Car News:  Oversteer

Lexus SC 400: The Other Production Lexus That Looked Like a Concept Car

RELATED READING
See all Lexus SC 300 articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Aaron Gold March 2017

I'm smitten by Lexus's new LC 500: It's a concept car that you can buy and put in your own driveway (provided you have a hundred grand or so to spend, that is). Seeing the LC reminded me of the last time a Lexus design pitched me onto my butt: The SC. No, not the SC430 -- eww. I mean the original SC, the SC 300 and SC 400 coupes that made their debut in 1992.

At the time, the automotive world went absolutely ape-droppings over Lexus's new coupe. First and foremost was the styling; we'd never seen anything quite like the SC, which had no straight lines anywhere -- and no grille, either. If I'm honest, and occasionally I am, today I look at the shape and wonder what the fuss was about -- but of course now we're on the opposite side of history. After the SC, there were so many bubbly shaped rip-offs of that first curvy design that I could die happy if I never see another one again. (My mind always seems to turn to the 2006-2013 Chevrolet Impala, and then it it immediately turns away in a fit of disgust and self-preservation). Whatever we may think today, in its time the SC's design was breathtaking stuff.

And then there was the fact that cars like this simply didn't exist. Remember, Japanese manufacturers made their name building small (and later medium-size) family cars that were boring and reliable. This thing was big, expansive and visually exciting. Sure, Mercedes and BMW made some big coupes, but the Japanese? Sedans and sports cars. This was the "personal luxury" car (as introduced by the original Monte Carlo), Lexus-style.

To give you some idea of how unusual the SC was, consider the Japanese-market version, the Toyota Soarer. Between the size of the car and the size of the engine, this car fell afoul of nearly every every regulation the Japanese government could come up with. Soarer buyers had to pay extra taxes, extra license fees, extra everything just to drive one ... and yet drive it they did.

Among the sins of the Soarer and SC: A 32-valve V8 engine from the LS 400, which, again, was exciting stuff in the early '90s. But for us car enthusiasts, the V8 wasn't the most tantalizing prospect: Lexus also sold the SC 300, which had a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder, with a manual transmission. If memory serves, the mags at the time loved the 5-speed, even though it came with significantly less power. It was a curious engine to offer in America, as Lexus was selling the car to a generation of buyers who could remember the time (it was only 15 years ago, back then) when cheap cars had straight sixes and nicer ones had V8s -- even small and midsize vehicles. You drove a 6-cylinder Nova in college, and then you graduated to a V8-powered Impala. Needless to say, most of the SCs I saw on the road were 400s.

Predictably, the automotive press loved the SC: It won the Motor Trend Import Car of the Year award for 1992, and it made Car and Driver's Ten Best list.

Lexus did manage to screw the SC up a bit in 1995 when the car got a midcycle refresh: They changed the front end, adding a bigger grille, and they fitted horizontally split taillights, which I think softened the visual impact. And, in typical Lexus fashion, they let it whither on the vine. By the time the SC was discontinued in 2000, the 8-year-old design was nothing special.

Lexus went on to replace the original SC coupe with the 2002 SC 430, a retractable hardtop that was notable only because it was a retractable hardtop. It was a nice enough car, but we soon got bored of it -- something Lexus didn't seem to notice until 2010 or so.

Then 2012 brought us the Lexus LF-LC concept, and 2017 sees this new LC 500 that we're all so excited about -- and rightfully so. This is the original SC all over again. Let's hope it ages a little better.

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
The Land Rover Discovery's Rear End Is Bizarrely Asymmetrical
Why Doesn't a Car's Model Year Match Up to the Calendar Year?
Autotrader Find: Dodge Magnum SRT-8 Converted Into a Pickup

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Lexus SC 400: The Other Production Lexus That Looked Like a Concept Car - Autotrader