Lexus is the luxury vehicle division of Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corporation. First introduced in 1989 in the United States, Lexus is now sold globally and has become Japan’s largest-selling make of premium cars. The Lexus marque is marketed in over 70 countries and territories worldwide, and has ranked among the ten largest Japanese global brands in market value.
In 1983, Toyota chairman Eiji Toyoda summoned a secret meeting of company executives, to whom he posed the question, “Can we create a luxury vehicle to challenge the world’s best?” This question prompted Toyota to embark on a top-secret project, code-named F1 (“Flagship One”). The F1 project, whose finished product was ultimately the Lexus LS 400, aimed to develop a flagship sedan that would expand Toyota’s product line, giving it a foothold in the premium segment and offering both longtime and new customers an upmarket product. The F1 project followed the success of the Toyota Supra sports car and the premium Toyota Cressida models.
Lexus first entered the motorsport arena in 1999 when its racing unit, Team Lexus, fielded two GS 400 race vehicles in the Motorola Cup North American Street Stock Championship touring car series. In its 1999 inaugural season, Team Lexus achieved its first victory with its sixth race at Road Atlanta. Lexus has competed at the 24 Hours Nürburgring since 2008, with race vehicles including the LFA and IS F. After the release of the Lexus brand in the Japanese domestic market in 2005, Lexus sanctioned the entry of four SC 430 coupes in the Super GT series of the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship in theGT500 class. In the first race of the 2006 series, an SC 430 took the chequered flag, and drivers André Lotterer and Juichi Wakisaka raced the SC 430 to capture the GT500 championship for that year.