The Truth About Cars » LFA http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 22 Apr 2014 14:37:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » LFA http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Remember This Top Secret Facility? You Have Been There http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/remember-this-top-secret-facility-you-have-been-there/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/remember-this-top-secret-facility-you-have-been-there/#comments Sat, 16 Feb 2013 17:11:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=477827

After Toyota ended production of the Lexus LFA and closed a chapter of supercar history, National Geographic aired its documentary as part of its Megafactories series. “Up until now, no television cameras have ever been allowed inside this top secret facility,” says the film. The words were carefully chosen. You, the TTAC readers, had been there long before the film went on air.

TTAC readers will find many familiar scenes and faces in the National Geographic documentary about the “top secret megafactory” at the Motomachi plant. As the first reporters to receive full access to the running production of the LFA, TTAC published a five part report about the making of the LFA in July of 2012.

Who are the masked men?

On December 15 2012, the last of 500 LFA, a white Nürburg Ring Edition, left the assembly plant in Motomachi. After that, the plant was shut down. Most of its 170 workers were assigned to other tasks at Motomachi. A small team is taking care of the 500 LFA customers.

This is the man whose insistence and persistence had made the TTAC story possible: LFA Deputy Chief Engineer Chiharu Tamura. Here, we catch him in a private moment at the Bridgestone booth of the Tokyo Auto Salon. The lifelong chassis man says good-bye to his work and the street-spec Bridgestone Potenza tire fitted to the LFA. Chief Engineer Tanahashi and Tamura had insisted on using the standard tire during the LFA’s attempt on the Nordschleife in September 2011. They refused to fudge with racing slicks. With seven minutes, 14.64 seconds, the LFA clocked the fastest Ring time among the bona-fide production models. A week later, the record was ruined by a Dodge Viper ACR . Its alleged slicks and splitter keep discussion forums buzzing to this day. Don’t worry, the LFA won’t be back.

Domo arigato gozaimasu, Tamura-san.

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Tokyo Auto Salon: The LFA Roadster That Drives Bloggers Bonkers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/tokyo-auto-show-the-lfa-roadster-that-drives-bloggers-bonkers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/tokyo-auto-show-the-lfa-roadster-that-drives-bloggers-bonkers/#comments Fri, 11 Jan 2013 18:37:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=472966 This innocent white car will lead major news outlets astray. It already does. Shown at 2UX3J, or rather the Lexus booth, this LFA roadster concept makes blogs of all stripes, from Jalopnik to our sister publication Autoguide, fantasize about an impending launch in 2014. I am sorry, they have all been misled.

A usually highly reliable source at Lexus tells me that there will be no LFA roadster, or, for that matter, any other LFA. The project is finished. Done. Syuryo.

The topless car had made appearances at major auto shows in the past in varying colors and sent speculations in high gear. It was never meant for production. Previous reports of an impending launch in 2014 were likewise wrong, my source assures me.

The source confirms TTAC’s report that the team at Motomachi has been mostly disbanded, and that only a small team is retained to supply LFA customers with parts and support. This can be a very safe assignment. Chief Engineer Haruhiko Tanahashi expects the lifetime of an LFA to be 50 years, or more. The carbon fiber material is virtually indestructible.

The car on display in Tokyo is the same car that had been shown before in varying colors. A give-away are the buttons at the center console that already look a little shopworn.

Most likely, this will be the last appearance of the mystery topless LFA. Then why show it at all? Remember, the motto of the 2UX3J Lexus booth is “Real or Fake?” Prepare to be fooled.  The LS600 with studs won’t see the light either.

Sayonara, LFA.

The Lexus LFA roadster. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Lexus LFA roadster. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Lexus LFA roadster. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Lexus LFA roadster. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Sayonara, LFA http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/sayonara-lfa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/sayonara-lfa/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2012 10:58:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=470441

LFA Chief Engineer Haruhiko Tanahashi says good-bye

As intimated last week, Toyota’s production of its LFA supercar is coming to an end. On Friday, LFA #500 left the assembly line at the secretive LFA Works in Toyota’s Motomachi plant. After a week of testing, the car will be delivered to its undisclosed owner.

The 500th and last LFA

The owner is most likely Japanese, because the color of the 500th LFD is whitest white, the LFA’s most popular color, especially en vogue with Japanese customers. It is also the LFA’s trickiest paint job: The base coat is covered with a layer that shines in blue and white under fluorescent light, on top of that comes an enamel coat that in turn is covered by a clear coat.

