By on June 11, 2010

Good night, sweet luxo-barge. After nearly 10 years in production, the 430’s sales have fallen from about 14k in its first several years on sale to 720 units last year and about 2k units the year before that. Which, for a rather ungainly and quite expensive boulevardier, is not half bad at all. It will never be a car that enjoys enthusiast or collector cachet, but cougars and their plastic surgeons alike appreciate its smooth power, anonymously ostentatious looks, and old-school personal luxury coupe style. In short, it’s been the closest thing to an old-school Buick Riviera on the US market in decades. And as of July it will be gone forever.

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46 Comments on “Lexus SC430 Dies Next Month...”

  • avatar

    Um, they still make it? Perfect time for Buick to produce the Riviera concept from a few years back. That was beautiful!

  • avatar

    They get a red leather interior in Japan?


    • 0 avatar


      There might have been some here, too –

      When I went to test drive the IS in Watertown, MA about 11 months ago there was an SC in the showroom with gorgeous red leather seats and accents, and a soft powdered silver exterior. I remember it so clearly because it was some of the softest material I’d touched in an auto.

    • 0 avatar

      The “Silver Belle” exterior color and hand-stitched “Candy Cane Red” leather interior were exclusive to the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book edition from 2001. Read about it here if you care to: (though the photo shown there is not of the NM car).

      The father of a friend of mine somehow managed to snag three of these from NM in 2001 as xmas gifts for his wife and two daughters, even though they were “limited to one per customer.” Just an example of his numerous creative financial dealings, the consequences of which ultimately led to an invitation from the U.S. Treasury Department for an extended stay at the expense of taxpayers (a group of which he was, surprise, surprise, not a member) in a lovely hotel with bars on the doors and windows. And armed guards.

      As for the car, I drove my friend’s a few times. If you like drawing attention to yourself (personally I do not), it was great to be seen in. Kinda felt like driving a train though — horribly harsh ride, heavy steering, just not pleasurable in any way for me. Or for any of the three girls, for that matter. Though to be fair, the OEM run-flat tires were responsible for much of the unpleasantness. I briefly sampled one of the cars with new tires and it was less offensive.

  • avatar

    I always found that this cars styling resembled the physique of it’s owners. No this is not a compliment.

  • avatar

    good riddence

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. My uncle has one, and it’s a horrid car. Rides like it is trying to crush your spine, yet handles like it’s scared of corners. Interior space is cramped, even for a short guy like me. Visibility sucks. Torque delivery was awkward, not to mention the steering.

  • avatar

    I liked the gen 1 better.

  • avatar

    I’m pretty sad when any coupe bites the dust, even the ugly ones. That said, at least this isn’t the Solara.

  • avatar

    didn’t even know it was sick

  • avatar

    Lexus stole a page from Lincoln Mercury’s playbook, building a model that no one knows is still in production. I thought the SC 430 had been history for a number of years.

  • avatar

    I guess I won’t miss it. I thought they stopped making them years ago. The only people I saw driving them were old ladies and unsuccessful South Florida lawyers.

  • avatar

    …cougars and their plastic surgeons alike…


  • avatar

    Easy to explain. The cost is high because it’s too unique. Thus it’s replaced by the much cheaper platform variant IS.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    The best Buick that Buick never built. Add to that the Avalon.

    Reminds me of the saying “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to see it…”

    “If all Lexus SC430s mysteriously vanished overnight and nobody saw it happen, would anyone notice they’re gone?”

  • avatar

    Is it just me or did the SC430 look more like an overgrown Daihatsu Copen?

    • 0 avatar

      Mk.1 Mercedes SLK after a few months on the KFC Double Down diet

    • 0 avatar

      Not to my eye. The Daihatsu Copen looks more like a Chinese copy of a TT. A good friend of mine drives an SC430, personally I’ve always loved that car. The styling is so-so, but it really coddles the occupants nicely and it’s an extremely solid car for a convertible. Just the kind of car you want when you’re stuck in traffic or blasting down an empty freeway late at night.
      But then I *am* an old lady. :)

      It really is the Riviera Buick should have built…

    • 0 avatar

      It’s just you.

