How 1996 Lexus LS Made it to 1 Million Miles
The undeniable quality of Lexus vehicles is what makes them capable of astronomical mileage numbers.
The Lexus LS 400 That Surpassed All Expectations
The odometer reading tends to be one of the main selling points of any used vehicle sold. It provides a glimpse into how long the motor has been in service and hints at how much work the new owner would have to put in regarding maintenance and possible repair. So, it was quite unexpected when Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire bought a 1996 Lexus LS400 which had apparently done 894,000 miles by 2014 just to try and see if it could hit the million-mile mark. Recently, he was able to do just that with it, thereby driving the LS 400 into the vehicle hall of fame.
Photos courtesy of The Smoking Tire (Instagram)
Lead engineer of the LS400, Ichiro Suzuki began the implementation of what would be called the ‘Lexus Musts.’ From the early 90s, each model had to meet these product standards. These objectives were a number of no compromise goals on the cars coming out at the time. For example, the LS 400 dashboard and seats were to have the ability to withstand heat, wear and tear while also providing the soft and high-quality characteristics of a luxury model. These are the small nuances that would make the owner want to keep the vehicle for a long time, perhaps even chaining the owner to the brand. It’s worth considering the fact that these ‘Lexus Musts’ may have had something to do with this 2nd-generation LS 400’s ability to reach the million-mile mark.
We can also agree that the secret behind the longevity of most cars (mechanically speaking) also lies with the driver. The art of keeping a vehicle in great condition and of resisting to tax it at every opportunity is a rare thing. Of course, there is no amount of careful driving which can shield someone from engine knocks and oil leaks. Some things are just plain bad luck. However, that said, chances are that this million-mile LS 400 may not have made it this far if it had careless prior owners.
Questions abound from several quarters about this car's ability to keep chugging along. How is the motor still alive? What about the transmission and the drivetrain? The truth is, it has seen its fair share of mechanical issues as the four-speed automatic transmission has been reconstructed at least three times. The engine, according to Farah, has never been opened though. He also claims the cabin upholstery has remained the same. Fellow enthusiasts also confirmed that apart from a cover gasket leak that occasionally got into the exhaust manifold, things were relatively okay.
Excellent Ride Quality
From Freddy Hernandez’s experience on behalf of Jalopnik, there are enough creaks to show that there have been a few owners before, but not enough to keep the driver checking the side mirror for falling parts. The ride is akin to an S class with 200,000 miles under its belt; for a million-mile Lexus, that is incredibly impressive.
When Matt Farah purchased the LS 400, it was not on its last legs, and it still isn't. This car's 1UZ-FE 4.0-liter V8 engine has been proven to be quite reliable as a motor. It still propels the car with confidence and swiftness as it was meant to.
Photo Courtesy of Jalopnik.com
Car for the Ages
The testament of this car should not lie solely on the shoulders of Matt Farah and it hasn’t. He frequently invites other enthusiasts to come and drive the car when possible. Freddy Hernandez, for example, took a 12 hour trip by bus to Ohio just so he could have a crack at it. Other YouTube channels and social media hash-tags have kept a close watch on the progress of the vehicle. Farah is the one though, who took it to the finish line and drummed up the support that has made it an icon. Every enthusiast aspires to make a car with the right potential, a keeper that will endure for years.
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