Home Car 1992 Lexus SC400 Marked a Main Departure

1992 Lexus SC400 Marked a Main Departure

1992 Lexus SC400 Marked a Main Departure


From the June 1991 subject of Automobile and Driver.

The brand new Lexus SC400 coupe is as rounded and slippery and slick as a caplet of Further-Energy Tylenol. The massive dif­ference is, this child will trigger complications.

Think about that your home funds and your youngsters’ new sneakers rely indirectly on gross sales of Mercedes-Benz or BMW or Cadillac or Lincoln cars. The Lexus model has already skimmed your gravy with the LS400, a four-door that lures away your clients like a reduction Hope Dia­mond. However that is solely the four-door market. You’ve got nonetheless received your coupe clients. They’d no extra be seen in a four-door than they’d in a leisure swimsuit. However, amazingly, you possibly can present them an artificial coupe—what quantities to a sedan with half the variety of doorways—and so they write the test. Fairly nifty gambit so long as it really works.

In case you’re counting on artificial coupes to maintain the youngsters in Keds, then the migraine throb will kick in as quickly as your customized­ers see this actual coupe from Lexus, the model that may do no fallacious within the four-­door market. As a result of this isn’t a made­-over sedan. It is a new automobile, with a wholly new look, a brand new suspension, and a brand new persona. About all of the SC400 coupe shares with the LS400 sedan is the extravagantly easy and highly effective 4­-cam, 32-valve V-8, which everyone loves already.

Beginning to fear in regards to the repo man coming for the Sony, leaving the youngsters with out Sesame Road? Properly, this subsequent bit of reports will not assist. Lexus boss J. Da­vis Illingworth says, “We’ll worth this automobile the place we expect the customized­ers are.” In plain English, which means a window sticker low sufficient to maneuver the iron. The synthetic-coupe makers typi­cally take two doorways away from their se­dans and make up for it by elevating the value. Lexus has baked a contemporary new recipe and can undercut the sedan’s $40,285 base worth.

How can different manufacturers compete? First, they’d must be as severe about busi­ness as Toyota is. The world’s third-larg­est automaker is decided to seize a giant hunk of the market’s sirloin. Two years in the past—again when Lexus was only a identify, not a automobile—there have been doubts {that a} Japa­nese sedan might ever sit on the head ta­ble with Mercedes and BMW. Toyota shouldered its method into status territory the old school method—with a greater product. The LS400 has high quality, consolation, and efficiency; the sellers deal with the shoppers; and the value is correct. It is so simple as that. And amaz­ingly, the bystanders are as charmed because the patrons. Even taxi drivers hacking alongside of their drained Caprices converse admir­ingly of Lexus.

For the opponents, this SC400 coupe quantities to piling on. It is a energy play. The coupe just isn’t held again by a must share components with the sedan. The coupe is constructed to do what a coupe ought to do: be trendy to the attention, be energetic to the contact, be spectacular to the Sharper Im­age set. This quantities to the creation of a brand new automobile, and few carmakers are severe sufficient in regards to the coupe enterprise to go to all that hassle. Toyota, maybe alone on the planet now, is that severe. That is why the SC400 will trigger so many head­aches for the opposite fancy labels.

The variations between coupe and sedan are in all places. The coupe—bought in Japan because the Soarer—is about six inch­es shorter total on a five-inch-shorter wheelbase. Monitor is about 1.5 inches nar­rower, and weight about 180 kilos lighter. Each use the identical V-8 to drive the rear wheels (an inline-six might be­come obtainable in autumn, with an op­tional five-speed handbook transmission).

The mechanical variations encompass­ing the V-8 are many: The coupe has a shorter first gear within the four-speed auto­matic and a shorter last drive for higher acceleration, bigger disc brakes throughout, sixteen-inch wheels as an alternative of the sedan’s fifteens, a wholly totally different suspension for improved dynamics, and some radical improvements to astound the In style Science reader. Topmost on this listing is the radiator fan powered by a hy­draulic motor. When requested why he used this method, chief engineer Seihachi Takahashi pale into Japanese inscruta­bility. “As a result of it is one of the simplest ways,” he stated. “Quieter.”

Some behind-the-scenes probing re­vealed the supply of the quietness. The standard thermostatically managed electrical fan is both off, during which case it is com­pletely silent, or it’s on and due to this fact producing a substantial air-rush sound. The hydraulic fan is a variable­-speed association, so, in some modes, it could be on however at such low speeds you will not discover.

When the LS400 sedan was previewed within the press practically two years in the past, it usually acquired excessive reward for its engi­neering and condescension for its styl­ing. “Kind of like a Mercedes,” individuals stated. “Bought a giant grille in entrance.” Japanese vehicles are created by groups which might be typical­ly organized fairly in another way from the way in which the remainder of the world does it. In Ja­pan, the physique designers report back to the chief engineer, who has veto energy over something he does not like.

Detroit designers would relatively stroll picket traces than work below an engineer. They suppose that an engineer would divert them towards stern and boring vehicles. Possibly. However that is not what occurred within the case of the SC400. Chief engineer Takahashi is understood to have fallen in love with the primary clay proposal despatched to Japan from Toyota’s Calty Design Analysis, Inc., in Newport Seashore, California. Takahashi now calls the automobile an “unique American design.” He appreciated the early form a lot that he would not surrender on it, though it was, on the time, unbuildable by all recognized strategies.

