4 Reasons to Buy a Lexus SC300 / SC400 Today

Have you ever wanted to own a Lexus SC300? Better yet, have you ever wanted to own a Toyota Supra? A lot of car enthusiasts don’t even know what the Lexus SC is. It’s stuck in the Supra’s shadow, so no one really seems to talk about. But, there are four good reasons to go out and buy one today.

4. Toyota Supra

If you’re new to the SC300 and SC400, then you probably don’t realize that they are closely related to the Toyota Supra. The Supra being the big brother to the SC300 is a common misconception. In reality, the SC300 is the big brother to the MK4 Supra. They share the same engine and transmission, and they also share similar subframes, which means they share the similar suspension. They also share the same braking system and lots of the same electronics. Mechanically, the SC300 and SC400 are nearly identical to the Toyota Supra in every single way.

Also Read: 1JZ vs 2JZ: Which One is Better and Why?

I’m sure you know of the Supra being a tuner icon, so the aftermarket parts list is almost endless. Almost any aftermarket part that will bolt on to a Toyota Supra will also bolt onto an SC300, and any non-engine related parts will bolt on to a SC400. Plus, have you seen the prices for the MK4 Supra? It’s just like the 240SX’s “Drift Tax”, you’re paying way extra just because the car is popular in JDM culture. Even if the car is beaten to hell, it’ll be priced fairly high just because it can sell for that much. Ever since the first Fast and Furious, the MK4 Supra has skyrocketed in value. I would rather have its much cheaper little brothers, the SC300 and SC400.

3. Styling

Whether you love or hate the styling of the SC300/SC400, there’s no denying it’s unique. It screams “I’m a sports car!” with its long hood and low roofline, but has a classy and elegant look. There’s not a car on the market today that has such an elegant style, Toyota really knew what they were doing in the ’90s. There isn’t a super strong resemblance to the Supra, but you can tell that they’re related. If the SC300/SC400 came with a larger rear wing, we think it would look like a little Supra and probably be way more popular in the car community. Pieces of the design have become a little dated, but overall it’s one of the most elegant two doors to come out of Japan.

Check Out: LS1 vs LS3: Which One is Actually Better?

There are few body lines on the SC, and they are very subtle. It’s as elegant as a car could ever be. It’s almost weird to call this car JDM because it looks so german. It doesn’t look like a tuner type of car If it uses more aggressive lines and a sharper overall design, it would look more like a tuner car. We think that’s what makes it so special, it’s a weird mix of JDM heritage and elegant styling. David Patterson (ThatDudeInBlue) recently reviewed an SC300, and he also says it’s a very elegant and beautiful car.

2. Over-Engineered Luxury

Everyone knew Toyota for the extreme over-engineering in the ’90s, that’s why the Supra was so costly and ended up going out of production. So take that same over-engineering, and combine it with a luxury car, and you’ll end up with a Lexus SC. Not too many cars from the ’90s had memory seats, power everything, beautiful wood trim, and very subtle leather. The SC300 and SC400 were top of the line back then, combining incredible sound deadening, beautiful interior, and the great ride quality. The same over-engineered luxury featured made their way to the Lexus LS400, winning it loads of awards for being such an amazing, luxurious car.

Check Out: RB26 vs 2JZ: Which One is Better and Why?

Even little things like the door hinges are ridiculously over-engineered. Don’t believe me? Check out the picture below, the hinges are a double hinge design.

LexusDoorHinge

There are tons of other little things like ridiculously over-engineered like the door hinges. Lexus built the SC300 and SC400 as a next-level luxury sports couple. The SC300 and SC400 are still just as nice if not nicer than most luxury cars today.

1. Engines

As mentioned earlier, the SC300 shares its 2JZ engine with the Toyota Supra. The 2JZ is an excellent motor, holding up to high horsepower on stock internals is an impressive feat. Plus, with the aftermarket that the Toyota Supra has created, getting your SC300 over 400 horsepower is super. Slap on a big turbo, head studs, better fuel system, and you’ll be making north of 400whp like its nothing. The problem is, most SC300s ended up with an automatic transmission, which is great for cruising around and daily driving, but becomes problematic when cranking the power up.

The SC400 has the 1UZ engine. It’s not too often that Japanese cars come with a V8 and it is cool to see Japan make one. The 1UZ is known for running forever, Matt Farah from The Smoking Tire has his “Million-Mile Lexus,” a LS400 which he is attempting to push past 1 million miles. Unfortunately, my SC400 was unreliable regarding the engine, but the failures I experienced were from previous owners abusing the vehicle.

Also Read: Here’s Why The 1UZ is so Awesome

The 1UZ-FE was a technological feat for production cars. It was one was one the first DOHC V8 engines that was reliable and in a car that wasn’t insanely expensive. Lexus designed the 1UZ to be a very strong and reliable engine. The 1UZ’s short stroke and big bore allow it to rev to the moon. Think of it almost like a 1990s Ford Coyote engine. It also has 6-bolt main caps, which we often praise the Chevy LS for.

In its last form the 1UZ had a 10.5 compression ratio, and Toyota’s VVT-i and it made 300 horsepower. That’s an impressive amount of horsepower considering its small displacement. Compared to today’s standards, 300 horsepower is relatively weak but in the ’90s if was a very respectable number. If you think about it, the 1UZ is basically a 4.0L version of Ford’s Coyote engine. Not only is the 1UZ reliable, it also makes decent power especially considering its only a 4.0L.

