Tag Archives: Lexus

One Million Mile Lexus Front

The Dream Road Trip in the Million Mile Lexus

Last Summer, I hopped on a plane from Ireland to America where I spent almost four months exploring, meeting lifelong friends and earning money (and then spending it just as quick). But, the highlight of the whole Summer was driving 1,400 miles through California in something rather special – a Million Mile Lexus.

In 1996, Lexus built a white LS400 with cream leather interior. One lucky and eager customer went to the dealership, signed a piece of paper and parted with their hard-earned cash for this luxury saloon. Today, this Lexus still exists and has now clocked almost one million miles. Enter, the Million Mile Lexus.

The Journey to One Million Miles

Some of you may have heard of The Smoking Tire or Matt Farah. Matt, like me, is a car enthusiast and motoring journalist. He has an impressive car collection consisting of a modified Fox-Body Ford Mustang, a Ford Focus RS, an R129 Mercedes SL500, and amongst others, the first generation Lexus LS400. He bought the car over three years ago for $1,500 with roughly 897,000 miles on it. Now sitting on almost 970, 000, he lends the car to his family and friends to clock up the miles to get to one million.

Matt is the fifth owner of the car. He informed me that the second or third owner did the majority of the miles clocking up nearly 720,000. The fourth owner was not so kind to the car by only doing an oil change every now and then leaving Matt to pick the pieces when he bought it. None the less, he drove it from Florida to Los Angeles in 2014 without fault and christened the car The Million Mile Lexus.

I collected the car early on a Sunday morning. I took an Uber from LAX to Culver City where I agreed to meet Matt. He rocked up in the loudest and sickest Fox-Body Mustang I’ve ever seen. Not many people put love and attention towards the Fox-Body but this thing is menacing! But also behind the gate was the 1996 Lexus LS400 that I was going to cover the next 1,400 miles in. But it wouldn’t be much of an adventure without a rocky start, would it?

The First and Second Hiccup

No, so first up was the battery. The car was sitting for less than 24 hours having been with Matt’s friend for a couple of weeks. But despite that, the car still wouldn’t start. A quick jump start and the V8 bursts into life. Matt told me that the brake lights stick on when the car is parked due to a faulty switch. The way around it? Pretty much bounce on the brake pedal as if it was a trampoline until the red hue of the halogen bulbs has disappeared. All in the name of one million miles, right?

Anyway, I was on my way… almost. I spent couple of days around Venice Beach and doing the Irish proud by getting so sunburnt that I was still paying for it almost two weeks later. This could be considered the second hiccup but instead the second came in guise of a parking ticket. I would like to thank LA for having dedicated days for street cleaning. My fault though because the signs are plastered all over the street telling you to not park your car during the allotted times. Ah, sure look!

Let’s start this Road Trip!

$75 later and I finally started my journey towards San Francisco on Wednesday. I decided to take the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), because when in California… I knew that there were a couple of spots along PCH that had been affected by a landslide in May 2017. Knowing this, I continued to cruise along it for as far as I could. My thinking was that I could just detour close by and jump on the 101, like Google Maps was screaming at me since I left Malibu. But much to her despair, I kept on the PCH until San Simeon. It was here that realisation hit me in the shape of a flashing, orange sign. Said sign was informing me that there was a road block 20 miles up the road without a detour. I gave in to Google Maps at this stage and headed back 10 miles towards the 101. It was now approaching 7pm. The next four hours were spent sitting on cruise control and scrolling Spotify for something to keep me alert.

These four hours were probably the most comfortable hours of my life. Although sitting on galactic mileage, the interior only suffers from minimal wear and tear. 21 years of entering and exiting the Million Mile Lexus, the leather on the door was telling its tale through a worn and torn patch in the leather. The centre console cubby hole is filled with broken phone cables, cassette tapes and numerous empty rolls of Sellotape, probably holding more than a few interior bits together. The Belkin cassette adapter pumps music through the speakers keeping me alert throughout my journey.

This 5-speed auto is at home on the motorway, even if the cruise control is a bit temperamental when wanting to stay on or not. The auto “slush-box” is mated to the 245hp, or 264hp I’m not entirely sure which version I had, 4.0 V8 petrol which lets off a majestic rumble when you pull off. In Ireland, it is understandable that these cars are gently dying off because of our tax system. If the Million Mile Lexus lived in Ireland, the owner would have to put up with €1,809 tax bill.

After rolling into San Francisco at 10pm, a much needed beer was had and then it was off to bed, or couch rather. Thankfully the friend who I was staying with was near to Haight and Ashley, well known for its 60’s movements. Finding things to do in the city was not hard to come by. I only had the day in SF before I moved on so I planned nothing and just strolled around the city aimlessly. That night was interesting spending it in a Tiki Bar drinking some flaming and strong rum based drinks.

Bye Bye San Francisco, Hello Lake Tahoe!

The next morning got off to rough start, for me not the car. Armed with a bucket load of coffee, I headed across country towards Napa Valley. Unfortunately, but thankfully for my liver, I did not get to do any wine tastings but I did drive by countless vineyards and just took in the scenery in general. Having become found of wines like Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, it was cool to see one of the most well-known regions for these wines.

I rolled into Lake Tahoe at 6pm that night to an Airbnb that looked like it was out of a horror movie. The only reassuring thing was that there were other houses beside it who would be able hear my screams, if needs be…

I spent the following day doing outdoorsy things because otherwise I’d feel guilty. I rented a mountain bike and explored the coast of Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake. Having gone from living in Chicago for three months and then spending a week in California, I immediately regret not coming to Cali sooner. Illinois has Chicago. California has San Diego, LA and San Francisco and between these major cities, scenery that puts the “Windows” screen saver to shame.

After a day of exploring Tahoe, a flight to NY beckoned so it meant that I had to drop the Lexus back to LA. Heading down the mountain from Tahoe put the brakes to the test. Stopping every 20 to 30 minutes became the norm as I let them cool down. 8 hours on the 395, a road that can only be described as one of the most beautiful highways in the world, and I was finally back in Santa Monica.

Farewell Million Mile Lexus

I dropped back the Million Mile Lexus to Culver City early on Monday morning. As I turned the key for the final time, the V8 settled down and went back to sleep. A sincere thanks to Matt for letting me enjoy the journey through California in the Lexus, it genuinely wouldn’t have been the same in any other car. Character is the fore front of this car and it doesn’t deserve a better owner than Farah himself. Thanks Matt, I’ll be back. Don’t you worry!

Reflecting back on my week, I saw a state that I could only dream was as actually beautiful as it is. I’ve wanted to go to California for a very long time and being there only made the experience better, it did not disappoint. I could have pestered the PR people from GM, BMW or Audi, and not have got anywhere. Or I could have taken a car that has seen America countless times and has a history to go with it. The Million Mile Lexus was flawless throughout my 1,400 miles with it. I dropped it back with 967, 316 miles on the clock. Except for the battery at the start of the trip, the car did not once splutter. After driving it, why everyone doesn’t have a Lexus LS400 on their drive way is beyond me. Buy one!