RE: Shed of the Week: Lexus LS400

RE: Shed of the Week: Lexus LS400

Friday 27th October 2017

Shed of the Week: Lexus LS400

The luxury brand's first flagship was some car in its heyday. Now, for Shed money, it arguably makes even more sense.

Numbers. What would we do without them? How could we work out how well paid we are, without small ones? How could our esteemed politicians put across their points without the aid of big ones? And how could Mrs Shed order underwear online without the help of some astronomically large ones?

Another area in which numbers are very helpful, is on a car's service history. That's where you want to see as many numbers as possible. Especially when the history in question belongs to a Lexus LS400 - a very nice number in itself.

A quick glance at the ad reveals a veritable smorgasbord of numbers relating to this vehicle's stringently enforced maintenance schedule. Such a glittering record is a thing of rare beauty on a car like this. Along with a nice long MOT, which is also present, it gives you the sort of confidence you need to enter into a pact with one of motoring history's most accomplished but also most complex creations.

Regulars will know that, as a free reader service, we like to run through the common problems that may afflict the Sheds we describe on a weakly [sic] basis. Conveniently, the vendor of this one has already gone through a list of things that will conk out on an LS400, given time, which means less effort from Shed's end, scribbling-wise. Something of which he is heartily in favour. In addition to that, the vendor is a regular poster who has been running updates on a PH thread, so everything's nicely out in the open.

One thing not mentioned as not not working, so to speak, is the suspension. Old-time PHers will fondly remember Paul Garlick, late of this parish, who ran a lovely old 400 for a while until a sudden attack of suspension heeby-jeebies obliged him to switch to a cheaper mode of transport. Rattling or clunking on bad roads will probably be traceable to worn front strut bushes. The springs themselves can fail, as can front upper and lower wishbone ball joints, front wheel bearings and anti-roll bar bushes. Front brake discs warp.

The V8 motor on this 96,000-miler should be virtually silent, with belt/pump replacements due at 100,000 miles... ah. The transmission is renowned for its amenability and reliability. Anything other than syrupy-smooth changes could mean the annual fluid and filter changes haven't been kept up, but that seems highly unlikely here. Timing cover leaks could signify a need for new cam and crankshaft seals. Check the alternator for dampness. They sometimes get rained on by leaky power steering systems.

The cabin of this one looks very fresh, right down to the leathery wheel and gear selector which can often look tired in less cared-for cars. Unlit instruments can be fettled.

We're assuming that the 'PH thread plus ad' transparency plus the spud-chewingly monumental service history means no nasty surprises lie in wait on this car, which is a 260bhp Mk 3 and therefore most definitely a good one to go for. It was longer and stronger than the Mk 2, with somehow even better sound insulation, comfier seats, dual-zone climate control, a new suspension arrangement, and more powerful brakes.

The Mk 4 went up to 280bhp, but in all honesty you're unlikely to notice the difference, especially as the later car was probably heavier than the earlier one. Shed isn't sure about the PH ad bot's claim of 6.4 seconds for the 0-62mph time. He reckons the reality is closer to 7.5. Whatever it is, it feels impressive from the county-sized driver's seat.

Garlick's wages have gone up since he ran his LS, of course, and we reckon if he were still here he would be crawling all over this one, wondering if he shouldn't go 'all in' one more time on what looks like a very nice example of the genre.

The price of a fiver short of £1500 may seem a bit rich, but interest in nice-condition pre-430 LSs is certainly not waning. You would have to chuck quite a bit more money into a post-2000 LS430 to get any appreciable improvement in the ownership and driving experience. Some might even deem it money wasted.

Of course, you could pick up a running LS400 for £500, but Shed suggests that if you do go down that route, you might also like to have a lend of his highly amusing 'You Don't Have To Be Mad To Work Here But It Helps' sign that hangs above his desk, just next to the lifesize picture of Mrs Shed that she insisted he mount there.

Here's the ad.

Full service history. Car serviced at the following miles:

I have owned the car for 2 years and have regularly updated a 'Readers Car' thread on This website with details of the car. You should be able to find it from my user name. The advert won't allow me to post links.

It has an MoT until 20th August 2018 and the last few MoTs haven't required any work required or advisories.

The car is very low mileage for the year (96,000) and pulls strong. These cars are regularly showing 250,000 miles so this is only just run in by comparison.

It doesn't suffer from some of the common faults many of these cars have (mirror liquid leaking, stereo LCD not working, seats not heating (front and rear), headrests not working, electric seats not working, electric seatbelt height adjust not working) all of these are fine on this car.

If there's any other specifics you want to ask then please let me know.

Please note, this is a 20 year old car and has the odd ding here and there as can be seen in pics. Any viewing and test drive welcome.

Comes with 4 matching Continental tyres as an example of how I like to maintain even my older cars.

Please contact by phone in the first instance. Emails will be ignored.



Original Poster:

2,662 posts

139 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
Bloody Hell ... is it Friday already?

Possibly a brave pill is needed but I reckon this is proper shedding..

Mr Tidy

6,488 posts

61 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
Looks pretty good, but with a belt-change due in 4,000 it would soon be way over Shed money!

And I like most things to work, even on old cars.

Not one for me, but I can sort of understand why they may have some appeal.


262 posts

54 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
Mr Tidy said:
but with a belt-change due in 4,000 it would soon be way over Shed money!
Aha- there's always a catch. And I forgot shed has £1500 to spend these days. Still a lot of car for £2k if that's how it turns out.


