Lexus LC 500 – Engineered And Protected Using ‘Kaizen’ Methodology
Lexus is a brand long associated with luxury, but with the LC 500, the brand took on the challenge of combining luxury with a sporting edge to deliver a car unlike any other. The gentleman in charge of Lexus (Akio Toyoda) is a designer, not an engineer, whose heritage can be traced back to the original Toyota family. Driven by a desire to bring something truly new and visionary to the group of companies in his charge, having seen public reaction to the LF-LC Concept Car first revealed in 2012, he insisted the car make the transition to road-legal production. The remit: the car must be brilliant fun but retain daily driver practicality. And of course, it had to retain its futuristic looks. Not surprisingly, making the new Lexus all about the design left the engineers with quite a challenge and in the end, a team of 4000 designers, engineers and technicians were involved in turning the concept car into the Lexus LC 500 available today.
The LC 500 frame is constructed from high tensile steel, the roof and door frames made from carbon fibre reinforced plastic, and bodywork from carbon fibre composites and aluminium, the better to reduce weight. Making the car wide and with a low centre of gravity helps stability on tight curves. The engine is front-mid mounted and the battery is in the boot, resulting in a 52% front, 48% rear weight distribution. Overall the car is set up to feel as though the rear end is working in perfect harmony with the front end, making handling a pleasure, rather than a white-knuckle experience, yet still manages to deliver a thrilling and visceral drive.
The V8 engine produces 467bhp at 7100rpm and 389lb ft of torque at 4800rpm, delivering 0-62mph in under 4.5 seconds. Drive is controlled through an all-new, single-clutch 10-speed direct-shift gearbox that has been specially designed to produce a controlled and specific gear change rhythm at the same speed as a dual clutch – to engage the driver and create a more fluid experience. A sound generator and sound control valves on the exhaust alter the volume and tone according to driving style. Even the position of the sports seats, placed low down, have been specifically oriented for the LC 500, placing the feet and hips more in-line, enabling the driver to better feel the car’s movement. Safe to say, every single aspect of the LC 500 has been designed and engineered using the Japanese ‘Kaizen’ methodology, where employees at all levels of an organisation work together proactively to achieve regular, incremental improvements to the manufacturing process. In a sense, it combines the collective talents within a company to create a powerful vehicle for continuous improvement.
A long-standing customer previously had his Lexus RC-F detailed by UF back in 2015 and had been impressed, not only with the cosmetic appearance that ceramic sealants produce, but also the ease of the weekly wash, due in part to the sealants exceptional ability to resist the adherence of contamination. When the LC 500 was officially released, unable to resist its futuristic looks and impressive performance stats, he immediately put his name on the waiting list. After many expectant months a delivery date was finally confirmed and he immediately booked his latest acquisition in to UF’s Brand Hatch studio for a complete New Car Protection Package, including the very latest in Ceramic protection for paint, wheel and glass.
One of only 19 in the UK, the car had been spec’d with the Sport+ pack, incorporating a limited split differential, four-wheel steering and retractable spoiler as well as Alcantara seats. The roof, rather than the panoramic glass roof standard models have, is made from carbon fibre.
Prior to hand-over the owner met with the supplying dealership and requested that the car be left unwashed. Having followed his instructions to a tee the car arrived at UF direct from Lexus with the factory identification markings and stickers stick in place.
Having been driven to UF, the LC 500 had picked up some dirt and road debris, and water spot marks were visible on the metal trim.
The detailing process began with an application of Gtechniq W6 Iron and General Fallout Remover, designed to remove ferrous contamination. These harmful particles have two main sources: brake pads and trains! Brake pads shred when the brakes are applied and the particles become airborne, landing on and bonding with the first substrate they come into contact with. For brand new cars, the most likely source is from railways. Many new cars are transported by rail and stored in railway sidings during their journey from factory to dealership. When trains brake, tiny particles are released into the air. Whichever the source, the iron particles are sharp and hot, they bond instantly and firmly. As they oxidise they swell and left in situ can cause permanent pitting. These particles are not removed during the normal wash process and rubbing at them with a wash mitt is ineffective and usually, results in swirl marks in the paintwork. W6 contains an active ingredient which shrinks the ferrous particles, causing them to break their bond with the substrate and allowing them to be easily rinsed away.
