Lexus LS400: The Period When Japan Controlled The Automobile World


Back in the 1980s, one of the biggest surprises in the automobile industry was the unveiling of the Lexus LS400. While some people definitely had their doubts about a Japanese car that was priced at $40,000, the two-tone white and gray sedan was definitely eye-catching.

Spinning peacefully on a turntable, most viewers at the car dealerships throughout the country believed that the car was more elegant than a Mercedes Benz while being faster than a BMW. Since the parent company was Toyota, there were fewer chances of the vehicle breaking down. At the same time, these dealerships also dealt with Cadillacs- most of whom have already been obsolete, whereas the LS400 and its variants still function. 

Lexus’s Success Story

Around the same time as the Lexus came Acura, which was supposed to be one of the automobile companies from Europe, and was in direct contention with the Corvette ZR1. Honda Acura NSX was supposed to be a replacement for Ferraris back in the 80s, which Nobuhiko Kawamoto, one of the managers in the company, believed to be big but not adaptive to the modern environment.

Needless to say, the car was not only good, but exceeded everyone’s expectations, putting Porsche, Ferrari, and Jaguar on edge.  The all-aluminum NSX had absolutely no complaints from anyone. 

The Reagan administration in 1981 had foisted the Voluntary Restraint Agreement on the automobile makers from Japan. This deal limited the island nation to a sale of 1.7 million cars to the USA. Now, while they could have easily put forth 1.7 million cheap cars, they went up and launched Infiniti, Lexus, and Acura.

In 1983, the CEO of Toyota Eiji Toyoda stated that his secret project was the F1- a luxury sedan that would rival the very best in the world. The catch- the car had to be perfect. It couldn’t just be better, it had to be the very best. 

The next five years saw the company pushing more than a billion dollars in this project. The engine for the car had an impressive 32 valve 4.0 liter V-8. The car was smooth, quiet, and incredibly refined. And this is where Lexus came up Americans would never have bought anything with a Toyota badge, no matter how good it turned out to be. But the new name did capture the attention of almost everyone in the automobile industry- and it still does. 

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