Project LS

Custom tuner Troy Sumitomo walks us around his latest SEMA auto show creation—the one-of-kind Project LS.

10/31/2012—It’s been a big year for the flagship Lexus LS—first a dramatic, performance-oriented redesign, then, wonder of all wonders, the first ever LS F SPORT. So what could possibly shake things up further? Simple: Hand over a 2013 LS to a hotshot tuner to custom modify for this year’s SEMA auto show.

The tuner, in this case, is none other than Troy Sumitomo of Five Axis, who’s no stranger to sculpting one-of-a-kind Lexus vehicles. His newest creation, called Project LS, is an intriguing take on the latest LS generation, and The Lexus Enthusiast’s Kevin Watts caught up with him for an insider’s tour at Lexus’ SEMA display area:

Kevin Watts: When you first started brainstorming the Project LS, what were your goals?

Sumitomo: The LS is the high end of luxury, the top-of-the-line Lexus, so we wanted to make sure the Project LS worked with that message. The main goal was to really respect the original design. The LS is long, sleek, and very clean—we didn’t want to blow it out of proportion or add any weird graphic shapes.

We noticed that you widened it somewhat with the side vents and the side skirts.

It’s like what Lexus did with the IS F. They took a production car and enhanced it by widening the front but not the back, with styling cues like the big vents.

The IS F is what I thought of when I first saw the Project LS—taking the existing model and adding similar elements to it.

Even though our side graphic hints at the IS F, if you look at the front fender and side skirts, there’s no separation between them, no visual break in the shape. That sweeping line is uninterrupted. Every car should have a separate front fender and a rocker—it would be hard to pull off our design in production.

As you were designing, what was the one thing you wanted to keep from the production LS?

Because the LS is a luxury sedan, we didn’t really want to go crazy with aggressive attributes, but we still wanted to bring some flavor. Of course, the spindle grille is the most prominent part of the Lexus identity, so we didn’t want to disturb that.

The Titanium Matte Silver exterior color looks great—why this color choice?

Historically, Five Axis has been known to do unique paint finishes. My goal was to create a high-tech finish similar to Apple products of late, like raw aluminum, and I think we really succeeded. There’s a hint of Blue Pearl in the paint, and in natural sunlight it’s amazing how the color shifts from a cool color to a warm color.

And then the accents have a pewter finish.

We darkened up the chrome—the darker accents give a sportier feel while the chrome keeps up the luxury.

What’s the story behind those large 22-inch wheels?

We worked with Lexus to see what they’re going to be doing, so the wheels hint at the future. Lexus doesn’t make large-diameter 22-inch wheels for production models, so we worked with one of our partners on a monoblock-style wheel. It’s a classic design.

Did you have any trouble fitting the wheels?

No, not at all. We increased the wheel diameter but made up for it with a really low-profile tire. To me, it’s always about stance and wheels—filling up the wheel well.

Overall, the focus of the Project LS seems to be on enhancing the production LS F SPORT.

L-Finesse is Lexus’ design language, and it has a lot of subtle details. We incorporated some little subtleties into our design. As an example, on the front end, we tightened up the existing design lines, giving the face a more aggressive look—more of a growl. We even elongated the hood over the headlight, just to make it even more dramatic. On the back of the car, we really focused on making a nice transition from the side skirts. We also wanted to carry uninterrupted design lines around the body, like the spindle accent on the decklid.

The spindle shape that runs through the trunk is definitely something that’s visible with the LS.

When we were sketching out the Project LS, we tried doing full spoilers, but I didn’t want to interrupt the spindle graphic, which resulted in a clean, one-piece design. It’s stuff like that, the little subtleties. Unless I point them out, you really don’t notice them.

Thanks for taking the time to show us around the car, Troy.

My pleasure.

Legal Disclaimer

Vehicle shown is a special project car modified with non-Genuine Lexus parts and accessories. Modification with these non-Genuine Lexus parts or accessories will void the Lexus warranty, may negatively impact vehicle performance and safety, and may not be street legal.