Alas, all good things must come to an end. The Lexus LFA supercar has ceased production after a two-year run. While most of us will never be able to afford its $375,000 supercar, it’s significant for what it brought to production cars, and what it will in the future.
We spoke to the LFA’s head North American engineer last week, Paul Williamsen, who started working on it back in 2005, or about three years after the LFA project began. He explained the intricacies of the project. Three years generally enough time to develop a car from scratch, but the project, as we were told, was first started using an aluminum body surrounding its 552-horsepower, 4.8-liter V-10 engine. After a long gestation period, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda commissioned the car to be reworked using carbon fiber, a testbed for Toyota’s technological prowess.
The car finally saw light in 2011, making a limited production run of just 500 vehicles–no more than one per day. Its Yamaha-engineered V-10 revved so quickly that only digital instruments could keep up. Special weaving machines were developed to construct its pillars and structure. Its wheels were forged in a new method that is finally just being used on other cars.
Compared to other cars, the Lexus LFA isn’t an especially good supercar value, given its performance. But it’s an experiment in how to develop new cars, cars that will be affordable for mass consumption soon. And much of what’s in and on the car is still far beyond what’s seen in faster, more powerful supercars. Its construction is unlike anything in any Lamborghini, Ferrari, Pagani, or any other high-performance exotic car you’ve heard of.
The last Lexus LFA was a white Nurburgring Edition coupe, a car that currently holds the lap record for a production car around the famed German racetrack by the same name. It rolled off the line December 14, exactly two years two the day from when it began production, with 170 specially trained craftworkers assembling it. We’re eager to see what Toyota and Lexus have in store next.