Junkyard Find: 1994 Lexus SC400

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

I’ve been seeking out Japanese luxury Junkyard Finds lately, so this fairly straight example of Toyota’s personal luxury coupe of the 1990s seemed worthy of inclusion in the series.

The early SCs were USDM-ized Toyota Soarers with either the Supra’s 3-liter 2JZ six or the 1UZ V8 from the Celsior/LS400.

My ’97 LS400 has this engine, and it’s smooooooth. It wasn’t incredibly powerful (just 256 horses), however, which was something of a weak point for the sporty-looking SC400.

Just like most other 15-plus-year-old German and Japanese high-end machines, when an SC gets a bit battered or develops some expensive mechanical problem, it just isn’t worth keeping alive. I see a lot more LSs than SCs in the self-service yards these days, but the SCs aren’t particularly rare in this context.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Chasingtheturtle Chasingtheturtle on Sep 24, 2012

    Oh, I caught the "most" and was worried that mine might be in that category. I do get your point however -- maybe mine isn't problematic. Let's see how's she's running in three or four weekends after I get some new tires on it and take care of the due (but thankfully not overdue!) maintenance items.

  • Autojim Autojim on Sep 27, 2012

    Couple of interesting things about this car: It has a hydraulic fan drive. In the US, this car and the Camry V6/ES300 of the early 90s (starting with the 1992 model year) had them -- and did not share any components. The US-market LS400 had a big 2-stage AISIN viscous clutch fan and twin electric pushers, but the JDM Celsior had the same hydraulic fan (and no pushers) that the SC400 got here. The fan pump was just replaced with a bearing mount for the viscous fan on the LS400. The ES300/Camry setup used twin pumps on a common shaft - one for power steering, one for the fan, with a common fluid supply that would suck the fan drive side dry first if there was ever a low-fluid condition, while the V8s used a completely stand-alone system. Toyota had a thing for multiple electronic modules. The SC400 had an engine module, a transmission module, a fan drive module, an instrument panel module, an HVAC module, etc. A US car would roll up all the powertrain functions into one module and use a body electronics module for the "hotel" functions. The hydraulic fan drive inspired the similar system on the later Lincoln LS and Nuevo Baby Bird, using the same AISIN motor as the Camry/ES300 but powered by a modified Ford C-III power steering pump. The aborted CDT139 (Jac Nasser, cancelling the CDT139 just as it was getting entertaining: "We're not doing any more projects with Mazda". 6 months later: Ford buys controlling interest in Mazda at behest of Sumitomo Bank) that would have been the 1998 Cougar was going to have a similar system. Yes, I was involved in that. While I did not write the code, I did write the control logic trees used for it. One bit of weirdness from the Toyota control system that had me perplexed was the inclusion of throttle position in the fan logic. Until we had a tip-in fan flare problem (sitting at light with AC on and fan operating at elevated duty cycle, when the light changes and you accelerated, the fan would speed up and make noise). Then I realized they were looking at TP not as an absolute value but for rate-of-change, and would dump fan duty cycle on tip-in, preventing flare. A quick bit of coding later, and we had it fixed. Yeah, this is TL;DR. But my brain needs a break and this was a good outlet. :)

  • El scotto I look forward to watching MTG and Tommy Tuberville when the UAW comes to their states.
  • El scotto Vehicle company white collar (non-union) engineers design the parts and assembly procedures. The UAW members are instructed on how to install the parts. Engineers are also in charge of quality control. The executives are ulimately responible for the quality of their products.
  • Chris P Bacon I don't care either way, the employees have the right to organize, and I'm never going to buy a VW. But.... It would be interesting if the media (HINT HINT) would be able to provide a detailed look at what (if anything) the VW workers gain by unionizing. There will be dues to pay. How much? I bet the current policies, pay and benefits mirror other auto companies. When all is said and done an the first contract signed, my money is on the UAW to be he only ones who really come out ahead. That leads into my next comment. Once a union is voted onto the property, it is almost impossible to get rid of them. Even if the membership feels the union doesn't have their best interests in mind, the hurdles to get rid of them are too high. There were a lot of promises made by the UAW, even if they don't deliver, they'll be in Chattanooga even if the membership decides they made a mistake.
  • 1995 SC How bout those steel tariffs. Wonder if everyone falls into the same camp with respect to supporting/opposing them as they did on the auto tariffs a few weeks ago. Doubt it. Wonder Why that would be?
  • Lorenzo Nice going! They eliminated the "5" numbers on the speedometer so they could get it to read up to 180 mph. The speed limit is 65? You have to guess one quarter of the needle distance between 60 and 80. Virtually every state has 55, 65, and 75 mph speed limits, not to mention urban areas where 25, 35, and 45 mph limits are common. All that guesswork to display a maximum speed the driver will never reach.