Courtesy of Russo and Steele
  •  Number 487 of 500 built
  • One of last imported into the United States and one of two remaining White Pearl (code 77) new cars in country
  • This is an MSO car with no prior registration, with less than 140 miles. The car is fully exportable
  • The car has Starfire Pearl paint with black leather interior/red accents, red brake-caliper package (optional), speed-sensing rear spoiler with side spoilers (optional), polished factory alloy wheels (optional), head-lamp washers (optional), Mark Levinson sound system, navigation, XM with weather and traffic, LFA badges
  • This very collectible car has been in storage and on display only. No track time or unauthorized use. The V10 engine provides great sound and 552 horsepower takes you to 202 mph top speed. The visual styling is unlike any other. A must-have for serious car collectors
  • Fully serviced by certified LFA technician Mike Dunfee (one of five in California). Complete with all accessories and manuals/keys, including white gloves that came with car

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:2012 Lexus LFA
Years Produced:2010–12
Number Produced:500
Original List Price:$375,000
SCM Valuation:$300,000–$325,000
Tune Up Cost:A major three-year service calls for completely disassembling the bodywork to tighten all the nuts and bolts. So, ultra-expensive
Chassis Number Location:Driver’s side firewall
Engine Number Location:Front of Engine, left cylinder bank
Club Info:Lexus Owner's Club
Alternatives:2007–15 Audi R8, 2002–04 Ferrari Enzo, 2012–15 Lamborghini Aventador
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 3418, sold for $335,000, including buyer’s premium, at Russo and Steele’s Newport Beach, CA, auction on June 5–7, 2015.

The Lexus LFA was a highly anticipated halo car that would combine the Lexus/Toyota reputation for quality and reliability with performance and technology to match any supercar on the planet. Just 500 examples were to be made at a rate of about 20 per month in 2011 and 2012. Each LFA was to be sold at an initial purchase price of $375,000 — except for 50 cars made with a special Nürburgring performance package. Those retailed at $445,000.

The LFA is a state-of-the-art technological masterpiece, with a chassis made of dry carbon fiber woven into three-dimensional shapes and bonded with an advanced polymer. Aluminum front and rear cradles attach to the central chassis structure to support the front-mounted engine and rear-mounted transaxle.

The engine is a 4.8-liter V10 capable of revving from idle to its 9,000 RPM redline in 0.6 seconds, delivering 552 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. The driveline uses a torque-balancing counter-gear and then a carbon-fiber torque tube to connect to a paddle-shifted electro-hydraulic sequential 6-speed transaxle. Even without using the built-in launch control, the combination is potent enough to propel the LFA from 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. Top speed is governed to 202 mph.

The rest of the car is similarly sci-fi, with braking-by-wire featuring huge carbon ceramic rotors, a three-mode electronic stability control system, Mark Levinson stereo and a special set of luggage created in carbon fiber and aluminum. There are more bespoke options for the LFA interior than you could find on Savile Row. Everything about the car was crafted with meticulous attention to detail, as you would expect from Lexus.

The incredible disappearing

The 2010 launch of the LFA was met with critical acclaim verging on ballyhoo. The LFA won several head-to-head comparisons with a variety of supercars — and even bested a jet airplane in a gimmicky acceleration contest. Magazines and television shows ran out of superlatives to bestow on the car. Even Jeremy Clarkson of “Top Gear” was impressed.

U.S. customers were encouraged to apply to purchase one of the 150 cars allocated to North America. Initially, the LFA was offered on a two-year lease designed to prevent any resale market. That was later modified to a sale contract giving right of first refusal back to the original dealer for two years.

Then something unexpected happened. The LFA all but disappeared from view.

Purchased cars went into collections and stayed there — or were exported and never heard of again. Lexus did get some press on their concierge level of service for the LFA — if you don’t live near one of the few authorized service centers, they’ll send a qualified mechanic to your local Lexus dealer to perform the arcane maintenance rites. But apart from a number of unsold cars sexing up dealer showrooms, the world moved on and the LFA was all but forgotten.

Where did they go?

Fast forward to the present, and there are still several LFAs sitting in dealer showrooms around the country — like so many maiden aunts.

This brings us to this unusual sale, where a dealer took his chances to auction off a never-sold 2012 LFA with less than 140 miles on the clock. This wasn’t just an as-new car — it was still a new car. However, bidding went to just $335,000 before the gavel dropped. It’s worth noting that the only other LFA offering recorded by SCM was a dealer trying his luck at an auction in 2011. At that time, bidding went only to $325,000, and the car was not sold.

A cool unicorn is still a unicorn

The LFA has the rarity, the technology and the performance, so how do we account for its lackluster sales history and diminishing market price? The real answer is that for all its glory, the LFA is still a Lexus, and it’s also a unicorn. It really doesn’t matter how good the LFA may be, because there were never enough of them around to create demand.

Ferrari can get away with producing just 400 copies of the Enzo or 499 of the LaFerrari because there are tens of thousands of Ferraris running around, which created a customer base that doesn’t mind exotic headaches.

Lexus has a huge customer base, but it’s made up of suburban families in SUVs and middle managers looking for a reliable luxury sedan. Those people will never buy an LFA, and probably wouldn’t even if they could afford it. The glow from the LFA halo has a very limited reach.

The future for the LFA probably looks a lot like the present. Eventually, the last unsold LFA will cross the block or quietly pass into the hands of a collector. We may see them turn up from time to time at auction, but unless Lexus follows up with a more serious commitment to sports cars, the LFA will remain an elusive unicorn. Well bought. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Russo and Steele.)


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