Welcome to the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage, a regular feature which aims to expand the notion of what a muscle car is, and to show that Japanese machinery can be classified as a muscle car. The Lexus SC 400 debuted on June 1, 1991 in the United States as a 1992 model. The SC 400′s 4.0 L V8 is the same engine used in the LS 400 luxobarge. It is an arresting design, with details one would have never expected from the Japanese only a few years earlier. However, this particular car follows the tried and true American muscle car formula, that being a RWD two door coupe (or sedan), stuffed with a brawny V-8 engine. Let’s discover the Japanese Muscle Car, the Lexus SC 400. This generation of SC lasted in production until July of 2000, a span of over nine years. This production cycle was quite long compared to other contemporary Japanese models. Even with the long production cycle, only minor exterior changes were made. New tail lighting and a modified spoiler design was part of the mid-cycle vehicle refresh. A front grille was added in 1997, along with a redesigned front bumper, side skirts and rocker panels. The original 1991-92 engines were rated at 250 hp, and 260 lb·ft of torque. In 1996, this engine was upped to 260 hp. In 1998, the SC 400 received variable valve timing, and the ratings jumped to 290 hp, and 300 lb·ft of torque. Tests conducted on the new engines showed an acceleration for the SC 400 of 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds. By contrast, the original 1992 SC 400 had a manufacturer’s stated 0-60 time of 6.9 seconds. The first generation SC offered a 4-speed automatic transmission until 1998, when the SC 400 received an upgraded 5-speed automatic. A 5-speed manual transmission was only offered on the SC 300. There were no V8/5-speed (manual) combinations made for the SC due to emissions and insurance reasons. The first generation SC coupes were assembled at Toyota’s Higashifuji Technical Center in Motomatchi, Japan. The SC 400 must be a performance coupe. After all, its 290-horsepower engine did manage a 6 second zero-to-60 time, which is slower than the less expensive Mercedes-Benz CLK430, but faster than the Cadillac Eldorado Touring Coupe (which is also cheaper). And its stopping distance of 128 feet from 60 mph is impressive for such a heavy vehicle (3,655 pounds). The powerful and refined drivetrain suggest performance, however the suspension and steering feel indicate more of a personal luxury car instead or a performance car. It has been written that body roll is particularly disconcerting and manages to kill any true “fun factor” when navigating canyon roads. Road testers were none too impressed with the road feel through the steering wheel either. Think LS 400-type road manners (which, in a true luxobarge is fine, but in a performance coupe just doesn’t work) and you’ll get the idea. Although most of the torque seems to be concentrated between 2,500-4,500 rpm, the SC will rev. Around town, there is more than enough low-end torque to push you back into seats during hard acceleration. Despite the rather hefty curb weight, the SC400′s 225/55VR-16 tires can still be easily made to spin wildly with excessive throttle inputs from a standing start. The SC 400 was honored as the Motor Trend Import Car of the Year for 1992. It also made Car and Driver magazine’s Ten Best list for 1992 through 1998. Alright then, will the SC 400 ever be considered a Muscle Car, or is it just a nice Personal Luxury Coupe, with no aspirations of performance? Let the debate begin. [poll id=”212″] Please Note: All Images are screen grabs from around the web. If you want credit for any image, please let me know in the comments section. Thank You!