• Feb 18, 2011
Lexus LFA - Click above for high-res image gallery

On January 21, Toyota played Show-n-Tell with the first Lexus LFAs to arrive in the U.S., inviting a representative from Club Lexus to witness the stylized drama of uncrating the $400,000 supercar. While we can't be certain, perhaps it was the King-Lear-esque howls and gnashing of teeth from the non-invited (our own form of stylized drama) that convinced Toyota to do it again. So we headed to the Fujitrans warehouse in Carson, California to watch the LFA star in its own kabuki performance. Minus the make-up.

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Photos copyright ©2011 Drew Phillips / AOL

Typically, Toyota tires take their first turns on American tarmac at Terminal Island at the Port of Long Beach. And typically, since it has its own car carriers (called ROROs, for 'roll-on, roll-off') that it gorges with cars in Japan and then disgorges here, the company controls the entire process.

Not so with the LFA. Paul Williamsen, the national manager of Lexus College, told us that packing a single LFA in a single, sanitized cargo container was a process created solely to safeguard the coupe. "We didn't want the door of a Yaris to ding an LFA," he said. "And stevedores are paid by the car when they unload a carrier," and such potential haste would be bad manners in a $400,000 objet. Toyota cedes some control of the operation, then, because it doesn't own the cargo ships that haul the sea cans. It does, however, request that the containers be placed low and inside the overall load, "so it has a buffer of other containers and is less likely to get bird poop and other contaminants inside."



Yet the container treatment means that the LFA can't be unloaded at Toyota's port facility at Terminal Island. "There's no way to open a shipping container at the dock," Williamsen said. "There's nothing at cargo hauler level."

Enter Fujitrans, a shipping company that is part of Toyota's partner network but not owned by Toyota. The intermodal containers are transferred from the ship to a semi, then hauled to the Fujitrans facility in Carson.

There, the semi backs up to the loading dock, where all "ramp angles have all been verified for the car, protractors out," and the uncrating begins.

Lexus LFA Unboxing

When the doors are opened, the first thing we noticed was that the car wasn't covered. Willamsen said because the LFA's enamel paint takes weeks to thoroughly dry, it was decided to ship the car uncovered. The dust that settles on it during the journey won't get embedded in the paint, whereas the adhesive from protective sheets or the fabric of a closely-fitting cover could mar the finish.

The second thing we noticed was the pink pallet. They were designed by Toyota's logistics arm in Japan to exclusively haul the LFA. Each one has a unique serial number, and they are color-coded by region - Costa Rica, for instance, got a black pallet to support its sole LFA. Why did America get pink? Because an employee in Japan who'd been with the project since the beginning made it so. They are reusable, so when the facility acquires five pallets they are sent back to Japan.

Lexus LFA Unboxing

Next a (Toyota) forklift pulls up to the container, a chain is wrapped around the pallet crossmember and attached to the load apron, and the LFA is slowly drawn from its sheath.

Lexus LFA Unboxing

The LFA is tied down race-car style, with the straps running over the wheels, not the suspension members. Lacking the bulky structures on the average car, the LFA's suspension isn't suited to enduring the potential load factors experienced in transport.

Lexus LFA Unboxing

The front wheel braces are unbolted on their sides, then both angles of the rear wheel braces are unbolted. Purpose-built ramps are attached to the rear of the pallet by a bolt, then the bolt is taped over. Speaking of wheels, Williamsen told us that yellow calipers are a popular option among the six available colors because on a Porsche 911, yellow means it has carbon brakes (even though all LFAs have carbon brakes). In Japan, though, it is metallic gold calipers that are popular.

Lexus LFA Unboxing

After unbolting the wheel braces there's a walkaround inspection. A few blemishes are discovered on this Pearl Blue LFA. Somebody's gonna have some 'splainin' to do...

Lexus LFA Unboxing

A mat is laid down by the driver's side door and an office chair pulled up. A worker sits and dons gloves and shoe covers, then opens the LFA door, lays a fresh cloth over the sill, and delicately gets in so he can pop the rear glass.

Lexus LFA Unboxing

Beside him, the passenger seat is leaned forward because the VIN on an LFA is etched on a steel plate attached to the carbon fiber floor under that seat. So, yes, any time anyone – even the police – need to see the VIN, the passenger seat needs to be moved out of the way.

Lexus LFA Unboxing

Sitting on the passenger seat is a certificate in a plastic sleeve. Every LFA that leaves the factory is taken to Toyota's Higashi Fuji test track for testing. The certificate tells the owner how many miles were put on the LFA during the testing - this example has 119 miles - and is signed by the general manager of the quality control process.

Lexus LFA Unboxing

The worker gets out, again delicately, lifts the rear glass, lays another fresh cloth over the C-pillar, then leans into the cargo area to unlatch one of the two panels along the front bulkhead. Underneath is the battery, which he hooks up.

