At the time, Toyota was already one of the largest car companies in the world, known for their reliable, and in this writer’s opinion, boring fare. This changed when the Nippon giant followed Honda in the creation of a specialized luxury brand of purpose-built new cars, Lexus. This is not to be confused with the renaming of models à la Mazda / Xedos, a cheap and demeaning trick that’s just embarrassing to everyone involved. The LS 400 was a huge hit, but Lexus needed a sports car to really capitalize in the American market; the result was the California-designed 1991 Lexus SC 400, which was a stunning success. Stylistically, you love it or hate it. I don’t like it. That being said, the SC 400 was a fast, reliable and incredibly luxurious automobile, for the price, as it sold for half what comparable German imports went for!
As fitting of a sports coupe meant for the American market, the SC 400 was powered by a V8. Not just any V8, too, the superbly smooth and powerful (albeit oddly designated) 1UZ-FE. The full-size Coupe could reach a more than respectable top speed of 150 miles per hour – enough to lose your driver’s license, certainly! – and accelerate to 60 mph in less than 7 seconds – 6.9 seconds, to be exact. This engine was paired with a potent four-speed automatic transmission that gave the SC 400 true sports car performance, handling and demeanor, even though it was designed on the same platform as the four-door, luxury LS 400.
The first-generation Lexus SC 400 remained in production until 2002, accompanied by its slightly less powerful SC 300 cousin. This car is a real testament to the fact that if you’ve got a good base, there’s very little you can’t do if you set your mind to it!