By on March 3, 2011

The Lexus SC430 is not a car that leaps to the minds of automotive enthusiasts as being particularly significant, but it seems it has one last claim to fame. The NYT reports that with the passing of the last model-year for the SC, the 2010, tape decks are no longer available on any US-market car. What, you didn’t realize that any new cars still had tape decks? Remember, the SC first came out in 2001, so it’s been around quite a while. Also, Sony only just stopped making the cassette Walkman last year. So, if you can’t bear to part with your tape collection, you have to buy used. And now, rather than just being an overfed boulevardier that outstayed its welcome, the Lexus SC430 is now a historical bookend to the era of magnetic tape in cars. Time to convert your Milli Vanilli to MP3…

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34 Comments on “Lexus SC430: The Last Of Its Kind...”


  • avatar
    Jellodyne

    The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules. Anyway… I’ve started to make a tape… in my head… for Lexus SC430. Full of stuff she likes. Full of stuff that make her happy. For the first time I can sort of see how that is done.

    • 0 avatar
      donkensler

      Reminds me of my days making tapes in advance of road trips out west to go camping.  For that purpose, it was also necessary to have different parts of the trip.  The tape that worked for a blast down US 20 or US 50 or NE 2 was totally inappropriate for the curves and the views of the mountains in CO, WY, or ID.

    • 0 avatar

      But the real question is: Where you would rank the SC430 in your all-time memorable break ups list?

  • avatar
    talkstoanimals

    My boss was stilling playing tapes in his car as recently as a year ago.  Then the ’98 Passat he was wheeling was traded in for an ’06 Acura TL and he lost his tape deck.  He doesn’t miss the VW, but he misses those mix tapes.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    The cassette, as a portable music format, was a good match for cars.  4/8 tracks were never very serviceable, and cassettes, even with their average fidelity, were quite acceptable given the ambient noise in cars.  On the other hand, the units would invariably eat the occasional tape, and after a while the cassettes themselves wore out inside the rather harsh environment of a car.  But they were cheap enough to replace, and easy enough to record at home from one’s records.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Definitely a case of the original still being the best.  The first gen SCs still grab my attention.  The later ones like the pic above?  They put me to sleep.

    • 0 avatar
      photog02

      Especially the SC300, where you had the option of both an inline 6 and a manual transmission. The interior of those were gorgeous as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Steinweg

      Amen to that. The original had those languorous proportions and two great engines. It was a Japanese Jaaaaag. But GenII has the proportions of a tugboat or a dreidel. It has “committee” writ all over it.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      They’re really two different cars: the first was a GS coupe, which in turn was a Japanese 5-Series.  This car is more of a Mercedes SL or Jag XK competitor, except for well-to-do women instead of well-to-do men.  Most women won’t put up with the ergonomic failures of the Merc or the mechanical-princess nature of the both it and the Jag, and men in this price bracket don’t have the strength of ego that would allow them to drive this car.
       
      I like the second-gen—it’s a great boulevardier—but you can really tell it’s designed for short people.  Short people without kids, I might add, if you look at the parcel shelf that Lexus tries to pass off as a rear seat. I personally can’t drive the car.
       
      I think the only reason this car lasted so long is that it’s about the only car that Toyota could field in Super GT (!!!).  Now that they have the LF-A it’s no longer required.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I drove an SC400 for a while in the mid ’90s. It was such a disappointment that I was convinced the whole Japanese luxury car experiment would fail. Every time it went in for an oil change, there was a list of items requiring attention, a list that always included repairing the hyperactive retracting antenna that would fry itself trimming mast length for each tuner frequency. It also ate tires, which was remarkable because the only curves in Palm Beach were freeway ramps. It was a company car, so I wasn’t paying for the gas or tires. Eight to twelve miles per galon still bugged me because I was buying gas what seemed like every other day and mainland Floridians had made murder-carjacking the state sport. Everyone had a ‘my neighbor got his head blown off at Exxon’ story, and scumbags LOVED the metallic black SC400 with its polished silver rims. At 6’2″, there really wasn’t anything approaching a comfortable seating position because the bottom of the dash was very close to the floor. The trunk was about as big as the center consoles of some minivans. The handling was mid-70s personal luxury car flacid. I asked the dealer to make sure the shocks hadn’t been stolen. I ended up with it as a company car because the owner’s college age son lost interest in it after renting a Mercury Villager minivan and buying it from the rental company rather than returning it. THATs how good of a drive the SC400 was.  The previous year I’d had a company Lincoln Towncar, which I thought was a comically crummy excuse for a car, but I missed it every time I drove that Lexus.

  • avatar
    pb35

    When one of my neighbors got divorced a few years back, an SC430 was one of the first changes I noticed.

    I have a cassette deck in my 2004 Infiniti. I was listening to one of my Cure tapes (Staring at the Sea) just yesterday. I love to go back and forth between tape and CD to witness the difference in fidelity. Someday hipsters will be extolling the virtues of cassettes. I have a gym bag full of my tapes from the 80s.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “…the tape deck is as passé as tailfins on a Caddy”

    Passé? Je ne le pense pas, NYT. The Cadillac SRX has pretty well-defined tailfins, and it’s selling like hotcakes…

    • 0 avatar
      GarbageMotorsCo.

      lol “hotcakes”

      http://www.annarbor.com/assets_c/2010/08/Car_fire_pittsfield1-thumb-590×430-51168.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @garbage motors…..So that would be the second time you posted that same photo.

