Value on an awesome scale.
There’s simply no other way to describe a 15 year old Japanese-import Toyota
Celsior (aka Lexus LS400). When you can buy a car with this level of sophistication
and quality for around AUD$7000 (non ADR’d), you know it’s a good time to be in
the used car market...
Slip behind the wheel of a Celsior and you’re looking at a carbon-copy of a
LS400. There’s the same dashboard layout, effective sound insulation, timber
trim and high quality materials throughout. Oh, and the doors shut beautifully –
as you’d expect from a car designed with world-beating
As detailed later in this article, the Japanese-market Celsior is available
in several trim levels. Base versions come with fabric trim while leather trim,
an electric sunroof and CD stacker are popular options. Some examples also
feature a massaging, electrically reclining and heated rear seat – a big novelty
The cabin is biased towards intimate luxury rather than outright space. The
centre console and door trims are bulky and lavishly trimmed, and rear seat
legroom is comparable to a current Falcon or Commodore. The driver can get
comfortable thanks to an electrically adjustable seat (with memory settings) and
an electric tilt-away steering column. A driver’s airbag is also fitted as
Under the bonnet is the 1UZ-FE 4.0 litre V8 boasting DOHC, 4 valve per cylinder
heads and a 10.0:1 compression ratio. Factory output is 191kW at 5400 rpm and
353Nm at 4600 rpm. Note that the 1UZ is claimed to produce 90 percent of peak
torque from 2000 to 5600 rpm but, curiously, it feels much gruntier above
4000 rpm – keep it revving and you’ll be thrust along quite briskly. It’s a very
refined engine with minimal vibration at high rpm.
All Celsiors are fitted with a 4-speed automatic transmission. Driven with
the transmission in default settings (overdrive and Economy mode), the engine
constantly runs at low rpm to help reduce fuel consumption. However, for
spirited driving, the transmission should be locked out of overdrive and
switched to Power mode – this makes a noticeable difference to the Celsior’s
The Toyota Celsior tips the scales between 1690 and 1790kg depending on
options. Stall it off the line and there’s no doubt this vehicle can reach 100
km/h in the 8 second range. Quarter mile performance is reputedly in the
mid-high 15s – indicative of the strong top-end power and slick aerodynamics
(0.29 Cd). Expect typical fuel consumption in the 12 to 14 litre per 100km
range. Premium unleaded is recommended.
The Celsior rides on double wishbone suspension at each corner. Lower-spec
versions use conventional springs and our test car was fitted with switchable
TEMS. The TEMS system (with switches seen here) offers "normal" or "sport"
damping modes for a discernable change in chassis feel. Up-spec versions employ
airbags in place of the conventional spring arrangement.
The rear-wheel-drive chassis offers good traction off the line, but the
absence of a LSD (even as an option) means you can spin one of the rear tyres
when stalling up. Our test vehicle was equipped with optional traction control
and ABS but, unfortunately, there was a problem with both systems.
Wheels are under-sized by today’s standards – 16 inch alloys and 215/65 tyres
are nothing special. Our test vehicle ran 17s with low-profile rubber for a
Our biggest dislike of the Celsior is its steering. Its power-assisted rack
and pinion arrangement gives very poor feel and precision at the straight-ahead
position - it’s not as bad off-centre, but the weighting remains very light and
the ratio is slow. It isn’t the sort of steering you’d find in a performance
Ventilated four wheel disc brakes come fitted as standard and ABS is found on
most examples. Note that twin-pot calipers were fitted from 1991.
Stylistically, the Celsior/LS400 was criticised for its bland Camry-like
styling. But 15 years after its release, this conservatism has paid dividends –
the simple lines aren’t glaringly outdated. The twin exhaust tips are a sporty
touch but the upright front grille and headlights are very staid. The grille was
revised in the 1991 update model.
As seen here, the Celsior looks sensational with a set of big wheels, window
tint and a complimenting paint colour.
At the time of writing, Adelaide’s Yahoo Motorsport (www.yahoomotorsport.com) had almost 20
Celsiors in stock or awaiting arrival. Prices vary depending on condition,
kilometres and options. However, as a guide, our 1990 test car (fitted with
traction control, ABS, leather, CD stacker and aftermarket 17s) had around
165,000km on the odometer and was available for just AUD$6900. Add approximately
AUD$2500 for compliance (from companies such as Best Enterprises) and you’ve got
a truly exceptional vehicle on the road for less than 10 gees.
You can expect a 15 year old Celsior to require some maintenance – it’s
inevitable. Our test car had its traction control and ABS problem along with a
faulty power window and inoperative hand brake. Certainly, it’s the sort of
vehicle where you want to keep some money in reserve in case something goes wrong.
Areas to look out for are sick airbag suspension systems (where fitted), power
steering leaks and transmission trouble. There’s also an occasionally smoky
To achieve more power from the 1UZ-FE we’d measure flow restriction through
the factory airbox and replace/modify as necessary. The quiet factory exhaust
system is also a likely power killer – and an exhaust taking components from a LS1 HSV (or
similar) would make an ideal upgrade. With the intake and exhaust modified we
predict a 10 percent power hike - expect about 210kW.
Other mods we’d look into is fitment of a Toyota Soarer steering rack (which
has a quicker ratio than the Celsior) and limited slip diff from a Supra.
There certainly is the potential to make a great car even better.
The Japanese-market Toyota Celsior was released in four spec levels. As far
as we can determine, the details of these are...
The base A-spec (chassis code E-UCF10-AEPNK) comes with fabric trim only,
cruise control, climate control, tuner/cassette, timber highlights, power
windows and driver’s seat and driver’s airbag. ABS is optional.
The next level up is the B-spec (chassis code E-UCF10-AEPGK). The B-spec
comes with a standard CD stacker, optional leather and sunroof. ABS, traction
control and TEMS are standard. A front spoiler is also fitted.
C-spec Celsiors (coded E-UCF11-AEPQK) can be identified with standard airbag
suspension. Again, leather is optional along with a sunroof and front spoiler.
ABS, traction control and CD are standard.
The top-line version is the C-spec Celsior equipped with the F package -
chassis code E-UCF11-AEPQK(F). The F package adds rear air conditioning (with
rear controls) and a massaging, electrically reclining and heated rear seat.
Note – if you’re interested in buying a Celsior, we suggest that you also
read The Lexus LS400.
Yahoo Motorsport www.yahoomotorsport.com.au
+61 8 8345 0939/ 0416 080462
Best Enterprises +61 8 8262 6055
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