The Lexus LF-C2 concept, introduced here at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, is the ultimate in topless motoring.
No, seriously. It has no top.
That’s because, Lexus announced, it’s a “roadster concept.” So, as a result – in Lexus’ thinking – it doesn’t deserve a top.
Okay, so we had our fun – me and my colleagues in the motoring press.
It seems we have to find something we can jump on at each auto show. Last year at L.A., it was the Youabian Puma (deservedly so). This year, it seems to be the LF-C2 concept. Except for the Dyson-like nose, I thought the LF-C2 looked pretty cool (it would look especially cool with me and my date in it!).
In its own defense, Lexus revealed surprisingly little about the LF-C2 concept at its introduction. In fact, in prepared remarks, Jeff Bracken, the Lexus executive who introduced it, devoted just four short, vague sentences to the car.
“Today we’re here to share with you what happens when we take our signature look, which is critical to our identity in the luxury market, and incorporate it into a fun ‘what if’ concept,” he said. “The result is the LF-C2.”
He added, “This concept celebrates our design identity and kicks it up a notch – actually, make that several notches! Open top, gorgeous at a glance, and just plain fun, this concept gives you a hint into what the future of Lexus design holds.”
The topless Lexus – LF-C2 apparently is short for “Lexus Future – Coupe 2” – appears to be nominally related to the RC-F coupe, which is headed into production. If that is true, the LF-C2 could theoretically be powered by the same sort of 400-plus horsepower V8.
Or, like its non-existent top, it could be powered by nothing – not an uncommon form of motive power among pie-in-the-sky auto show concepts.
But here’s my point: Isn’t that what makes auto shows great? Or at least worthwhile? Isn’t it the flights of fancy – the more extreme the better – that make an auto show worth going to? Otherwise, an auto show is just like a trip to the auto mall.
So I congratulate Lexus for even going to the trouble of preparing the LF-C2 and bringing it to the L.A. show. I remember many years when Toyota and Lexus had nothing to introduce at L.A. – even though it’s right in the backyard of the company’s American operations (in Torrance, California).
If more manufacturers brought concepts to auto shows, think how much better auto shows would be! I’ll never forget the Ford Nucleon of the late 1950s – even if the idea of a nuclear-powered flying car (especially one based on a Ranchero pickup) now seems ridiculous.
So bring on the topless roadsters, the flying cars, gas-free electric cars, the armored SUVs – that’s why I go to auto shows.
(Postscript: All that said, Lexus, and its parent Toyota, need to get serious and build some real convertibles. The company has always seemed to have a tortured relationship with opening the tops of their cars. It barely tolerated a “Sunchaser” open-top version of its Celica, and only because it didn’t really make it – a third-party vendor did the conversion. The Lexus SC-430 coupe, with its folding hardtop, was beautiful on the inside but disproportionately styled on the outside; still, it hung around in the marketplace for almost 10 years without a redesign before finally being put out of its misery. Lexus’ neglect of the SC-430 was so extreme that, at the time of its demise in 2010, it was the last automobile sold in America with a cassette tape deck.)
November 30, 2014