The Lexus SC was a grand tourer that went into production from 1991 to 2010. Built to compete with luxury coupes such as the Infiniti M30, the Acura Legend, and the Mercedes-Benz SL, the SC series was designed by the California-based Calty Design Research center. The result was a stylish, two-door coupe that further established Lexus’ hold on the coupe segment. The first-gen SC featured an SC300 variant that received few upgrades throughout its nine years of production from 1991 to 2000. Today, the SC300 continues to attract buyers looking for a high-performing coupe.
1991: Introduction of SC300’s predecessor
In 1991, the SC400 was launched in the US as a 1992 model. This first-gen SC was equipped with a 4-L V8 1UZ-FE, an engine that was also used on the LS 400. Because of its outstanding road performance, the SC 400 was included in the Ten Best List by Car and Driver from 1992 to 1998.
1992: SC300 as a smaller variant of the SC400
In the following year, a smaller version of the SC400 was introduced. Equipped with a 3-L inline 6 2JZ-GE, the SC300 was targeted at buyers who preferred a coupe with a smaller engine. An optional feature was the TRAC, Lexus’ very own traction control system.
1996: Style and engine upgrades
Unlike other cars at the time, the Lexus SC300 as a first-gen SC was in production for nine years. Despite such a long production period, however, it only received minor upgrades until its last year of production in 2000. During a mid-cycle refresh, a modified spoiler and new tail lights were included in the design. In 1996, a new grille was complemented with a restyled front bumper, rocker panels, and side skirts. In the same year, a 1UZ-FE engine was partnered with a four-speed automatic transmission, a feature that was included on both SC400 and SC300 variants.
1997: More engine modifications
Engine upgrades were done in 1997 for the 1998 models. The SC 300 was equipped with a VVT-i. This resulted into higher horsepower (225 hp) and torque (220 lb/ft.). Based on engine tests, a five-speed manual SC300 reached 0-60 mph in just 6.8 seconds, while a four-speed automatic SC300 achieved 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds. These stats were held all throughout the SC300’s production years.
Towards the late nineties, forever-fickle consumers started to lose interest in coupes. This change in consumer interest and the lack of significant design changes from its introduction led to a decline in SC300 sales. In 2001, the second-gen SC was equipped with a V8 engine and was renamed as the SC430, ending the reign of the SC300 variant. Today, the Lexus SC300 is fondly remembered as a powerful, two-door coupe that helped Lexus establish its reputation against European competitors.