Art cars kind of suck. Even though BMW has managed to produce a handful of stellar examples — models enhanced by Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Alexander Calder, and Andy Warhol — plenty of the brand’s artistic liveries have been far less appealing to the layperson.
Other companies have produced art cars as well. Last year, Lexus unveiled an incredible IS sedan covered in 41,999 programmable LEDs that created a perpetually changing and utterly hypnotic visual experience. However, its most recent example left me feeling a little empty inside.
Art is subjective, I know. But, when it’s slathered all over an automobile, you want it to be expressive of the car’s personality — or at least striking in a way that becomes transformative. The LFA Lexus brought to the Total 24 Hours of Spa race this weekend does neither. Frankly, it feels one step removed from purchasing some mass produced vinyl graphics off an online retailer and sticking them wherever.
Lexus’ LFA was a car nobody could have anticipated. Limited to just 500 production models, the $350,000 status symbol was as prestigious as it was rare. Strange, considering Lexus is known as a luxury brand that’s still big on value. However, there weren’t many people griping about the LFA’s price once they experienced its performance firsthand. Its high-revving, 553 horsepower V10 has been universally praised by almost everyone who’s gained access to it, and even those who haven’t.
The Toyota Motor Corporation is aware that the model’s absence has been noticed and, despite Lexus’ current focus on improving sales via sport utility vehicles, it thinks there could still be room for another flagship halo car.
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.
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.
Back in November at the launch of the Lexus GS, a product planner who shall remain nameless turned the tables on me; when I started asking him questions about future products, like the possibility of a Lexus GS-F, he began to grill me about competitive product.
I’m looking at you …
Obsessions are a menace. The daughter of a friend had a shower obsession. “I have an obsessive compulsive disorder,” she would readily admit, only to continue: “I’ll be right back, I need to take a shower.” Such a pretty girl. And she always smelled so good.
A prime obsession of the auto blogosphere are the sales of the Lexus LFA. Is it sold out? Is it not?
(To avoid killing you with the suspense: It is. Has been since April 2010 when Lexus had its 500 orders long before production started in December of that year. Not interesting? I don’t blame you. Stop reading. There is plenty of other content.)
On the LFA’s in-house test track. Each car gets tested for some 50 miles
Each and every LFA that rolls off the line is checked like no other car. 7,000 items of the LFA, all previously checked, counter-signed, eternalized in evidence sheets, are checked again. Each check again is eternalized in evidence sheets. When I said it takes 8 days to make an LFA, I lied. It takes 8 days to make one, and then it takes a full additional week to check it.
In the preceding chapters, we followed the Lexus LFA from raw fiber to body, paint, and assembly. Today, the LFA gets its engine. Tomorrow, we’ll test it, and then, we’ll say good-bye to the LFA Workshop in Motomachi.
On its slow road to completion, the LFA travels down a main line, where it is met by components that come from smaller sidelines. One such subassembly is the LFA’s V10 engine. Covered by a thick sheet of plastic, it comes from Yamaha where it was built and assembled. The engine was a balancing act, in more ways than one.
LFA carbon fiber body
After a general introduction in the first chapter, the last chapter of this inside report showed us how the body-in-white of the LFA is hand-made layer by layer, and that it is actually a body-in-black. When finished, the body goes on a transfer cart and travels one third of a mile to the second stage of the LFA production, painting and final assembly. We take a bus.
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
Yesterday, we heard how the LFA really was born (in a bar, where many good ideas are born and pitched,) and why it is made from carbon fiber. Now, we are in front of the cleanroom, and while our little group is suiting up, let’s use the time for a quick course on CFRP.
The basic principle of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer, CFRP for short, is not new. It dates farther back than metal. CFRP is a composite, made from two completely different materials that are joined together to give a much stronger material. Straw and clay was such an early composite. Concrete is a more recent one. In the case of CFRP, carbon fibers are combined with epoxy, the polymer. Sometimes, the material is also called “carbon fiber reinforced plastic,” but the end product is far removed from what usually comes to mind when we think of plastic.
The Making Of The Lexus LFA Supercar: Who, What, Where And Most Of All Why. An Inside The Industry Report, Chapter 1: From A Bar To Bar None
The autoclave. A giant pressure cooker that limits the Lexus LFA production to one per day
Behind a nondescript garage door in the Motomachi plant in Toyota City is LFA Kobo, the LFA Works. Here, 170 men and women chase the holy grail of car making. Their mission: How to make a car super fast, super light, super safe, and affordable. They have mastered the first three. On the affordable they are still working. The holy grail is being chased in a supercar, the $375,000 Lexus LFA.
This coming week is LFA Week. From Monday, July 9 through Friday, July 13, TTAC will run a five-part series documenting the production of the Lexus LFA. Readers of TTAC will receive unprecedented access to the LFA Works in Motomachi. You will receive a behind-the-scene look, exclusive, never before published proprietary pictures, and a glimpse into the future. Here is a preview:
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.
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