We need to talk more about this Lexus LFA

RM Sotheby's/Rafael Martin

The collector car market is moving so quickly these days that it’s easy to miss—or at least miss the importance of—some of the biggest sales. Take this 2012 Lexus LFA. It was just one of the 871 vehicles we personally inspected at the Monterey auctions this year, and the final price of $1.6M was not even high enough to crack the top ten. So, what’s the big deal? Let’s dig into the digits that explain its significance.


The MSRP on a 2012 LFA. Higher-performing Nürburgring editions, like this one, cost $450,000 but included driving lessons and a year’s pass to the ’Ring. Not too shabby for a 563-hp halo car. Alas, it was a halo car for Lexus, a brand that had never broken into the upper realms of prestige brands and was, in that era, known best for leasing well-appointed Camrys. The timing didn’t help: Development started during the go-go years of the early 2000s, but dragged on as Lexus struggled to meet its internal performance targets. By the time it debuted, in 2010, the economy had tanked. As a result, LFAs languished on dealer lots, sometimes for years.

RM Sotheby's/Rafael Martin


Ah, yes, the LFA’s screaming redline. It was a cool stat 10 years ago but now helps explain the rising interest and values for the LFA. Lexus touted the car as a technological tour de force, which it certainly was—carbon-fiber tub, six-speed automated manual, F1-inspired engine. In retrospect, however, it came out at the tail end of an analog era that is now coveted by collectors. The craftsmanship and attention to detail on the car also epitomize what collectors increasingly appreciate about Japanese performance cars. We figured LFAs might be swept up in these currents, adding them to our 2021 Bull Market list.


Lexus, whose reputation rides on bullet-proof build-quality, took care to promote the durability of its halo car, even putting a 30,000-mile example through track testing. Nevertheless, more than a few of the 500 LFAs built show extremely low miles. This one was represented with just 930. We can’t say we understand the appeal of paying a huge premium for a car you can’t drive, but needless to say, some very wealthy collectors do.


Given that context, we were still surprised by this sale. Calling it a record (which it is) doesn’t convey how wild this price is. The chart below might help:

Now, one sale is exactly that—one sale. Moreover, it was a sale at Monterey, where people can spend five figures on lunch. Safe to say, though, it is an exclamation point on a trend that was already in motion and, in our opinion, is much deserved: The great LFA is finally getting its due.

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