The owner of the 500thLFA also has ample cash, or at least he did before he paid the bill. His LFA is a Nürburgring Edition (as evidenced by the winglet), $70,000 more bought 11 extra horses and a nice silver-colored oil filter instead of the regulation champagne-colored part.

The autoclave. A giant pressure cooker that limits the Lexus LFA production to one per day

The LFA, went into production at the LFA Works in December 2010 on a make-to-order basis. Mainly limited by the through-put of the autoclave, where pre-preg  CFRP parts had to cure for eight hours, only one LFA per day could be produced .

One of two circular looms on the planet. 12 layers of seamless carbon fiber are woven into what will be part T3-3RH, part A-pillar, part roof support

Sadly, it will be getting very quiet at LFA Kobo, as the  LFA Works are called internally. The LFA does not have a successor, nor is anything planned “at the moment,” as we hear from Toyota’s Tokyo spokesperson Shino Yamada.

Fender being fitted to the non-monocoque LFA

Most of the 170 workers are assigned to other tasks at Motomachi. Clean room, presses, and the monster autoclave will be used to make parts to supply the 500 LFA in use, and possibly to go into new cars made by Toyota elsewhere. Last we heard, the team did bid to make the roof of car to be built in the Toyota empire. Decision unknown.

This reporter is being vacuumed to protect the LFA’s carbon fiber from filth and grime

TTAC is proud of having received unprecedented access to the LFA works. I was the first reporter who was given free roam of the facilities during series production, camera in hand.You could get into the halls of the LFA if you bought one, but your photographic equipment had to be kept outside. Automotive News’s Tokyo Correspondent Hans Greimel was, according to our knowledge, the only other reporter who was let in. He visited the LFA Works in the final months of production and is still writing his story. Look forward to it.

Different types of CFRP are used for different loads

Apart from making 500 LFA supercars, the facility gained Toyota many years of precious experience with CRFP production. Carbon fiber composite production is the new frontier of car making, and the LFA is one of the few cars with a body made mostly from CFRP, and with most of the body made from hand-laid pre-preg, the most expensive and laborious  kind of CFRP.

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Reader’s Rides: It’s Good To Be Akio Toyoda http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/readers-rides-its-good-to-be-akio-toyoda/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/readers-rides-its-good-to-be-akio-toyoda/#comments Wed, 16 May 2012 14:59:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=444639

Today, I happened to be at Toyota’s Tokyo headquarters in order to personally get to the bottom of numbers nobody seems to care about. There was a minor riot in the usually zen-like lobby of 1-4-18 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku.  TTAC was there to investigate …

Toyota employees, who usually pass the cars on display in the reception area without the slightest hesitation, rushed to a matte-black Lexus LFA parked near the entrance. One woman touched the car as if it was a sacred object.

Another man impulsively checked himself. It is hot again in Tokyo, and people start to perspire. “Do I also?” asked this man before he approached the black car.

The matte-black LFA looked like any other $375,000 supercar Lexus makes in Motomachi. Except …

This is a used car!  A used car in Toyota’s holy halls? It looks new to you? Have a look at this:

Spend some time in Japan, and you will run into the dreaded Shaken sticker.  Shaken is the third degree the Japanese government gives people’s cars after three years when the cars are new, and then every two, to make sure that the cars are in working order, allegedly. The examination is so expensive and so rigorous that many Japanese rather buy a new car, much to the joy of the Japanese car industry. Most Japanese prefer “pika-pika” (new and shiny) over “boro-boro” (old and tired) anyway.

Now, for some Shaken arcana. The Shaken sticker of the matte black LFA expires in December of the 25th year of the current Heisei period of Emperor Akihito. Heisei 25 equals 2013, deduct three years …. OMG, this car was registered in December of 2010!

This makes it one of the first cars of the very limited 500 car production run of the LFA.  Production of the LFA started in December 2010. Who owns that rare used car?

Discreet inquiries produced the suggestion that the owner of the used car works at Toyota. It is Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota. The suspicion was confirmed when a polite lady approached the crowd, bowed, and said:

Sumimasen, he needs his car back.”