      The SC430 is much uglier than the Copen!

  • avatar

    Was that an ad for a Lexus or for Hawaii?

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I hadn’t seen one in a while, and the the guy who lives across the street from me is a Lexus dealer.

  • avatar

    When I first saw this car, I was repulsed, it reminded me of the dead horseshoe crabs we used to see rotting on the beach in Florida.

    In my mind at least, they were never able to shake that image …

  • avatar

    I see the term “personal luxury coupe” used every now and then, but I don’t get it. Can someone explain this to me ? Are there luxury coupes that are not personal ? Because they’re used as public transportation ? “I bought this luxury coupe, but random strangers keep getting in, better get a *personal* luxury coupe next time”
    Or is it supposed to differentiate from *impersonal* luxury coupes ? I’m not sure if there is such a thing.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a squishy term, not like it’s defined by the EPA or the DOT or anything. I assume it’s to distinguish the luxury coupe from the sport coupe like a Mustang GT or Camaro SS. Although if you get a V6 Mustang or Camaro with leather, is that sport or luxury?

      Then there are the pseudo luxury coupes like the old Chevy Monte Carlo. It’s a really gray area.

    • 0 avatar

      Believe it or not, Wikipedia’s article on the “Personal Luxury Car” isn’t bad. Basically, Personal Luxury Car was a segment that was defined by the Thunderbird and went on to be quite successful before dying off with the muscle car craze of the early 70s. Think large, squishy sedan chassis with a a snazzy coupe body and a name like Continental, Riviera, Eldorado…

  • avatar

    I never understood this car except from its party piece folding roof. The useless “rear seats”, the water bed soft suspension combined with a V8 engine and the portly styling never made any sense to me.

  • avatar

    While shopping for my retirement toy, I considered the SC400 and SC300. Both are elegant, luxurious and high performance. I never understood how Lexus could perpetrate an eyesore like the SC430.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I guess I’m a party of one. I liked the daring styling (for 2000), and it certainly was a boulevard cruiser…no sporting pretenses. Pity about the back seat…..

  • avatar

    I would have thought these were discontinued a few years ago as well…until a few weeks ago. I was on vacation in Naples Florida, unsurprisingly these are a huge hit down there. Proving the Cougar/Plastic Surgeon comment dead right!

  • avatar

    I think they kept this car around purely for Super GT (I think Honda did the same with the NSX) and, with the LF-A around the corner, it’s no longer necessary.

  • avatar

    The 300 and 400 were cool, but the 430 was bland and boring. Been ages since I’ve seen one.

  • avatar
    Mark out West

    This is the automotive analog to Abe Vigoda – “I thought you were dead.”

  • avatar

    as someone that has always appreciated the distinctiveness of French
    automobiles I LOVE this car!
    If someone put a Delage emblem on it.
    This car is soooo French!
    I do believe it will be a collectible in the future.

  • avatar

    Good riddance. Not only does it look like a jelly bean, but from what I’ve read, the SC430 is even worse than its sedan sibling-and the LS430 is tied with the LS400 as the worst vehicle I have ever driven.

    Frankly I’d rather drive an ’82 Camaro with an iron puke (running on 3 cylinders) and a slushbox. Both of the LSes offended me so badly that I drove them less than a mile before pulling a U-turn and making someone else test drive it to find the customer’s complaint; I’m just glad I didn’t have to deal with one of these little turds.

  • avatar

    Lol, I guess it is an old fart’s car.  But I like my ’07, for several reasons, including performance and aesthetics.  I even think it’s well-styled, in a swooped and bulging sort of way.  And cushy, but in a way that pleases me and is not at all loose.  In that sense, I guess it’s not much like my ’08 Z06.  Both are items I rewarded myself with after 35 years of hard work (well, 43 if you include my earliest jobs.  Now it’s time to play, and both serve their purpose well – very well.

    BTW, my other cars have included two El Caminos and a 1976 BMW 2002.  I’m not really very seduced by standard stylings.  I guess the Titan and Mustang were just that, though.

