Lexus SC Coupe First generation (Z30)
|Also called||Toyota Soarer (Z30)|
|Production||April 1991 – 7 July 2000|
|Assembly||Japan: Susono, Shizuoka (Higashi Fuji plant); Toyota, Aichi (Motomachi plant)|
|Designer||Erwin Lui, Denis Campbell (1989)|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door coupé|
|Engine||3.0 L 2JZ-GE I6
4.0 L 1UZ-FE V8
5-speed automatic (1998-00 SC 400)
5-speed manual (1992–97 SC 300)
|Wheelbase||105.9 in (2,690 mm)|
|Length||191.3 in (4,859 mm) (1992–97)
192.5 in (4,890 mm) (1998-00)
|Width||70.5 in (1,791 mm) (1992–97)
70.9 in (1,801 mm) (1998-00)
|Height||52.4 in (1,331 mm) (1992–94 SC 300)
52.6 in (1,336 mm) (1995–97 SC 300 & 1992–97 SC 400)
53.2 in (1,351 mm) (1998-00 SC 300/400)
|Curb weight||3,485 lb (1,581 kg) (1992 SC 300 manual)
3,505 lb (1,590 kg) (1992 SC 300 automatic)
3,604 lb (1,635 kg) (1992 SC 400)
In the early 1990s, following the début of Lexus, automotive press reports indicated a forthcoming mid-size Lexus coupé to compete with the luxury coupés of other marques like Mercedes-Benz SL, Acura Legend coupe and Infiniti M30 coupe. At that point, Toyota had no genuine luxury coupés in its model range. A coupe would complement the successful Lexus flagship model, the V8-powered, rear-wheel drive LS 400 sedan. The coupé was going to be targeted towards the American market, and the development effort for its exterior design was handed over to the Calty Design Research center in California in 1987.
The American Calty design team took a different approach to designing the car, using plaster molding shapes to design the body, and working three-dimensionally instead of the traditional 2-D sketch approach As described by design chiefs Denis Campbell and Erwin Lui, the result was a car that was based on "emotion and feeling" rather than linear aesthetics. The resulting design possessed almost no straight edges, and produced a drag coefficient of Cd=0.31.The final design by Lui was approved in 1989, resulting in Lui being sent back to Japan for 4 months to finish the car. According to automotive journalist Bill Russ, the SC design was considered influential among automotive designs of the time.
Production of the Soarer started in April 1991 at the Motomachi plant in Toyota, Aichi,with the Lexus SC produced alongside the Soarer at a second Higashi Fuji plant at Susono, Shizuoka. Motomachi-sourced cars lasted until April 1997.
The SC 400 débuted on June 1, 1991 in the United States as a 1992 model. The SC 400's 4.0 L V8 1UZ-FE, the same engine as used in the LS 400, was reported to have cost over US$400,000,000 in research and development. The SC 400 was honored as the Motor Trend Import Car of the Year for 1992. It also made Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1992 through 1998.
In July 1992, the SC 300, a smaller-engined version of the SC 400, premiered in the United States. The SC 300 was equipped with a 3.0 L inline 6 2JZ-GE. Lexus' traction control system, TRAC, was offered as an option.
The first-generation SC lasted in production until July 7, 2000, over nine years, quite long compared to the other cars of the 1990s. Even with the SC's long production cycle, only minor exterior changes were made. New tail lighting and a modified spoiler design was part of the mid-cycle vehicle refresh. A front grille was added in 1996, along with a redesigned front bumper, side skirts and rocker panels. The SC 400 produced 250 hp (186 kW)/260 lb·ft (353 N·m) from 1991 to 1995. The original 1991–1997 engines for the 2JZ-GE-powered SC 300 were rated at 225 hp (168 kW)/210 lb·ft (285 N·m). The output of the SC 300 was five horsepower more than the equivalent engine used in the Toyota Supra.
In 1996, the SC 400's 1UZ-FE engine design was upgraded to 260 hp (194 kW) from 250 hp (186 kW). These engines were coupled with a 4-speed automatic transmission on both the SC 300 and SC 400 models. A 5-speed manual transmission was only offered on the SC 300 from its debut until 1997.
By the end of the decade, North American SC sales began dwindling due to the lack of significant design updates since the car's introduction and marketplace changes that led to loss of interest in coupes.
In 1997 (1998 model year), both the SC 300 and 400 were upgraded with VVT-i and thus the ratings were raised to 290 hp (216 kW)/300 lb·ft (407 N·m) of torque for the SC 400 and 225 hp (168 kW)/220 lb·ft (298 N·m) of torque for the SC 300. Tests conducted on the new engines showed an acceleration for the SC 400 for years 1992–1995 of 0–60 mph in 6.9 seconds, years 1996–1997 in 6.7 seconds, and years 1998–2000 in 6.3 seconds. For the SC 300 an acceleration 0–60 mph in 6.8 seconds with the 5-speed manual and 7.2 seconds with the 4-speed automatic for all years. This 1997 upgrade included the replacement of the four-speed automatic on the SC 400 to a five-speed unit.
Sales of the automatic transmission SC 300 and SC 400 models formed the vast majority of models purchased. The Lexus SC 400 was never officially sold in the British Isles, but many examples found their way across the Atlantic as personal imports. The first-generation SC coupes were assembled at Toyota's Higashifuji Technical Center in Motomatchi, Japan.
In 2006 the SC 430 was entered in the (Super GT) race series in the GT500 class (cars with approximately 500 horsepower). Extensively modified from the factory car, the engine used is a modified version of the SC 430's 3UZ-FE V8 that was also used in the Toyota Supra race car from previous years.
The new SC 430 based race cars were immediately competitive with former GT500 champion Juichi Wakisaka and no. 2 driver André Lotterer driving the Open Interface TOM's SC to victory at the opening round at Suzuka giving the SC 430 its first victory on its debut race. Juichi Wakisaka and Andre Lotterer also won the GT500 class championship during the same year. In 2007, Lexus SC fully replaces Supras in the Toyota side, a Zent Cerumo SC 430 driven by Yuji Tachikawa was victorious in the GT500 opening round race.
In 2008, a Zent Cerumo SC 430 driven by Yuji Tachikawa and Richard Lyons won the Fuji 500 race, round 3 of the Autobacs Super GT at Fuji Speedway. In 2009, five SC 430s were entered in Super GT racing in the GT500 class, including the Petronas TOM's SC 430 driven by Juichi Wakisaka and André Lotterer, along with the Eneos SC 430, Kraft SC 430, Dunlop Sard SC 430, and Zent Cerumo SC 430.
In 2009, the Lexus Team Petronas TOM's SC 430 driven by André Lotterer and Juichi Wakisaka was the championship winner in the GT500 series, also the SC 430 was victorious in early rounds at the Suzuka Circuit. In 2010, the SC 430 continued in Super GT competition, where the MJ Kraft SC 430 and other Lexus Team Kraft SC 430s won victories at the 2010 Autobacs Super GT at Fuji Speedway.
In 2012, two years after production had ended the 430 continued to be a force in Motorsports. Namely in Formula Drift with the Achilles Radial Lexus SC430 powered by a 2JZ and piloted by Daigo Saito.