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At the Lexus SC 430 preview - in the spring of 2000 - the disappointment among automotive journalists was palpable. Lexus had taken the truly captivating design of the first-generation SC and essentially disregarded it, replacing the earlier architecture with one drawn by Toyota's team in Europe. The contrast wasn't as strong (or dysfunctional) as when the Jag E-Type morphed into the most unfortunate XJ-S in 1976, but it was close.

Some seven years after production of the SC 430 ended, however, a coupe/convertible prospect has the benefit of both hindsight and nostalgia. Lines that once looked almost awkward when juxtaposed against the first SC are softened by time. And while the SC 430's retractable roof wasn't the first execution of a coupe/convertible hardtop, you can assume it works more predictably than its German counterparts.

While purportedly seating four, this is a tight 2+2. But with V8 power and a 3,800 pound curb weight, the SC 430 is a substantive, comfortable way of propelling yourself down the road; think of it as a Miata for those wearing 'plus' sizes. This for-sale example, with 165,000 miles, is well-used, and its $9K asking price is at the top of the dealer range. But if you like its color and equipment, a well-maintained Lexus should - and could - give you another 100,000 miles of reliable service.

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