Lexus is of course known best for its big luxury saloon cars. Perfectly built and with every creature comfort, Toyota's premium brand has performed well in this area against the prestige European marques. Lexus then extended its reach into the four wheel drive and compact executive class using the same formula of bullet proof build quality and bags of goodies and again met with considerable success. In 2001 however they announced a move into the sports car market with the open topped Lexus SC. The word was that the SC would rival class acts like the Mercedes SL and with Lexus' success thus far, that threat was taken seriously. Then the car was introduced and the motoring world kind of shrugged and looked away in a slightly embarrassed manner. Not that there was anything particularly wrong with the car, it just never had the kind of impact enjoyed by the more established brands. That can now count in your favour though. The SC's lack of popularity then means that second hand values now are pretty subdued and you might just find yourself with a bargain.
Bang for your buck
Initial UK test drives of the used Lexus SC in 2001 confirmed what many had expected: the car was aimed squarely at the US, Lexus' most important market. It had all of the typical US characteristics like soft suspension, big, comfortable seats and a bigger, lazy engine that drank petrol at an alarming rate. Lexus did listen to the criticisms though and in 2002 a revised car arrived for the European market. This new model had retuned suspension and new springs and dampers. The engineers at Lexus claimed that this led to crisper handling while actually improving the ride quality of the original car. Whether this was true or not, sales remained defiantly modest. The engineers had another go at the suspension in 2004 and then there was a minor makeover in 2005 but overall the car remained barely changed until it bowed out in 2009. So much for all the bad news but look a bit further and a used Lexus SC for sale has a lot going for it. There is only one trim level but that provides pretty much everything. You get a stonking stereo and a clever foldaway roof that is a wonder of Japanese engineering. You also get clever air conditioning that knows when the roof is down and adjusts itself accordingly. Inside, everything is as luxurious as you would expect, with lots of leather, wood, climate control, satellite navigation and memory seats. Power is provided by a 4.3 litre 282bhp V8 which will get you to 60mph in 6.2 seconds.
What you'll pay
A 2001 Y plate Lexus SC with 68,000 miles on the clock will cost £6,750. One of the last 2009 (59 plate) models meanwhile with just 5,200 miles covered will cost around £23,000. Not bad prices for a car which cost upwards of £50,000 new.
What to check
These cars have turned out to be absolutely rock solid. Apart from the usual accident issues and clocking concerns there really is nothing to report here. Do check out those mileages by cross-checking with dealers' records and look out for grey imports from Japan. That apart, you should be onto a winner.
Based on one of the earliest cars, a new radiator will cost around £850 with an alternator at £700. A starter motor is £450 with rear brake pads a more modest £65. A full new exhaust would be close to £1,000 so do check it is not blowing.
How it drives
This is all pretty much as you would expect from Lexus. Picture yourself cruising on a wide and straight Californian road and you are more or less there. The ride is on the soft side and handling is modest, it does not like getting thrown into corners too much. On the other hand the engine is whisper quiet and the power is delivered smoothly. Those later models which had the suspension retuned for European roads are more taught but this is still a cruiser rather than a true sports car. If you like your motoring on the relaxed side however and you enjoy all those interior creature comforts, a used Lexus SC with its bomb proof build quality can make a solid second hand buy.