If your life revolves around the Lexus LFA supercar, then your world essentially collapsed last week. Lexus revealed the 500th – and final – LFA rolled off the assembly line in Toyota City, Japan, on Friday, December 14.
The completion of LFA #500 – a white coupe equipped with the optional Nurburgring package, which adds the zany aerodynamic bits and rear spoiler – marks the conclusion of a rather lengthy journey for Lexus. Although production of road-going cars began two years ago on December 15, 2010, development of the LFA itself began a decade prior.
Lexus only began teasing the public in January of 2005, when it rolled the LF-A concept (note the hyphen) out at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Two years later, another LF-A concept bearing both new sheet metal and a new design principle, which used a carbon fiber body structure instead of one fabricated from aluminum. A good decision, as the switch shaved 220 pounds and quadrupled the car’s stiffness.
LFA prototypes continued to appear around the globe, especially at the Nurburgring. Not only were mules popping up during test days, but Toyota itself entered the cars into the 2008 and 2009 24 Hours of Nurburgring endurance races. Series production of road-going units was only confirmed by Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda in the summer of 2009. Production began a year later, with the first LFA – a black coupe – landing in the Netherlands.
We had our first crack at a production-spec LFA in late 2009, and were fairly impressed with Lexus’ relentless pursuit of engineering perfection. “The [LFA] excels in overall balance, the ability to communicate, and the transparency of the controls,” we wrote. “While it may not look particularly light, the Lexus feels like a superfit athlete - from the free-revving engine to the responsive handling, the intuitive steering to the riveting brakes. This perception of lightness adds a new dimension of agility that only true supercars can match. This is a seasoned, high-speed tool that copes competently with 125-mph lane changes, 150-mph blind crests, 175-mph bends, and 200-mph stops.”
Every aspect of the LFA – including the carbon fiber material itself – was hand-crafted on a specialized line within Toyota’s Motomachi plant. 170 workers were charged with building the 500 LFAs – of which roughly 150were sold to U.S. customers. Toyota indicates the production rate worked out to one LFA per day, and each car underwent a rigorous 7000-point inspection before ultimately leaving the factory.
As the empty space behind LFA #500 suggests in the lead photo , LFA #500 will be the very last example to do just that, despite the fact we’ve read so much about rumored special-ediiton spin-offs to help celebrate the end with a hearty bang.
“I’ve lived and breathed supercars for the past decade,” Haruhiko Tanahashi, chief engineer for the LFA project, said in a prepared release. “Specifically, one supercar: LFA. Very few people have the opportunity we had to create a world-class supercar from a blank sheet of paper.”
Lexus pledges the experience and expertise gleaned from manufacturing carbon fiber will trickle into its future vehicles. Let’s just hope it does so in a substantial manner – one where it positively affects a vehicle’s performance and isn’t relegated to mere ornamental trim.