58k-Mile 1998 Lexus SC400

Lexus's original lineup - the LS, GS and SC - were instant classics when they debuted and 24 years later they keep gaining critical appreciation, even as their prices bottom out. Lexus touched upon every facet of automaking - engineering, efficiency, design, build quality, and marketing - and revolutionized each as well. All of their cars were stylish, extremely well built, and (initially) competitively priced. The brand was a high water mark for the entire industry.

The SC was the crown jewel in the arsenal. As if taking on the legendary Mercedes-Benz W126 with the LS400 wasn't enough, Lexus decided to cut into the premium coupe segment by launching the SC400 in June of 1991 as a 1992 model.

As fundamentally Japanese as Toyota and Lexus are, they are quite American, too. Lexus specifically designed their cars with the American market in mind. Styling of the SC was even transferred over to an American team at Calty Design Research Center in California. The original lineup were lean on the outside, spacious on the inside, had powerful V8 engines and automatic transmissions. They weren't exactly sporty but they were great long distance highway cruisers. In essence, they were super sleek and hi-tech reinterpretations of American cars of the 60s and 70s for the New Age 90s. The Japanese, having risen like a phoenix from the ashes of Hiroshima in 1945, had come to better understand what Americans wanted than Americans themselves.

Chief designers Denis Campbell and Erwin Lui said the SC body was based on "emotion and feeling" and possesses almost no straight edges. It is a complete rejection of the angular Blade Runner look of the early 80s, and even the slab-sided techno-industrial look of Bruno Sacco's Mercedes-Benz designs. Instead, it almost starts to recall the soft curves and slopes of cars from the 30s and 40s, but without the excess. The jellybean look became a trend for the rest of the decade and was almost parodied by Ford's ridiculous looking third generation Taurus, but on the SC it works beautifully.

Underneath the hood is the same 1UZ-FE V8 engine from the LS400 that pumped out a very healthy 250 horsepower to the rear wheels. Only an automatic transmission was available. A 6-cylinder version was also offered and with the option of a manual, but the added power of the V8 is preferable, even if you sacrifice the ability to shift manually, which isn't in the spirit of the car anyways.

Inside is classic early 90s Japanese design. In the same way that Mercedes-Benz and BMW mastered interior design of the 80s, the Japanese keep the same overall simplicity and functionalism but soften the edges, lighten the colors and smooth out the tone and feel of everything for the ultimate tactile and visual experience. It's like a spa or a vacation, but without the frivolity. It practically beckons for a Kenny G disc to be blasting in it.

The SC400 was produced until 2000 with minimal changes over the years - a testament to the success of the original design. Plenty were produced but they are often scooped up quickly and modified in the second hand market, making immaculate and low mileage examples like this rare. The seller says it has just 58,547 miles on the clock and that everything works. A carfax report and any maintenance records will fill out the rest of the story. Otherwise this thing could be ready for another 50k-100k miles.

Available here on ebay in Pennsylvania with a Buy-It-Now of $14,950 and the Make Offer option.

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