As engines go, the Toyota straight-six is one of the best conceived by humankind. Smooth as Suntory whiskey, as long-lived as a mountain, and capable of stupid amounts of horsepower in later iterations, they are a triumph of automotive engineering. It’s no wonder the 2016 Toyotafest had over four decades of them and the cars they powered.
One of the earliest was Janet Fujimoto’s 1970 Toyota Crown, which she and her husband Duane Tomono spent several years resto-modding. The original 2M has been replaced with its successor many generations removed, the venerable 2JZ from a Lexus SC. With Yokohama-wrapped Enkei Tenjins, the car is what Janet and Duane call their Pro-Touring Crown — a mix of old school Japanese with a dash of modern muscle car influence. As the feature car on this year’s Toyotafest flyer, it got a spot right next to the main stage.
Americans never did fully embrace the Crown, though, so Toyota introduced the Corona Mark II. Slotting size-wise between the RT40 Corona and the Crown, it was a tad less luxurious but featured the same 2M inline-6 beneath a slightly larger Corona-esque body.
Judith Mendoza’s Corona and Eddie Guerrero’s Corona Mark II, both 1969 models, illustrate the evolution perfectly. Both were original, non-restored survivors that looked quite impressive for being nearly 50 years old.
Of course, after a few more generations the Mark II would eventually become its own model, dropping the “Corona” from its name. In the US, that model became known as the Cressida. The days of little-old-lady MX32s unearthed and bought for peanuts are nearly gone, so it’s nice to see a survivor in period color that’s just been cleaned up and lowered on unique wheels — Uniroyal Spokes, in this case. It’s got everything you need to arrive in style.
Of course, if you need to arrive in a hurry, there are cars like Mark Diaz’s sleeper. The MX73 lures unsuspecting challengers in with its stock appearance, but instead of the stock 5M, rocks a 12-psi turbocharged Lexus V8 under the hood.
Gabriel Gurule’s beautiful two-tone 1983 Cressida houses a modern powerplant as well. The Japan-market 1JZ-GTE was commonly found in Soarers, Chasers, and even specially-built Crowns used in unmarked police car duty. We appreciate the brilliant installation, whose lack of bright chrome and any color other than black for the hoses and accessories give the impression of a factory install.
Of course, it is the Supra that’s almost synonymous with Toyota inline-sixes. This year’s Toyotafest saw a strong contingent of fourth-gens, the combined horsepower of which could have easily propelled an aircraft carrier. As with the MR2s in Part 01, over-vented, over-winged body kits are passé now. Instead, clean factory colors with nary a sticker in sight is the prevailing look nowadays, something we’ve been patiently waiting for since 1999.
Take Chris Wealch’s 1993 Supra Turbo, for instance. Under the sloping hood lies a monstrous 850-horsepower 2JZ-GTE — but aside from the peeking intercooler, a front lip, and HRE wheels, it could pass for stock. “Original body with matching VINs” Chris proudly states.
Strong MkIII builds and restorations are beginning to surface as well. Craig Higa’s zenki has been on the show circuit for a few years, but his attention to detail and its utter flawlessness is always amazing to behold. Though the product of a six-year build including a complete tear-down of its naturally aspirated 7M, a restrained exterior is nothing but tasteful.
Along with Craig, Jill Stonawski’s gray kouki stood out as one of the best A70s of the show. Built in the memory of her late father, who owned both a first-gen and third-gen Supra, it was clearly a labor of love. The period Bomex body kit and Manaray wheels are perfect choices, as is the 1JZ-GTE under the hood.
Earlier Supras didn’t show up in great numbers this year. Only three MkIIs showed up and one bone-stock MkI. Most were probably edged out by the first-come, first-serve registration that that sold out in just eight hours. As the owner of a 1980 Supra, I always get irrationally excited by seeing a fellow traveler, even if our cars are the least-loved of all the Supras. Unfortunately, the owner of this one was nowhere to be found.