Principal designers on the challenge had been two California males: Dennis Camp­bell, who had stints at Ford and Chrysler earlier than becoming a member of Calty in 1980, and Erwin Lui, whose profession started at Calty in 1982. Lui now speaks of the SC400 as a “de­signer’s dream come true,” and he cred­its the engineers. There have been instances when he too was prepared to surrender and calm down the design to one thing extra typical so it might be constructed, however Takahashi would not let him. Takahashi was decided about this coupe, and he was backed by an equally decided entrance workplace. Collectively they went the additional kilo­meter to discover a technique to construct a sensible automobile within the designers’ form.

The issues all stemmed from the rounded nature of the SC400’s design, notably the nostril, which seems semicircular as you look down on it from above. All that roundness eliminates the corners. After all! However then the place do you set all the required parts which might be usually pushed out into the corners? In case you look below the hood of the LS400, there is no empty house. So how might the engineers probably match the identical tools into even tighter quarters?

Take into account the headlights. Entrance cor­ners are good for headlights. However whenever you spherical off the entrance corners, and roll again the vertical face above the bumper in order that it rapidly blends into the sloping hood, the conventional headlight house is gone. The headlights find yourself again in opposition to the radiator bulkhead the place you’d must do a significant teardown simply to vary a bulb. What to do? Initially, all the lighting was meant to suit right into a single easy module in every nook. However that wasn’t doable. The projector high-beam a part of the module required an excessive amount of depth. The ultimate resolution sepa­rated the excessive beams from the module and positioned them inboard, the place depth behind was higher, with their very own ovoid lenses, and on the similar time creat­ed what’s going to certainly grow to be one of many SC400’s most talked-about particulars.

As soon as the design was accredited by Toyota, Lui went to Japan to see it by means of the transition to a manufacturing form. With the designer readily available, Toyota thought, the true essence of the unique would extra possible be preserved within the last automobile. Once more, extra proof of Toyota’s willpower. Lui remembers confronting the “exhausting factors” for the primary time. Laborious factors signify equip­ment that needs to be within the automobile, equivalent to the highest of the consumption manifold and the bat­tery. The engineers got here to the clay mannequin and drove pegs into it to the depth of the exhausting factors. Quite a lot of pegs poked outdoors the rounded form. Some surfaces had been moved to accommodate them, however Lui says that Takahashi did ev­erything he might to relocate and re­form inner parts. The coupe’s air cleaner, for instance, is a wholly dif­ferent form than the sedan’s. We discover additionally that the coupe’s entrance suspension positions its higher wishbones a lot decrease within the automobile, which might enable extra space within the engine compartment.

The unique design had a fair smaller grille opening in entrance, too small to chill the engine, Takahashi stated. So the opening was enlarged. To maintain it as small as doable, nonetheless, the engineers reached for a technique generally used on racing vehicles however uncommon on the highway—they constructed a duct that channels all the incoming air by means of the radiator.

Further engineering is obvious in two different areas too, areas that may certainly make the coupe friendlier to passengers. The doorways swing on advanced four-bar hinges that transfer the entrance and the highest of the doorways farther out of the opening than regular hinges would. Again-seat passen­gers may even admire the ability fea­ture of the passenger-side entrance seat that slides it ahead on its monitor when the backrest is folded. Each of those options repay in simpler entry and exit.

We have pushed solely preproduction sam­ples of the SC400 at this level, so we’ll hold the driving impressions basic. This automobile shares the inside temper of the sedan—fantastically sculptured shapes lined in nice textures and pastel col­ors. Leather-based is commonplace tools, as is hen’s-eye maple sprint and door trim. The devices, as on the sedan, are self-illuminated each time they’re oper­ating, which makes for an exceptionally legible show. The windshield slopes steeply, nevertheless it’s positioned effectively ahead, thereby minimizing the solar-cooker ef­fect on the occupant’s laps.

We have drastically admired the four-door for the way in which during which it combines a silent, plush experience with trusty dealing with. The coupe’s persona is kind of totally different. The physique is quiet, however the engine talks. Toyota thought a coupe ought to be sporty. The shorter gearing will get the V-8 up within the revs faster. The retuned in­take and exhaust acoustics now flip the engine sound right into a scream whenever you tip into it, albeit a refined scream. And the whipped cream has been eradicated from the experience. The coupe’s motions are extremely damped. You positively really feel the contours of the highway now, though a lot of the harshness is filtered out.

This automobile is fantastically executed, very a lot a designer piece each inside and outside. In our view, the plush silence of the LS400 appears a loftier accomplishment, but the SC400 has the sporting angle that is solely lacking from the sedan. Clearly, these two vehicles are meant for various patrons.

And that, in flip, means complications for a brand new group of sellers. The artificial­-coupe enterprise won’t ever be the identical.

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1992 Lexus SC400
Car Sort: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2+2-passenger, 2-door coupe


DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and head, port gasoline injection

Displacement: 242 in3, 3969 cm3

Energy: 250 hp @ 5600 rpm

Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm

 4-speed automated


Wheelbase: 105.9 in

Size: 191.1 in

Width: 70.5 in
Peak: 52.6 in

Passenger Quantity, F/R: 55/30 ft3
Trunk Quantity: 9 ft3
Curb Weight (C/D est): 3600 lb


60 mph: 6.9 sec
1/4-Mile: 15.3 sec

High Pace: 150 mph

Metropolis/Freeway: 18/23 mpg 



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