Every once in a while, sheer brilliance comes from an unexpected place. Take, for example, Richard Branson. On paper, he is a dyslexic who, when leaving school, without a college degree, was told he would either end up in prison or as a millionaire. Well, we all know how that ended up.
Flash back to the year 2000. The internet industry was about to implode, and Toyota announced the year before that it was entering Formula One competition.
Toyota also had also started work on a world-beating supercar. Despite the dismal performance of the racing program, the supercar project continued. The company needed a “halo” car, and at the 2005 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, it unveiled the Lexus LFA “design study.”
At the time, Toyota fibbed and said there were no plans for a production version. We had to wait until 2009 and the Tokyo show, but the production version of the concept was there and ready for sale.
One of the reasons for the delay was that the engineers initially built the car with an aluminum subframe. However, they found even that lightweight material to be too heavy to meet their goals, so they switched to a carbon fiber tub, which meant a complete redesign and rethink.
The LFA was a study in perfection, showing everyone that despite what happened in F1, Toyota and its Lexus division could take on the world’s best when it comes to advanced engineering and performance. In typical Lexus fashion, the LFA features build quality and attention to detail that are all but unequalled in the supercar category.
The LFA is powered by a 4.8-liter V10 with 553 horsepower, making the car capable of a 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 202 mph. This all makes for a serious supercar that is in no way your father’s Lexus.
When new, the sticker price of the LFA was an astronomical $375,000, or $55,000 more than the Ferrari 599.
People thought this was an insane amount, but Lexus soon sold all of the 500 cars and then ceased production, something that doesn’t always happen with limited-edition supercars.
As it turns out, the LFA has emerged as a seriously collectible, perhaps the successor to the most cherished of Japanese collector cars, the Toyota 2000GT of the late ‘60s.
LFAs are just starting to cross the auction block. RM Sotheby’s recently sold one at its London auction for more than $404,000 and earlier this year, another sold at Mecum’s Monterey auction for a strong $357,500.
So much for any used-car depreciation.
The LFA is a very special car that has one of the world’s greatest modern engine sounds and supercar performance delivered in a package that not only looks amazing, but that has the build quality you expect from Lexus.
The other thing that the LFA has is a bit of character. It uses a standard key, even the doors have slots for the keys.
It also has a fantastic dashboard with all the supercar video-game type controls you could want.
It lacks any semblance for a cup holder. It also lacks an automatic hood prop, instead using a carbon fiber stick that completely detaches from under the hood to hold it up.
Such things like these make cars even more interesting. It is the oddities that sometimes make cars more special, and the LFA has these.
Finally, the LFA is a serious car that does not suffer poor drivers well. This is that other thing that make enthusiasts fall in love. You have to bring your A game as a driver to really explore the limits that the LFA can deliver. I have driven a LFA and it is a serious driver’s car that only suffers from steering that it is a bit vague. The song of the engine alone makes you forget that quickly, though, and these are awesome cars to drive on a track or on a cross country jaunt, say from NY to LA at substantial speed.
Yes, the LFA is a Lexus and, yes, it still has the Lexus badge on the front, just like some nice but mundane sedans and sport utilities. But astute collectors of supercars who have the requisite money needed should strongly consider acquiring an LFA for their collections. Remember, there are only 500 of them on the planet.
Also remember that the 2000GT became a $1 million car at auction.
LFA prices are not likely to ever come down. This is a car that collectors are likely to wish they had purchased at its 2017 prices.