This year, a new bosozoku-inspired crew calling themselves the Moonlight Runners emerged. Although ruined, this Cressida is a more noble zokusha effort that we’ve seen in the past. The molded tail is rather impressive, as are the bubble flares over wide SSR MkIs. The plywood tail detracts a bit, but the shape is spot on perhaps it would work with a different material. Perhaps it’s not fair to judge a work in progress, though, and we can’t wait to see what it looks like when finished and painted.
Wandering over to some MX83s next, we see a beautiful USDM Cressida with a good driving stance on Work Rezax wheels. The minimal look with choice items make for a brilliant overall appearance. This is exactly the type of car Kousoku Yuen would be all over.
The product of many years of hard work, Richard Rabe’s MX83 build shows super-human effort. It was all self-built with a turbo 2JZ and self-painted (in Mitsubishi Mirage Plasma Purple!) and then fitted with an X100 Chaser front end. “It probably won’t look like this for long, though,” Richard told us. Why? “Because I’m going drifting with it.”
For purists, there’s always this 1978 Cressida Wagon. It’s grown a roof rack since we saw it at Toyotafest 2013, but it remains charmingly 70s. It’s under new ownership of a father-son duo, but seems to be in good hands. At setup, it drove in without hubcaps at the insistence of son — who is nearing driving age and will soon inherit the car — because he didn’t want to risk losing one on SoCal’s famously bumpy roads.
One cannot talk about Toyota straight-sixes without mentioning the 1967 2000GT. With a bespoke twin-cam based on the Crown block and designed by Yamaha, it helped set Japan’s first supercar apart from other machines of that era. We’ve seen this car, owned by Toyota USA, at several Toyotafest and JCCS shows now but its gorgeous design never gets old. For those who have never seen one in person, it’s worth the entire trip just to behold this one car. To be continued…
Stay tuned for more Toyotafest 2016 coverage. In the meantime, in case you missed it, check out Part 01, as well as these stories from Toyotafest 2015 (Part 01, 02, and 03), 2014 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04), 2013 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04), 2012 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04), 2011 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04, 05), 2010 (Part 01, 02,03).
That wagon… The lines were so good on that generation of Mark II, even fake wood trim can’t ruin. It can try to hide them, but it can’t ruin them.
Agreed that wagon really grabbed my attention. Very cool!
With all due respect to the author, who are you to say a car has been “ruined”? Why not simply say it’s not been done to your taste? Otherwise, it just comes across as condescending and elitist. If the owner loves it and gets enjoyment from driving it / working on it / looking at it, how has the car been ruined?
I see this website becoming increasingly snobbish in this regard, and it really doesn’t sit right with me. You have to keep in mind that the cars we like are unfortunately considered old junk by the majority of the population. Had the owner of that Cressida (who is an extremely nice, friendly dude btw) not “ruined” his car, who knows what could’ve happened to it. I for one, would so much rather see an enthusiast-owned old Toyota on the road, in any state of modification, than see it relegated to the scrap heap or get used by a non-enthusiast as nothing more than a beater.
Hi, author here! I really liked the bosozoku Cressida. When I say “ruined” I’m taking the long term view. I’ve seen way too many Cressidas — purchased for cheap — “bosozoku”‘ed for a while, and then quickly discarded. Will the next owner appreciate the mods? The 2000GT and Supras will be around for another 50 years, easily. Will this Cressida? I hope so, in all its zokusha glory!
It has the potential to be the best zokusha sled in the US. I hope to see that happen, but it’s hard to tell right now. I also used words like “noble,” “impressive,” and even admitted it’s not fair to judge a work in progress and said I can’t wait to see it finished. All those mean that I admired the work and liked it. I included 3 photos of it, more than almost any other car, including the 2000GT!
