The LS 400 launched the Lexus brand and set a new standard for luxury cars with its combination of refinement and engineering.
1990 Lexus LS 400 – pressroom.lexus.com | Shop Lexus LS 400 on Carsforsale.com
It is difficult to grasp, some thirty years on, just how groundbreaking the Lexus LS 400 was when it debuted in early 1989. The LS 400 was Toyota’s premier flagship for the launch of their new luxury brand. With build quality and high style at a price that undercut the competition, the LS 400 wowed critics and quickly vaulted Lexus to the top of the segment.
Alongside Honda and Nissan, Toyota had built a reputation for quality, reliable economy cars. Toyota’s antidote for the Ford Pintos of the world had made them into a major competitor with Detroit, but starting in the early 80s, Toyota set their sights on a new brass ring, breaking into the luxury car segment, and taking on brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Jaguar in the international market.
The F1 project, as the new luxury sedan was codenamed, began in 1983. Toyota set no budget cap on development, eventually pouring over a billion into the project, including over $400 million on developing the car’s new 1UZ-FE V8 engine. The project evolved over years and enlisted some 60 designers, 2,300 technicians, and 1,400 engineers. A total of 450 running prototypes were built, and extensive road testing was conducted all over the world, including mile-after-high-speed-mile on the German Autobahn. Initially, designers were working with a sleek, sporty design for the car, but that was changed to a more conservative, three-box design in 1986.
The Lexus LS 400 debuted in January of 1989. Lexus marketing emphasized the meticulous engineering that they had devoted to its creation. If you were around at the time, you will recall the now iconic television commercial in which the LS 400 hits 145 mph on a dynamometer with a pyramid of champagne glasses balanced, unperturbed, on the hood, the image accompanied by the Lexus tagline: “The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection.”
2023 Lexus LS 500 – pressroom.lexus.com | Shop Lexus LS 400 on Carsforsale.com
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