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Spotted: a Lexus SC 430

February 17, 2023

The history of the Lexus SC actually begins back in 1981, when Toyota introduced the Soarer to the Japanese market. The new model replaces the coupe versions of the Mark II and Crown, models in which luxury predominated above all else. The Soarer takes a slightly different tack. The luxury does remain, but is complemented by sportiness. This made the Soarer one of the first models in the segment of such Japanese sporty-luxury coupes, which still do have its fans.

Lexus SC provides expansion

In 1991, it was already time for the third generation Toyota Soarer. In doing so, Toyota takes a slightly different approach. The car will be designed by the brand’s American design studio, and North America will also be the coupe’s main market. The Toyota Soarer name, however, remains reserved for Japan. For America, they are taking the opportunity to provide the then-new luxury sub-brand Lexus with a fitting coupe. This should make Lexus even more competitive with the established brands in the luxury segment, all of which also offer a coupe.

Whereas the Toyota Soarer sticks as much as possible to the concept of its predecessors in terms of positioning, the Lexus version puts more emphasis on luxury. Also, the Lexus SC is only available with the Soarer’s two largest engines: the 3.0-liter six-in-line and the 4.0-liter V8. This translates into the type designations SC 300 and SC 400. Also, the Lexus comes only with four- and five-speed automatic transmissions, where the Toyota version also offers a manual transmission.

Second-generation Lexus SC

The Lexus SC scored quite well and even remained in production through 2000 without too many changes. This does welcome the arrival of the second generation for model year 2001. Once again, they are tackling some things a little differently. Most obvious is the design. Not only is the new model more clearly recognizable as a Lexus, the styling is also emphatically American. Moreover, the fixed roof gives way to a steel convertible roof, as was all the rage in those years. Finally, the sportiness does disappear a bit more into the background and the Lexus SC has become primarily a luxury convertible.

The engine range has become nice and clear. The car comes only as a Lexus SC 430, with a 215 kW (293 hp) powerful 4.3-liter V8 under the hood. The transmission is always a five-speed automatic, although it will be replaced by a six-speed as of the 2006 model year. In Japan, the car is redelivered as Toyota Soarer. When the Lexus brand was also introduced in homeland Japan in 2006, the coupe was renamed Lexus SC 430 there as well. The Lexus SC 430, again without too many changes, will remain in production through model year 2010.

The spotted specimen

On the A12, we came across a second-generation Lexus SC 430 near Doorn. To be precise, it is a 2004 copy, which has been in the Netherlands since 2019. Although this example was imported, this second generation was also officially delivered in the Netherlands. Not surprisingly, the large luxury convertible was not a sales success here. At the time of writing there are still 291 examples of this generation on Dutch registration plates, but more than half of them were imported later.

(G)a successor to the Lexus SC?

Sales of the Lexus SC had declined sharply in recent production years. Along with the fact that the car’s market segment was shrinking anyway, Toyota/Lexus decided not to develop a new model generation. You could see the Lexus LC introduced in 2017 as a successor, but an indirect one. The Lexus LC is also a sport-luxury coupe or convertible, but positioned in a higher market segment.