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.
“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.”
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.
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!?
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:
The interior looks fairly decent, I think:
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: