FUEL: Getting Laury’s Croissants in a Laurel-Cressida

Le blasphème!

Not only have we undertaken a quest for French pastry, we have done so in a Japanese car. Fret not, Roadkill won’t become focused totally on imports (though we do have some fun import stuff in the works), but when the opportunity arises for double-pun points, you can bet we’re going to take it. Call it the Lauressida or the Cressilaurel—We’ll get to that momentarily—but on an unseasonably warm October afternoon, we met up with Brian Kolar and his blasphemous Toyota Cressida at Laury’s Bakery in Oak Park, Illinois, for croissants.

 

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If you’ve read Roadkill’s website regularly or followed the 24 Hours of LeMons for any length of time, you might recognize Brian either as one of the primary characters of Charnal House Racing. Charnal House has built a number of fantastic drift, street, and 24 Hours of LeMons cars—namely the Geo MetSHO and the “Firebug” sportbike-powered Subaru 360—and their builds are characterized by some of the world’s most incredible junkyard scrounging you’ll ever find. 

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So where are the double-pun points then? Brian’s Cressida actually wears front grille and headlights of a Nissan Laurel, a Japanese-market luxury sedan. Get it? Laurel-Laury’s and Cressida-Croissants? Yeah, we know that if you have to explain a joke, it’s less funny. We did it anyway. 

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Anyway, the real Nissan Laurel part of the car is under the hood: This is the 3.0-liter VG30 V6 from a 1986 Nissan 300ZX and of the same type as some Laurels. Brian’s a big fan of that generation (Z31) of Nissan’s Z-cars—He also built a killer drift 300ZX—but he picked up a beater 300ZX for its engine in 2009, then happened across a pristine Cressida with a blown engine shortly thereafter. That set the wheels in motion for the Lauressida/Cressilaurel.

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The engine installation was turbocharged almost from the beginning, but Brian sold the stock-ish-looking Cressida in 2011 before buying it back cheaply a couple years later. When he fetched the Cressida again, he found it largely trashed with mouse infestation and a laundry list of broken parts. Step one involved restoring the pristine interior to livable condition, namely by removing the incredible rodent stench from the car.

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Brian took the opportunity to improve the rest of the car, however. In true Charnal House fashion, the underhood area now includes an impressive list of scrounged parts: a Nissan Maxima intake plenum, Porsche Boxster long-tube headers, Nissan Gloria oil pan, an alternator for a John Deere tractor, Chevy Silverado oil cooler, Volvo cooling fan, and—most importantly—the Holset HX35 turbocharger from a Cummins diesel engine.

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The turbocharger setup was the second on the car, and at one point on the first turbo, a modification to quick-spool the turbo—a pricey modification when the parts are purchased—required a “knife-edge” surface. Rather than drop a thousand dollars on the shop , Kolar instead opted to use the knife-edge surface from a Miracle Knife. Cut and paste. While that was eventually discarded with the Cummins turbo installation, the knife-fix remains a piece of Roadkill engineering we’re actually a bit jealous of. A trip to the dyno on the first setup yielded 412 horsepower to the wheels and Kolar estimates it has a bit more than that, maybe around 420, now with the HX35 turbo. So yes, it’ll do a nice burnout.

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The transmission guts are from a Nissan 240SX with a standard non-turbo 300ZX bellhousing and the rear end is from a non-turbo Toyota Supra with a turbo Supra limited-slip center section, the harvesting of which became a two-day junkyard ordeal on a characteristically sticky Midwest summer day.

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On the outside, the Cressilaurel has Mitsubishi Galant VR4 turn signals, a Ford Ranger bug deflector now pushing air over the hood scoop, an S13 Nissan 240SX rear wing, the body kit for a Toyota Chaser cut down to fit by a previous Cressida owner, some intense rust repair around the rear wheel wells, and a relatively rare BMW Z3 paint code (which is the same color on Kolar’s parts-hauling Scion xB). All those parts and fixes were done after Kolar repurchased the car in 2013.

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The low-budget build forms a unique combination and while the VG30 V6 isn’t generally known for its sonorous exhaust note, the Lauressida sounds plenty beastly.  The ride quality is a bit jarring though not unbearable and to quote Brian, “When it runs good, the idea of it is sound.” Like any homebuilt car, there have been teething troubles (You can read the whole story here), but the car is finally working like it should.

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The Cressilaurel draws plenty of attention for its clean presentation. While parked outside the bakery, the salon owner next door asked about how much Brian wanted for it. That would have perhaps piqued his interest except he’s already sold the car to a new owner in Connecticut who was in the process of lining up transportation.

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With the car on its way to a new home soon, a Laury’s croissant-run in the Lauressida for some conversation about the car seemed like the thing to do. While a line of customers came in to give what seemed like their regular orders, we perused the bakery’s wares. Laury’s specializes in wedding and birthday cakes, but the top shelf of the display cake had a couple of croissants and bear claws—which they called “filled croissants”—remaining. And if they were calling them “croissants,” who were we to argue? More sugar is always a good plan.

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The rest of the pastries were tempting and in addition to the cakes, cookies, and pastries, Laury’s has soft-serve ice cream and a cooler full of slightly unorthodox drinks, including Peach Crush soda. We tried Peach Crush soda. We do not recommend Peach Crush soda. Maybe more sugar isn’t always a good plan.

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However, we ultimately picked out a couple each of the “filled croissants” and a couple of non-filled ones—crescent rolls, you might call them. They were all fantastic, perfectly flaky without falling apart entirely when picked at. Delicious.

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Our pastries consumed, we parted ways with Brian and  the Lauressida. Or Cressilaurel. Whatever you want to call it, Brian’s brainchild remains unique but Roadkill-approved. Built on a budget? Check. Confusing to the locals? Check. Silly name? Check. Does loud burnouts? Double check.

Check out more photos in the gallery below and keep your eyes peeled for more FUEL features.

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