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volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
4/1/16 7:07 a.m.

Maybe I'm growing older. Maybe I'm growing up. Maybe my back hurts a little more than it used to. Maybe I enjoy not having a car payment, but also enjoy stupidly dependable transportation.

Or maybe I've just been reading too many websites like this one. :-)

But I kinda want an LS400. You know, the W126 that Lexus built. Everyone claims it's the quintessential luxury car. That it's more reliable than the Sun rising and the Earth turning. That it's like driving the most wonderful couch hand crafted by the Japanese gods.

But then I stumble across some half-wittedly written piece struggling to hate the big Lexus and all it can muster is that the car has no "soul".

Bleh.

Here in MD, I could buy a 1996 or older LS400, register it "Historic", and thus not have to worry about any pesky inspections. I could also pretty much do what I want to it, within reason. I think my main issue with the LS400 is the demographic that tends to own most of the 20+ year old examples right now. I don't want to trust the maintenance of said demographic, and, less important but still bothersome, I don't want to seem like a part of that demographic.

I drive 300 miles a week, generally in a $800 1980 Mercedes 300TD (yes, the wagon). It has no turbo, an automatic that's loath to downshift, and gets 25 mpg on diesel no matter how I drive it. It leans disturbingly in turns, though it always feels under control, and rust...well, let's not mention that.

A quick CL search for 'LS400' shows all the pre-97 MY examples trading in the sub-5k region. Mainly very, very sub 5K. Cheap...for a reason?

So, tell me why I should. Or shouldn't.

KyAllroad
KyAllroad UltraDork
4/1/16 7:18 a.m.

You should do it. Of course 20 year old Japanese luxo barge is going to feel like the starship enterprise compared with your ancient Merc wagon so it haws that going for it as well.

spitfirebill
spitfirebill PowerDork
4/1/16 7:23 a.m.

A co-worker has a 94 that he bought off ebay from somebody in NYC years ago. There are many stores about that in itself. Every time I ride in the car I am amazed at how nice it rides and drives. It now has a lot of miles on it and it has had several things fail (well known and fixable), but its still a reliable car.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
4/1/16 7:37 a.m.

If you get bored, you can always recreate the Rally Lexus.

oldtin
oldtin PowerDork
4/1/16 7:43 a.m.

If you get that bored - Lexocet! They seem hard to kill. I see a good supply of sub 2k ones around here.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
4/1/16 7:47 a.m.

So what are the common failures? I see a few on CL with replaced transmissions and timing belts broken. How bad a job is the timing belt, how often does it need doing, and is it an interference engine?

Electronics scare me, are these cars OBDII? Any common electrical gremlins?

What sort of fuel economy does the V8 give? Terrible, or just mediocre?

foxtrapper
foxtrapper UltimaDork
4/1/16 8:14 a.m.

You should check them out, at the least.

They were on my radar when I bought the Saab.

Almost all the low priced ones I found were remarkably neglected and generally pretty abused. This is not a car I would want in beater condition.

Anything after 96 is OBDII. I wouldn't fear that though.

Starter motor is under the intake manifold, which makes that job rather involved. Toyota's in general are non-interference engines, but check.

JohnRW1621
JohnRW1621 MegaDork
4/1/16 8:14 a.m.

...why do I kinda want one?

I think the answer is clear:

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
4/1/16 8:42 a.m.

I have a 98 and a 99. I would spring for the 98-00's, with 99-00 being preferable for the upgraded headlights. Also, my 99 is faster than the 98, although the two are supposed to be identical. 26 MPG on the highway at 80MPH with the cruise control on.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
4/1/16 8:50 a.m.

In reply to foxtrapper:

I've heard about that starter repair. That's a big ole NOPE for me. OBDII is actually preferable for me, I've done some troubleshooting and repair on OBDII cars and prefer it. But that falls into the later cars then (post 96).

Preferably, I'd find one from an estate or some such place, and not one that's been banging around a trailer park or W. Baltimore for the past half-dozen years.

foxtrapper
foxtrapper UltimaDork
4/1/16 9:03 a.m.
volvoclearinghouse wrote: I've heard about that starter repair. That's a big ole NOPE for me. OBDII is actually preferable for me, I've done some troubleshooting and repair on OBDII cars and prefer it. But that falls into the later cars then (post 96).

