Lap Of Luxury: 1996 Lexus LS 400

So here’s a bit of a curve, it’s not the mainstay of what is usually found on Barn Finds but it is a staple of domestic motoring, a large, comfortable, quality built luxury sedan. And at twenty-four years of age, this 1996 Lexus LS 400 has some significant distance from its modern counterpart. Instead of waiting twenty or thirty years to see how a car like this Lexus will fare, the way we examine 50-year-old Chevies and Fords, let’s take a look at this example right now. This LS 400 is located in Aurora, Colorado, and available here on Barn Finds Classified or here on Facebook Marketplace for $6,800.

Lexus automobiles are renowned for their rock-solid, Toyota inspired, reliability and understated attention to luxury details. And the LS400 was one of Lexus’s mainstay models, having been part of the model line-up from 1990’s Lexus commencement until being replaced by the LS430 in 2000. This 1996 example would be considered the second generation LS400 which was introduced in 1994.

At the heart of the LS 400 is a 4.0 liter, 260 (revised) net HP, DOHC, V8 engine. This example has 70K miles, so assuming proper maintenance, it is barely broken in. The seller claims it to be in fantastic mechanical condition with a 7 out of 10 rating and further adds, “Very quiet and smooth. Lots of power and runs like a champ”. This Lexus has just been serviced for minor maintenance and the repair shop rates its health as “good” overall. It is suggested that some of the aged suspension components could be replaced but overall the car still rides nicely.

There is no mention, in the listing, of the interior but there are many images and the beige/tan leather has held up quite well. The driver’s seat is showing some signs of wear and discoloration but nothing more than would be considered typical for this age and mileage. Even the floormats, which my right heel has a tendency to murder in short order, look quite new. There’s no mistaking the dash and instrument panel in this LS, it is 1990’s Japanese design and ergonomics all the way.

The body has suffered a few contusions, both front fenders look to have had an amateur repair and paint job bestowed upon them. The seller suggests that it’s the result of the previous, elderly owner who has a little “park by feel” going on. There are a few other nicks and scapes too, but nothing major to report. It’s hard to say how many Lexus LS 400’s wear this rather bland shade of beige but it was very popular and it does age well. It seems like there were more made in this color than any other.

The features here will include the usual found on a car of this stature, ie sunroof, automatic A/C, power assists for seats, locks and windows, cruise control, four-speed automatic transmission, alloy wheels, cassette deck, all of the usual suspects. So now, this isn’t a collector car but it would make a great second car for general purpose. And at this accumulated mileage, this Lexus has a long way to go. It’s especially encouraging knowing that an elderly individual owned it because it was probably well cared for and easily driven, other than the parking snafu. And actually, you could leave the front fenders as is and not worry about what may happen in parking lots or on the road with a little bumper friction. If you are looking for a second-time-around luxury car, this Lexus would be a great selection. So, what do you think, will Lexus and others like Infinity or Acura (other than the NSX) ever gain collector car status and value?

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  1. CCFisher

    Sorry to pick on you, Jim, but these had 260hp. I can’t help it. I can remember the smallest detail of magazine articles I read decades ago, but I can’t remember what I had for dinner.

    Like 7
    • Jim ODonnell Jim ODonnell Staff

      No worries, thx for the correction.


      Like 2
  2. 8thNote 8thNote Member

    These 1st Lexus LS cars are getting very popular these days. Luxurious, powerful, and (relatively) simple engines. What is not to love. My best friend’s parents had one in the late 90s when we were teenagers and would let us take it out cruising. An amazing car. I would love to have one.

    Like 3
    • JoeNYWF64

      I don’t know what you were doing, but you weren’t “cruising”!
      Crusing pretty much ended by 1990 when people downtown got out of hand & locals complained, & these signs were put up
      all over the country! …
      THE quintesstial cruising movie is “American Grafitti”(where were you in ’62?). In it, Milner, Falfa(Harrison Ford!), & even the Toad(or any teenager then, earlier, & later through the 80s would not be caught dead driving a 4 door – even a rolls royce!), let alone something that looked like a bland they all look alike ’90s to present appliance cars!
      Even if you attempted to cruise any downtown this friday or saturday night, even if there was no corona, the very very few people OUTSIDE, if any, would never even notice your polished classic car going by, because their heads would be down constantly looking at their phones – even crossing the street!

  3. Mitchell Member

    Those 70,500 miles must’ve been a bit hard. $6,800 is steep

    Like 13
  4. moorevisual

    agreed ^^ no offense, but much better examples can be had for this amount or less

    Like 5
  5. Vegaman Dan

    Seems like a solid car for college bound student, but about $2k higher than it should be for age and condition.

    Like 2
  6. jwzg

    In the mid ’90’s, I owned (still own) a ’91 LX Mustang 5.0 and thought it was the business. My friend asked me to drive his parents’ LS400 to a town about 45 minutes away to have some light body work done to the car. I’ll never forget the orchestral music playing in the CD player as I motored along in near dead silence. I nailed it to pass a slow moving car and the engine sounded like ripping silk as it screamed to the 6800 rpm redline and the trees on lining the road suddenly turned into something looking like a picket fence. I’m still smiling over that. My old 5.0 didn’t feel that fast anymore.

