The cars we loved.
Fresh off the heels of its debut in 1989, Lexus decided to broaden it’s single car range to include a sport coupe in 1991. The midsized SC would be based on the Japanese market Toyota Soarer, a more luxurious alternative to the Supra. Called the SC300 initially, powered by a 3.0 L 225 hp V6. The basic layout was rear wheel drive (like the Supra) but with seating for four passengers. The California styled SC was considered the height of emerging Japanese sport luxury, and eventually became the mark of quality for the auto industry as a whole, with its excellent craftsmanship, attention to detail and innovative design. It’s low and long hood contributed to an impressive drag coefficient of cd 0.31 (very low for the early 90’s) that made the SC appear sleeker and faster than it really was. surprisingly, no convertible was offered but that did not stop a few customers from making them available.
Delivering on the promise of speed that the sleek body suggested, an additional model called the SC 400 was introduced to rave reviews late in 1991. The 250hp 32 Valve 4.0 L V8 used in the flagship LS 400 sedan was now powering the 400. Nearly all SC 400s employed a 4- speed automatic transmission. After 1998, an improved 5-speed automatic was used. A few SC300 were offered with a 5-speed manual, but these cars are extremely rare. As a testament to its timeless design, only small changes and refinements were made. The most dramatic change was made in 1997 as a new front end made for a more aggressive look. The extra power made for hot rod like performance wrapped in a luxury shell. This kind of automotive proposition was rare during a time when Japanese Luxury brands were just getting their groove on in the marketplace. Today the SC300 and 400 represent good used car values because they were too expensive to be molested by would be hot rodders. Solid and dependable the SC was the petro darling of the motoring and consumer press, often making 10 best and top value lists throughout the 90’s.
The European designed second generation car appeared in 2002. Now called the SC430, it featured a larger 4.3 L V8 and a striking (if not derivative) design. The new design was engineered to be a hard top convertible from the beginning.