Looking at My Old Lexus GS Sparked a Little Nostalgia

The 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque coming from the 4.0-liter 1UZ-FE VVT-i engine scooted this big-body behemoth briskly.

Here’s another one from the archives of the cars I’ve owned. The people who’ve known me longest know that I hold an affinity for big-body Lexus sedans quite close to my heart, and this was the second one I owned. The original “bad boy” Japanese sport sedan, the Lexus GS400.

  • Car: 1999 Lexus GS400
  • Location: Antelope Valley, CA
  • Photog: Chris Rosales (IG + Twit @Chrishasacamera)
  • Camera: iPhone 7

This is the car I owned after I had my Acura RSX Type-S, which came after my BMW 330i ZHP. I got rid of the Type-S pretty quickly because I was disappointed with it, and proudly declared that I needed another V8 Lexus sedan in my life. Truth was, not much can compete with the 330i ZHP, especially for the $5,700 I paid for it. So, the RSX moved on, and I bought this old-man spec GS400.

I didn’t quite want to get back into BMWs at the time, but I craved some luxury and refinement after the thrashy RSX. My GS400 was actually a great cure for that. It had 176,000 miles, was healthy as can be, pearl white, and I got it for $3,000. Sure, the seats were starting to tear but it had the Nakamichi stereo that bumped so I could forgive some flaws. Especially for the price. I drove it around for a few months until I got hit and ran at an intersection. Sadly, it died with me.

The GS400 is actually kind of fascinating. Lexus claimed that it was the world’s fastest sport sedan in 1997, one year before the E39 BMW M5 came out. Lexus also said that the E-shift gearbox (actually an adapted Aisin A650E automatic transmission) was a world first in a sport sedan. No matter what, the 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque coming from the 4.0-liter 1UZ-FE VVT-i engine scooted this big-body behemoth briskly. I worked at Six Flags at the time, which was actually a hilariously fun job basically joking with my coworkers while doing zero real work, and my commute was through the canyons. Though the car felt heavy and boaty, it did oversteer around low-speed corners with ease. Not that I’d condone such behavior on the street.

As big as we could get it:

Black and white photo of a 1999 Lexus GS400
Chris Rosales

Chris RosalesChris has owned 12 cars of questionable quality, is an experienced motorsports photographer, and a good all-around wrench. When he isn’t tinkering with his car in his home garage, you can catch Chris in the canyons around SoCal. He also hopelessly hankers for Euros, but he honestly knows he should get something Japanese, eventually. Contact the author here.