On Friday, December 14th, 2012, the 500th and final Lexus LFA rolled off the production line and into history. Whether the 552 horsepower carbon fiber supercar goes down as the car that marked Toyota’s return to the performance car world or as a boondoggle of XJ220-esque proportions remains to be seen, but our biggest impression of the car is that we never had enough chances to drive it.
Seriously, we’ve been trying since our Winter 2010 cover story on the LFA to get another ride in it, and we were met with a steady stream of sorrys. Lexus only had two examples in the United States at any given time, and for whatever reason, they could never give us one—which Motor Trend and Road & Track seemed to have pretty much regular access to them. The closest we came was at the launch event for the 2013 Lexus GS, where we were led to believe we’d have the chance to briefly drive the LFA—only to discover upon arrival that we would only be riding in said LFAs. Which was a serious bust.
But maybe being such a unicorn was good for the LFA’s image. After all, even when it arrived on the scene in 2010, it was a little bit outdated. We’d been staring at it in concept form since January 2005, and by that point the project had already been under development for five years. When it finally reached production, the carbon-fiber chassis and high-revving V10 both seemed dreamy, but it was saddled with a six-speed sequential gearbox in an age when most other sports cars had moved or were moving to faster, smoother dual-clutch boxes. And at a price tag of $375,000, it was a good $100+ grand pricier than competitors like the Ferrari 599 GTB and Lamborghini Murcielago—and was frequently spanked by cars costing significantly less, both in terms of flat-out performance and fun-to-drive-ed-ness. (Plus, it’s hard to make a case for a $375K Japanese supercar when Nissan makes a car that’s just as advanced, just as crazy-looking and pretty much faster by any reliable measure for a quarter of the price)
So compared objectively with other cars, the LFA was never all that. But because Lexus made it so hard to find (only building 500 of them over a two-year production run) and also made it so hard to own (North American models were only released to customers on two-year leases at first; later, Lexus allowed people to buy the LFAs, but only if they guaranteed first right of refusal to the original dealer if they wanted to flip it within two years), the car has become a rarity, sure to be the hit of future car shows and Cars & Coffees alike. And if you feel like picking one up, there are 11 for sale on duPont Registry right now. [via Lexus]
500TH AND LAST LFA LEAVING THE PLANT
• Last LFA produced on December 14, 2012
• Learning from LFA engineering and production influencing new Lexus products
• In-house production of Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) components for know-how gain to be used in future products
Brussels, Belgium -
On December 14, a white LFA Nürburgring Package, the last of the 500 planned LFA supercars, left TMC’s dedicated production facility at the Motomachi Plant, Aichi Prefecture.
This marks the end of a key chapter for Lexus, one in which people’s perceptions and understanding of the brand have been challenged, and perhaps changed forever.
The learning and passion gained from engineering and producing a world-class supercar can already be seen in the products recently launched by Lexus – across the whole range, not just those carrying the F Sport badge.
In that sense, the spirit of the LFA will live on; it will be fondly remembered for being the car that marked the start of significant change for the Lexus brand.
The development of the supercar started from a blank sheet of paper. CFRP was used for a significant percentage of the vehicle’s components, taking benefit of the material’s exceptional strength, rigidity and light weight to achieve a breakthrough in supercar manufacturing. CFRP production took place in-house in order to gain valuable know-how to be used in future products.
‘I’ve lived and breathed supercars for the past decade. – remembers Haruhiko Tanahashi, the LFA’s Chief Engineer. – Specifically one supercar. The LFA. Very few people have the opportunity we had: to create a world-class supercar from a blank sheet of paper.’
Production at LFA Works started exactly two years ago, on December 15, 2010, and included a team of around 170 hand-picked takumi workers involved in parts manufacturing, vehicle assembly and painting. The high performance LFA was produced at the rate of just one unit per day.