  • avatar

    Really guys??? I have an ’04 pebble beach edition, and I absolutely love it. It looks great, has plenty of power, and I love that there aren’t too many on the road. The new is350c doesn’t come close! And I’m neither a couger nor retired!!!

    • 0 avatar

      Absolutely agree . . . Aesthetics are a matter of personal preference, but this is a car that is considered cool to disparage in certain auto fanboy circles. It isn’t a sports car – it isn’t meant to be. The rear seats are ridiculous – so are those in the universally worshiped Porsche 911. The SC430 is rock solid, beautiful to look at, has one of the best interiors this side of a Bentley, and will run forever with any care. I have a ’97 SC400, and I appreciate both cars. I don’t think the SC430 is going to be collectible, but it is becoming one of the really great used car buys.

  • avatar
    James Dillon

    I really love my 2002 peral white metal flake SC430. I have had some very exciting adventures driving around the NW portion of North American with various members of my family. We been lost on logging roads in the shadow of Mt. Hood, the gravel roads of Hells Canyon. I driven the car at high speeds on track days at Pacific Raceways in Washington scaring, the Porsche and BMW guys with the speed and handling. Yeah so I admitt it is not a racing car, but, it is a high end LUXURY Lexus, did I say LUXURY, you bet. Very dependable, lots of fun, fantastic stereo, lots of power and great handling even in the rain. I have been pulled over by the local police just to look at it, no tickets. Did I mention it is HARD TOP CONVERTIBLE, fantastic operator. With the top down at speeds above legal, the wind noise is minable and the Mark Levinson stereo is loud and clear. I use the back seat for my dogs and when my little sisters are around they drive and I climb into the back seat. Buy a used one, their cheap and enjoy it, before I catch up with in your BMW and pass you.

  • avatar

    I agree, James Dillon. I love love love mine too, a 2006. This is a solid, fun, reliable and comfortable car that fills our every need. We ditched our Mercedes for another lexus and could not be happier. I used to be at the Mercedes dealership monthly getting this or that repaired…now, in true Lexus style, we just drive, no annoying dealership repairs…

  • avatar

    “It will never be a car that enjoys enthusiast or collector cachet, but cougars and their plastic surgeons alike appreciate its smooth power, anonymously ostentatious looks, and old-school personal luxury coupe style”

    Spoken like someone who can’t afford any of these

  • avatar

    I’m late to the party but for what it’s worth: I just purchased a 2002 SC430. Flew to San Francisco, picked it up at a Lexus dealership and drove back home to Los Angeles — one of the happiest eight-hour drives of my life. The car is amazing, more even than I expected. So quiet, comfortable, smooth-running. The fidelity and richness of the sound system is stunning. The cabin exudes quality. I averaged 26 mpg overall, a happy surprise. As someone who has previously owned two very collectable Mercedes (190SL, 280SL), I’m not so sure the SC430 won’t become one as well. The overall design is unobtrusive and unique, and the mechanics apparently indestructible, if cared for. I’m looking forward to many years of pleasurable driving.

  • avatar

    I think this party must still be going :-) Bought my 2002 last fall and have put 10K not-a-problem-miles on it already. Only ‘fix’ was to replace tires with Bridgestone – Potenza RE050A’s run-flats, which I believe are 3rd gen, so not as harsh as 1st gen, and handle quite nicely. It cruises smooth at 100mph, sound system is top flight, solid Lexus quality. I debated this car over a 928 GTS, and choose the SC430 because it honestly looks better to me, has the same stright line performance as the 928, and the interrior luxury and Mark Levinson sound system are unparalleled. Oh, and it’s a hardtop convertible… in short, the SC430 rocks!

    • 0 avatar

      I bought our 2006 used with 18,000 pampered miles on it (for my wife), and it has the beautiful Tiger Eye Mica paint. I shipped it from Arizona to Florida and paid the Carmax shipping fee. It was worth every penny for shipping and the $34,000 paid after four years wasn’t bad either. Initially the ride was like a Flintstone vehicle with stone wheels, but a change to new Michelin run flats made a remarkable difference. The ride is now soft but firm, the engine is flawless and powerful. Acceleration is rocket like and quiet, and in general the car is bullet proof and there will definitely be another Lexus in our future. Forgot to mention the sound system is amazing and the top storage operation smooth as butter. The compliments never stop, so I don’t get the sour grapes, and comparing it to a Buick Rivera is like comparing a Timex watch to a Dag Hauer. I wish the Audis I’ve owned were as reliable and cheap to maintained. No matter what else we buy in the future, this sweet car will always be in our family.

