Digestible Collectible: 2002 Lexus IS300

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

Car enthusiasts, to outsiders, are an odd bunch. We refer to cars by their model codes or platform names. We take photos of random, interesting cars just because. We argue on forums about the relative merits of various brands of oil. However, we are useful to those outsiders when it comes to advice. Family, friends and co-workers all come to us for recommendations on cars, tires and service. At times, the volume of requests can be overwhelming, but otherwise we appreciate being appreciated.

For example years ago, a good friend once asked me to help him choose between two late-model used cars, a Lexus IS and a BMW 3-series (E46, I think). He’s a car guy, so the advice differed than that I’d give to a non-enthusiast. Simply because he was a BMW fanatic, I told him to get the 3 over the Lexus, because he’d regret not having the roundel years down the road.

Had it been my money, I’d have picked up the Lexus without thinking twice. Late-model BMWs seem to have so many funky and pricey maintenance needs that even paying Lexus dealer prices might be preferable to DIYing a 3er.

This 2002 Lexus IS300 looks to be a fine example, and a somewhat unusual one with a manual transmission and limited-slip differential. The Carfax is clean, though careful inspection is warranted due to the Wisconsin location. The photo may be decieving, too, as the front right fender looks a bit discolored compared to the rest of the car. Its 112,000 miles on the odometer isn’t too bad, considering the reliability record of the wonderfully smooth Toyota 2JZ straight-six.

An oddity I’ve seen while shopping for the IS is the tendency to call the automatic transmission a manual — or occasionally, an manuel. The gated shifter for the slushbox may be throwing some dealership personnel for a loop. Its asking price of $12,000 might be a bit high for this, as the market seems to be in the $8,000-$11,000 range, but there should be room to negotiate.

Funny enough, my BMW-nut friend messaged me tonight as I was writing this. We are now headed to Indiana this weekend to buy a Lexus.

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • ANTItoyota ANTItoyota on Nov 22, 2015

    This is an example of an ugly piece of TRASH toyota

    • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Nov 27, 2015

      Oh look, we have a mentally handicapped visitor here. Welcome to the site.

  • Rjammy Rjammy on Feb 24, 2018

    I bought a 2001 bmw 325. My wife bought a 2002 IS300. For many years, I was smug about my bmw, it was vastly better than the Lexus although I must say the Lexus had a sweet engine. But the bmw became a maintenance nightmare and it’s long gone. We still have the Lexus and I now admit it is the better car. It’s simply bulletproof and very cheap to run. Thinking about restoring it and continuing to keep it as a summer car.

  • Lou_BC Was he at GM for 47 years or an engineer for 47 years?
  • Ajla The VW vote that was held today heavily favored unionization (75/25). That's a very large victory for the UAW considering such a vote has failed two other times this decade at that plant.
  • The Oracle Just advertise ICE vehicles by range instead of MPG and let the market decide.
  • Lou_BC Collective bargaining provides workers with the ability to counter a rather one-sided relationship. Let them exercise their democratic right to vote. I found it interesting that Conservative leaders were against unionization. The fear there stems from unions preferring left leaning political parties. Wouldn't a "populist" party favour unionization?
  • Jrhurren I enjoyed this