The Toyota Mark II has a long and storied past. Initially introduced as a mid-size sedan to cater to the emerging class of business owners and company executives in Japan—slotting neatly below the larger, more luxurious flagship model that is the Crown. Along the way, the Mark II has grown larger and more powerful with each passing generation and spawned offshoots—badge engineering exercises that appealed to different dealerships across Japan and targeted younger (Chaser) and older (Cresta) crowds, with slight variations in trim and engines. They weren’t exported much, with just a couple of generations being experimented upon in overseas market—for 1991, the X81 Mark II received a different exterior treatment and was sold in Left Hand Drive and Right Hand Drive configurations as the Cressida in the US and Canada, and as the Camry in Australia.
While the Cressidas sold in the US and Canada were largely fashioned around the mid to large-size sedans favoured by the domestic markets in those countries, they were mostly Japanese in execution. Inline six motors kept horsepower/torque to a useable level, offering very few frills but providing bulletproof Toyota reliability and fuel economy in exchange. It’s that reliability that still sees Cressidas plying the streets and highways of the US, even when body panels are rusted away and falling off. With access to tuner magazines and greater awareness of the tuning potential of Japanese cars, the RWD Cressida became a cult favourite of America and Canada’s drifters and hoonigans, with builds often highlighting the ratty condition of the base sedan, a stark contrast to the JDM Mark IIs, Chasers and Crestas, which mostly combined nuclear missile spec power with a smooth and clean exterior. Fast forward to today and Washington, US based Kyle Anson’s Instagram handle (@cresshita) and profile says all you need to know about these large RWD sedans.
Arif Hossain’s X81 Cressida is also a stark contrast to S.M Rifat Fahim’s X81 Mark II we featured a couple of weeks back. While Fahim’s Mark II features clean, stock lines and ballistic performance, Arif’s Cressida build goes for a more eye-catching approach with a setup that allows him to drive it daily. While the Mark II received a CKD overhaul with the freshest of parts brought in from Japan with money considered no object, this Cressida was built with parts scrambled together on a budget. The Cressida is something of a rarity on our streets and finding parts proved to be a challenge—CKDs aren’t really an option as they are just as rare in Japan as they are here.
Considering this Cressida has been in Arif’s family for over nine years and happens to be car he learned how to drive in, it’s a significant restoration that carries quite a bit of emotion. Most of the tired old panels, bolts, glass and mechanical bits have been painstakingly sourced and replaced. Where parts couldn’t be found, they were replaced—like the rear taillights, which come from an X81 Mark II and are a completely different shape than the Cressida. Along the way, custom touches were added, like the bumper, side skirts, widened wheel arches, window and ducktail spoiler, as well as rear valances. The BEAMS 2000 puts out about 160 HP of reliable horsepower that makes it a smooth daily driver, with a bit of an exhaust note thanks to the end box from a Subaru Impreza. Inside, there’s plenty of space for Arif’s friends on his way to North South University or a weekend trip to his hometown of Chittagong, a journey he makes almost weekly.
Arif wants to swap in a JZ and turn it into a proper hooligan of a car. We wish him the best for it.
Photos: Ahbaar Mohammad