10, 8, 6… (Part Two)

Let’s wind the clock back to see some thoughts on the SC from our recent history.

(c) Lexus

The RAC in 2008 said the car was “too soft for Europe” in both style and set up. Honest John (no date specified) thought red best to show off the shapely curves, whereas What Car? opined that non-metallic colours were less desirable, avoid red like the plague and choose black. Ok…

Parker’s have their Pro’s and Con’s section right at the top. Clear and concise, splendid. Pro’s: “Superbly built and reliable, excellent refinement and smooth V8“. Con”s: “Ugly (don’t beat about the bush, mate) poor economy, lifeless steering, dull to drive and impractical. The road tax will be expensive and insurance costs high, being group 47“.

Autocar in March 2018 looked back too with views far from loving. “Ugly, like being strangled at birth, the roof takes twenty five agonising seconds to move and a definitive Marmite car.” That’s two uglies so far and you can guess with the Marmite connection which way their allegiance fell.

The AA in December 2006 thought this of the SC; “its not a first drivers car, a bit bloated, puts comfort above styling and there’s little boot room”. Sounds rather like me. And I don’t mind one jot.

In the boxing ring of the car world, heavyweights are everything. Lightweights are not to be considered and crushed. Period. The SC suffered many blows, the knockout punch in tenth round (2009) which few remember, less care. From research, I’ve yet to find anyone saying “This car may cause offence, sleepiness. Do not operate.” They might as well have, though.

But this is Driven to Write where the underdog is a valued customer. I for one champion the SC. When new, Lexus wanted to show the comparisons with their competitors (this link takes you to the launch pack comparison table) and whilst on paper, the figures do indeed seem favourable. The cold light of day however, along with the pejorative bias of the press almost managed to stifle the child before it could develop properly. But not quite.

I’m looking at this car like a love affair that was mistimed. A bit like Romeo and Juliet, needs time to mature, reflect and blossom.

We are thankful therefore that at least 2,803 individuals (129 in the final two years on sale) chose not bow to the pressure of the Clarkson or those who champion the products from Stuttgart and found driveways and garages to house an SC across this sceptred isle. And whilst Lexus naturally believed their car to be best and sell well, it was never going to for all the reasons above and probably more.

Lexus SC430 interior. (DTW)

Having said that, today, a well manicured SC can be enjoyed, appreciated and arguably would fit better into today’s world than when it was launched. With 2019 road conditions full of speed cameras, pot holes and the growth of the SUV, a two seater sports coupé, in any colour, would be a most welcome surprise, a resolutely polite middle finger to the largesse of late.

With that comparatively lazy power delivery from the 32 valve engine along with the easy going five speed auto (a six speed ‘box was part of a mild 2006 facelift), just waft it along; you can still boot it should the need arise. We all consider ourselves blessed with the skills of a racing driver but us mere mortals in advancing years need to pootle more and enjoy the rarefied air of not following the crowd.

Yes, it’s starting to pour down with rain on a typically British summers day and the roof takes twenty five seconds to shelter you; does it really matter? You know it’ll work. And those looks really are more Mr Blobby than a chisel-chinned Bond from West Bromwich but I ask you once more, do you care? Beauty is in the eye of those not looking to conform.

To some I fully expect to be flogging a dead horse but when you can acquire a decent example from five to ten grand, get it serviced at a main dealer for £200 and smile whilst the sun shines and the wind not at all altering your scalp, what really is the problem?

The youngest child of Nakagawa is borderline ten, the eldest almost twenty. Should the opportunity arrive to aim for that dream of open top, V8 motoring, I know where I’m headed. Setting off in 10, 8, 6…

Author: Andrew Miles

Beyond hope there lie dreams; after those, custard creams?

7 thoughts on “10, 8, 6… (Part Two)”

  1. A great reappraisal of a archetypal DTW car, thank you, Andrew. One sentence in your piece resonates with me very strongly:

    “We all consider ourselves blessed with the skills of a racing driver but us mere mortals in advancing years need to pootle more and enjoy the rarefied air of not following the crowd.”

    My entirely average driving skills cannot exploit more than 6/10 of the potential of my Boxster, yet it matters not a jot to my enjoyment of the car.

  2. It´s nice to see this car getting some affection. I don´t think the reviewers understood the word “ugly” when deploying it. I grant that it´s not super beautiful like some vintage Ferrari but it is definitely a lovely machine, in detail and from a distance. For me it screams quality and deserved more consideration from the knee-jerkers in the UK press.

    1. A red SC is the car of choice of one of the central characters in the UK television comedy/drama series “Last Tango in Halifax”, a new series of which is about to be aired on BBC1. Is this the ultimate accolade or merely evidence of a producer with unusual taste when it comes to motor cars?

    2. JTC: I wonder what they are trying to communicate with the Lexus that Ford Mondeo or Alfa Romeo Giulietta would not have done. It makes an interesting choice of car though – it will means the used value should rise when people are reminded of the vehicle. Or else a value dive if it has an Alan Partridge effect (as per the Probe).

  3. The character to whom the Lexus belongs is a widower (Alan) in his 70s who has met up with the lost love of his life from 50 years ago, also widowed. They marry and the story lines develop from the effect of this relationship on their families from their previous marriages. Alan is a free-thinker and non-conformist; a Mondeo would be totally inappropriate. A Giulietta less so though I suspect he would have been a Lancia man in his younger days (see how well-written it is – I’m speaking as if it’s real!). On balance, I think an SC (probably a personal import) is a well thought out choice… as for any effect on market values, we shall have to wait and see.

    1. Assuming it is set in the present time, Alan would have been in his mid 50s when be bought the Lexus – a perfect car for an empty nester.

  4. I have a friend who had an early SC430, followed on by a 2010 SC460, both from new. Very happy with them. He started out with a ’93 SC400. Haven’t seen him in a while as he’s retired and moved to a mansion far away from the madding crowd, so haven’t a clue what he tootles about in now. I must find out. I rather hope it’s an LC500. He seems to replace things about every eight years.

    I personally found the SC430 styling a bit bulgy, if one must resort to technical phrases, but anyone with any sense knows that these top end Lexuses are built to last — you just have to decide whether the mission the car is best at is compatible with your view of things. If so, then the rather ephemeral quality of modern high end Germanic cars won’t appeal – they’re a bit too Flash Harry and intense, and anything beyond a three or four year lease may well expose you to rather expensive upkeep. Not that the expense is much deterrence for those who can afford them, but the damned inconvenience of getting to know Karl the MB Master Technician far too well due to a plenitude of visits to correct this and that grows old quickly, I’m led to believe.

    If one goes back to the TTAC article on the car (referenced by Richard Herriott in his 2015 take on the SC) which duns the poor thing, it’s instructive to note that towards the end of the comments, which stretch over 11 years, there are several by Jack Baruth, who was editor in 2013, and a man well-known for rushing around at a great rate of knots himself. In response to an owner’s lament on the review, he said this: : “The fellow who wrote that review is long gone and is busy writing puff pieces for Car and Driver. It was not a great review, to put it mildly, and you’re right to call him out on it.”

    So score one for the old SC430.

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