1996 Toyota Soarer / Lexus SC300 (2JZ-GE Engine)
Just Gorgeous! What a Beautiful Car to Have! A Mid ‘90s Toyota Soarer / Lexus SC300
Define elegance. Define beauty. Define what makes a truly beautiful car. Can you? I can’t. But I can give you examples of cars that are truly beautiful, cars that are just so nice to look at, and the mid ’90s Toyota Soarer (the Lexus SC300 and SC400) is right up there with the best. With the long-nosed beauties like the Jaguar E-Type,
the Toyota 2000GT,
and the Ferrari 250GTO,
you’ll find the Soarer.
Japan is noted worldwide as a land of great beauty. (It’s also noted as a land of great cars.) The mountains, the sea coasts, the old temples and shrines, the girls (a-hem!…none of that now). I remember once touring around in my MR2 and going up a winding and very lovely mountain road to an old temple overlooking the sea. It was a true beauty spot. We parked at the top to admire the view and then a guy (with the required beautiful girl, of course) in a clean, black Soarer (an SC400 it was, the one with the big V8) pulled into the parking lot and stopped just a few yards from us. The clear hill top summer light showed how good looking the car was. I spent as much time admiring that Toyota Soarer as I did the ocean view!
Mid ‘90s for Best Japanese Used Car Value
The guys who follow our Japan Car Direct Blog (here) will know that I am a fan of Japanese cars from the 1990s and that I, and many others, consider them to be pretty well the best when it comes to good used car buys, especially for people in the USA and Australia who want to import a used car from Japan under the easy-to-import 25 year-old used cars rules for those countries. (You’ll find the used car import rules for America here and for Australia here.)
For a good, clean used Japanese car from the ‘90s, 25 years old is nothing; 150,000km, 200,000km on the clock is nothing. My wife’s Kei (light) class car was built in 1995 and just turned the odometer over to 200,000km last week and he’s a zero problems car and has had regular maintenance only.
Our customer in Ireland, who recently imported the beautiful black three-liter Soarer that we are looking at now,
is getting a car with about 160,000km on him and with many, many years and miles left to go. Gosh, I wish that I could tell you what our customer paid for this clean used Soarer, but our company rules don’t permit that, but…..aaaah!….he got it for very little, I can at least tell you that. He got a really good deal, which is what the Japanese used car auctions are all about: Good used cars from Japan at good prices. And note that I said “used cars from Japan,” because it’s not only used Japanese cars, like Toyota, Nissan, Honda and the others that our customers, our “Winnermen,” as we call them, are scoring by importing direct from Japan themselves, it’s also good used European cars bought in Japan, German cars like Mercedes Benz, AMG, Porsche, especially the 911 series, (have a look here, and here) and Italian cars like Ferrari, and Maserati, and cars like the Lancia Delta (see here, and here) that are drawing people who are “in the know” to the Japanese used car market.
Background on the Soarer (Lexus SC300/400)
The Soarer itself (known in the States as the Lexus SC300/SC400, depending on the engine option) is a perfect example of my “Japanese Mid ‘90s Are Best” experience. I myself have had a number of great Japanese cars from the 1990s and they have all been absolute winners: My Celica GT-Four, my Toyota Crown (police model, Guys, feel free to weep in jealousy), my MR2 (t-top), my Impreza WRX STi (scary rocket fast machine), my Mitsubishi Minica Dangan (a pocket supercar), these have all been a joy to own and to drive and have given me many years and miles of great motoring. Used Japanese mid ‘90s cars are the best, and this 1996 Soarer shows why: It’s beautiful, has a strong chassis, has all the good features you want but avoids the crappy, silly mandates that seem to be on pretty well all modern cars these days; he has a bullet-proof iron-block engine that has excellent specific power (the three liter 2JZ-GE in this car puts out 225ps at 6,000rpm and 29kg/m of torque at 4,800rpm), and just lasts and lasts. These engines are famous, and you should see what tuners at the drift track are getting (reliably) from the turbo-charged versions of these JZ series power plants: A guy in my old company dynod his Chaser (X100 chassis) at 550ps and that car was his daily driver,
and one of my customers in the UK was getting 800ps from his Supra 80. (It put him in the ditch one time, but the engine was always reliable, even running high boost.)
Now I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here, but I just love to praise these mid ‘90s Japanese cars. I praise them for their mechanical integrity, I praise them for their good looks. The Soarer, like the MR2 (SW20 chassis), and the Celica (ST205 chassis), is a true beauty from those 1990s years when Toyota had lots of money for R and D and lots of spirit for design freedom. (Of course, the initial design work itself was going on in the studios in the mid to late 1980s.)
The earlier Soarers, like the Z20 chassis cars,
were following the sharp lines school of car body design, but the Soarer in the ‘90s, the Z30 chassis type, was a radical departure into the world of three dimensional curves. The designers were fellows like Erwin Lui at Calty Design Research Incorporated (Toyota’s California design studio) who took some of his inspiration from playing with balloons filled with soft, wet plaster and seeing how the curves worked out. I kid you not, have a look at The Best Toyota Luxury Cars, Part 8, on our Japan Car Direct blog here. And don’t miss Part 7 (here) where you’ll find much more about the earlier Soarers and about the whole luxury sports concept.
The rich curves of my 1990 MR2
were inspired by the muscular thighs of a famous American woman athlete. (She shall remain nameless for the sake of prudence.) I was told this personally by a member of the car’s design team. (He shall also remain nameless for the sake of company secrecy.)
But, in all seriousness, back then Toyota was striving for beautiful cars and they were hitting the mark. This lovely black 1996 Soarer shows that, and the good examples of the Soarer, the Lexus SC300/SC400, that are coming up at the Japanese used car auctions and at the Japanese used car dealers that we work with here in Japan are showing that now is a good time to score these beautiful winner machines that you can (finally!) import yourself to the USA and Australia. Of course, these cars can also be imported to the UK (import rules here), Canada (rules here), New Zealand (here), and, yes indeed and, thank God, Ireland (import rules here).
If you want to import a good, clean, and very beautiful, used Toyota Soarer / Lexus SC from Japan, you can get the ball rolling with us at Japan Car Direct by registering here. It’s always our pleasure to “share the joy” of these and other great second hand cars from Japan.