Using non-contact decontamination products is the safest way to ensure a vehicle is completely clean whilst minimising the risk of scratching and swirling the paintwork. Spray on products designed to tackle each type of contamination, from iron to adhesives to grease, remove the need for rubbing with a wash mitt – a leading cause of paintwork damage. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
A trolley jack was used to raise each corner of the car to provide better clearance between the wheel and the wheel arch. This allows them to be more thoroughly cleaned. A solution of Bilt-Hamber Surfex HD was applied and allowed to dwell, releasing greasy deposits, diesel splatters and general dirt. The wheel arches were then rinsed using a Kranzle K-1152 pressure washer.
Once all the wheel arches had been cleaned, the rest of the bodywork was also treated with Surfex HD.
Diesel and greasy deposits can stain paintwork and also interfere with the bonding process of the ceramic sealant. It’s essential then, to ensure all traces of contamination have been removed. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
The LC 500 was then pre-cleaned ahead of the main wash using Ultimate Snow Foam applied through a foam lance attached to a Kranzle pressure washer. Ultimate Snow Foam creates a thick lather that clings, even to vertical surfaces, lifting larger particles of dirt and grit away from surfaces and encapsulating them within the foam. The solution can then be rinsed away before a wash mitt comes into contact with the paint surface, again, reducing the risk of marring the paintwork.
The foam was rinsed away with clean water through a pressure washer. Then, the car was washed using separate wash and rinse buckets. The Wash Bucket is filled with warm water and Nanolex Pure Shampoo added. Pure Shampoo does not contain additives or gloss enhancers, so rinses completely clear of the panels without leaving residues or streaks. The Rinse Bucket contains pure, clean water. Both buckets have a Grit Guard in the bottom. The wash mitt is dunked into the Wash Bucket, a section of a panel cleaned and then the mitt dunked into the Rinse Bucket. Here, the mitt is rubbed across the Grit Guard, releasing dirt transferred from the car’s panel. The particles sink to the bottom of the bucket. The mitt is wrung out and then dunked back into the Wash Bucket, reloaded with wash solution and the process repeated. This prevents dirt already removed from the panel being reintroduced, eliminating another source of paintwork marking.
Once the car was completely clean, the suds were rinsed away. Then, an Aqua Gleam De-ionising Water Filter was attached in-line with a hose to deliver a final, pure water rinse. The media within the Aqua Gleam neutralises the impurities found in tap water that cause unsightly water marks and instead leaves a spot free finish.
The LC 500 was brought into the detailing studio where a bigboi air blower was used to dry it. The bigboi touchless car dryers have been specifically designed with the detailing industry in mind. More powerful than other air blowers, the bigboi uses warm, filtered air to quickly disperse water and force droplets from around trim and grilles, areas likely to trap water.
Once completely dry, the LC 500 was placed on a hydraulic ramp and raised. The condition of the paintwork was inspected using SCANGRIP high-intensity lighting and areas of damage noted on a vehicle appraisal sheet for reference during the machine polishing stage. Holograms were clearly evident in the Sonic Red paintwork. As the car had not been washed or polished by the local Lexus centre, logic suggests that they were caused somewhere in the supply chain prior to the cars arrival at the dealership.
Holograms can be caused by a number of things: poor machine polishing techniques, such as an overly aggressive polish and pad combination, an inappropriately high speed setting, or not working a diminishing abrasive sufficiently to allow it to break down properly. They can also simply be the result of not refining the paint correctly. Ceramic sealants are inherently tough and durable and can last for years, therefore it’s essential to ensure that the paintwork is in pristine condition prior to their application. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
The defects were removed and the paintwork refined using a RUPES LHR 15ES dual action polisher with a RUPES Yellow Fine Polishing Pad and RUPES UHS Easy Gloss Compound. RUPES UHS is filler free, easily removes imperfections and leaves a high-gloss finish in just 1-step.
