"It has been a repeated process of locking horns, asking questions, finding solutions by stepping out of our comfort zones, and moving forward", said Shuichi Ozaki, a Lexus Meister who played a decisive role in developing the Lexus cars.
What does it tell you? There's no denying that Lexus's obsession with detail has clearly led LS series to where it is right now. Reminding and re-reminding that this is LS, the mastermind behind this star-studded innovation never compromised on anything.
Lexus LS400's history is extraordinarily interesting and a perfect union of genius brains, expert hands and determination to create dreamlike machinery. Let us tell you the startling story of how and when LS400 started ruling the automobile industry and became one of 'THE' most desired cars of the 'MAN OF TASTE'.
A Question that led to 'THE MAKING OF A LEGEND'
"Can we create a four-door luxury car to challenge the very best?" asked Eiji Toyoda, the then chairman of Toyota.
He imposed this simple question without even realizing that one day the answer of this question would make Lexus rule the road and everyone's heart as well.
So many factors contributed to the success of this ambitious project, however, Brian Long, a professional writer with a passion for vintage and sporting cars, nicely pointed out one BIG reason in his BOOK LEXUS: The Challenge to Create the Finest Automobile, "Each team had been given the task of identifying the manufacturer who led its field of expertise, analyze why it was the best, and then beat it. There was no time limit imposed and, with the usual constraint of having to use common components taken away, the innovative Lexus engineers were in their element."
Yes! Complete 'creative freedom' was the key to find answer to the question asked by Eiji Toyoda. The team was offered no budget and no time constraint in order to create that little more than 'special' challenger.
For the span of 6 years, 60 designers, 1400 engineers and around 2300 technicians worked day and night, put their heart, soul and blood to create luxury on four wheels and named it LS400.
In 1983, when the company was in dire need of a full-fledged luxurious car to compete with the 'German Giants' like Mercedes, BMW and Jaguar, Lexus left no stone unturned to bring out a world-class high-performance stellar in the market.
Since Toyota used to make small economical cars back then, it was losing lots of customers to its competitors due to a lack of larger luxurious models. Therefore, LS400 was definitely a problem solver for the company and ultimately became its 'symbol of finesse'.
The Mighty LOGO
Toyota started its project under the name 'Flagship 1' or 'F1', also known as 'Circle-F' because of the logo (the capital letter F within a circle). Originally, the team got into a trap of creating run-of-the-mill sports-oriented car with big pop-up headlights and a slanting nose, however the company realized that it was about to create a car without that 'extra' special attribute. Soon enough it brought back its traditional vibes out on the floor and agreed upon giving its customers a classy model with a large grille.
The very first prototype came in 1985 and by 1986, a full-on road testing began, which made Toyota think of launching this new model under separate brand in the markets of the USA and Europe. The automaker wanted its customers to believe in not just the superiority and opulence of this model but also to feel its authoritative characteristic while driving.
Thus, the name 'LEXUS' was born, a pseudo-Latin name clearly describing company's intention and ambition, which eventually changed the 'F' within the circle into 'L'. Hence, the famous Lexus logo came into existence.
The LEGEND was BORN
Years 1987 and 1988 were very crucial for the company. After successful completion of the phases of the final design and patents, in 1989, LS400 made its official debut at the Detroit Motor Show.
After an overwhelming applause in the USA; by 1990 LS400 was all set to rule the markets of the Australia and European countries and this kind of huge response was pretty much expected by the company. It outdid the other cars of the same 'luxurious' segment in terms of sales and became a real threat to all the established brands.
LS400 was totally different from the other Toyota models (it ought to be, after all it was 'SPECIAL'). The Non-glossy Lexus LS series had its own identity. Distinctive and first-rate parts, sandwich steel body and immaculate design touches like no wind noise windows and flush door handles, LS400 proved to be a technological 'CHEF-D'OEUVRE'.
Legends NEVER Tread the Path, they CREATE their Own!
Have you ever seen legends following others? Lexus truly showed the world that it takes time, sweat and blood to a create masterpiece. By introducing a host of innovative and high-tech features in its first luxurious car, Lexus unquestionably created a perfect contender to take the German models on. The following features were way technologically advanced:
- Electro-luminescent gauges
- Electric memory seating
- Electro-chromic rear-view mirro
- Fluid-damped switchgear
LS400 was a powerful machine of its time. Powered by a 4.0-litre V8 engine, LS400 promised to pump out 254bhp and was flying at 160mph. LS400's extraordinary performance was one of a kind, which blew everyone's mind. It was modern, refined and powerful and people loved it and wanted to possess it. After all, they got a better alternative and could graduate to true 'LUXURY'.
25 Years and Still RULING
It has been more than 25 years and LS400 is still the company's best car. The first-generation LS has been a prototype for Lexus's other models. After LS400, the company grew by leaps and bounds and became a global leader with a growing range of luxurious sedans, coupes and even SUVs.
Today, the company might be boasting 8 different models including the finest LFA, however, the name Lexus started with just one car i.e. LS400.
Well, it won't completely be wrong to say that LS400 was self-sufficient and didn't need anything or any logo to become a heart-stealer (that's what you call true craftsmanship), but Lexus does owe its stardom and a huge fan base to its primitive and credible experiment of LS400.