- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2003

Toyota decided to rebadge one of its large domestic models in 1978, call it Cressida and market it in the United States It was one of Toyota’s initial forays outside the econobox arena and was deemed successful..

That was about the time Jim and Elizabeth Goodwyn decided to replace their Opel. Their Oldsmobile was still in good shape so a smaller — but not tiny — car was in order.

They paid a visit to the Bill Page Toyota dealership in Falls Church, Va., in May where they found a beige Toyota Cressida on the lot.

Mr. Goodwyn had done his homework and was impressed with the reliability reports on the Cressida. “I like the fact that it burns regular gas,” he says. His wife, he recalls, was more interested in the spacious interior and various amenities.



They purchased the 15-foot, 4-inch-long four-door sedan with a window sticker price of $7,284. Mr. Goodwyn fired up the 156-cubic-inch overhead-cam six-cylinder engine and drove it across town to their home. The floor-mounted automatic transmission gear selection front to rear is: Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, Second, Low.

“For a long time,” Mr. Goodwyn says, “she wouldn’t drive that car.”

Eventually, his wife tired of driving their big Oldsmobile and tried the Toyota once.

“Then she took it over,” Mr. Goodwyn says. “That’s the last I saw of it.” The Cressida was her car until her death in 1993. Several times over the years she rejected her husband’s offer to replace it with a newer car. Besides her local trips, the couple would take the car on vacation trips to Florida, the 106-inch wheelbase providing a comfortable ride.

Everything on the Cressida works today as well as it did new 25 years ago. The odometer is about to record 95,000 miles.

The original window sticker discloses that the Cressida entered the United States at the Port of Baltimore and that it was equipped with:

• Full transistorized ignition.

• 175SR14 white radial tires.

• 3-speaker AM/FM stereo.

• Power front disc brakes.

• Wide body side molding.

• Driver lumbar support.

• Deluxe wheel covers.

• Trunk courtesy light.

• Intermittent wipers.

• Electric defogger.

• Air conditioning.

• Bumper guards.

• Power steering.

• Electric clock.

• Tinted glass.

• Tachometer.

“They used good material in this car,” Mr. Goodwyn says.

Near the locking door concealing the gasoline cap is a label attached to the right rear fender warning: “Unleaded fuel only.”

Mr. Goodwyn surmises the warning was on the fender as a heads-up for the service-station attendants to see before they actually got to the pump.

Do you remember attendants?

Toyota designers really worked out on the Cressida with evidence of metal sculpting throughout.

The condition of the car proves that it has been garage-kept since 1978. The vinyl dashboard shows no sign of cracking.

The windows are operated by hand cranks. The windows in the front doors have no wing vents and the ones in the rear doors are stationary.

The three-spoke steering wheel features three horn buttons, one on each spoke.

At the far left of the dashboard is the transmission overdrive switch.

At the other end, beneath the glove compartment door, is a convenient catch-all shelf.

From the headliner down to the carpet the interior is monochromatic beige — or as Mr. Goodwyn prefers — “tan.”

The dashboard is filled with interesting gadgets including a speedometer ready to indicate speeds up to 120 mph.

Four chrome-plated vents direct fresh, heated or cooled air. Mr. Goodwyn says they have never failed to deliver the appropriate air.

He also reports that with a two-barrel carburetor feeding the engine the Cressida delivers mileage figures of 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

“It’s got pickup,” Mr. Goodwyn verifies.

He remembers that years ago his wife dented a bumper in an altercation with a parking lot light pole, although nothing serious enough to replace.

A few years later the right front fender was damaged while the car was parked.

“That’s when I finally replaced both the bumper and the fender,” he recalls.

Many cars in that era had rubber tips on the ends of metal bumpers.

Compared with other 1978 cars, the Toyota Cressida is loaded with goodies including pockets on the back of the front seats.

More importantly, the trunk can store his bag of golf clubs.

Beyond those nice extras Mr. Goodwyn has been more impressed with performance.

“Even now,” he says, “It’s quiet and there’s no vibration.”

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