1990 Toyota Cressida MX83 Series 1 7MGE from Australia and New Zealand


Without a doubt the KING of the road - Absolute marvel of Japanese Engineering


Head gasket blew at 200,000.

This is to be expected of the Cressida, as the 7MGE engine is known to blow head gaskets.

The other minor issue with the car is a relay, which is damaged and does not allow the idler fan to come on in traffic, and causes the car to overheat - only in summer. In winter the car is perfect.

Everything else on this car is unbelievable, an absolute testament to the miracle that was Toyota engineering in the early nineties on their benchmark vehicles like the Cressida.

General Comments:

Let me start by clearing up a few things. I am not a grandfather and I am not a teenager. I have loved cars all my life, and continue to peruse with passion the right cars to update to every year. I can't afford a Porsche yet, but I am saving towards a good one. Yet I have driven and owned most of the premium Japanese sports and luxury sedans on the modern market, and have sampled some second hand Europeans from the early to mid 2000's, which I have driven over the last few years.

However, one day I went out and bought a 1989 Toyota Cressida MX83 for a few months to drive on a major highway in Australia once a week for about a year. I did this as I didn't want to put kilometres on my new car. The car had 250,000kms when I bought it. I put 20,000 kilometres on this car in less than a year, and every time I drove this car on the highway, I marveled at the amazing feat of engineering by Toyota.

I then sold this car to update to a lower kilometre Cressida with the interior and exterior colour and condition that I had in mind.

I then got one, and this car is unbelievable. When I get out of this car and get into a modern car, I miss my Cressida. I absolutely appreciate all the modern engineering and creature comforts that my other car gives me, however I am forever comparing cars to my Cressida.

Everybody thinks I have gone mad, but if you really KNOW the Cressida, then you really KNOW what I mean. An absolute modern classic, which should be respected and appreciated by each and every owner, and be realised as the classic that it is. I really do believe if you have the opportunity to get your hands on one, get it and save it from going to a wrecker, because this is a car that set the benchmark for the launch of the Lexus brand, specifically the LS400, in the early 1990's. However, whilst the LS400 has so many computer controlled functions and the electric gremlins, which go along with these electronic options, the Cressida is the KING of the road, as it is a simple design that ticks all the boxes and keeps on going on.

I have the original radio, original wheels, original Toyota delivery booklet and logs, the original spare with the Dunlop Sport tyre, and all the original Toyota Denso air conditioning stickers etc. I service it religiously, and although my mechanic thinks I am mad, I have never had an issue, and my Cressida has never let me down. I have tried to convey what this car is about with my words, but they really don’t do this car justice. The KING of the road, the KING of Toyotas, and a benchmark for Japanese and European cars of its time, and well beyond its time.

Remember the VN Commodore, lovely car, but it was the competitor of the Cressida in the 1990’s – it’s hard to believe they were made in the same decade. Cressida’s have a cult following in the Middle East and Japan, based on stories of their reliability and engineering excellence. Next time you pass a Cressida, don’t stereotype the driver, the driver may well have an exotic sitting in their garage, yet they choose to drive the Cressida because it is the KING of the road.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th July, 2011

6th Sep 2011, 02:44

You said it. I won't give up my beloved 1990 Cressie, and everyone except my octogenarian Mum - who gets driven around in this wonderful marvelous car - thinks I'm mad, obsessed. (Mum loves the Cressie almost as much as I do)

You just have to own one. I wrote a glowing review of my Cressie on this site years and years ago. I still love my wonderful, faithful Cressie. If you can find one, GET ONE!

1990 Toyota Cressida 3.0L inline 6 from North America


This model of Cressida was abandoned by Toyota, even though they knew about the problem, which is notorious, and you can find the answer for your inherent problem all over the Web from disgruntled Cressida owners.

I own a '90 and a '91, and BOTH engines have been rebuilt because of the head gasket factory DEFECT. The '91 blew the HG and I had to rebuild the engine, TWICE. The '90 (purchased in mint condition) just required a gasket replacement - I didn't have to rebuild the engine because I caught it BEFORE the engine blew. Toyota used an asbestos gasket with the incorrect torque, and even after they found the problem they refused to honor the hundreds of claims from blown engine owners.

The fix - The coolant enters your engine from a blown head gasket - If the head (and engine) isn't/aren't damaged you MAY be able to get away with replacing the head gasket without rebuilding the engine. When you do, make sure you use the NON-Toyota gasket and the correct torque, which is about 10 lbs. tighter than factory.

Also check the inline relays and fuses, which control the condensor fans. I troubleshot my circuits and they all came up OKAY, BUT the fans weren't coming on. But the fans DID come on when I applied direct power to them. I had to change each fuse and relay one-by-one before I found the defective fuse - The fans came on when the engine was in traffic (as designed) and all was well with the world. Toyota also has a weird default - If there is NOT enough Freon in the system, the pressure won't allow the fans to engage. You'll get a little cooling in the cabin, but you will overheat eventually.

Also check the fan clutch which is in the center of the BIG fan cooling the radiator. This fan will turn just great and you THINK it's working, but the silicone IN the clutch MAY have dried up and you can pretty much stop the fan with your Hand. DON'T DO IT.! But you can remove the fan, replace the silicone for a couple of bucks and the difference will be HEARD immediately. You DO require a special (hammer-type) tool to remove the bolts. Once replaced, you will hear a strong wind sound as soon as you turn on your engine.

You can do all the 'other' basic checks - T/Stat, system pressure test, oil cap inspection (if it's milky under the cap, your engine and cooling system has been compromised).

I am a buyer of ALL makes of vehicles for export, and because of Toyota's total disregard for this inherent factory-built and designed problem, I DON'T sell Toyotas and I recommend ALL my clients to buy ANYTHING BUT. Because of this Toyota has lost over TWO HUNDRED vehicle sales to their competition.

Good luck to all you loyal Cressida owners.


Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 26th November, 2008

4th Feb 2011, 17:56

I read all over the web on 89-92 Cressida blown head gasket and for some reason, nobody knows what's reason for the blown head gasket. Like the article above, change the gasket to non manufacturer, surface head and block. I have two Cressidas, and it's taken me two years to finally solve this problem.

Let me give you a hint, surfacing the block just makes things worse, if you didn't fix the manufacturer defect. If you've got a Cressida and you have to add coolant before oil change or every seven thousand miles, you have a blown head gasket. If you solve the problem, you can use any gasket, included manufacturer. When you ready to torque the head bolts, use Lexus SC 300 torque spec.

24th May 2013, 03:00

It is very important to know not to add the coolant when replacing the head. This should be left for about 1500km to allow the head to settle in on the new gasket. Re-tighten the head bolts and add the coolant. Why? Because the coolant sets up a very thin barrier between the block and the head, and it does not seal properly.

I have learnt from experience, the first gasket blew, this basic routine was not followed, and it blew for a second time! On this occasion the head was not decked! On the third occasion the head was decked and reassembled, and the car is running beautifully. Small things that many mechanics do not know.