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Lexus shows a new meaning for ‘take it for a spin’

IS Wax Edition show car has built-in record player


Those of a certain age may remember their parents or grandparents owning a mid-1950s Chrysler car equipped with the “Highway Hi-Fi,” an optional in-car music machine that played special 7-inch discs produced by Columbia Records. With fewer than 17 rpm, each record would play for an hour per side.

Well, as you likely know, vinyl records are back in a big way, and Lexus even has created a show car around them. Called the Lexus IS Wax Edition, the car has a turntable where the glove box usually is found and Lexus promises it plays “vinyl records while the car is in motion without missing a beat – even on a bumpy road.”

Lexus, Lexus shows a new meaning for  ‘take it for a spin’, ClassicCars.com Journal
Cruising down the road with disc spinning and music playing

To showcase the prototype setup, Lexus shares a “Driven by Sound” video series, working with online music website Pitchfork and DJ MC Madlib and entertainer Kaytranada to produce a new double-single on vinyl.

The achievement, Lexus claims, gives “a whole new meaning to ‘taking it for a spin’.”

“This impressive fusion of music and cars was captured in a two-episode documentary series, ‘Driven by Sound,’ created in partnership with Pitchfork,” Lexus said in a news release. “Episode One offers a behind-the-scenes look into the creative process of Madlib and Kaytranada. Episode Two documents the creation of the in-dash turntable and reveals the Lexus IS Wax Edition. 

“It features music from the highly anticipated release of the artists’ joint double-single. Vinyl Me, Please (VMP), a monthly record subscription club that curates and creates vinyl packages, will distribute the exclusive 7″ vinyl to select members as part of their subscription.

Lexus, Lexus shows a new meaning for  ‘take it for a spin’, ClassicCars.com Journal
Car is painted the darkest black available so its surface is like that of a vinyl record
Lexus, Lexus shows a new meaning for  ‘take it for a spin’, ClassicCars.com Journal

When I make music, I usually do it in headphones, so I hear everything clear,” Madlib is quoted in the Lexus announcement. “And I take it to the car, test it out. Every time. That’s the big test. To have the turntable in a Lexus? That’s beyond.”

“When Lexus said they wanted to build this car, I didn’t think it was possible,” according to Kaytranada.“It was amazing to see and hear vinyl playing while cruising in a car.”

“With vinyl listening once again on the rise and the Lexus IS attracting drivers with a passion for authenticity and amazing experiences, creating an in-car turntable that works flawlessly with the vehicle in motion was a challenge worth pursuing,” Lexus noted, adding that it worked with SCPS, a custom fabrication studio in Los Angeles, to produce the in-car player that plays a full-size 12-inch record. 

The sound is played through the 2021 Lexus IS’ Mark Levinson Premium surround-sound audio system, which has 17 speakers and 1,800 watts of power.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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