SOTW: LEXUS SOARER
It's a V8, and a Toyota-built one at that - surely that must offset the bork factor a little?
Buy this week's Lexus Soarer Shed and you'll soon become very familiar with the sight of your own gnashers glinting back at you from the rear-view mirror. In terms of smiles per pound, this one is hard to beat.
Back in the early 2000s, the Soarer was a sought-after car in the UK, one that commanded a significant premium over the standard LS. Just look at it now, brought to its knees by the gnawing fear of high fuel costs. It would be tragic if it wasn't so brilliant.
The body on this one looks fresh, bright and rust-free, enhanced by a nicely understated factory bodykit by TRD, Toyota's own accessory arm. There's no service history, but that's not unusual for JDM imports and not as much of a worry as it might be for UK motors because (without wishing to generalise) driving styles in Japan do tend to err on the gentle side. The mileage is believable for the same reason. Who knows how it's been treated over here, life's always a gamble without paperwork etc, but imagine a typical owner and also remember that the normal Shed philosophy applies: you should never lose more than £1,000.
Tyre snobs may sneer at the Barums, but there's nowt wrong with them: they're the pneumatic equivalent of Skodas. The brand of wheels they adorn wouldn't necessarily be something you'd want to shout too loudly about down the pub, but if the hoop we can see here is representative of the general condition of the others, you'd be happy enough. Red calipers won't be everyone's cup of tea, but ten minutes with a rattle can will sort that if you're really bothered.
Any talk about a Z30 Soarer (or the later SC) will at some point come round to the topic of suspension. The range-topping UZZ32 Soarer came with four-wheel steering and a heavy, sensor-laden, expensive to fix hydro-pneumatic active suspension system. It's not clear whether this car is that model: hopefully (and more likely, as the 32 is pretty rare) it's the next one down, the cleverly titled UZZ31, which had the TEMS air setup. It's lighter and less complex, though the airbags can give trouble. There is a 'basic' UZZ30, which had straightforward Tokico coilovers and leather as an option, but that would be unusual. Something to check with the vendor.
Control arm ball joints are a weak link on all Soarers, and poly bushes are a good upgrade. Usefully, it looks like some well-targeted money has already been put into this car. The long MOT brings a warm glow, as do the new battery and alternator. A stainless steel exhaust is the icing on the cake, and probably worth the car's asking price on its own.
On scrap value alone it's hard to see how you can lose. But what a win it would be if - as seems entirely likely - this is a sound car.
Go on, admit it: you're spoilt rotten here. Take your chequebook to Lincolnshire, knock three times, and tell them Shed sent you.
Here's the original ad.
LEXUS SOARER V8 (£950)
WELL MAINTAINED V8 SOARER, GOOD CONDITION, LOW MILEAGE, STAINLESS EXHAUST, 5 WOLFRACE WHEELS WITH GOOD QUALITY NEARLY NEW TYRES (5-7K), DRIVES REALLY WELL SMOOTH GEAR CHANGE. T.R.D. BODY KIT LOOKS VERY SMART, A REAL HEAD TURNER. THE REG NUMBER IS VALUED AT £800 AND STAYS ON CAR. OVER £1500 SPENT ON CHANGING SUSPENSION STEERING BUSHES AND GEARBOX ENGINE MOUNTS, NEW BATTERY AN ALTERNATOR. 7 MONTHS M.O.T. 1 MONTHS TAX. STARTS FIRST TIME EVERY TIME. C.D. PLAYER DOES NOT WORK. REDUCED ONLY £950 NO OFFERS