The Secret Of The Tiffany-Blue LFA, Or How Those Auto Spy Stories Are Written

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

A mysterious Lexus LFA that went from Motomachi to (the green) hell is fueling the fantasy of bloggers. Some say the Tiffany-blue bolide belongs to the Sheikh of Qatar, who just happens to like his cars in Tiffany blue. Others say it is the LFA going out with a bang, attacking the elusive Nordschleife ring record one last time “with an engine over 600 bhp.” They all made it up.

This is not a story about the LFA. This is a story about bloggers sucking stories out of their thumbs.

Lexus LFA Picture courtesy Autoblog.com

Most of the blogs that expect to gain traffic from the topic make you feel like they are camped out on the Ring, ready to snap the latest and fastest Erlkönig. They aren’t, and I don’t blame them. Having spent much too many rainy days at the abominable Lindner Congress Hotel, I can assure you that there are better things to do with your time. Except for specialty site BridgeToGantry.com, nobody covers the Ring 24/7, most of the writers don’t even know the difference between Nurburgring and Nurnberg. BridgeToGantry covers the Ring, because its editor Dale Lomas works there. At rent4ring, he rents out track day cars, from a Suzuki Swift Stage 1 all the way to a Caterham R300 (pray it won’t rain.)

All good websites get their pictures from SB-Medien, the not so good ones steal them from the websites that got their pics from SB-Medien. SB-Medien is Europe’s leading purveyor of Erlkönig imagery. SB is said to have a mutually beneficial relationship with automakers. Automakers can create buzz at just the right time. SB can position a photographer at just the right time and place. Everybody wins. Nobody wastes time and money.

Lexus LFA Picture courtesy Gmotors.co.uk

And this is how the Tiffany blue LFA story got started. A few days ago, SB sent out a set of baby blue LFA pictures to its subscribers. One of the first if not the first to publish was GMotors.co.uk, but only because they “spent only 20 minutes to put the so-called spy photos up,” as editor Andrus Kiisküla refreshingly admits. Those 20 minutes were spent splashing a giant “Gmotors.co.uk” onto the image, and writing a 173 word ditty.

Gmotors’ ditty was restrained. They said that “Lexus is very likely going to introduce a new special edition of their LFA supercar, and that Gmotors “wouldn’t be surprised if this new model has over 600bhp.” Fair enough.

Lexus LFA Picture courtesy Autoguide.com

Put yourself in the shoes of a poor, underpaid (or pro bono) writer who stares at a set of blue pictures, and there is nothing else to go on. Your choices are: Copypaste. Make it up. All of the above. A protracted game of telephone begins …

At Autoevolution.com, the baby blue car turns into an “LFA Tokyo Edition.”

Our friends at Carbuzz remember how they “almost made a mess in our pants” when they had seen the Nurburgring Edition LFA, and that “Lexus is apparently planning a new version of their LFA supercar.”

Motortrend takes a quick toke and writes: “Our automotive paparazzo on Europe recently caught this modified teal blue Lexus LFA lapping the Green Hell.” You don’t have an automotive paparazzo in Europe, motortrend. You have SB-Medien like everybody else has.

Autoblog gives the car “a fair bit more than the 552 horsepower found in the standard LFA.”

Once the story hits Motorauthority, the car has received an engine that is “pumping out significantly more than the 552-horsepower 4.8-liter V-10 found in the regular LFA.” Also, it has received a transmission that “is likely to have been reprogrammed for faster shifts.”

And on and on it goes as the story ricochets around the blogosphere.

Lexus LFA Picture courtesy Autoblog.com

The definitely last word in supposition and innuendo is written by the Kaizen Factor. Half serious, half tongue-in-cheek, the site lists every rumor the Tiffany blue car triggered, from the meaning of the AD-A letters on the side, and the “DAU 0680” on the LFA’s red ”Überführungsnummer”, to the credible theory that the Qatari House of Thani wants to enlarge its already sizable collection of baby blue cars. Shame on Qatar (if the baby blue rumor is true): They own chunks of Volkswagen and Porsche, and now they fraternize with Toyota?

Nobody bothers to do the obvious: Check the story. None except BridgeToGanrty. Dale Lomas grabs his camera, walks over from his office to the Ring and shoots a video of a blue LFA that is still making the rounds during what seems to be Touristenfahrten times. However, Dale can only add moving pictures, again, there is no hard information.

With all options exhausted, it’s time for the absolutely last resort in news-gathering: Pick up the phone, call Toyota. When I call them, they have never heard of the baby blue LFA. I send them a few links, now they have.

They promise to ask around, and an hour later, Toyota spokesman Joichi Tachikawa says that “this test was part of the many research activities” Lexus conducts, never mind the fact that the LFA production is going into its home stretch and won’t extend beyond 2012, there still remains work to be done.

That means that at least the House of Thani theory is debunked. The rest of the fantastic prose is debunked also, as my contact convincingly claims that no detail was ever released. Therefore, all that was written in the sundry blogs is without basis.

As far as the LFA is concerned, I am sorry that I leave you as smart as before. However, you have learned one thing: How not to write supercar stories.

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  • Jruhi4 Jruhi4 on Jun 29, 2012

    "The definitely last word in supposition and innuendo is written by the Kaizen Factor. Half serious, half tongue-in-cheek, the site lists every rumor the Tiffany blue car triggered, from the meaning of the AD-A letters on the side, and the “DAU 0680” on the LFA’s red ”Überführungsnummer”, to the credible theory that the Qatari House of Thani wants to enlarge its already sizable collection of baby blue cars." I was, in the current internet vernacular, ROTF and LMAO at your description of my Kaizen Factor article. In all seriousness, I do appreciate the background information you provide here on SB-Medien and on Bridge to Gantry's Dale Lomas. As to your point on, simply, picking up the phone and asking Toyota and Lexus officials, you're absolutely right. Yet, I must note that company officials here in the U.S. are more notoriously tight-lipped and/or uninformed about stuff like this than their counterparts elsewhere in the world. And I speak from experience, having attended several Lexus press previews. Even in your case, all you got out of Joichi Tachikawa was “this test was part of the many research activities Lexus conducts". At least we now know that it's, in my words, "some sort of Lexus test mule whose color scheme pays homage to the unique tastes of the Qatari clan", as opposed to an actual Al Thani car.

  • RRocket RRocket on Jun 30, 2012

    Interesting to see what appears to be exhaust ports under the tail lights. The typical trio of exhaust pipes as found on the off-the-rack LFA are missing...

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