Lexus parachuted onto the automotive scene when it introduced the original LS and the first-generation ES at the 1989 Detroit auto show. While the ES was essentially a rebadged, V20-generation Toyota Camry, the LS was the hotly anticipated result of a lengthy, no-expense-spared development process aimed at building a Japanese equal to the German sedans then ruling the luxury market. It was a little surprising, then, that the task of designing the company’s first coupe was quietly gifted to Toyota’s Calty Research and Design center in California.
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I drove a 92 SC400 as my daily driver for 20 years. The daily drivers before the Lexus was a Supra, and after the Lexus was a BMW 330CI ZHP. I disagree with the articles definition of the SC400's handling. Truth be told that car could more than hustle. I ran numerous car competitive car rally's in it where some times serious driving was required. In the early 90's this car was nothing short of a rocket ship. It rode stiffer than my Supra, and about the same as my BMW. It was exotic (and still is with items like a hydraulic cooling fan, alloy suspension parts, speed sensitive power steering.)
With that said, there were two things that let the SC400 down, and is probably the reason it doesn't get its due (other than people don't realize that this car is not your 90's Toyota). Those two items? #1. The automatic transmission in the SC400 all but neutered what could have been one of the most bad ass cars of the era. It's not a modern style auto, and it was not designed for fun. It was a sad choice. Truthfully I hated selling mine, but after I got a stick back with the BMW, I find I rarely miss the car. If anything I miss what that car could have been with a manual. I can tell you that had it come with one, it would have been a hell of a lot more car than the 330CI ZHP which is nearly 15 years newer. #2 the seats. They should have been more supportive.
In the end it almost seems like the engineers built a world beating GT car and then some one in authority said decided that lets old fart it up just a little bit, they're the ones with the money. It will probably sell better.
The last thing I'd like to point out. Despite the SC300 coming with a manual (which I have driven), don't confuse the SC300 with the SC400. They may look alike, but the SC300 is no where near the car the SC400 was/is. If only they had put a stick in it.
If buying one, #1 beware of the fiber optic dash. Always fail when they get older and horribly expensive to fix. #2 expect significant heat from the tunnel where the seat belts mount. #3 Expect A/C evaporator core failures like all cars of that era. But repair should not be anymore expensive than your average car. #4 Go to your Toyota dealer for parts, not the Lexus dealer. Saves $$ This applies to all Lexus cars.