When Top Gear called the Lexus SC430 the worst car in the history of the world, I kind of understood where it was coming from. It was a bloated retiree coupe with a big V8, successor to the brawny SC300 and 400, grandpa Supras you could get with a legendary 2JZ. But we shouldn’t be so quick to judge.
You see this is what that SC430's engine sounds like uncorked. With a set of individual throttle bodies and intake trumpets, the car goes from a quiet cruiser into a proper muscle car engine. Here it is on the dyno swapped into an E36:
As the builder explains, it’s a “[u]nopened engine with 4AGE Individual throttle bodies, custom long tube headers into a single 3 inch exhaust. No mufflers Dynoed with open trumpets and then tested the K&N filters. All research pointed to conventional “sock” style filters as a power killer. Seeing this is a drift car she really needs filters so bought Individual K&N filters to test and was pleasantly surprised at only a 7HP loss.”
And since this is a project from the same guy in New Zealand who put ITBs on a Toyota V12, here it drifting at full chat. Doesn’t sound bad:
The 3UZ doesn’t get a lot of love, certainly not in comparison to the 1UZ that preceded it. That 1UZ got a bit of a reputation, a Bubble Era graduate, the engine that powers things like the Million-Mile Lexus LS400.
As for the 3UZ, it went in the aforementioned SC430 from the early 2000s, as well as the contemporary LS and GS430s. All of the big and bloated V8 SUVs from Lexus and Toyota of the mid-2000s were 4.7-liter 2UZs, if you’re curious.
What’s also interesting about the 3UZ is that while it never had the street reputation of the 2JZ, it did have racing pedigree where that engine did not. Toyota raced the four-cylinder 3S-GTE in Super GT even in its Supras, building off of its rally and IMSA racing programs of the ‘80s and ‘90s. When it came time to replace it, Toyota skipped the 2JZ and went right to the 3UZ. Americans got to hear these race engines in in so-ugly-they’re-good Grand Am prototypes. Well, maybe they were just so-ugly-they’re-still-ugly, but whatever.
In any case, listen to the thing roar and think about how we were robbed not to get the Lexus IS430.