2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible First Drive: My Humorous Valentine

Know-how definitely can change in a half-century. The method of erecting the convertible prime of my 1959 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite begins with digging its folded metal tube body out from behind the seats, spreading its fingerlike tubes, connecting all their ends collectively, gingerly cantilevering it throughout the cockpit, after which down into vertical slots on the left and proper sides. Besides every thing is misaligned by an inch, so it’s a must to climb up on prime of the seats and wrestle it like an Everglades alligator.

That is simply the quivering, hair-trigger body. Any sudden motion will trigger it to mousetrap off the automotive and violently disassemble. Which might be simply as nicely, as I nonetheless don’t have the vinyl prime that makes stepping into the Healey like wiggling right into a pup tent. As a substitute, I simply snap the tonneau cowl’s passenger facet in place and, if it rains, stare straight forward when stopped at a lightweight.

You’ll be able to solely think about, then, my reeling at elevating the retracted prime of the 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible. There’s a tiny, leather-covered lid on the middle console that tilts up with the flick of 1 finger.



The entire again of the automotive erupts in such an elaborate fan dance of swinging panels and pole-vaulting material, that it’s worthy of musical accompaniment. Might I counsel the final 16 seconds of the “1812 Overture,” as that’s precisely how lengthy it takes. Even higher, this perform will be carried out at as much as 31 mph, which interprets, after a 5-second delay, into myriad Instagram postings out of your sidewalk viewers. This, my associates, is what 61 years of relentless automotive progress for the reason that Bugeye has introduced us.

After briefly admiring this superbly completed, four-layer material prime up shut, I flipped the highest’s change lid and waited the even-quicker 15 seconds to retract the entire contraption. (Beneath the change lies an ejection-seat set off harking back to James Bond’s DB5. However not like the Aston Martin, this one philosophically ejects the oppression of sardine-like confinement, eradicating the ceiling between you and the celebrities.)

It’s a gentle night, the solar set a half-hour in the past, the air is a cooling ocean breeze. Plenty of work has gone into making this automotive a convertible, and I’m not losing it. Tonight, I’ll be turning proper out of MotorTrend HQ onto Rosecrans Avenue, aiming towards Pacific Coast Freeway to move house. Not left, not towards the 405 freeway’s lanes of speeding, lurching Amazon vans.

Let’s get the large three benchmark specs out of the way in which whereas I crawl via PCH’s stoplights: The LC 500 is 187.Four inches lengthy (halfway between a Corolla and a Camry). It weighs about 4,500 kilos (triple that of my Bugeye, no kidding). And as with my previous Cannondale, there’s 10 gear ratios in its transmission, fed by a 471-hp, 5.0-liter, four-valve-per-cylinder V-8. Highway check editor Chris Walton figures it’ll do 60 mph in about 5 seconds. Fast, however not rifle-shot. The sunshine turns inexperienced. I change the rotary drive mode selector to Sport + (which ought to be depicted by an icon of fingers-in-ears).

Its banshee, hounds-of-hell wail will immediately faint everyone in earshot, just like the troopers in Goldfinger when the pretend nerve gasoline was sprayed on Fort Knox. And regardless of your suspicions that it’s some pre-recorded sham, it’s genuine. Kind of. I quote the producer: “…consumption pulses [that] are naturally carried via a diaphragm right into a sound pipe that carries the sounds, not the air itself, into the cabin to boost the V-8’s rumble.” Bookending the consumption whoosh are overtones on prime of the exhaust word when a valve forward of the mufflers opens. No electrons up anyone’s sleeve. My Bugeye employs a pipe that runs beneath the automotive to the again the place it ends.

Gliding south down PCH, the chassis hardly ever concedes that the higher third of its construction is lacking. A slight quake each mile or so—higher than most. Really, the LC 500 Convertible has been noticeably re-architected to counter its lidlessness, with much less unsprung weight up entrance, and its reshaped rear suspension’s towers abetted by new die-casting constructions and redialed damping.

On the monitor, the coupe model of the LC 500 was an agile automotive for its noticeable weight, with a tail that walks round if you pedal the throttle whereas hardly ever slipping on the invisible banana peel. However via Manhattan Seaside, we’re doing what these vehicles actually do for his or her livings: cruising.

The steering is correct however considerably synthetic. The brake pedal is delicate to tip-in however vague throughout the previous couple of ft of slowdown earlier than the crosswalk stripes. Twisting that drive mode knob livens issues up, with a fast growl of a downshift and intensified gauge graphics. However at most, it solidifies the trip from, say, a 6 to a 7, to not a 9.