Lexus LFA Unboxing

He gets back in the car and starts it, then pulls off the ramp, slowly, to behind the double-yellow line. He turns the car off, and the job is done. The LFA will be driven down the loading dock to ground level and driven into an enclosed carrier that's from Toyota's old IndyCar racing fleet.

Lexus LFA Unboxing

Parked in its second home, the LFAs will be taken back to Terminal Island for processing. "The EPA and DoT don't care about containers, Customs does," said Williamsen, "so a car hasn't officially landed in the US until the container is opened and the paperwork is done. It's bonded until that point."

Nor is the LFA finished being prepped for its owners. When unboxed in Carson it is accessorizeed with little more than plastic sheeting over the seats and the certificate from the quality control general manager in Japan. After it has returned to Terminal Island and gotten its papers – officially become a U.S. citizen – it is taken to finishing school: it receives a thorough inspection, an owner's manual, a deluxe car cover, a digital trickle charger, welcome and how-to videos created by Lexus College, and has items like the wheel center caps applied. Only then is it taken to the customer's dealer of choice, anywhere in the country.



The LFA's warehouse dance will be recreated up to 171 times – that represent's the U.S. share of the coupe's total production run of 500. For those of you on the fence, a few units remain up for grabs. And just so we're clear, by "for grabs" we mean for $400,000, natch...



Photos copyright ©2011 Drew Phillips / AOL


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 61 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      I love this car.
      • 3 Years Ago
      How come they don't USPS flat rate shipping boxes?
        • 3 Years Ago
        It doesn't fit, so it won't ship.
      • 3 Years Ago
      $400k for s rice rocket?? No thanks, Ferrari here I come!!!
      Carlos
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't care how much it costs I want a blue LFA
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Carlos
        Whats gets me is that in the supercar world where the LFA is placed... it for the most part cheap !

        For the life of me I cannot understand why people complain over the LFA price tag? Its a exotic and rare supercar... those two things NEVER come cheap. The LFA can beat the ENZO, any 911, 458, the best lambo all around the track.. and I got teh facts to prove that. The LFA engine won engine of the year beating out all other engines from ferrari, Lambo, aston etc you name it. the LFA does all of this while being a FULL luxury car and best of all its RELIABLE... supercar and reliable are two words that have never been in the same sentence. The LFA has proved its price is worth it. Some reviews call it a "bargin" and "worth every penny". Its V10 is lighter then a V6 and it lapped the Top gear track faster then the best lambo.. and it did that on a WET track. . .

        The LFA is a work of art and engineering master peice.
      • 3 Years Ago
      This car looks much better in a darker color. Minimizes the harsh cut lines of all the body panels.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I see vin diesel and his gang jacking the semi's as they drive to carson and selling the LFA parts to all the street racers.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I doubt you could afford the wheels off of this car or a ferrari.

      used Ford here you come!
      • 3 Years Ago
      If they were serious it would have the sheepskin bag as Ford shipped the Lincoln MkII's in.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Its an awesome car, but why does the key fob looks like it came from the 1980s?? lol

      Some of the interior controls seem out of place, like the intermittent wiper control should be on the wiper control not separated like they have it.
        • 3 Years Ago
        lol. Those are the spares I guess. The LFA key is a carbon fiber piece that looks elegantly understated. Look ard at the one in the clear plastic wrap.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I am not a fan of the LF-A's styling or price.

      but even I have to say... even though the front end is still not good, that blue LF-A is HOTTT. I love the interior, too.

      Is that the same Ultrasonic Blue Pearl color that the IS-F is painted?

      Will someone please... PLEASE put that fastback low roof, and triple center exhaust on the Lexus IS, and make an IS coupe, please? Cut all that heavy automated folding roof stuff out of the IS convertible, and just graft on the LFA's roofline and vertical drop-off tail, minus the ducts under the quarter windows.

      If the IS-F looked like a 50-60K junior LF-A, as a coupe, but with the simpler non-F version of the IS front end... all painted in Ultrasonic Blue Pearl, with the V8 under the hood, and a rear-mounted transaxle... Even if it isn't made out of CF, but rather steel... and had a similarly sleek interior as the LF-A...

      They would have a Lexus successor to the Supra, and people would be a lot more enthused. Who can get really enthused about a 400K car that only spoiled brats like Paris Hilton can afford...

      Can someone good at photoshop at least mock something like that up? IS front end and longer doors from the convertible, but with the windshield rake, roof line, and aft end of the LF-A, minus the side ducts and tail vents... or at least smaller, unless you really want aft radiators in an IS coupe...)
      • 3 Years Ago
      That second video, is that a joke? Does anyone seriously need directions on how to unlock and lock a car? If indeed that is the case, that same person should definitely NOT be driving an LFA.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow, what a beautiful car. that is the nicest blue I have ever seen.

      www.being-anon.eu.tc
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