Digestible Collectible: 2002 Lexus IS300

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.

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  • ToolGuy The only good thing about this car is the wheelbase.
  • MaintenanceCosts So someone really did build that car I drew while not paying attention in second grade. Too bad they screwed it up so badly.
  • MaintenanceCosts A bit after that experience, my family ended up owning an '88 Accord and an '87 Taurus--Detroit's big triumph--at the same time. The win for the Accord wasn't total; the Taurus's engine was better and it was quieter. But the difference in build quality and refinement can't be overstated.There were no rattles in the Accord, the materials are to this day some of the best in any car I've ever owned, every control operated with precision and just the right feel, and the ergonomics were perfect. By contrast, the Taurus was full of rattles from the day we got it, had hard plastic and slapdash fits all over the interior, had mouse-fur upholstery that showed wear by 60k miles, some parts of the control layout were nonsensical, and my car had a number of obvious assembly defects (including silver front bumper paint that all peeled off within five years). The cars' records in service also contrasted dramatically; the Taurus's lower purchase price (as a used car with similar mileage) was totally offset within a few years by higher repair costs.The thing that really puts an exclamation point on the contrast between the two cars is just how much better the Taurus was than its Fox-based predecessors.
  • Art Vandelay I am sure somewhere, somebody is saddened by this.
  • Dukeisduke It's becoming the norm for cats to be moved out of state for sale, and even out of the country. The thieves are looking for the easiest places to get rid of them, as laws tighten down in some places. Here in Texas, catalytic converter theft became a felony last September 1, so the stakes are going up.A couple months back, an off-duty Harris County (Houston) sheriff's deputy leaving a grocery store was murdered in the parking lot by a thief that was in the process of stealing the cat from his truck. As far as I know, they're still looking for the suspect, who would be charged with capital murder, and subject to the death penalty.