I was going to say that ruined wasn’t a good word choice, but I got beat to the punch. That MX32 isn’t Chinese tools, it’s on the road, and a testament to someone’s passion. That is a far better fate than being buried under cardboard boxes in a garage…
Ben, Thanks for the engine based article. Any chance of one based on Yamaha’s auto efforts? From the Toyota 2M in the 2000GT to the Ford 3.0 SHO in the Taurus? Then there was the OX99 which didn’t see production but was pretty cool. I swear I read somewhere that they were involved in the Toyota Century V12 as well…
i agree with Ben’s original sentiment. he qualified it in the sentences following his opinion, no need to backpedal or apologize.
just like every attempt i’ve seen at pulling off this or similar themes stateside, this one is moving in the right direction but the execution just falls short when compared to the cars that inspired it. i’m sure a lot of effort went into it, and while the criticism may leave a bitter taste, it can be necessary to spark the owner into making the improvements this car needs.
i hope it’s still running and driving and collecting weird looks from the general public while the 2000GTs of the world collect dust in someone’s climate-controlled garage. my tastes lie somewhere between this extreme and the time-capsule x36 though; i think Lloyd’s car and that yellow x32 represent the cleanest way to pay homage to the style in Japan.
Hi Ben! Owner here of the Moonlight Runners Cressida 🙂 thank you for the coverage on this and our other car/bikes, we humbly appreciate it! We totally understand your feeling of seeing these so called “zokusha/ bosozoku” builds come and go. Moonlight Rumners consists of pure family that love this style. We are not trying to imitate no one but bring our own twist and authenticity along with this style. None of our cars/bikes are going anywhere anytime soon, they’re only going to get wilder from here on out 😉 so stay tuned and be ready for what we have in store for JCCS. We hope to meet you next time! Thanks again for the awesome coverage and kind words.
Your friends, Moonlight Runners.
This post is totally unfair.
There are many opinions of the cars, and what people do to them; and as much as everyone is free is do what they want to their own car, everyone is also free to express a view on the outcome. The view that was expressed is well within the range of legitimate (I suspect that there are many who would agree) and to suggest that the opinion should be withheld, censored or ameliorated because it is negative or controversial is ridiculous.
There is nothing remotely condescending, elitist or snobbish about this website; it celebrates all manner of JNC and their owners. We don’t all have to agree, and we should all be adult enough to accept that some will not like what has been done, and may say so.
Just to clarify, the mark II corona that you are showing in the picture did not come with an I6, both of those are I4 models.
Great stuff, with interesting cars we do not see in Japan. The only Woodies we see are Caprice! Sweet! There’s even some more ruined cars over on Hagerty this week too: http://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/Articles/2016/05/13/Bosozoku , so interest is spreading in the US. Neko
I like them all. Not all are my taste, but I appreciate that someone, anyone, put the time and effort to keep these rolling. It’s a labor of love that I really respect. Speaking of respect… 6 times two?…
The Moonlight Runners car may be a long from complete, but it’s a sure thing that the crew came in with style….And lots of wonderful noises.
I like the Grand Champion style Cressida (a lot). (It is just a bit tougher to bring a Zoukusha car back to a stock looking machine). The X61 with Supra wheels is nice also.
As a devoted M engine series lover, I have really enjoyed this article, I have had 6 cyl Toyota’s in my family since 1977 starting with a 1973 MS 65, I have had Crown’s , Corona MK 2’s Cressida’s from MX62 to MX83. I have a 1967 MS47 Crown ute that has an original 28,000 miles in original condition & a 1968-69 MS 53 Custom Crown Wagon as well. 8 seater, 3 speed with overdrive & front bench seat. I enjoy these two immensely both stock standard. Up until last year MX 83 Cressida Grande & now a 1996 Lexus LS400.
That’s an amazing collection, David! Got any pics? I love Toyota straight sixes. I have a 1980 Celica Supra and a Cressida Wagon fleet.
Hi Ben, I will attempt to send you some from here but not sure if I am talented enough. The wagon & ute have mags on them but still have original rims & hub caps but makes the drive so much better on long trips> Can’t seem to put the pics on this message. Can you email my home email I can send frorm there.
anyway i can get the high res picture of my mx83 (Adrian’s blue one) emailed to me to email@example.com?
who do I get a hold of to acquire high resolution pictures from here?
Awesome website! I’ve always liked old-school Japanese cars. I’ve driven two of them in my lifetime. My dad had a 1978 Toyota Hilux pickup truck. A friend of my mom’s had a 1986 Toyota Hilux pickup truck. I also owned a 1988 Toyota Camry.