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Lexus is one of the most popular luxury car companies in the world, and part of the reason why Lexus has been so successful is because it’s owned by Toyota. While Lexus has become a mainstay in the American car market, many drivers may not know that the Japanese luxury automaker isn’t actually very old. Here’s a look at the history of Lexus and the first car that Lexus ever built.

This was the first car that Lexus ever built 

CarScoops wrote about the history behind Lexus’ first car, and it didn’t happen that long ago. In fact, Toyota executives looked at the design of that car and approved of it back in May 1987. That car had no name at the time, and it was code-named “F1”. This was because Lexus was at its very early stages as a company, and it didn’t even have an official name yet. 

The project to build a luxury car started even earlier than that, as Toyota officially started working on the car back in 1983. Two years after Toyota executives approved of the design, Lexus engineers put the final touches on the car before the company revealed its first car ever in 1989.

That car was also given a name, and it was called the LS 400. It debuted in the American car market later that year. 

How Lexus learned and adapted to dominate the American luxury car market

Since the first Lexus car debuted in 1989, it means that the brand is about 34 years old. The company is older than that if its birthday is the date that the project was first greenlit by Toyota executives, which would make Lexus about 40 years old. Either way, Lexus is a much younger company than traditional luxury brands like Cadillac or BMW. Both of those luxury automakers got started over 100 years ago.

Despite the fact that Lexus was such a new company, it made big strides to win the hearts and minds of American car shoppers. The LS 400, for example, didn’t try to do anything radical, and its creators described it as, “simple, clean, and smart.” The idea behind the LS 400 as well as Lexus models going forward wasn’t to focus on power like the German companies do, but rather, brand image and prestige.

This was a result of Lexus taking a look at what American luxury car shoppers wanted in their cars. As it turns out, performance was far from the most important factor. Instead, image and prestige was at the top, and that’s why Lexus has continued to focus on the design of its cars throughout the years.

The LS 400 wasn’t weak though, as it had a 4.0-liter V8 that made 250 hp and 260 lb-ft, and it could hit a top speed of 155 mph.

Lexus is now one of the most well-known luxury automakers in the world

Of course, Lexus didn’t just stick to the basics with the LS 400, it did make some bold design choices. For example, the Japanese company chose a more innovative design for its instrument panel. Plus, it was priced at $35,000, which undercut many of its rivals. When all of those factors were combined with Lexus’ now-legendary reputation for being reliable, it’s easy to see why the LS 400, and the company, has succeeded. 

By taking what drivers liked from luxury cars and improving in a few areas, Lexus was able to carve itself a big piece of the luxury car market. Lexus’ researchers also continued to be correct in the sense that most luxury car owners don’t care about high horsepower numbers. They just want a comfortable Lexus that looks good too.


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