Sakichi Toyoda is honored in Japan as the “King of Inventors” He invented the world’s first automatic loom, enabling Japan’s textile industry to take on the world. He patented it in 1926 at only 93 years old. History repeats itself in amazing ways, and his great-grandson would unveil the world’s most complex automatic loom in 2011. Not for textiles, this loom had one purpose: building the ultimate carbon fiber supercar.
The Lexus LFA was and is a statement of Toyota’s engineering dominance. Akio’s vision was to shake up the world’s most exotic automakers with a car unlike any other. After the body was woven as one-piece, it was vacuum bagged and fired in an autoclave. After a decade of trial and error, what emerged was a light & aerodynamic monster. The window sticker had an MSRP of $375,000, so they decided to give it a Lexus badge as their premier brand.
Because the weave of the carbon fiber gives it such strength, the Lexus LFA does without the traditional aluminum subframes used by McLaren and Lamborghini. It has been compared to the strength of the Brooklyn Bridge, which could support itself even without the support cables. A car this strong does not need stiff suspension, so it is a pleasure to drive.
When you ask the average enthusiast what “tuned” is, they probably guess fuel and ignition timing. While this is critical in any car, Akio pushed his engineers to tune every component. Turning to their family friends at Yamaha, he set goals for the resonant frequency of every part. From the coolant surge tank to the door handle springs, every possible vibration will happen at speed only rockets can travel. That translates to the car feeling more solid than anything you have experienced. If you could drive a Stradivarius, this is it.
Rejecting the notion that small engines and big turbos are the future, many of us figured it would be a naturally aspirated V8. The world was shocked to find a perfectly balanced V10. The cylinder heads are separated by 72 degrees (720-degree firing order divided by 10 cylinders). This makes it the smoothest V10 ever offered in a production car. Thanks again to Yamaha, every moving part has an incredible harmonic balance. This allows the 4.8L engine to reach 9,000 rpm in 0.6 seconds. This is faster than the tachometer can respond. All those harmonic parts add up, and the LFA can shatter even the finest crystal wine glasses with its exhaust roar.
After having seat time in several examples, the car is a kitten while cruising around. Aside from looking like a work of art, it is tame when shifted early. Pull back on the paddle and invoke the beast. The engine erupts with a rage that would scare Formula 1 drivers. It sends 553 horsepower and 354 lb-ft to a carbon fiber driveshaft.
You might be quick to dismiss those numbers. Sure they build prototypes with more power, but the LFA doesn’t need more. Because even the smallest parts work in unison, you will have more acceleration and grip than your Italian friends. This project cost so much, Toyota lost money on each car sold. The only way to experience this masterpiece is to drive one, so click the link below to find one near you.
Featured Image Source: RM Sotheby’s