yuen Toyotaku award for his efforts. About the only thing missing was an automatic rear door opener.
Jordan Kaneshiro’s 1990 Camry was an exquisite example of how to make a once not-very-cool car cool. Wearing a Lexus ES250 bumper and lowered on Gecko Street coilovers on Beretta mesh alloys, added a sense of 80s style to the former family hauler. Perhaps most amazingly, it came displayed with the original window sticker, showing that the car retailed for $17,717 when new.
One of our favorites was Christopher Waits’ unrestored, all-original 1990 Dark Blue Pearl SV21. With only 50,000 original miles on the clock, this example of legendary Toyota build quality is barely broken in.
To be continued…