Six reasons you need a Lexus LS400

A halo car to compete with the Deutsche, Toyota’s flagship Celsior was a pioneer for 90’s Japanese innovation

The 1990’s is often referred to by car enthusiasts as ‘the golden era’ of Japanese car manufacturing. From distinct sports cars and rally cars to over-engineered masterpieces, 90’s Japanese car manufacturing sent shockwaves around the globe; and although it’s history of cars substantially shorter than that of others, the decade proved that the east Asian country was more than capable of tapping the prestigious and exclusive car market.

If you were a wealthy businessman in the late 80s and early 90s and you wanted a to purchase a full-sized luxury car, your choices were pretty much bounded to German Audi, Mercedes, BMW; and British Jaguar, Bentley and Rolls Royce. However – if you wanted a sleek luxury saloon that could compete with the best, but didn’t catch the eye of enthused car spotters, your choices would be getting quite limited.

This brings us to the Toyota LS400. Released in 1989, it soared across international markets throughout the 1990’s, eyeing down the sights and undoubtably facing the European marques in direct competition. Although now in 2020, it looks no more than any regular old 30 year old saloon, you’d be quite surprised at what the Lexus had to offer.

Here are six reasons as to why you should buy a Lexus LS400.

1. Birth of Lexus

Developed by Toyota starting as early as 1983, the initially dubbed “Circle-F” was a project that Toyota envisioned would strike an international outreach, with no time or budget constraints in mind. The goal was to create a full-sized luxury car that could be seen as the absoute pinnacle of Toyota. In January of 1989, the Toyota Celsior was born – and by September, exports reached the USA, Australia, UK and Canada under Toyota’s brand new marque, Lexus.

​The LS400 marked the beginning of Lexus, and would prove to be a worldwide success in the years following. Therefore, if you want a piece of luxury Japanese motoring history, the LS400 is nothing short of a must-have.


2. Development Cost

​Tracing from the beginning to the end of development, in total Toyota had employed the work of around 1,400 engineers from 24 engineering teams; 2,300 technicians and 60 designers, alongside other workers. After 450 prototypes and over 2.7 million kilometres of testing, development costs amounted to a staggering $1 billion USD.

If that doesn’t spell out dedication, we don’t know what does.


3. Impeccable Over-Engineering

With unlimited time and resources dedicated to development, the LS400 was no short of technology. Powered by a 4.0L 1UZ-FE V8 engine, the Lexus proved an effortless ride, however the main focus was on the ride quality and sound deadening. The engine itself was attached by hydraulic-pneumatic mounts which separated the engine from the chassis, thus reducing vibration. New technology such as a TCU for the gearbox and a straight prop-shaft further enhanced a smooth and effortless driving experience. A complex double wishbone suspension setup was also adopted, with a first-of-its-kind advanced air-suspension option featuring automatic ride height adjust according to varying speeds, loads and road surfaces.

Attention to detail was immaculate and little details were never missed, for example windscreen wipers changing angle depending on vehicle speed; and heated rear-view mirrors. The dashboard incorporated new three dimensional ‘Optitron’ guages to protect eyes against strain, and clear analoge instruments were chosen for clearer visibility.

The LS400 was no short of tech for its era; so among the ones we have described, there are still many – too many features for us to list. Just go pick a cheap one up and have a play around yourself.


4. Flawless Luxury

It’s a simple saying, but a luxury car cannot be luxury car without luxury; and the LS400 had just that. The ride quality and sound deadening mentioned earlier was further enhanced by weatherproof sheeting and beams in the underbody and door panels. Tight panel gaps also kept outside noise to an absolute minimum.

It took two relentless years for designers to pick the perfect material for the interior, intricately selected down to the grains, textures and feel of the materials – and the wood trim was handcrafted by Yamaha’s professional piano-makers. Once again, attention to detail.


5. Reliability

Of course, none of the luxury and technology in the LS400 would be potent to this day if it wasn’t reliable. LS400 was the car that founded Toyota’s luxury division, and with it, along came the soon-to-be pioneer of reliability – the Lexus brand. According to Toyota, each LS400 produced underwent 300 more inspections than any other car they made, which in-part was built in the world’s most faultless Lexus Tahara plant, resulting in a car full-sized luxury car that was not only the most advanced and luxurious, but also by far the most reliable.

Consistently setting over 400,000km without major issues, the LS400 was unlike any other luxury car. To this day, it doesn’t share the old luxury car curse – and you can rest easy knowing it likely won’t dig a hole in your wallet. So if you find one for sale, it may just be the true luxury car bargain you’ve been looking for.


6. Raising the Standard

If you wanted to buy a luxury car that didn’t quite come with a Rolls-Royce price tag, your choices were quite limited. You could buy a Mercedes-Benz 420SE or a BMW 735iL – or if you were wealthier, the 560SEL and the 750iL. Perhaps you’d choose British instead and go with a Jaguar XJ6 or Bentley Turbo R. Most of your choices would be relatively high on maintenance; and most likely European – until the LS400 arrived. With it’s competitive V8, silky smooth ride quality and sturdy handcrafted interior, this was a Japanese luxury car that could hang with the best, no heritage required. Recieving consistant praise as a ambitious car from the East, it was an extrordinary car with extrordinary attention to fine details.


A saloon that undercut the Germans with little compromise, it raised the bar for the luxury car, and that is precisely why you need a Lexus LS400.

AutoNews Australia

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