PS: The image quality may not be up to TTAC standards. The pictures were taken with my cellphone, and my hands were shaken …

Akio Toyoda's LFA. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Akio Toyoda's LFA. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Akio Toyoda's LFA. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Akio Toyoda's LFA. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Akio Toyoda's LFA. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Vellum Venom: 2012 Lexus LFA http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/vellum-venom-2012-lexus-lfa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/vellum-venom-2012-lexus-lfa/#comments Mon, 09 Apr 2012 11:23:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=438864 I understand the need for a luxury car maker to create a super car. It spilled into my drawing books at CCS. But I love Lincolns. To wit: a stand up grille (modeled after the Bugatti EB110), covered headlights (Continental Mark III) , a power dome hood and an-ever-so-slight Continental kit that blended into a spoiler (like the final RX-7).  Jokes about my Panther Love on TTAC is fine, but I was far too scared to encourage the stereotypes in design school. I showed absolutely nobody my super car Lincoln, and I never will…it, among other aborted design studies, went in the trash when I left Detroit.

But Lexus? No, they actually think they can play in this space. At least long enough to make a statement: since I never did, I do applaud their effort. Even if I don’t especially like it.

 

The LFA has an odd symmetry about it: from some angles, things like the bulbous and bowed headlight buckets look great.  Especially from far away, as the front clip looks like a Honda S2000 that’s trying way too hard to look cool.  Look a little closer to see why.

 

The hard crease which abruptly ends the headlights and this speed hole are a little too “static” for a high speed machine.  Then again, it has the strong fender line of my Lincoln super car, which I used to reference the 1961 Continental’s flat fenders.  Lexus did this because…well, who knows?

 

I still don’t know what’s going on here: the fender, hood and bumper meet up like a love triangle gone awry.  Fix it by going Lambo, using the same bumper cutline for both the fender and the hood.  This would certainly clean up the look.

 

Speaking of clean, this black aerodynamic thingie looks just right for a super car made by a subtle luxury car manufacturer.  I’m sure it does…something.

 

I don’t know why the signal lights need such an extravagant appendage.  It looks like a super-minimalist buffet table from the dining room of a coke dealer in Miami Vice.  I love it.

 

The golfball dimples on the badge are a nice touch, but I’d prefer the corporate logo was mounted flush like damn near every other car in this class. This is another busy element to a car that needs to chill the heck out.

 

But when you step back and turn the corner, things don’t look that bad at all.  Still busy and over detailed, but it also looks like a really, really pissed off LS460. Which I can appreciate.

 

Surprisingly, Lexus went understated in a place you wouldn’t expect: the carbon fiber side aerodynamic thing.  Again, maybe this really helps, but at least it doesn’t look like an afterthought.

 

The fixed vent window is a little disappointing. Combined with the harsh meeting of the A-pillar to the fender, the LFA looks far too static and stodgy compared to the same implementation in the Ford GT.

 

These speedy side view mirrors do look pretty snazzy, even if they don’t “fly” quite as visually high as the original wing mirrors of the Ferrari Testarossa.

 

This scoop is definitely not Lambo or Ferrari. The L-Finesse design language works rather well here, and justifies the need for a Lexus super car.  Okay, maybe that’s stretching it a bit too much.

 

This shot reminds me of aquarium fish brave enough to open their mouths against the glass, trying to eat whatever child is gawking from the other side.

Nothing works from this angle, and this is how you approach as you reach for the door handle (bottom RH corner).  Not to mention that this speed hole literally covers the quarter window, big fish in the aquarium style!

 

When you step back, the “fish” turns into an odd bit of L-Finesse meets Volvo P1800. Except it is still an aesthetic affront to my senses because of its proximity to the quarter window.

 

I have yet to meet a super car that I didn’t adore from this angle.  Tumblehome and flared fenderwells are a truly magical thing.

 

The negative area on the posterior (i.e. the black grilles) provides a carve out to the otherwise uninspiring rear bumper. While I admire the LFA’s blend of hard and soft contours, the meeting of the negative area with the fenders is far too harsh.  It’s simply fighting every other element presented.

 

Negative area should accent or complement other design elements on a rear bumper. The LFA turned them into a duo of malcontents in the hen house.

 

But wait, it gets worse.  The mini spoilers atop both taillights look just as bad as the afterthought body kit on a Toyota Corolla S. But I am sure these are not held on with adhesive backing, even if their placement would make that acceptable.

 

Yes indeed: I think the Corolla S reference is still valid…son!