  • avatar

    Recently bought a used 2008 SC430 w only 34K on it for only 27K…car is NICE..ride is great! Drove to Oregon from LA across mountain ranges etc..whoever said it doesn’t handle is high…these cars are a STEAL in the market right now considering this one was 70K new..the production figures are very low so you won’t see yourself driving down the street like all you BMW and Mercedes boy and girl CLONES…lol..go ahead and drive what EVERYBODY else has..I’ll stick to my 430…and looking forward to the new 2017 SC coupe coming soon…see ya in the fast lane…

  • avatar

    Holding a drink, I could be the last one at this party but the comment about, ‘cougars and their plastic surgeons alike’ stirred my senses.
    I suppose that cougars will fancy just about any car that’s stylish, that draws a man’s attention. And plastic surgeons will likely drive Porsche’s and Mercedes since these are upper-crust, more expensive cars.

    Like Bill Viverette, I’ve worked hard most my life and have recently rewarded myself to a 2004 white/saddle SC430 with 73,000 miles, 13 years after it had left the showroom. My SC430 with original paint and leather is like new. The drive train whispers thru the freeways, the suspension is like straddling on a big cat, agile and supple over bumps and along curves.

    Just so you know, I acquired the SC430 for the hard convertible top, the 4 seats, the V-8 power, the Lexus/Toyota reliability. The rear seats are perfect if I desperately need them, say picking up several people from the airport with luggage. The V-8 power is exactly the what’s needed on the Florida Gulf freeways, maneuvering thru the byways in an open-top, breezing past the brawling Harleys, the flashy Bimmers, outguessing the clever Priuses. Without being said, driving slow with inability to accelerate quickly is unsafe to today’s roads.

    Today’s cars with their awkward noses and angular lines look arrogant and showy. The SC430 has aged well. Ostentatious? Perhaps 15 years ago, but not now. The body lines are smooth, the paint colors are modest. The car is a natural beauty and doesn’t show wear or wrinkles. Therefore, I couldn’t see a plastic surgeon driving in one of these cars.

  • avatar

    I’m neither cougar nor plastic anything except perhaps last through the door on this. I’ve been hugely fortunate to have grown up with a dad who loves luxury and sports cars, so we always had sexy autos to drive. My fav of all time was what he just parted ways with – his original ’73 Jaguar XKE v12 convertible. Of course, it’s strictly a two-seater with no small back seat, but we didn’t mind the (cough) hardship.

    I mention car history only to indicate I was trained well to appreciate good cars and yet I’m currently a PROUD and appreciable owner of a 2002 Lexus SC430 NM Silver Belle edition, 1 of the only 100 made. I purchased it used when it had barely two years and 10K on her shapely but not overly-designed, psuedo-looking something chassis. She’s adorable in her candy cane red hand-stitched leathers and unique Thundercloud Grey-colored outerwear and I especially love the looks she gets when she drops her top. We’ve been paired for 15 years now, she’s never let me down, her maintenance is low, and I still get excited taking her places. I’m petite and have allowed myself to ride passenger in the back seat and we’ve also tucked a couple of nieces/nephews there, too. And many are the times that *worthless* back seat has come in handy for transporting non-people items! I couldn’t care less if Silver Belle never merits collection status. And I love there aren’t 50 of the same looking vehicles remotely near me on any given drive.

    The amount of abuse dumped on the SC430 here is so surprising to me, the thrill of the put-down, seemingly each trying to be more clever than the next. It leaves this female thinking the men on board with the “cougars and their plastic surgeons” description are perchance “beer-bellied bullies with wallets emptier than their heads.” Hmmm, while having been raised by a car snob, I was also taught not to trash other people’s things. To each, their pleasure.

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