The Toyota Motor Corporation got its start as a registered brand in 1937 after its original founder, Sakachi Toyoda, transformed his career path from an automatic loom manufacturer to a producer of automobiles. Currently headquartered in Toyota City, Japan, has since become one of the most prolific manufacturers of vehicles, selling over ten million automobiles per year worldwide. This corporate conglomerate also has spawned three different divisions of production teams that have each become their own brand. Among them, Lexus was the first, which was founded in 1989 by Eiji Toyoda. Headquartered out of Nagoya, Japan, this labeled brand is recognized as the luxury-classed division of Toyota’s entire lineup. Also from Toyota’s corporate camp is Ranz, which was founded in 2013 through its Chinese owner, Tianjin FAW Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. That company’s focus is squarely on the Chinese market and nowhere else. There is also Scion, which was a division from Toyota that ran from 2003 until 2016. With Ranz specified only to cater to a single nation’s needs and Scion absorbed back into the parent company, this leaves Lexus as the only globally recognized brand that has its lineup of vehicles as much in demand as Toyota’s.
When Toyota started up the Lexus brand as a manufacturer of luxury automobiles, this was first done through the Lexus SC 400 series, which was followed by the Lexus SC 300 series a year later. This began when Toyota’s development team embarked on a project in 1987 that anticipated the North American market were more likely to invest in a big and powerful V-8 coupe than the markets belonging to Asian and European nations. This spawned Toyota to bring forth its Lexus brand, introducing at a 1989 auto show in Detroit its first luxury series of automobiles. When Toyota, along with the stylists from Lexus, first looked into bringing forth a two-door, short-bodied LS, they knew they had to start from a blank canvas. They did this by working with organic-shaped molds made of plastic that were scanned and digitally stretched out by computer software programs that specialized in imaging. Through this method, coupe-like shapes were formed. This resulted in the development of what the two-door coupes of the SC models would look like that match what the consumer market in North America was already craving at that time. The curvature of every exterior feature stylized the coupe designs to match the trends of the early 1990s but also thought ahead to bring forth a luxury element that would make the launch of their SC 400 and SC 300 models drool-worthy in the eyes of the North American consumer.
About Lexus SC 300
Toyota began the mass production of the grand tourer, labeled as Lexus SC in 1991. From 1991 until 2010, this lineup featured a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive (RWD) design and it seated up to four passengers. In 1991, when the first generation of the Lexus SC series came out, it came with a V-8 engine that was classified as the SC 400. In 1992, Lexus introduced the SC 300 series that featured a straight-six engine. The first generation of the SC 300 and the SC 400 series was in production until the year 2000.
The story behind the Lexus SC 300 officially sees its start in July 1992 when it was introduced as a version of the SC 400 series that featured a smaller engine design. The first group of the SC 300 was equipped with a trademarked Lexus traction control system, as well as a 3.0-liter straight-six cylinder internal combustion engine, and Toyota’s 2JZ-GE engine. The TRAC was offered as an option among the SC 300 models. For over nine years, the SC 300 series, as well as the SC 400 series, remained in production as the first generation of Lexus-branded automobiles that catered to the luxury vehicle market. Among the different cars, plus the manufacturers that produced them at the time, a nine-year run of a single generation of vehicles was rare. When production of the SC 300 and SC 400 models came to an end on July 7, 2000, it marked the end of an era.
However, during the nine years of production, Toyota’s Lexus SC 300 and SC 400 series both received mid-term upgrades in 1996 when the front grilles were added, along with a number of exterior modifications such as the front bumper, side skirts, rocker panels, spoilers, and tail lighting. The SC 300 series had a performance rating of 225 horsepower (168 kW) and a torque output of 210 lb-ft (285 Nm). It was slightly less performant than its sibling, the SC 400, which produced up to 260 (194 kW) horsepower. The transmission for the SC 300 and SC 400 models was 4-speed automatic, which was coupled to each vehicle’s engine. There were 5-sped transmissions that were also made available, but only for the SC 300 models from 1992 until 1997. The SC 300 had a peak performance record of reaching 60 miles per hour in 6.8 seconds by manual transmission and in 7.2 by an automatic transmission. As of 1997, a number of upgrades went into both the SC 300 and the SC 400 models that brought about improved fuel economy and top speed performance.
As the year 2000 was approaching, the sales of the Lexus SC 300 and the Lexus SC 400, these two-door coupes began to drop. The fault lies in the company’s failure to keep up with all the necessary significant design updates that would keep the demands of the consumers piqued. At the time, the two-door coupes were no longer of interest among motorists as they took a greater interest in sedans and sport utility vehicles (SUV). In 2001, both the SC 300 and the SC 400 were replaced by the introduction of the Lexus SC 430.
