1991 Toyota Soarer Limited 4.0 V8 32v Quad Cam from Australia and New Zealand
This fine car inspires pride of ownership
The EMV (Touch sensitive screen for Climate, Stereo, Trip Computer) was not functioning when I bought the car. Fixed for about $A120. (Dried out Capacitors).
Back Left air suspension unit had failed and the other 3 were weak. Replaced whole suspension with the GT40 Coil & Strut units, which I bought 2nd hand from an enthusiast going to "coil overs". Shame to "down specify" the Limited, but $A900 a corner is expensive for the air suspension units.
"Blinky Dash" was fixed with a few capacitors and a bit of fine soldering.
Boot struts were weak - but after market replacements are available at a good price.
Slight leak from tiny crack in Coolant Header tank. Expensive to fix, so I just watch out that it doesn't get worse!
Water pump seals failed recently. Genuine pump good value at $A170 - why go elsewhere? Likewise with the timing belt - about $A70. This is an expensive job labour-wise though - I did mine myself - it's actually very easy! A nice car to work on.
Limited's have fairly weak brakes so I've fitted a set of brakes from the Soarer TT, which are much more effective. Not essential, but a nice conversion.
Many owners go to 19" wheels, but my car had 17" BBS mags when I bought it, and I like the compromise between ride and handling these provide.
Air conditioner was still using the old refrigerant, so had to be converted.
There's very slight bolster wear on the (leather) driver's seat, but not enough to worry about.
For a car of this size it's certainly not space-efficient!
The first 30-series Soarer (USA: Lexus SC400) I saw was enough for me - I had to have one! Because they were rarer then, the local dealers wanted too much for them, asking $14000 to $23000, and none of them would trade my 300zx although it was pristine! These cars in Australia are almost all Japanese used-car 'grey' imports - but a handful were sold new here at about $A150,000. Many of them have been rebadged as Lexus and some have SC400 badges too. This is just the owner's preference - they were all sold badged as Toyota Soarers unless they are left-hand drive cars, but they were built in the Lexus factory so they are really all Lexus too! - the Lexus brand was not used in Japan at that time. These cars have just about all had the digital dash replaced under warranty at around 100k kms, so they will probably have misleading odomoter readings. Given the overall quality of the vehicle, this may be hard to spot - but check out the steering wheel, pedal rubbers etc. Because of a replaced dash, the indicated kms on the odometer may well be 100k kms under the real kms. I'm sure my car has more than 140K on its odometer. 240k would seem to be about right, given the general condition.
I bought my car sight-unseen through EBay from a private seller over 1000kms away, for $A8500. Risky, but because of the great reputation of the V8 used in these cars, it is less of a risk than with lesser vehicles!
Once I fixed the few minor problems the Soarer has been an endless pleasure to drive. It just eats the kms and you can stay calm, rested and relaxed in the magnificent leather seats. It's a true 4-seater for people of average height, with good head room and adequate foot room, although two doors do limit access a little, of course.
For a 4 Litre V8 it is economical (7-12 km/L Premium 95 RON) and can deliver ample power on demand. Nice to know that this V8 is a non-interference engine, which means that a broken timing belt will not result in major engine damage (but will in the later VVTi models, apparently). Because the 1UZ-FE v8 engine is shared with the LS-400 (Celsior) and many Soarers are imported for disassembly only, parts should not be a problem. Internet club support for these cars is brilliant, there being many 'gurus' out there who are happy to give valuable support if anything does go wrong.
This car is a true "Gran Turismo", offering sports-car performance with great comfort and range.
It has all the extras than anyone would ever need, and all of them still work, except the TV (Japanese system not easily converted to Australian) and the SatNav (For Japan and not supported elsewhere). The stereo is magnificent and few owners would need to upgrade it.
This car is beautifully built, goes well, handles safely and looks amazing. Most people can't believe it's 15 years old!
Because of the rising cost of fuel, you could buy one much better than I bought for similar money now, and it may be a bargain, depending on what the last owner has refurbished already.
Despite its age, this luxury car has not become a 'money pit' like many from the more prestigious companies, and promises many more years of quality motoring.
Just remember though, it is an 'upper end of the market' luxury car, which would have cost over $A120,000 when new, if ever officially sold in Australia. Be prepared for maintenance costs associated with a luxury vehicle, not your average $7000-$12000 used car!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 6th December, 2006