    Like 14
  7. Kenneth Carney

    Would love to have one too! I’m currently
    in the market for a nice cruiser like this one. Too bad I can’t find one here in Florida. Most of the early Lexus cars that
    were sold here back then are probably crushed by due to lack of proper maintainainence centers to keep them
    running. Back then, if it didn’t say Ford,
    GM, or Chrysler, nine times out of ten,
    you couldn’t get service on them when
    you needed it.

    • ken tilly UK

      So Kenneth, the answer to your dilemma is to buy it and drive it back home. What a pleasure that would be!

      Like 3
  8. On and On On and On Member

    I’ve owned a couple of Lexus SUVs. Awesome cars. Was back when I was working and driving a thousand miles a week all over Wisconsin. I chose AWD vehicles cause of Wisconsin winters. Those cars never fail you. Quiet, comfortable and even get decent milage. Do regular care and they do not break. They are a bargain used. I have a Honda Ridgeline pick-up right now that I just gave to my daughter and son in law and I’m looking forward to replacing it with a Lexus RX350 f-sport. Check them out. There are tons of low milage used Lexus vehicles out there.

    Like 4
  9. Kevin Barr Staff

    My father had one of these when I was growing up. He drove it everywhere for about a decade and eventually donated it to a Purple Heart charity – the car was worn down inside and out, but the drivetrain was still extremely solid. About a year or so after donating it, he went and purchased another one. I’d say these are one of the best “daily driver” vehicles that a person can purchase – they ride like a dream and are fairly affordable to keep up with.

    Like 3
  10. Maestro1 Member

    I think the price is a bit steep but you won’t regret this as a purchase.

  11. sparkster

    Bought my son a car exactly like this only a1997 LS400 same color, interior, more miles. $1580. 75,000 miles later it’s still runs like a top. Best $1580 dollars I have ever spent. But this is not a $6800 Lexus. Wrong color as well. White , silver, or black best colors for resale.

    Like 3
    • TimS

      Best colors for resale? Yeah, that’s my first thought when I buy a 25-year-old beater too.

      Like 4
  12. Jerry

    My daughter in So Cal just bought a 94 with 55,000 miles in near mint condition from a older retired couple for $2,800.
    Dark,dark green with tan leather interior. Interior looks new too.

    Like 1
  13. Jasper

    Yeah this price is ridiculous. I’ll sell anyone my ‘97 Opal Pearl, Coach Edition with 144k needing some “suspension freshening” and an EGR pipe for well under half this ask. I did replace the front radius arms, upper arms and put on KYBs all around. Also did the valve cover gaskets, plug wires etc. Needs front lower control arm bushings, which I have and the rear spherical bushings. Oh, and the antenna is stuck down!

    These cars are really excellent and an interesting buy right now. They can be found for chump change in decent shape. The closest thing to buying a cool ‘60s luxury car in the ‘80s or ‘90s for cheap. However, the VIP and drift crowd are dramatically accelerating the attrition rate. They will mostly disappear soon because of this.

  14. Sunshine

    We had the updated [290HP, 5-speed auto] ’98 Lexus LS400 for 17 years, before selling it six years ago to friends who still love it. Wonderful ride, comfort, fit & finish. Same color combo, and my 87 Y.O. Mother was beginning to drive by touch. My body shop warned me it was considered the most difficult color to replicate, yet they matched the read bumper fascia flawlessly. Always garaged, always dealer maintained, similar mileage, leather interior in FAR BETTER shape than this, and sold it 6 years ago for $5,000. Price needs to be flexible on this listing.

  15. Rich

    In case a buyer is interested, I have a beautiful set of 5 spoke wheels I ran on my LS of same year… email me

  16. djkenny

    This is outrageously overpriced. My neighbor bought a burgundy one with under 80k for under $3000. Its immaculate. Like New. Garaged whole time by original owner.

    Like 1
  17. Motoman

    I had a silver 94 and it was nice untill you had to work on it… the intake has to be removed to replace the starter. Book time is 8 hrs labor and the starter was $500 for a new one, dont even think of putting a reman starter in it. In 96 the egr pipe has to be removed to get the intake off and you have to drop the exhaust at the manifolds, turns it ito a 12+ hr job…. coolant bypass hoses, all gaskets, injector and fuel rail o rings etc all need replaced when you pull the intake. Would rather jam an ice pick under my fingernails than replace another LS400 starter lol

    Like 1
  18. Arthur Gage

    I kinda miss my ’96 LS 400, looked black but it was actually a really deep brown cause you could see the metalflake up close, anyway my wife loved it & wasn’t happy when I traded it for a ’91 Cadillac brougham, (which I only did because I had my eye on an ’04 Lincoln navigator) and the Lexus was hard to sell but I knew the Cadillac wouldn’t be😊 I miss alot of my cars though, I’ve had 42 and gotta deposit on a ’66 toronado as we speak😀 *not that it’s obvious but I’m not all that monogamous with any one make or model lol*

  19. Arthur Gage

    Right Mitchell & moorevisual, it ain’t going nowhere for that price, I got mine for $1700 could’ve swore I robbed the guy without a gun 😆 but the lowest I saw a decent one go for was $1000

  20. Ray Krause

    I believe this incarnation along with the SC 300 and 400 were designed in Orange County, California.
    So much for Japanese design, huh? Best looking Lexus series ever built and will go 300K miles with ease and economy. Here on the left coast it would sell at $4800. tops.

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