The LC’s ingredient is when it’s simply sustaining momentum, providing you with time to ponder, and there’s loads of materials for that. For a automotive with such a tech vibe, it isn’t the feature-fest you’d anticipate. There’s the local weather management system, which works to maintain your required temperature whatever the prime’s place and contains neck heaters and air focused on the backs of your arms, when it’s down.

There’s featured Android Auto and built-in Apple CarPlay, in addition to the Lexus-Alexa app for infotainment. The Lexus Security System+ contains lane preserve help, adaptive cruise management, rear cross-traffic alert, and PreCollision that detects pedestrians. A transparent wind blocker discourages passing air from backtracking and blowing your hair straight ahead.

That’s not a 4th of July present of function fireworks—although it does have just a few precise pyrotechnics, corresponding to a hood that explosively pops as much as cushion phone-zombies wandering into your path, and detonating roll-over posts within the rear seats in case you flip your lid.

However the window into the LC’s soul is its slot for inserting CDs. I couldn’t consider {that a} automotive nonetheless got here geared up with such a 1990s function till I dug out an previous Chet Baker disc, the slot sucked it from my fingertips, and the Mark Levinson sound system started enjoying Baker’s wispy vocals on “My Humorous Valentine.”

I do know this automotive. My dad—who drove a 1956 Thunderbird and a Lincoln Mark V and most popular flashy “private luxurious vehicles”—liked this type of factor, a two-door meant extra for boulevard cruising than tail-out monitoring. It teams higher with Cadillac’s previous XLR than a Jaguar F-Sort. By way of Redondo Seaside, I bought shoutouts from some younger guys in Camaros yelling, “Cool trip!” (appreciating their punctuating it with “dude” as a substitute of “sir”). The LC 500 is a showboat that swivels extra heads than a chiropractic clinic.

I’d critically problem you to provide you with an inside that’s as complicated, detailed, and well-finished as this Lexus’. It’s an explosion of Nike swooshes and ruler-straight traces, with door panels and seats with extra pleats than Mick Jagger’s cheeks. All the things attracts your face nearer to look at it. However the cockpit’s overriding aim appears to be exhibiting craftsmanship, with design a detailed second. Its buttons could also be in curious locations, however the leather-based and its spiderweb of sewing is solely terrific. Do the lodging work? The rear seat’s legroom received’t match children, however the trunk is sufficiently big for a golf bag. So, apparently sure.

From any perspective, the bodywork has an angle for you, and all of them spew from the grandest, Steven Tyler grille within the enterprise (although it has a competitor within the BMW 7 Sequence’ pair of jumbo kidneys). With the Coupe’s roof eliminated, the Convertible has been visually rebalanced with a kicked-up tail and a widened spoiler. However the primary optic function is the crazy-long hood that I stare down, as I burble alongside the oceanfront via Huntington Seaside—the waft of the sand-pit bonfires getting into the cabin. That is the second I most love in open vehicles.

A few years in the past, I walked right into a pal’s enterprise, R. Straman Co, as Richard (he’s the R) was circular-sawing the roof off of a Ferrari Daytona Coupe. I watched because the blade’s tooth hungrily chewed via the roof’s base. If Hannibal Lecter have been a automotive buff, there’d have been a glass of Chianti on the workbench. However on the earth of convertible conversions, Richard was the diamond cutter you’d take the Hope to. The Daytona was reborn from sparks as a really sensual and helpful Spyder. And like diamond-cutting, every thing is dependent upon the place you place the reduce.

Staring on the LC, I questioned if Richard would have separated the roof fairly the place Lexus has. The amputated base of the Coupe’s B-pillar has a visible function when the highest is up, however when it’s down it resembles a low tree stump that subtly journeys the attention. Perhaps it’s a needed pivot location.

Earlier than I purchased the Bugeye (for the second time … lengthy story), I requested Richard for his opinion. “Have you ever pushed a automotive that previous these days?” he requested, tilting his head. “Trendy vehicles are simply a lot simpler to reside with.” The LC 500 Convertible’s one-finger, 16-second top-raise at 31 mph definitely makes his level. However regardless of the birthdate on my driver’s license, I’m not fairly prepared for my dad’s automotive—even when I’ve a Chet Baker CD shut at hand.

2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible
BASE PRICE $102,025
LAYOUT Entrance-engine, RWD, 4-pass, 2-door convertible
ENGINE 5.0L/471-hp/398-lb-ft Atkinson-cycle DOHC 32-valve V-8
TRANSMISSION 10-speed automated
CURB WEIGHT 4,500 lb (mfr)
WHEELBASE 112.9 in
L x W x H 187.Four x 75.9 x 53.1 in
0-60 MPH 5.Zero sec (MT est)
EPA FUEL ECON 15/25/18 mpg (MT est)
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 225/135 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.06 lb/mile
ON SALE Summer time 2020

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