Junkyard Gem: 2002 Lexus GS 300

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Toyota finally killed off the Lexus GS last year, after nearly 20 years of earning respect but not nearly as many yen as the Toyota City overlords had hoped. American car buyers came to prefer truck-shaped machinery during the production life of the GS, and those who wanted sedans didn't see the advantages of the rear-wheel-drive GS over the similarly-sized-but-cheaper ES. From 1993 through 2005, American Lexus shoppers could buy a new GS with the magnificent 2JZ straight-six engine, which achieved international gearhead immortality thanks to a certain movie franchise, and these cars have been very difficult for me to find during my junkyard travels. Here is a rare example of the final generation of 2JZ-equipped GS 300s, found in a Northern California boneyard last summer.

V8 versions of the GS (the 400 and, later, 430) could be bought here, equipped with the bulletproof-but-heavy 1UZ/3UZ V8 engine out of the LS. Those cars were quicker and faster than the GS 300 but handled in more ponderous fashion.

This engine was rated at 220 horsepower, but you could get scary multiples of that amount with the addition of aftermarket boost. In Japan, this car's Aristo counterpart got 276 horses out of its turbocharged 2JZ.

No manual transmission could be had in the 2002 GS (nor in the JDM Aristo and its Crown cousin), but at least the enforced automatic came with five forward speeds. This car looked and felt like a smaller LS 430 inside, but the rear-wheel-drive layout made the rear seat space smaller than that of the Camry-based ES 300.

Finding the keys in a new-ish junkyard car means that it was most likely an insurance total or dealership trade-in. Maybe someone will rescue that 2JZ before The Crusher eats it.

As always with Toyota products, the Japanese-market ads were more dramatic than those from elsewhere.

The V8-equipped GS forces the BMW 540i to drive over a cliff, Wile E. Coyote-style.

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