Rapidly emerging as a cult car, the LFA has become wildly collectible in the last year or so after spending years as a somewhat misunderstood curiosity. Engineered, developed, and built with obsessive attention to detail, the experience the car delivers is incredibly focused and is already a world away from today’s supercars despite the LFA having ended production less than ten years ago. At a high level, the car seems interesting enough: front-mid-engined with rear mounted transaxle, a carbon tub, composite bodywork and the now famous centerpiece, the 4.8 liter dry-sump V10 with 9,500 RPM fuel cutoff that produces 115hp per liter for a total output of 552 hp.
But these figures don’t capture the true essence of the car. The car is a genuine halo project, developed in a carte blanche fashion over the course of a decade without regard to whether it would make or lose the company money. In fact, like many great cars, it lost the company money, but Toyota could afford it and didn’t care. The car was developed on the Nurburgring and held the record for the fastest lap by a production car but not before competing in the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring in 2008, 2009, and 2010, where it placed 7th, 4th, and first in class. Notably, this racing all occurred before the car was publicly launched as a production car and is a demonstration of Toyota’s obsession with developing the car properly since its on-track exploits were undertaken specifically to aid in the development of the road car.
As a road car, the LFA feels exceedingly special. The car itself is extraordinarily high quality; the fit and finish of every aspect of the car is outstanding. It was built in a dedicated factory by a team of 175 hand-picked craftsmen, the best in Toyota’s vast empire, and each car was subjected to over 7,000 quality control checks after being completed. As a piece of driving equipment, the car feels special too. The compact and lightweight V10 was developed using Toyota’s Formula 1 expertise (as was much of the rest of the car), and co-developed with Yamaha who not only provided knowhow about how to make high-revving naturally-aspirated engines from their motorcycle division, but also their musical instrument expertise to create an engine that sounds, simply put, like sex. It is one of the best-sounding internal combustion engines ever made.
There is no end to the fascinating technical details that are contained in the LFA. It is easy to spend hours and hours poring over the car’s technical details, from the aerodynamics to the sound system down to the way even cooling is handled, not just of the engine and transmission, but even the center tunnel of the car which has flow-through cooling with fresh air entering through vents in the hood and exiting at the back of the car through the grilles which also accommodate the twin rear-mounted coolant radiators.
The car is an engineer’s dream, but also a driving enthusiast’s dream. There is a widely-held misconception that this car is a GT, but that is false. There is an intensity, an immediacy, a knife-edged liveliness to the way the car responds to driver inputs that makes a 488 or 720S feel, amusingly enough, like a Toyota Camry in comparison. Brakes, steering, chassis, and motor all react in a way that feels closer to race car than street car, but of course as a Toyota product, it’s durable and robust, and with only 500 examples made, it’s easy to see why the car is so collectible barely 10 years after production began.
This particular example is from late in the production run, number 486 of 500 made. Its current California-based owner purchased it in 2016 with 101 miles on it and it has now covered fewer than 2,200 miles. It is complete with all original keys and fobs in presentation box, together with Tumi luggage and books set.