      So in fairness, and disclosure you would be to GM , what “Z71 _ Silvy is to Ford”….right?

      Every thing you post is just an anti GM rant. So we will give you the same amount of credability that we give Silvy…….sounds fair to me.

    • 0 avatar
      Domestic Hearse

      philadlj,

      I was following a brandie new SRX with fresh temp delivery plates quite some distance today and was observing what an ingenious design job those taillamps are — fitting perfectly with the art and science current look and harkening back to Cadillacs of yore.

      (Full Disclosure: I find the CTS-Coupe to be the most beautiful and appealing new car — for me — in the last 20 years. Do want!)

  • avatar
    threeer

    blame it on the rain…gotta blame it on something

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Cassettes? Good riddance, along with 4-tracks, 8-tracks and under-dash record players! Oh yes, homemade CD’s stink, too. MP3 all the way, baby! I did convert the two factory-recorded cassettes I still own to MP3 on the computer using Pyro Cakewalk software. Amazing what you can do. Our 2002 CR-V has a tape deck/CD/Radio combo. Cassette player never used. Oh, the Lexus? Yeah, well, that too. Those never appealed to me. 

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      I prefer AAC over MP3.
       
      * sniffs haughtily *

    • 0 avatar
      Verbal

      I just got done converting a bunch of cassettes to Apple Lossless.  They were all high quality, copied in real time years ago from CDs using an audiophile 3 head cassette deck.  I also copied my CD collection (which will now make the trip to the used CD store).  Listening to songs on my iPod, I can’t tell the difference in audio quality between the ones copied from CDs and the ones copied from cassettes from CDs.

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      Hah.  I’ve recently been doing vinyl to ALAC conversions and dumping CD rips.  I just like the sound better.  Now cassettes, I don’t know so much about.
       
      On what type of decode and output devices are you listening?  I downconvert to AAC when I transfer to my iPhone and iPods because there are very few circumstances where I’ll be able to tell the difference when I’m mobile and listening through the jack.  Thank jebus that Apple finally built this into iTunes so I don’t have to do this manually anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I have yet to hear a music download that matches the fidelity of a half speed master LP recorded onto a premium cassette using a high end Nakamichi or Tandberg.  I wish it wasn’t so…it’s now cost-prohibitive to buy Nakamichi ZX tapes…

  • avatar
    RickM

    I worked briefly as a salesman at a Ford Dealership in the summer of 2008, and I remember being amazed to discover that the Model Year 2007 Ford Taurus still had a cassette deck, instead of a CD, as standard equipment. 
    When did CD players first become widely available in cars?
    It’s amazing that its taken until 2011 for the last new car to fully transition from cassette decks to CD players. 
    How long until MP3/Ipod integrations is standard in nearly every car?

  • avatar
    eastaboga

    I’m no fan of the cassette as a medium (though I do have a big box of them in the basement). I’m still waiting for the day that we can all access every song ever recorded (and movie, tv show, book, etc.) in high fidelity from anywhere for a flat monthly fee, the technology is well past the business model at this point. I know iTunes tried to establish something along these lines only to have the record companies wimp out. I no longer need a bureaucratic company between me and my music, but the media companies are all terrified of their own impending irrelevance (and they should be).
    I did hear though that a cassette is still an option on the Crown Vic in the premium audio package, though i think that vehicle’s only available for fleets

  • avatar

    I got into my cassette collection a few years ago, and I’ll be damned if 80-90% of them were bad, so I chucked them all into the trash.

  • avatar

    But also the first of its kind, with the folding metal roof, IIRC.

  • avatar
    Hank

    I thought they quit this car years ago.  I saw one for the first time in a year or two just last week.

  • avatar
    danman75

    I find the built in cassette desk in my car extremely useful, but not for playing tapes.  My car has no external audio jack.  So, I use a $15 cassette adapter to stream music from my Iphone to my car’s  speakers — one end connects to the cassette desk, the other end connects to the audio out jack of the Iphone.  Easy peasy.
     
     

  • avatar
    TR4

    Record players, 4-tracks, 8-tracks, and now cassettes have come and gone, but good old AM radio is still available!

  • avatar
    pauldun170

    I was just about to convert my entire cassette collection until I downloaded it all from the internet.
    Off to the trash bin the cassettes went.
     

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Ten years from now, we’ll have the same conversation about those slitty little CD player openings in the sound system. In fact, I’m betting that the CD will be, for a baby born today, what the LP record is/was for my kid…

    What the heck is that thing!?

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      Yes and no.  Yes, in the sense that the audio cassette is gone and has a relatively short life span.  No in that the LP was, is and will be around for a long time, as will the CD to a lesser extent.
       
      Vinyl is still popular among the music and audio geeks.  Vinyl of new albums are available at music stores, at concerts and the vinyl sections of a lot of used books and music stores are huge.  Heck, I can name four or five huge vinyl only music stores in each of the 2-3 cities where I stay when I’m stateside.  Every concert I’ve been to in the past ten years, there’s usually a run of overpriced vinyl pressings to be had, even for the smaller band.
       
      On the other hand, it’s been almost ten years since anything major’s been released to audio cassette.  And remember, CDs only followed cassettes by ten years.
       
      That said, physical digital media for the general public’s soon to go the way of the dodo bird.

  • avatar
    Nick

    Pfffft, best sound quality ever?  Those old 45s….especially if they are vintage rockabilly or blues.


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