869 posts

104 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
Mark-C said:
Bloody Hell ... is it Friday already?

Possibly a brave pill is needed but I reckon this is proper shedding..
Just the one? I thought about buying a P reg LS400... about twelve years ago. It was only 10 years old, and it only cost £800, and I decided against it, because it was obviously stupid.

If you're thinking of buying a 20 year old one, even for "only" £1500, you'd better take two friends with you, if you ask me. Once you've had enough brave pills for it to make sense you'll be in no state to drive home.

(But then again, it's only money... what's the worst that could happen? And the seller is a PH member, so maybe it'll be fine. And just think how nice the engine will be!)

Edited by to3m on Friday 27th October 02:54

Edited by to3m on Friday 27th October 03:08


748 posts

96 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
The LS400 is a wonderful machine. They were also sold as the Toyota Celsior in Japan. Well cared for examples seem to go on and on.

I can still remember riding around in on for the first time back in 1994. Some friends of mine in Southern California had just bought one prior to my visiting. The LS400 had an awesome stereo and the most comfortable seats of any car I had ever travelled in. It was just wonderful. The drive line is super-refined and comes with Toyota reliability.

If the mileage of this one is correct, it might be one of the greatest bargain barges to ever feature on SOTW. It looks to be in great shape in the ad. If it's really as nice at it looks then it'll be well worth the investment required to change those belts and the water pump. Probably a good idea to change some of the older hoses and all the fluids while you're at it.

10 out of 10 Mr Shed. More like this please.


24,694 posts

192 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
The Jap Merc.


1,441 posts

150 months

Friday 27th October 2017
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Always had love for these - mostly for the ability to destroy one on Street Fighter 2

A great example, but I don't think I'd be brave enough.


10,276 posts

114 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
Always liked these and remember when they first came out, a highly regarded car for sure, great shed.


529 posts

62 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
Great car!

Great engine. The UZ engine series has a derivative that was granted certification for aeronautical use by the FAA.


8,281 posts

139 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
Suppose you could cash in the goodwill and just run it, skipping the belt/pump change and hoping for the best, but that probably wouldn't feel right. Nice car.


3,893 posts

46 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
This must be one of the cheapest V8's that you can run on some-what of a budget, surely?

It's a shame this wasn't offered into something a bit more compact. They are big tanks, these!

Great shed though, all-in-all.


373 posts

72 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
This is nice!!! Smooth motor on these too.

'As Smooth as the inside of a virgins leg'


1,509 posts

89 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
A friend of mine has quite literally had a shed load of these.
His last one, about a year ago, was an L reg, 140k and absolutely everything still worked on it.
No electrical or mechanical maladies, and that held true for the other half dozen he's had prior to that one.
And the best bit?
He has never paid more than £700 for one, and usually less (circa £4-500 is the norm iirc)
Stunning things but I'm not sure what size brave pill you would need to swallow if you bought one with faults, as it could empty your wallet as fast as my ex-wife (who by description the descriptions of her size, is now the current Mrs Shed...!)


664 posts

149 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
Boring to look at and boring to drive.
I got to drive one of these when they were new as a competitor vehicle to the then new XJ. The Lexus was quiet beyond belief and comfortable but that's about all I could say good about it. When I got in the XJ it felt alive, even if you could hear a lot more but one of those sounds was the engine. So much more fun and characterful.


492 posts

119 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
IS there a more Shedworthy vehicle?
Extreme V8 waftyness combined with more than a modicum of sensible pants reliability even for a 20 year old car.
Zero depreciation if you keep on top of servicing. Bloody brilliant.
Just keep a superbike in the garage for the occasional speed fix.


28,714 posts

60 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
A mate - editor of Retro Japanese - has just got one of these. It seems a far too sensible move, especially since he got it as a straight swap for a shagged Bluebird...


2,566 posts

81 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
Don't worry about the cambelt change, these are valve safe! Yup, all 32 of them!
Wonderful engine - got one on ITB's in my Lotus.
So, buy this. Waft until next MoT and then flog the engine - you should get £800 for it. cheap bargeness? You bet!


646 posts

87 months

Friday 27th October 2017
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How much do timing belt, water pump and suspension bushings cost to replace? What about models equipped with air suspension?

Deranged Granny

1,995 posts

102 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
I bought an identical one last month for similar money, with new belts, FLSH and matching mitchelins, but a number of faults.

The speedo doesn't work, the A/C isn't very cold, the driver's heated seat doesn't work, there's an occasional clonk from the rear and the rear bumper is damaged, but otherwise it's great!

The speedo should be an easy fix and I dislike heated seats. The A/C could be a problem if it needs more than a regas, but isn't the end of the world. I reckon the clonk is just a perished transmission mount which is cheap DIY.

Awesome stereo, useful amount of power, sounds great and is very comfortable. Not the last word in driver enjoyment coming from an MK1 MX5, but it makes up for it in comfort and speed.

On a classic policy, the insurance is 1/6th of the cost of insuring a Nissan Micra. And no-one expect someone in their mid 20s to be driving it. Bangernomics at its finest. And it's not gold.


3,560 posts

141 months

Friday 27th October 2017
quotequote all
I remember reading about this when it first came out.

Toyota essentially took a Mercedes W126 series s-class apart and copied its dimensions (I think length, width and height are identical to the SE model in the S-class) and gave it a more reliable power plant.

If you look at the two models together you can see that even the design is a more modern take on the W126.

Anyone I know who owns the LS swears by them and keeps them until they don't run anymore (i.e. they still have them to this day hehe)