As is common with Japanese marques, the paintwork on the LC 500 was quite soft, so an aggressive pad and compound were unnecessary. The abrasive particles within the UHS compound break down as you work them. Initially, they tackle the defects and then, as they diminish, they refine to leave a gloss without micro scratches or swirls, restoring perfect clarity to the paintwork. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
For smaller sections, such as along the boot lips and door panels, a RUPES BigFoot LHR 75E was used. The smaller head concentrates the polishing action over a central point to produce a more uniform finish on narrower sections.
For such an exceptional car, Kamikaze Collection ENREI was chosen as the protective sealant. Kamikaze Collection is a Japanese designer, developer and manufacturer of innovative and unique car care products. Also adopting the ‘Kaizen’ concept of continuous improvement through small changes, ENREI is a next-generation ceramic coating and Kamikaze Collection’s flagship product.
ENREI is a professional two-stage sealant system. No 1. Primer Base Coat uniquely locks into the paint’s surface leaving it completely uniform and acts as a primer for the top layer. No.2 Top Coat provides the highest level of protection and longevity along with a jaw-dropping shine. ENREI provides superior resistance to chemicals, repels water and therefore waterborne contamination, oils and grime. Treated surfaces remain cleaner, longer and contamination will not bond as readily. Maintenance washing is therefore much easier, negating the need for harsh chemicals.
For any sealant to form chemical bonds effectively it must have a perfectly clean panel, free from any polish or silicon residues. To this end, Gtechniq Panel Wipe was sprayed on to each panel. Containing aromatic solvents, Panel Wipe encapsulates any residues and flashes off, leaving the surface completely bare and ready for the coating. Then, No.1 Base Coat was applied and left to haze for five minutes before being buffed off. After allowing the base coat to cure for around an hour, No.2 Top Coat was then applied before final buffing with Kamikaze Collection edgeless microfibres.
The performance of ENREI Coat is not just in the engineering of the product, but also in the method and technique of application. Kamikaze Collection has very specific guidelines as to how the two layers should be laid down and buffed off. Failure to apply and remove the residues in the stipulated manner will provide in inconsistent results. In addition, there are set parameters for humidity and temperature and attempting to apply the coating outside of those parameters will interfere with the curing process. Due to the complexity of factors with the application of ENREI, this coating is available as a service only through Kamikaze Collection trained and approved detailing studios. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
The gloss that ENREI imparts on paintwork is absolutely stunning, perfectly complimenting the Sonic Red colour.
Panel Wipe was applied to the 21-inch forged alloy wheels before Kamikaze Collection Stance Rim Coat was applied. Also based on nanotechnology, Stance provides a heat resistant barrier to water and oil contamination and also repels brake dust particles. Treated surfaces are easier to keep clean, requiring simply a regular wash with a pure shampoo rather than relying on astringent wheel cleaners, repeated use of which can degrade protective wheel lacquer over time.
The remaining factory marks were removed from the windows using Gtechniq G6 Perfect Glass. The glass was then coated with Kamikaze Collection Intenso Window Coat to provide a hydrophobic barrier that forces water to form beads, allowing them to be blown away even whilst driving at relatively low speeds. This helps reduce fatigue for the driver during inclement weather conditions as well as helping keep the glass cleaner, repelling dirt carried by rainwater. The super slick formulation also eliminates annoying wiper judder associated with some glass sealants.
Fully protected, this LC 500 looked stunning, a perfect marriage of two Japanese brands determined to make a concept a reality and unwilling to compromise on performance!
UF Detailing Studio – Award Winning Detailing. Call 0333 800 8004 to discuss your requirements.