Today is World Car Free Day, so it’s fitting that I spent it driving two gas-guzzlers. And I’m not sure witch one I would rather buy with my own money, because these two are very evenly matched, all things considered. Let’s battle!
In the blue corner, we have a Chevrolet Caprice Classic from 1991. It has the low-tech 305 L03 up front, with the four speed auto shifted from the column, and feels like it has one of the taller geared differentials in the back - pace is leasurly. The archetipical land-yacht from the USA, with huge bench seats front and back, questionable fitment materials and some silliness - like having the spare wheel right in the middle of the trunk. It’s one of the least sporty cars I ever drove, even though that includes a 45 HP Lancia Y10 and a 60 HP Opel Kadett. Not much of a looker either. So all in all, a cheap, and deservedly forgotten solution for you personal travel needs.
However, this particular example has been pampered for all of it’s 25 years, and has not yet passed the 50.000 mile mark - the SBC is barely broken in. It is basically in as good and original shape, as a 25 yo Chevy can get. If taken care of, this car might even work as an investment. Or at least let’s hope so.
But let’s see who’s in the red corner!
Oh yeah, right on baby. Here we have the finest from the Land of the Rising Sun, the original, the meanest, the baddest Lexus, the LS 400. This is a 1993 example, so the key still has the emblem from 24 carat gold, but the transmission is 3+overdrive and the superb 1UZ-FE pushes 250 HP through that, in the most peaceful manner imaginable. It still has the stance to turn heads today, and it’s still is the quietest, most cosseting ride you can shake a stick at, while handling very well.
However. This particular example has now passed 250.000 miles, and not all of that under the greatest of cares. The ‘box needed a swap, because the previous owner used the wrong fluid. The ignition needed a complete rebuild. So did the suspension - and these cost an arm and leg too, the value of the car has been spent on it twofold now. And the body is yet to come: there’s some rust, there are dings and scratches... And, because the price of petrol is high here, there’s a LPG system installed, with the extra fuel tank residing where the spare wheel was. Using LPG is a good way to save on the fuel bill of a V8, but it does dry out components in the motor, and it also means the car only has 190 HP, maybe.
So even though the LS 400 is a great car, it’s also very expensive to maintain after 23 years, and this one needs spending.
It’s your money. You pick. I know I can’t.