Home » Two Doors In Two Flavors – 1997 Lexus SC400 vs 2006 Chrysler Crossfire

Two Doors In Two Flavors – 1997 Lexus SC400 vs 2006 Chrysler Crossfire

Sbsd 5 10 2023
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Welcome back to your favorite mid-morning time waster, Shitbox Showdown! Today we’re looking at a couple of latter-day personal luxury coupes. But before we do, let’s see which of yesterday’s estate sale finds you went for:

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Yep. I mean, come on; how often do you come across a 2CV for two grand? Sure, it needs some work, but there are probably more moving parts in a blender than in that thing. It’s easy.

Two-door cars are something of a luxury item these days. Once upon a time, the cheap versions of economy cars – think Tercel, Civic, and the like – had only two doors, because that was half the number of hinges and latches. But as tastes changed, and people discovered that it really was easier to get in and out of the back seat with a pair of extra doors, cheap two-doors disappeared. Two-door cars became either sporty or luxurious, or both.

The idea of having an entire car with only two entry points to its interior, and maybe four seats if you’re lucky, feels almost wasteful these days, and so personal luxury coupes have fallen out of favor. There are still a few around, but for the most part they’re seen as relics. And that’s too bad, I think. So today we’re going to check out a pair of luxury coupes from a couple decades ago, when most of them were breathing their last.

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1997 Lexus SC400 – $5,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 4.0 liter dual overhead cam V8, four-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Fayetteville, AR

Odometer reading: 191,000 miles

Runs/drives? Great, according to the ad

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Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, not content with having conquered the luxury sedan world with the LS400, set its sights on the luxury coupe market in 1992. Two versions of the SC coupe were offered: the SC300, with the inline six from Toyota’s Supra, and this car, the SC400, with the silky-smooth V8 from the LS400. If the LS400 sedan was an idealized Mercedes-Benz S-class, the SC400 was an idealized Lincoln Mark VII.

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LIke everything Lexus introduced, the SC400 is almost too nice. Every inch of it is polished, perfected, and just-so. The trouble is that that perfection becomes the car’s entire identity; a Lexus is what you get when all you want is a really, really nice car. But there’s not much personality behind the polish. Or maybe it’s just too nice for the likes of me.

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One thing Lexuses are known for, of course, is racking up the miles. This one is still kind of low, actually, at 191,000. But it looks practically new except for a few minor battle scars, and the seller says it runs and drives great. We don’t get a whole lot of detail about its mechanical condition, and it’s easy to say “oh, it’s a Lexus; it’s fine,” but it’s still a twenty-six year old car closing in on two hundred thousand miles. Get it inspected if you can’t check it out yourself.

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I don’t know; maybe I just don’t get this car. It’s really nice, but it doesn’t give me “the fizz.” If it does for you, more power to you, but to me it just seems bland.

2006 Chrysler Crossfire – $4,900

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Engine/drivetrain: 3.2 liter overhead cam V6, five-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Houston, TX

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Odometer reading: 150,000 miles

Runs/drives? Excellent, they say

Now here’s a car that can be accused of a lot of things, but blandness isn’t one of them. The Chrysler Crossfire was one of the stranger children of the brief Daimler-Chrysler marriage: a two-seat coupe based on a Mercedes platform, with flashy Art Deco-inspired styling. It’s not to everyone’s tastes, but I always liked it. It looks like a speedboat combined with a rocketship, the sort of thing Jay Gatsby might drive around a base on Mars.

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Inside, things are a bit less special; there is a lot of Dodge Caliber or PT Cruiser in there if you look too closely. This one is in nice shape, with 150,000 miles on the clock according to the seller. Its Mercedes V6 engine runs well, and is supplied by a brand-new fuel pump. That’s about all the information we get on its mechanical condition. Again, an inspection is definitely in order.

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The Crossfire coupe’s styling starts to get a little strange as you go around the back: this thing has a butt that won’t quit. Even if you beg it to. The convertible version has a lot less junk in the trunk, but then again, it has a lot less trunk too. This one at least has a hatchback, however small and awkwardly-shaped it is.

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The best thing about this particular Crossfire has got to be the color. These were available in some great colors: a pale yellow, a nice cranberry red, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen this blue before. I like it.

I don’t think either of these qualify as “shitboxes,” even to those who could afford them new. Depreciation is especially unkind to specialty cars like luxury coupes, but that’s a good thing for the likes of us. We can get a fancy two-door coupe on the cheap. But which one is more your style: the safe Japanese machine, or the wild child of German and American parents?

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(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
1 year ago

Mark my feeling about the. Chrysler is the same as yours about the Lexus, I want to like it, I like the concept, but it just doesn’t do much for me. I suppose the Lexus is a bit of a jelly bean, but I bet at this stage of its life its general operation is much smoother and confidence inspiring, switchgear, drivetrain, as the owner of a 21 year old Lexus I am just amazed how much more solid and out together it feels than many five year old cars I have ridden in or test drove.

Xpumpx
Xpumpx
1 year ago

went with the Lexus. Those cars are so sexy. Also, I hear they flexes from long beach to texas.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago

Yesterday my vote was neither, so today I claim the right to vote both.

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
1 year ago

I love the look of the Crossfire, particularly in this gorgeous blue. The faded headlight lenses are an easy job, and I can’t really talk smack about damaged clearcoat…

but the Lexus is, simply, more car – it’s a nicer place to be, it’s overengineered rather than engineered one-and-a-half times, and it still has some parts support and a wider, global, enthusiast community.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
1 year ago

Lexus. I’m not playing it safe. I’ve been in both and the Chrysler is no place for a grown person. In pictures the Crossfire looks mid sized but the reality is cabin cruiser shower.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
1 year ago

If I could get the Crossfire styling on the Lexus…

The Lexus may be made for lux, but it is also a performer.

Engineering ultimately makes the choice for me. I don’t trust old German cars if they don’t have a Porsche badge. And I don’t trust Porsche either, but unlike the others, they’re worth any trouble they bring.

Gotta take the Lexus. This actually looks like a good deal. I see similar Crossfires at that price pretty regularly.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 year ago

The Lexus is the easy pick. It’s much higher quality and I like the style way better.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
1 year ago

I don’t like the “bodykit” look on these v1.5 Lexus coupes, but the underlying car is so good I’ll overlook it.
Also, I remember all the comments about parts sourcing when Gossin talked about selling his Crossfire … so even though it’s better looking, I voted SC.

David Hudson
David Hudson
1 year ago

Man, most people voting apparently have no soul.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago

I have to go with the Lexus just because of that Toyota Taupe interior. Be still my beating heart. /s

JDE
JDE
1 year ago

I really prefer the Crossfire “Marlin” styling, but it would have to be the SRT6 for me to wade into the abyss of lack of parts to support this orphan. Also 20 Year old German engineering is not something I mess with, I mean it is the NA versions so likely a bit less problematic and the slk parts for some of the engine is likely still to be had, but the horror stories about interior bits and lack of replacement pieces is scary enough.

SC400 I guess. though I am surprised the SC300 with upgraded Supra Drivetrain bits is not more of a thing in the US. I always kind of lusted after a douche bag restaurant managers black one as a kid.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
1 year ago
Reply to  JDE

Marlin! That’s it! How did I never make that connection before? Good eye.

STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
1 year ago

You know which one I’m picking. “Aero Blue” is such a badass hue.

Another great one today, Mark!

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