 

And unlike the McLaren MP4-12C previously reviewed, the lighting elements are also slapped in odd locations with no attention to how their form can accentuate the LFA’s butt.  Then again, with a butt as contrived as this…also take note of the exposed fasteners in the upper RH corner of this picture.

 

Now these fasteners look great.  Everyone loves seeing a functional bit of kit when presented with such flash (shiny) and modesty (black paneling).

 

The exhaust pipes mean business. The dealer installed chrome license plate says what everyone already knows: the LFA is only for the Toyota loyalists.  If this was the mid-1990s, I’d fully expect to see gold emblems, too. Just kidding.  Except maybe not.

 

And that ends it.  When a luxury brand goes for the heart of super car passion, this is their “end” result.  There’s little to be excited about, considering the sizzle from the usual suspects at this price point.  And considering the LFA’s not-mind-blowing performance, the steak isn’t that noteworthy, either.

Then again, perhaps the same thing could be said of the original LS400.  And we all know how that turned out for the Lexus brand.

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How To Build A Lexus LFA Supercar – In Seven Not So Easy Steps http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/how-to-build-a-lexus-lfa-supercar-%e2%80%93-in-seven-not-so-easy-steps/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/how-to-build-a-lexus-lfa-supercar-%e2%80%93-in-seven-not-so-easy-steps/#comments Tue, 06 Dec 2011 16:54:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=421553

Would you like to know how to build one of the world’s fastest (top speed 202 mph) and most agile (Nordschleife time 7:14.64) supercars? If you want to have a look at how the Lexus LFA is built, then you need to buy one. As part of the ownership experience, you become access to the “LFA Works” at the Motomachi plant in Toyota City, and you can witness how your car is made. At upwards of $375,000 MSRP for the car, this will probably also be one of the world’s most expensive factory tours. Fiscally responsible as we are, Thetruthaboutcars.com brings you a miniature Motomachi. Let the tour begin …

Carbon fiber reinforced plastics body manufacturing (braiding)

In the great Japanese tradition of making dioramas (three-dimensional miniature models, often enclosed in a glass showcase,)

Carbon fiber reinforced plastics body manufacturing (Resin transfer molding)

Lexus employees built the seven stages of the LFA production as museum quality miniature scenes.

Carbon fiber reinforced plastics body manufacturing (Autoclave)

At Motomachi, the Lexus LFA is built by master craftsmen (takumi) at just one unit per day.

Carbon fiber reinforced plastics body manufacturing (inspection)

Assembled using aerospace techniques for maximum strength and minimum weight, the car makes extensive use of advanced materials.

Painting

Currently, the dioramas are at the Tokyo Motor Show, behind the disrobed LFA.

Vehicle assembly

After the show, the dioramas will be displayed at the Toyota Tech Center, at the Toyota Kaikan Museum, at the Lexus Takanawa Show Room, etc.

Vehicle inspection

After a long tour, the dioramas will find a permanent home at the Toyota Automobile Museum. There, they will be close to the circular loom, a landmark invention by Toyoda, back from 1906, long before cars were built.

100 years later, the braiding machine for the carbon fiber reinforced plastics body manufacturing reminds us of the invention that helped finance the start of Toyota in 1936.

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Inside The Lexus LFA: Soon You Will Hear How It Changes The Lexus Brand, Chief Engineer Says http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/inside-the-lexus-lfa-soon-you-will-hear-how-it-changes-the-lexus-brand-chief-engineer-says/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/inside-the-lexus-lfa-soon-you-will-hear-how-it-changes-the-lexus-brand-chief-engineer-says/#comments Thu, 01 Dec 2011 21:34:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=420994

Sometimes, there are perks in this business. Yesterday, I had the biggest perk so far: I saw a  $375,000 (base) supercar in the nude. And I could ask the man who built the LFA what he was thinking. He thinks the LFA could change Lexus as we know it.

Haruhiko Tanahashi is the Chief Engineer of the Lexus LFA, the storied supercar, population 500. A Chief Engineer at Toyota and hence at Lexus is much more than an engineer. He is the father of the car, he is responsible for the car from idea to realization and optimization.

A lot has already been written about the LFA. I wanted to know only one thing: Why?

Why build a car that is limited to 500 units, which are beyond the reach of a mere mortal? Will the LFA remain an exotic  island, or will its technology filter down into the whole Lexus line?