Summary

The Lexus SC is basically a nicer, more luxurious Toyota Supra. But, unlike the Supra, you have multiple engine choices. Plus, the SC is cheaper than an MK4 Supra. Even by today’s standards the SC300 is a nice car, and with prices so low, now is the time to get one for yourself! As I mentioned above, my personal SC was unreliable and ended up failing

SC300 vs SC400
So, you’ve decided that you definitely want one of these cars, understandable. But, now you’re stuck with a decision: SC300 or SC400? Considering both platforms are identical other than power-train, the SC300 is the better option. I know the 1UZ is an awesome engine, but the 2JZ is better especially on a budget. Coming from someone who owned a SC400, get a SC300 if you plan on getting an SC at all.

About Bryce Cleveland 284 Articles
Bryce founded Dust Runners Automotive Journal in 2014 as a way to write about the cars he found interesting. He currently owns a 2003 Honda CRF450R Supermoto, 2006 Nissan 350Z, and a 2018 Yamaha MT09. Follow him on Instagram for more @bryce.cleveland.

22 Comments

  1. i love my 96 lexus sc400 it’s stock but handles excellent , like you said over engineered super reliable sports car. it’s 21 years old but fast and quiet. mine is unmolested very hard to find in this condition. if you see a nice one buy it……….thanks kurt..

    • I have a 97 sc300,don’t want too lose but I’m having electrical problems willing to sell engines great trans is gray and with rims with meat on tires 4000 as is

  2. Owners understand the SC attraction or connection. Auto manufacturers are hard pressed to replicate such an original vehicle, in both design and performance. The original designers from Cal can be seen and heard on the dealer intro commercial found on YouTube. You must believe that the statement of designing based on emotion came to fruition. I have an all stock 92 SC400 with 87,000 miles. I do not drive it during the winter months or when rain is forecast. The thrill to drive come April/May is special every year. Thanks for the article Kurt, and keeping our SC alive and well.

  3. i bought an 1995 SC400 2 weeks ago from an old grandma, it only has 100k miles and was in great condition especially because i bought it for only 2k. Coming from a 2015 Mustang V6 im already really impressed with it, I plan on modding the ever living crap out of it and then getting a 5.0 mustang and having both. I love how “cheap” the parts are and the fact it can share stuff with the Supra. Very glad i bought it, and very glad to be apart of this SC community.

  4. I own a 92 sc300 that i swapped a 1jz TT into from a toyota soarer 🙂 itll be my first time registering it this spring. Great write up.

  5. Talk about over engineered, just take a peek at the door hinges! Mammoth. I have a 1996 sc400 in VG cond.. The right motor(v8),the right color(pearl white),the right wheels(OEM chrome 16” twisted 7-spoke)and the right mileage(160k). All original except for the battery & radio.

  6. My father is a big fan of the Lexus brand, and my sister and I wanted to surprise him with this car. But, before doing so, I wanted to do some research if it’s worth it to buy. It seems that it is after all. Like what you said in this article, it has incredible sound, aesthetically pleasing interior, and amazing ride quality. That sums it up. I can’t wait to see my father’s reaction.

  7. Thanks for the review. Could anybody clarify the fact that the supra and lexus shared the same frame. I have a 91 Supra MKIII and would like to know if the lexus parts are compatible with this year.
    Thank you

  8. I have a 1994 SC300 that I purchased pre-owned in ’97. It had about 30K miles when purchased and now has just over 100K. It has a factory 5-speed manual transmission, which is the reason I purchased this particular model. Within a year of purchase I had done a considerable amount of customization, e.g., lowered 1″ (Eibach springs) with Tokiko shocks/struts but the main mod was installation of a turbocharger. About five years ago I had the pop-off valve replaced (weak spring)and a new boost controller installed. On the dyno it now produces 338 rwhp with a modest 13 psi boost. It also now has 20″ chrome three-spoke wheels and custom white sparkle pearl paint. It also has aftermarket front and rear head/tail lamps. The only significant problem is the gauge cluster, the fuel and temp gauges don’t work and some of the backlights are also non-functioning. I do have a line on a couple of shops that may be able to fix the issue but haven’t followed through on a repair to date.

  9. Go to Tannin Electronics for your cluster lighting and temp controls. You have to take these out yourself and send them in the mail. There are youtube videos showing this. They did mine about 3 years and did a great job. You can choose OEM colors or others.

  10. Ever since the MKIII or A70 supra it’s has been a mechanical twin tow the Toyota Soarer (Z20 chassis in the 80 and Z30 in the 90s – SC in the states) The Soarer IS the OG sports coupe that allowed the supra to finally move away from it’s Celica roots. Think of the SC as the mature higher quality Sporty “dad” of the Supra. Toyota engineered the Soarer to be the end all of sports coupes, then pulled out all the luxury and added less “formal” styling for the Supra.

    Like the Camaro and Firebird, the Soarer/SC and Supra are literally the same under the skin except for the soarer’s V8 option in the Z30 chassis.

  11. I think its important to note to all the readers that the 2jz ge that came in the sc300 is not the same motor as supra 2jz gte, different internals/compression and missing those wonderful turbos that make it fun…just to clarify

  12. I owned one for over 10 years 92′ in white. 152k miles on it when my daughter totalled it………………uggggggg. Best car I ever had. Looking for another creme puff.

  13. I currently own an SC400 and have also owned a 300. Both are amazing after adding upgrades, such as suspension, brakes, exhaust and engine. Very stiff chassis..make an awesome performance platform! I personally favor the 400 and could argue, that with the battery relocated to the trunk, it likely has better weight distribution than the SC300 and the V8 is my favorite… I could go on, but, I’ll just say, the Lexus SC3 & 4 are incredible cars and very few realize it!

  14. Hello, Bryce. I am thinking of getting a SC400.
    Why did you say…
    Coming from someone who owned a SC400, get a SC300, if you plan on getting an SC at all.

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