issue 38 2012
OUT OF BOUNDS BREAKING NEW GROUND WITH THE LF-LC CONCEPT LUXURY COUPE
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i ssue 38 2012 $8.95 i nc . GST
TRACK TIME IN THE NEW GENERATION GS LINE
THE LFA CLUB
BONDING OVER THE LEXUS SUPERCAR
the high road
feeling the love in slovenia
“This isn’t an investment exactly. This is a car that’s going to be driven.”
THE LFA CLUB
LEXUS DISCOVERS HOW THREE EXCEPTIONAL AUSTRALIANS FORGED A FRIENDSHIP OVER ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST EXCLUSIVE SUPERCARS.
It is one of the world’s most exclusive clubs, with 500 members worldwide. The Australian chapter offers just 10 places and already applications have closed. Among them, three exceptional men will come together later this year to form 30 per cent of the Lexus LFA Owners’ Club of Australia. A breed apart, they stand in contrast to owners of more typical supercar marques such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche. Instead of meeting in some stuffy oakpanelled clubroom, swilling cognac and smoking Cuban Montecristos, our LFA members are more likely to be kicking back with a cold Corona and fresh lime at a riverside pub somewhere between Byron Bay and Bangalow, or sipping a cheeky Chardonnay in a leafy restaurant past South Australia’s Mount Lofty.
The allure of the Lexus brand obviously brought these men together but, more than that, it has cemented a firm friendship based on shared ideals, beliefs and philosophies. The youngest of the trio, Charlie Ji, 30, from Adelaide, believes their highly individual outlook meshes their personalities together. “We’re all outgoing and optimistic people,” says Ji, “and we share a sense of humour that keeps us laughing most of the time. It also helps that we’re all car fanatics, so there’s always something to talk about.” John-Paul (or JP as he’s known to his friends), 35, also from Adelaide but now living in Queensland managing his family’s retail business, first met Ji when they were taking part in Auzrun 2010, a lighthearted lifestyle rally for supercar owners. JP drove his trusty LS 430, decked out in
Driver portraits: JIM LEE and SIMON CHILDS
WORDS ROD EIME
B-52 livery as Team Top Gun, while Ji arrived in his Ferrari 430 Spider as Team Enzo. “Charlie is such great fun. You never know what car he’ll turn up in or with who,” says JP barely concealing his laughter, “he loves to dress up and joke around.” Another Queenslander, and the MD of his own roofing and guttering business, Brett Breeding, 45, is closer to the more commonly held Lexus demographic, which is quickly becoming an urban myth thanks to the growing line-up of sleek sports saloons like the V8 IS F. “Charlie is a bit of a mysterious chap, very successful and clearly knows his cars,” says Breeding, “but I reckon the intrigue is part of the fun. He loves to play tricks. At the Lexus headquarters in Germany he picked the LFA up for a 60-minute drive, plugged in rapper 50 Cent and asked, ‘Which way to the Euro tunnel?’.” But it wasn’t until last year at the 2011 Australian Formula 1TM Grand Prix that all the guys finally got together in the Lexus hospitality stand and realised they were like long-lost brothers. One of their favourite conversation topics, unsurprisingly, is cars and Lexus in particular. Both JP and Breeding are stalwart Lexus owners, each with a long list of models under their belt. The LFA, to these two at least, was an obvious extension to their well-established ownership experience, while Ji had different motives. More familiar with tempestuous brands such as Ferrari and Lamborghini, Ji wondered whether this much-
Opposite page: The LFA owns the road. This page, from top: JP gets ready for some lap time and Charlie Ji suits up.
anticipated supercar could blend Lexus refinement and quality with the sort of redline exhilaration he was used to. “This will be my first Lexus purchase,” he says. “Lexus has always impressed me with their prestige reputation and quiet drive, and it’s not just because Paris Hilton has one, but the LFA looked almost too good to be true. Now that I’ve driven one on the track I can say the LFA is more satisfying and exciting than my Ferrari 599 and SLS AMG Mercedes, when pushed hard.” Later that year Lexus invited the trio to test-drive the LFA on a private track day at the famous 154-turn, 20 kilometre Nürburgring road circuit in Germany, and Breeding and Ji made a beeline for Europe. JP, unfortunately, was skiing in Japan. “That’s a sore point,” he recalls. After that spine-tingling experience, Ji set his heart on one of the 50-only Nürburgring Edition LFAs, but is realistic about his chances with this highly sought after ultra-exclusive edition. Our new owners will take delivery of their LFAs progressively during 2012 as the hand-built vehicles slowly roll off the production line, 20 per month, at the Lexus Motomachi plant in Japan. And just what will they do with their state-of-the-art machinery when the big day comes?
“The LFA is more satisfying and exciting than my Ferrari 599 and SLS AMG Mercedes, when pushed hard.” — Charlie Ji
This image: Tackling the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Below: Brett Breeding gets some pointers from Scott Pruett.
“I’m going to take it to the track whenever I can and drive it like I stole it,” says Ji. “This isn’t an investment exactly,” says JP. “This is a car that’s going to be driven. Even though the LFA is a car that could be driven every day, we’ll get together with Brett, our wives (Natalie and Nicky), and some friends and just go for a drive somewhere on weekends. Of course, if there’s a track day my hand will be the first one up.” “I know we all love driving them and that’s what we’ll do,” says Breeding. “Enjoy them for what they are – a motoring masterpiece.” The Adelaide connection is a coincidence with the three, or is it? Breeding and JP were born in the ‘city of churches’, while Ji now operates his mining business from there. “I’ll be scouting for some great driving destinations in the Barossa or the Hills for when we all get together down here,” says Ji in anticipation. The Lexus experience doesn’t begin and end at the showroom. It’s a customer creed that is the envy of the industry and is embodied, in part, by the Lexus Covenant: Lexus will treat each customer as we would a guest in our home. Breeding, with perhaps the longest Lexus experience of the three, expresses the relationship with elegance. “I’ve been able to do and experience things that I never would have imagined, thanks to Lexus. Whether it was the Nürburgring, the Australian Grand Prix or any of the other fantastic Drive Days or VIP events, they’ve
“I’ve been able to do and experience things that I never would have imagined, thanks to Lexus.” — Brett Breeding
been just fantastic and really understand the customer on a personal level when they could easily just treat it like a regular sales promotion.” Just like getting the most from life and business, Lexus ownership reflects these ideals in its own philosophy when it says: If you think you can’t, you won’t … If you think you can, you will! We can, we will. Except that our special LFA owners can amend that final line to read: ‘We did’.