Yes it will, and it already does, says Tanahashi:

“Sure, there will be direct technology transfers to all Lexus lines. For instance  carbon, engine efficiency and more. But the most important cross pollination is not the car itself, it is the thought process behind the car. That thought process could change the philosophy of Lexus 180 degrees.”

Tanahashi gives just one example that is indicative of what may happen to the Lexus brand, should the ideas behind the LFA prove communicable:

“In the past, the engine sound has always been something we were trying to suppress. We were trying to remove all sounds from the car. I was told and I told my people: Sounds are bad, sounds are bad, sounds are bad. Especially the engine sound. We used to want that as quiet as possible.

What is different with the LFA is that you hear the music of the engine, and it has a beautiful sound. People want to hear that sound.

That is one example that you will be seeing – well, hearing – in other Lexus cars in the future.”

When Tanahashi and his team developed the LFA, they worked with Yamaha. Not only with Yamaha, the engine builders. They worked with the musical instrument builders at Yamaha. They turned the LFA into a musical instrument. Not a synthesizer that plays sampled engine sound. They turned the LFA into a veritable wind instrument.

Tanahashi’s Deputy Chief Engineer Chiharu Tamura demonstrates this for me on the most unusual LFA I had ever seen (not that I have seen many): A naked, disrobed LFA. They removed the outer skin of the car so that all that is inside can be seen and touched.

In the LFA, the air rushes into an opening on the engine side of the firewall. The air enters an echo chamber in the dash, and sound is emitted though small openings in the dashboard.

In addition, there is a membrane behind the engine computer that creates sound as the air rushes across the rear of the car.

Of course there was another question that needed to be asked, and that is the question of the Nürburgring Nordschleife lap time. Currently, the LFA lap time stands at 7 minutes, 14:64 seconds, which is “very fast” as Tanahashi states, and do I honestly want more?

Then the Chief Engineer kicks in, and Tanahashi feeds me the company line that nobody wants to set a record on the Nordschleife. Driving there is done solely in the name of science and testing, to optimize the ride, to make it handle well, and the 7 minutes, 14:64 seconds are simply a result of this test.

There must be a secret cue card which is used by all manufacturers, because they all say the same: “Record? Us? On the Nürburgring? What record?”

I roll my eyes so fast that I become dizzy.

Then slowly, a smile unfolds in Tanahashi’s face, he leans forward, lowers his voice, and says:

“My test driver Akira Iida says that from his point of view,  we can reach 7:12. He thinks it’s possible. Of course, that is strictly his own private opinion.”

Of course it is.

 

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Nordschleife Mystery: Viper Or Blindworm? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/norschleife-mystery-viper-or-blindworm/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/norschleife-mystery-viper-or-blindworm/#comments Mon, 19 Sep 2011 13:38:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=411628

Last week, news about a Dodge Viper ACR kicking “the ever-living crap out of the Lexus LFA and the Corvette ZR1” (in the matchless and breathless words of Jalopnik) made the rounds trough the webz. At the time, Jack Baruth warned that “there’s no ‘official’ word yet” and mused that the slick boys could have used non-stock tires. Ever since, it became quiet.

A contact who works in one of those top secret garages behind bucolic Eifel farmhouses confirmed that there was a lot of activity last week. He saw ACRs and Corvettes arrive. He saw Tom Coronel come and go. He voiced his doubts whether the ACR was street legal, and called it a “racing version.” If and when the record is confirmed (currently, even Viperclub, where the story originated, does not have anything official – the video above is an old one, got you), the question of street legality will play a big role.

Will the car go in the “production vehicle” column and kick the aforementioned ever-living bowel movement out of the LFA?

Or will remain in the “Non-series/road-legal vehicles” list (where it currently sits until a nitpicking Wikipedian demands “citation please”)?

In the former case, America will have subjugated Japan, again.  In the latter case, the Viper will have beaten a hopped-up BMW E46 CSL of dubious road-worthiness, and a Porsche 911 “non-production prototype.”

My wrenching friend in the Eifel told me that there is a lot of activity in those garages behind the farmhouses, and that there are many taunts in the local Gasthaus.

Stay, well, tuned.

