A Reader Just Offered Me This Fancy Toyota Land Cruiser (Lexus LX470) And I Don't Know What To Do

Illustration for article titled A Reader Just Offered Me This Fancy Toyota Land Cruiser (Lexus LX470) And I Don't Know What To Do
Photo: Tracy

Every time I feel like I’ve kicked my car hoarding habit, a new temptation enters the fray. It’s like being a recovering alcoholic who works as a bartender — it really is an exercise in futility. The latest vehicle threatening the over six-month auto-sobriety that followed my unfortunate City Ordinance fiasco is 2002 Lexus LX470. It’s basically a fancy 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser, and given its rust-free nature and low price, I’m really struggling to turn the thing down. This is where you come in.

This isn’t just a random reader, this is Tracy, the Chicagoan who contacted me about her gorgeous (but totaled) 1991 Jeep Cherokee five-speed a few years back. It really is the greatest Jeep Cherokee XJ ever, and I snagged the thing for only two grand. You’ll be reading more about that soon, as I’m in the process of thoroughly restoring it to perfection.

Back to the Lexus. “My 2002 Lexus [LX]. It has 275k miles on it, and a sad story: the rack and pinion I replaced in 2017 isn’t holding up. My mechanic is apologetic, but he can’t repair it for a reasonable price to me,” Tracy’s recent email begins.

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“But he tells me that for the right buyer, it’s got a life beyond my ability to keep repairing it. I’ve spent about $7500 replacing things since 2015 when I acquired it: front axle, ignition, lock cylinder, brakes, some other stuff I have all the records for.”

“I am out of my depth about this,” Tracy went on. “I’m sending a picture of the sticker, which I have, along with all the service records.”

Tracy then asked if I could give her advice. “I can’t maintain this car,” she wrote. “I don’t have the skills. But someone does.”

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Photo: Tracy
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This, to me, read like: “Hey, I have a Lexus. You bought my other car. Do you want this one?” Intrigued, I asked a few more questions. Tracy gave me the SUV’s full backstory:

It was a ranch car in TX when we bought it. The original owner kept all the service records (of course) and when he died, his widow garaged it for about 5 years. We bought it in 2015 and put a lot of miles on, relative to its prior history.

We have put about $7500 in, with a local mechanic who formerly worked for a Lexus dealership. I can send a full list of all the work that has been done since we brought it to Chicago in 2017. Brakes, ignition, lock cylinder, etc. Quite a few big parts that were just on their last legs after 20 years and 250+k miles.

It’s scruffy on the inside and a lot of the bells and whistles aren’t working. The sun roof, speakers, remote control fob all need to be replaced.

But other than this steering rack, it’s in good shape. I just don’t have the rationale to keep going. Our mechanic’s second in command felt pretty sad to see it go, and said if he had the money to take it off our hands he would. He urged me not to just drive it in for a trade, but to find someone who would want to work on it.

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What makes this Lexus intriguing to me is that, as Tracy pointed out, “The underbody is in fine shape. It has been garaged all its life, and has only driven in 3 Chicago Winters.”

A rust-free fancy Land Cruiser — the ultimate budget overlanding vehicle — and Tracy only wants $5,000!?

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Photo: Tracy

Obviously, the Lexus has some issues. In the image above, you can see scratches on the front bumper, and some broken trim below the grille. The rear bumper also looks a bit rough:

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Photo: Tracy
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Photo: Tracy

The interior looks fairly decent, I think:

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Photo: Tracy
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Photo: Tracy
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Photo: Tracy
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Anyway, at $5,000, it’s about ten times what I tend to pay for cars, but it IS a Lexus. Aw, who am I kidding, I’m not going to drive a Lexus. I’d feel out of place. But maybe I could flip this and use the money for another project?

On a similar topic, and perhaps a bit more “my speed,” behold this 1998 Jeep Cherokee:

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Please advise.

Sr. Tech Editor, Jalopnik. Owner of far too many Jeeps (Including a Jeep Comanche). Follow my instagram (@davidntracy). Always interested in hearing from engineers—email me.

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DISCUSSION

shanemorris
Shane Morris

I know this is going to come as a strange concept to you, but this is what some of us would refer to as a “reliable daily driver.” Hear me out for a moment, because I think I may help you see the light...

Imagine for a moment that you didn’t get tumescent when thinking about rust, being stranded on the side of the road, or otherwise covered in dirt. This is the kind of vehicle a classy guy like yourself might enjoy on a fancy date — I’m talking about going to the Olive Garden, David. I’m giving you a vision of your life with white table cloths, and wine that comes in a bottle instead of a box. When you join Club Lexus, it’s okay to splurge a little and order a second appetizer. Calamari man. It’s fried squid, and has the texture of a rolled up condom, but it’s excellent.

This could mean so many open doors for you. Have you ever been to a Costco? With this champagne low-key urban crawler, you can blend in with Tiffany and her whiny kids. What they don’t tell you is that their hotdogs are only $1.50, and they’re amazing. Imagine rolling down the freeway, munching down on a Costco hotdog, with a suspension that is smooth like butter. This is where you need to be, David.

I know. I know. It’s tough to give up rust. It’s like that streak in my mid 20s where I thought it was my job to save stripp— ahem, “dancers” from their own decisions. Eventually you learn that no amount of “sanding down the rust” will change the fact that metaphorically speaking, those 11-14 years getting salted down in Buffalo won’t be done away with a little TLC. The salt is the damage, and you don’t un-salt a steak.

One day, you’ll look back and wonder why you thought it was cool to look at the word “Darin” tattooed on her lower back, and what made you stick with the “rust” for so long. You’re so close, David. This is your breakthrough. You’re almost there.