For $9,900, Could This 2002 Lexus SC430 Overcome Your Prejudices Against The Lexus SC430?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Lexus is like Joseph Merrick—better known as the Elephant Man—in that an unattractive exterior masks the true beauty inside. Let’s see if that’s enough to make us also look past its price.

With a gated shifter, pop-up headlights, and a panty (or boxer) dropping badge, yesterday’s Ferrari Mondial Quattrovalvole hit many of the right beats. While derided by a few for just being a Mondial, its cheap-seats $22,750 also proved notable, earning the car a 63-percent Nice Price win.


For those of you who consider the Mondial to be Ferrari’s least desirable offering by way of its looks, consider the 308 GT4. That was the model that held that same honor prior to the Mondial’s introduction. Th3 GT4s once traded in the teens, but can now easily go for $40K to $60K, proving perhaps that looks aren’t everything.

Now, don’t get me wrong, looks are important. Just ask someone who doesn’t have them. Actually don’t do that, it’s uncouth. Just take my word for it.

As I noted yesterday, appearance can also hold individual appeal. One man’s meat is another man’s poison and what have you. This concept is an important consideration, especially when viewing today’s 2002 Lexus SC430 since… well, whoa doggies, it’s ugly.


Maybe ugly is too harsh a word. Perhaps there’s a more accurate term to describe the SC430’s design. Frumpy, maybe? Dumpy? Something with an -umpy at its end for certain.

The SC430 debuted in concept form at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show. It reached dealers two years later as replacement for the SC300/400 coupe. The new car was designed from its inception as a convertible and it’s that moveable metal top that, inscrutably, likely drove some of the more unfortunate design decisions. The resultant tiny greenhouse atop the bulbous body gives the impression of a smaller car hidden beneath an ungainly outer disguise.


Every time I see one of these I’m reminded of Chris Farley singing ‘fat guy in a little coat’ in the movie Tommy Boy before he shreds David Spade’s JC Penny sport coat.

Additional details like dinner plate wheels and a too-tall beltline exacerbate the SC430's ill proportions.


This SC comes in Egyptian Sand Pearl over Ecru leather and sports an appreciably low 88K on the clock. The factory wheels are chrome which ups the bling ante if you’re into that sort of thing, or just looks tacky if you’re not.


While perhaps not to everyone’s liking, the body is in what looks to be perfect shape. Even the plastic lens covers on the headlights are clear and clean. Those lights notoriously yellow on SCs, and in these cars you can’t afford such a visual impairment.

Here’s the deal though. Despite the exterior’s generally considered aesthetic challenges, the SC’s interior is heckin’ beautiful. Lexus does interiors the way Kate Upton does boobs, and the SC’s insides rival anything from Mercedes or Jaguar in appearance or material feel.


Not only that, but this one still looks like a place you’d want to hang. The light leather seats are in fine shape, and the wood looks amazing. That’s remarkable in a car that’s more than a decade and a half old, especially one that could spend much of its time letting the outdoors in.


A Mark Levinson sound system is present and you get both CD and cassette options here so go nuts with the old school tunes. Navigation and power everything add to the feature list.


Pop under the hood and you’ll find the 3UZ-FE engine to be as clean as a bean as well. That 4.3-litre VVTi-equipped V8 was good from the factory for 288 horsepower and 317 lb ft of torque. I’d bet that your average SC owner doesn’t know any of those specs and likely hasn’t ever even ever even opened the hood. Of course the gearbox is an automatic, a five-speed here operated through Toyota’s preferred mazes-for-dummies shift pattern.

There’s 88K on the clock here, and the dealer-offered car comes with a clean title. The ad notes no flaws and the pictures confirm the car’s aesthetics—both good and bad. The price tag for all this is $9,900. That’s a reasonable reduction from the car’s as-new price of around $60K.


Prices for SC430s fall into a fairly narrow segment with a few ratty editions serving as outliers down at the bottom.


This one seems about as nice as you could want to find and while its styling will never in a million-gajillion years compete with that of a contemporary Jaguar XK8, the Lexus will likely make the British convertible feel like it was cobbled together by Congress when it comes to durability and current shape.

The question for you is whether or not that build quality, and the gorgeous interior can make up for the—what did we decide on, frumpy?—exterior when considering that $9,900 price. What do you think, is this low-mileage Lexus worth that much? Or, is that too much to have to wear a bag over your head wherever you drive?


You decide!


San Francisco Bay Area Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to my edhelmsbakery for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOCP. Click here to send a me a fixed-price tip, and remember to include your Kinja handle.

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.