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LFA’s Ring Result Confirmed: 7:14.64 (Video Proof Encl.) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/lfa%e2%80%99s-ring-result-confirmed-714-64/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/lfa%e2%80%99s-ring-result-confirmed-714-64/#comments Wed, 07 Sep 2011 04:25:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=410233

After checking the telemetry, and posing for a group shot, it’s official: The Lexus Nürburgring-enhanced LFA did the now common 20.6 kilometer “sport auto” lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife in seven minutes, 14.64 seconds. That’s a hair better than the Donkervoort D8 RS, which completed the same course in 7:14.89 – 5 years ago. It is also the best time amongst the bona-fide production models. Better than the Nissan GT-R (7 min 24 sec), better than the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (7 minutes 19 sec), better than the Porsche 911 GT2 RS (7 minutes 18 seconds).

Still, it doesn’t take the Lexus all the way to the top of the production league. In front of it are three more “production” cars. Two Radicals (6:48 and 6:55) and one Gumpert Apollo that had rounded the Ring in 7:11.57. All not necessarily mass market cars, but the LFA isn’t either:

Of the plain vanilla LFA, only 500 are built. The record breaking LFA with the Nürburgring package is produced 50 times. However, it is street legal, even under strict German rules. The red “Überführungsnummer”  (dealer or temporary tag) from Cologne (denoted by the “K” in front) attests to that.

Be it as it may, it is a great win, and it will most likely lead to increased tinkering, especially in Zuffenhausen. Being passed by a car nobody ever heard of is one thing. But by a Lexus?

“Ja, was bilden die sich denn ein, die Japaner!”

PS: Bloggers, please don’t try to impress your readers with “bridge to gantry.” As the authority on the topic,  bridgetogantry.com, explains:

“After exiting the carpark at ‘C’ on the map above, drive under the Bridge (Antoniusbuche) at ‘B’. From here it’s 19.1km to the Gantry.”

Bridge to gantry is for tourist days. The full lap is 20.6 kilometers. And here is the video of the full 20.6 kilometers.

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Grudge Match: Reuters Races TTAC! Complete Photo Documentary http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/grudge-match-reuters-races-ttac-complete-photo-documenatry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/grudge-match-reuters-races-ttac-complete-photo-documenatry/#comments Tue, 06 Sep 2011 16:03:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=410389

Reuters is widely considered the best in the business when it comes to the auto beat. They were that before Paul Ingrassia joined Reuters as Deputy Editor-in-Chief. That someone who won the Pulitzer-prize for his coverage of the turmoil at GM took the helm at Reuters only made their coverage better. Amongst the Tokyo auto press corps, Chang-Ran Kim of Reuters reigns supreme.

However, even the best journalists can become a bit territorial, and an aging TTAC blogger who air-drops into Tokyo every other month can become an irritant. After a little back and forth ribbing, we decided: “Let’s settle this like, well, persons.” And a grudge match was arranged:

Ran Kim of Reuters races BS of TTAC. Full race coverage after the jump ….

Immediate question: Race with what? The first idea was to use LFAs. Lexus provided a selection, 2 in black, 2 in white (probably to keep some quota).

Then we asked what would happen if something should happen to the $375,000 car. “No problem,” we were told. “Just buy a new one.” Did I mention that manufacturer largesse is very limited in Japan?

Then someone at Toyota said: “Why not go-karts?”

Great idea! Gazoo Racing volunteered to do race support and to provide the split second timing.

The grudge match promised world-wide attention, so Gazoo took the opportunity to show off some cars. This is the boss’s LFA in “24 hours Nürburgring” livery. He can afford it. If it breaks, they just build a new one.

A nice hot hatch concept. Not for sale.

The sports hybrid concept was ignored by Ran. Even the fake eyelashes could not impress. Ran focused on her race.

Driver’s meeting. Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco moonlights as Chief Referee and explains the course. He also shows the current course record: 13:644 seconds, achieved by a professional Gazoo driver.

This is the coveted trophy the winner of the grudge match will take home: A genuine Team Gazoo wristband! Akio Toyoda has one. The winner of the race will have one as well.

Time to suit up. Ran Kim gets a helmet …

… and race gloves.

BS is likewise outfitted. What did they say about a big head?

Pre-race briefing. Ran gets instructions from a Gazoo race driver.

Ran receives advice I did not get: “You want to win against that German guy? Attitude is everything!”

And Team Reuters is off!

Ran rearranges the track barriers a bit.

And she crosses the finish line at 13:480 seconds.

My time? 16:981. Ran brings home another win for Team Reuters. And did you notice that she even did beat Team Gazoo by a few fractions of a second?

Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Race. Picture Courtesy Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Race. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Race. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Race. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Race. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Race. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Race. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Race. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Race. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Race. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Race. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Race. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Race. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Race. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Match. Picture coutesy Bertel Schmitt Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Match. Picture coutesy Bertel Schmitt Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Match. Picture coutesy Bertel Schmitt Reuters v.v. TTAC Grudge Match. Picture coutesy Bertel Schmitt ]]>
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Great Nordschleifen Time In A LFA. A Bad Day For The Blogs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/great-nordschleifen-time-in-a-lfa-a-bad-day-for-the-blogs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/great-nordschleifen-time-in-a-lfa-a-bad-day-for-the-blogs/#comments Sat, 03 Sep 2011 16:15:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=410157 While Jack is ranting about blackballing PR flacks and journos with pants on fire, let me warn against journalism by Twitter. Here is a prime example: Today, the interwebs are abuzz about a Lexus LFA setting a new Nordschleifen record. The source: A tweet by Chris Harris of EVO. He wrote: “LFA Nurburgring pack just did 7.14 lap of the Ring. That’s mighty fast.” And he followed it by a “Akira Iida was the man who did the LFA’s 7.14. Great time.”  That may be the case. What is shameful is what was made of this tweet.

From Torque News (“Lexus LFA Nürburgring Edition shatters production car ‘Ring record”) through GMInsideNews (“Lexus LFA Nürburgring Package Smashes Nordschliefe Production Record with 7:14 Lap”) to Jalopnik (“LFA Nürburgring Edition sets a ring record”), the blogs are blabbering that Lexus sent the standing Nordschleifen-time to the Green Hell. And nobody bothered to check. Which is what anyone should do who calls himself a journalist.

I called Keisuke Kirimoto, Toyota’s genial spokesman in Tokyo this morning. He had not heard about the stunt yet. But he had his lap times in his head: “7:14? Doesn’t the record stand at 6 and change?” He’s right: A look at Wikipedia shows that the Nordschleifen-record for production cars stands at  6 minutes and 48, and it stood there since Michael Vergers drove his street-legal Radical SR8M around the Nordschleife in 6 minutes and 48 seconds in 2009. Wikipedia even lists Akira Iida’s new 7:14 – in number 4.  Well, if the journos are that lazy, no wonder they get treated in a way that upsets Baruth the Brute.

Jack: They deserve it.

Some of them corrected the copy in the meantime. Jalopnik added: “Akira Iida posted a 7:14 lap time of the Nürburgring Nordschleife in a Lexus LFA Nürburgring Edition – good enough for either the fourth or fifth all-time fastest lap.” But they didn’t change the headline, and that’s what most Jalopnik readers usually manage to read. Or that’s what Jalopnik hopes they click on.

Kirimoto promised to come back with an official confirmation by tomorrow. Good for him, he doesn’t want to rely on Twitter. Even after his boss, Akiro Toyoda, twittered via the Team Gazoo account: “レクサス LFA、ニュルで7分14秒台を記録か” which according to Frau Schmitto-san stands for “Lexus LFA, 7 minutes, 14 seconds recorded on the Nürburgring.”

Team Gazoo warns on its website that the timing is not official yet, but if it is, then it would beat the times of the Nissan GT-R  (7 min 24 sec), of the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (7 minutes 19 sec) and that of the Porsche 911 GT2 RS (7 minutes 18 seconds), “which would be a great honor.”

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Ask The Best And Brightest: Is This Why Ridiculously Fast Cars Exist? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/ask-the-best-and-brightest-is-this-why-ridiculously-fast-cars-exist/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/ask-the-best-and-brightest-is-this-why-ridiculously-fast-cars-exist/#comments Tue, 06 Jul 2010 20:13:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=360357

In this day and age, it’s nothing short of a minor miracle that giant multinationals still build cars that are as ridiculously potent and expensive as the LF-A. Especially giant multinationals which have made good headway in recent years with a green-friendly, Prius-powered image. The LFA is rare enough that few non-car-nuts know it exist, let alone associate it with their new ES350. It costs $375k a pop and Toyota still loses money on each one built. In fact, thus far, only this video (a promotional shoot by Lexus Europe at the 2010 Goodwood Festival Of Speed) comes close to properly explaining why this car was built (starting at around the 1:10 mark). In fact, I challenge anyone to come up with a more concise argument for the continued existence of hugely expensive, hugely fast cars.

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