There's some bloggy things on the web detailing the repair. It doesn't seem all that bad really, and it's apparently not a common repair. So I wouldn't be too inclined to avoid the likes of an LS400 out of fear of this repair.

Dr. Hess and I think some other folk on this board have done it, and talked about it somewhere here in this board.

Powar
Powar UltraDork
4/1/16 9:06 a.m.
volvoclearinghouse wrote: So what are the common failures? I see a few on CL with replaced transmissions and timing belts broken. How bad a job is the timing belt, how often does it need doing, and is it an interference engine? Electronics scare me, are these cars OBDII? Any common electrical gremlins? What sort of fuel economy does the V8 give? Terrible, or just mediocre?

They weren't interference in the generations you're looking at-- that didn't come until '98 when they got the power bump. OBD-II came along with the refresh in '95, I believe. Fuel economy was 18-19 MPG no matter what I did. I was in my early 20s... I'll bet it'd get better economy now.

I had a '97 LS400 Coach Edition for a bit. It was a beautiful, smooth, and powerful car that was one of the most uninspiring drives I've ever had. It was perfect for soaking up miles and never worrying about whether or not you'd arrive. If that's what you're going for, they're hard to beat. Personally, if I'm going back to that type of vehicle, I'll buy another '90-'92 Cadillac Brougham and enjoy a similar experience-- obviously without the amazing standard of fit and finish-- but with a lot more panache in a car with a timeless design.

The 1UZ is a great engine. I really enjoy it in my Celica. Buy an LS and part it if it gets hit. 1UZ + one of your many cars = many smiles

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 PowerDork
4/1/16 9:11 a.m.

Some knucklehead on here was singing the praises of the awesome Nakamichi sound system in the LS400, so naturally, I want one.

foxtrapper
foxtrapper UltimaDork
4/1/16 9:32 a.m.

Yea, here's one on the starter motor replacement: http://www.lextreme.com/starter.html

And here's the thread where Dr. Hess and dculberson discuss it. https://classicmotorsports.com/forum/grm/lexus-ls-400-question/2442/page1/

Lancer007
Lancer007 Dork
4/1/16 9:51 a.m.

Because they sound like this with open headers

https://www.youtube.com/embed/6AsWG41Bc_k

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
4/1/16 10:23 a.m.

OK, now I want one.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
4/1/16 10:28 a.m.

Yeah, starter isn't that bad of a job. About a day's leisurely wrenchin' time. Note that I owned an Esprit Turbo, so after working on ANYTHING on that car, ANYTHING on ANY Toyota is not a bad job.

JohnRW1621
JohnRW1621 MegaDork
4/1/16 12:26 p.m.

The one in the video had a manual trans. I'd like to know more about that!

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
4/1/16 12:36 p.m.

Sounds like a Supra box will bolt up to the UZ engine with a $300 adaptor plate.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
4/1/16 12:40 p.m.
JohnRW1621 wrote: The one in the video had a manual trans. I'd like to know more about that!

Me too!

foxtrapper
foxtrapper UltimaDork
4/1/16 12:49 p.m.
SVreX wrote:
JohnRW1621 wrote: The one in the video had a manual trans. I'd like to know more about that!

Me too!

Collins Performance is a good place to start. He sells adapter plates and kits. Most seem to use a Nissan transmission.

You can also google "LS400 manual transmission" and see various things by folk who have swapped in manual transmissions. There doesn't seem to be any bolt in unit, so an adapter plate is the first must have.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
4/1/16 12:51 p.m.

Right. Adapter plate, throw out bearing, clutch, flywheel... Don't think it is going to be a $300 option.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
4/1/16 12:58 p.m.
SVreX wrote: Right. Adapter plate, throw out bearing, clutch, flywheel... Don't think it is going to be a $300 option.

Right. And then you need to buy the box and get a pedal cluster.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
4/1/16 12:59 p.m.

I am trying to find a formula for using one of these engines in a Challenge build. Haven't found it yet.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
4/1/16 1:16 p.m.

"Things I have read on teh Intr4w3bz, y0" mentioned using a modified (somehow) flex plate for the fly wheel and a take-off NASCAR clutch set (apparently, they are small in diameter). And I think I read that one particular Toyota transmission "almost" bolts up, if you enlarge or move a hole or two. That's all "net wisdom," as I call it, so it is probably completely BS.

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