Wednesday, December 31, 2014

10k: Luxury Liner: 1995 Lexus LS400

 DT Editor Vince -- This next tip comes to us from Andy L who included a complete story, here it is:  I put about 200K on a 95 LS400, so I would like to offer you my anecdotal take on this particular example.  Lexus sedans are not everyone's cup of tea.  They are heavier than a whale, always a tick behind the competition in acceleration and handling, thirsty for gas and often thought of as a retiree's car.  Their unremarkable styling seems to mimic Benzes of the same era and won't be turning any heads.  One could argue, however, that early models just might be the best kept secret in luxury bargains.  Find this 1995 Lexus LS400 1-owner example here on eBay offered for $8,675 buy-it-now with 2 days to go, located in Pompano Beach, FL.

We have established that investing in similar era German competition to the LS 400 can be a fools game.  Unless your neighbor is a Mercedes technician whose family you rescued from a burning building.  And your heroism was caught on camera.  While the value of the Lexus took the depreciation plunge right next to same-era Caddies and Bimmers, don't be fooled into thinking they are the same.  Behind that circled "L" logo is a the circled sombrero of Toyota. This means you have a driveline that can't be killed with conventional weapons.  Keep the oil changed every 8K on this 32 valve masterpiece and it will shrug off miles like a Cummins.  

Speaking of shrugging off miles, you will be doing the same behind the wheel.  Nothing is quite as lux as riding in your LS400.  Heated leather, perfect climate control and faultless Lexus ride quality mean that your toughest commuting task will be fighting off Mr. Sandman.  

All of this pampering, quality and ride quality has a few little downfalls.  Don't expect to get much over 22 MPGs.  Of course, with gas at 2 bucks a gallon you needn't sweat this like you would have way back in 2013.  Don't expect all the electrical doo-dads to live as long as the driveline, either.  Your LCD displays will slowly wash out and your heated seats will not turn on one day, but you will stay on the road.  Finally, if you get pulled over, and you aren't wearing elastic-waisted slacks, expect to get inspected by a German shepherd.  This is especially true with the featured car.           

Thanks to Andy for this great feature/story/car even though it has a detestable vinyl top and gold badges.  I must admit that I've pulled over at the first gas station after buying a used car to remove offensive window/bumper stickers, but never an entire top and all badges, plus wheels.  That would be fun.  Got a tip? Send it here:


  1. For market reference, a friend of mine purchased a 88k mile one owner 1996 LS400 with a new timing belt, new front brakes, new Bridgestone rubber and a stack of receipts in Los Angeles (Simi Valley) for $6k around 6 months ago.

    We replaced the PS pump, high/low pressure line(s) and alternator and it's been trouble free since.

    He sees 12-13mpg around town, and once briefly had a fling with 25mpg on a trip up to the vintage Motorcycle Museum in Solvang, CA a few weeks back. Otherwise, 21-22mpg is tops whilst cruising.

    I've been pitching used 1-2 owner LS400's onto my buddies who need cars in non-wintry climates since the mid 2000's. These things are some of the best kept secrets in the used car market. Corolla reliability, Corolla pricing, Lexus luxury. Besides fuel mileage and geriatric image, what's not to like?

  2. Landau? I barely knew her!

    I'm... all the points made above are fair, but still, I fear the somnolent effect would be too strong. I say this having driven a good friend's roughly same vintage LS400 many times back when it was new - it was barge-like, and while the engine offered endless power, zzzzzzzzzzz.

  3. Finally, just the car I was looking for to use that suspension lift kit and set of 26" chrome rims I have sitting in the garage. But is this the Presidential Edition or the Snowbird Edition?

  4. Toyota was at their peak in design and materials quality in the '80s, and the early LS was a product of that era. Pretty much everything Toyota spit out through the '80s was at least competent and not unattractive, and some of them like the '83 Supra were quite memorable for their time.

    The early LS is basically the MILF of cars, soft enough to be comfortable (and, by this point, quite experienced) but no plus-size Detroit muffin-top.

    But this one obviously went digging too deep in her closet and found her old disco wardrobe.

    1. I'll note, though, that while durable they are certainly not maintenance-free; like most things Toyota the things that spin around on top of the heads and ventilate the cylinders for the old suck-squeeze-bang-blow routine are spun by a belt.

      The '95 was the first year for the higher-lift cams, adding a few HP but it makes the '95-up 1UZ/2UZ an interference engine. Neglect thy cam belt change at your peril.

    2. And at the opposite end of he cam-belt drive spectrum, you have this:

      A cam belt change on a 1UZ might not be the easiest job in the world, and you've got to do two of them for every one time you'll be doing the timing chains on a late Audi V8, but at least you don't have to drop the engine out of the car to do it...


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