Breaking Down the Lexus SC 300
When Toyota’s Lexus SC 300 first brought the series into production, it accompanied its more economically designed Toyota Soarer. Upon its release, it was the first model by the Lexus brand to offer a manual transmission option. When consumers and critics took notice of the similarities between the Lexus SC300 and the Toyota Supra models, modifications started to be made to improve the driving performances for each vehicle. Until then, the Lexus SC 300 series managed to keep it a secret that its platform was originally designed as a testbed for the upcoming Mk4 Supra.
During its run from 1992 until 2000, making modifications to the Lexus SC 300 was very popular. Although making upgrades to car performance levels isn’t anything new, there were key building blocks that needed to be considered before pushing any vehicle to reach its maximum potential. This includes making sure the car’s suspension runs faster than the engine. This way, when stopping and turning, this needs to be done safely instead of simply focusing on speed. Websites like K-Sport USA often offer detailed information on how to safely modify vehicles, including the Lexus SC 300. When Lexus brought forth the SC 300 models and the SC 400 models, the intent was to lure owners of Mercedes-Benz owners into its own showrooms. They did this by closely paying attention to what the German-based manufacturers did with their own vehicles, even going as far as making good use of the alphanumeric naming system they had. However, while the lineup of the SC 300 models and SC 400 models were new, the engine specifics were still the same that were used in the Toyota models. While Toyota and Lexus both made good use of tapping into the North American market with their brand of two-door coupes, they also had no trouble adapting the SC 300 and SC 400 models to accommodate the Asian and European markets. In Japan, the SC 300 models were sold as the Toyota Soarer, which also became available in the form of a twin-turbocharged engine that had a 2.5-liter variant. According to Hagerty, the Lexus SC 300 and the Lexus SC 400 are both seen as an unfairly forgotten luxury coupe, which is unfortunate as they were among the best luxury vehicles available on the market at that time.
Lexus SC 300 Specifications
According to the Lexus SC 300 5-speed engine technical data sheet on Ultimate Specs, this car can reach sixty-two miles (100 kilometers) per hour in 7.7 seconds. It can also reach a top speed of 146 miles (235 kilometers) per hour. The curb weight is 3,558 pounds (1,613 kilograms) and has a naturally-aspirated inline six-cylinder engine that is coded after Toyota’s 2JZ-GE. The maximum horsepower the SC 300 can put out is 225 at 6,000 revs per minute and has a maximum torque of 210 pounds per foot at 4,800 revs per minute. The rear-wheel-drive (RWD) is what transmits its power to the five-speed manual gearbox. The SC 300 series also features an independent double-wishbone in the framework. The stock tires are 215/60 on 15-inch rims, which are for the front and the rear. The stopping power featured a vented disc brake system that is also located at the front and the rear. The fuel capacity of these cars at that time could hold slightly over twenty-six gallons (seventy-eight liters) of regular fuel. On the road, from full to empty, it could travel up to 411 miles (661 kilometers) and had the fuel economy rating of twenty-three miles-per-gallon on the highway, eighteen miles-per-gallon in the city, and twenty miles-per-gallon combined. From 1992 until 2000, the general specifications of the Lexus SC 300 series mostly remained unchanged.
The Lexus SC 300 four-speed automatic engine technical data sheet, also provided by Ultimate Specs, suggests this version can reach sixty-two miles per hour (100 kilometers) in 8.2 seconds. It can also reach the top speed of 146 miles (235 kilometers) per hour and has a curb weight of 3,747 pounds (1,695 kilograms). From 1992 until 2000, the SC 300 automatic transmission models featured a naturally aspirated inline six-cylinder engine that used regular petroleum oil. Just like the manual transmission models, the engine came from the Toyota 2JZ-GE production line. The maximum horsepower was 225 at 6,000 revs-per-minute and a maximum torque of 210 pounds per foot at 4,800 revs-per-minute. The rear-wheel drive has a power connection to the four-speed automatic gearbox. The fuel economy and tank size of the four-speed automatic lineup were identical to its manual-transmission relatives.
Lexus SC 300 Today
Today, there are mixed opinions about the Lexus SC 300 series. However, among the consumers and critics that are more familiar with the first generation of the brand’s lineup of luxury vehicles, most of them are in agreement that it was one of the most desired luxury vehicles of its time. During this era, an SC 300 model started at $32,000 USD in 1992. By the year 2000, they could go as high as $38,000 USD. Today, a used SC 300 is priced much lower as the newest lineup of these vehicles is now over twenty years old. However, fans of the Lexus SC 300 series will argue it’s still one of the best vehicles that were made during its day. The Toyota Supra series, as of the 1990s, became the recipient of the design specifications and upgrades that originally went into the SC 300 models. During a time where the popularity of two-door coupes was at an all-time high, both the SC 300 and the SC 400 series paved the way for Lexus to follow up with what is now over twenty years’ worth of premium luxury car models that have done so much more than turn a few heads. They have also won a number of car design and safety awards along the way. Furthermore, the nostalgia of both the SC 300 and SC 400 have found variations of those two discontinued series make comebacks as it seems the desire for two-door coupes are returning among the North American consumers, as well as the rest of the world.