Throughout the development of the Lexus SC 430, Chief Engineer Yasushi Nakagawa pursued a lofty goal. He challenged his team to create "The Jewel of Lexus" that would be the ultimate luxury sport convertible and bring the highest level of prestige to Lexus.
This project began with the exterior design team which embarked on an extensive research trip to the French Riviera to study elegance, beauty, class and richness. While there, the team spent several weeks observing architecture, design of clothes and accessories, lifestyles, tastes and home interior designs.
With inspiration from their trip to the Riviera, the designers started by applying elements of their research to the exterior styling of the car. The theme was to create an elegant, sophisticated and intelligent design. And, unlike convertibles that are essentially coupes with the top cut off, the SC 430 was designed to be a convertible from the beginning. "To be successful, the car needed to look as good as a coupe as it did as a convertible," explained Nakagawa.
Among the intriguing items that gave visual inspiration to the team were the luxury yachts of the Cote d'Azur. "Some of the character lines of the region's yachts are reflected in this car, replacing traditional wavy lines," said Nakagawa.
Unlike convertibles that pull the cabin back, the SC 430 stands out with its forward-motioned roof that features an all-weather type retractable aluminum-alloy hardtop. With a simple push of a button, the SC 430 transforms from a 2+2 coupe into a sporty convertible in less than 25 seconds.
The lines of the roof unite the sleek indentations of the front hood design while the aggressive grille and boldly sculpted headlamps complement the front end. As a result, the SC 430 has a luxurious yet sporty look with a rich, natural, sculpted beauty. A long wheelbase, short overhangs and pronounced wheel arches with aggressive 18-inch wheels - the first time Lexus has offered such a large tire - imply power and prestige.
The main rear character lines are intermingled with the curves of the bumper to create a harmonious design. Two large chrome exhaust pipes, which suggest the SC 430's performance capability and stability, add the final touch to the exterior design.
"When the top is down, the interior is highly visible," stated Nakagawa. "So I wanted the luxurious and sporty theme to continue on the inside of the car."
The interior is a work of art that encompasses authentic elegance, stemming from the home interior designs of the French Riviera. Natural materials such as wood and leather were integrated into the cabin to give it the feel of sitting in a comfortable living room. While the smooth seats comfortably cradle the driver and passengers, the combination of wood and leather trim give a sense of sophistication and peace.
To maintain the smooth lines of the center console, as well as to secure the navigation screen and audio system when the SC 430 is parked, the designers took a cue from luxury homes equipped with custom cabinets for the TV and stereo. Both the navigation and audio systems are located behind Burled Walnut or Bird's-Eye Maple doors.
To heighten the sense of luxury, the color combinations for the SC 430 were carefully calculated. Eight exterior colors are offered including six new colors, two of which have been exclusively developed for the SC 430. The two all-new colors are Twilight Amethyst Pearl and Egyptian Sand Pearl, while the other four colors offered for the first time on the SC are White Gold Crystal, Absolutely Red, Midnight Pine Pearl and Indigo Ink Pearl. Millennium Silver Metallic and Black Onyx round out the color selection.
The newest pigment technology has been generously introduced into these colors, resulting in a well-balanced color palette - rich with glossy dark colors and shiny light colors. For example, the new White Gold Crystal uses a pigment called "Crystal Shine," which is titanium oxide-coated aluminum, which provides a pure white shade with a shiny gold highlight. The "color flop" effect is created by light, which causes the paint to "travel" visually between the contrasting white hue and gold highlight.
Designers also considered the role that interior color plays as exterior color when the top is retracted. To enhance the total sensory experience, careful selection and attention to interior material was a priority. For example, two types of natural wood paneling are offered: Burled Walnut and Bird's-Eye Maple. They are color-coordinated with three shades of premium quality leather: Black, Saddle and Ecru. This interior leather, called "Comfort Nappa," is made by Bader, a premier leather manufacturer in Germany.
With the SC 430's stunning exterior and its luxurious interior, customers will thoroughly appreciate the beauty this car offers. "The SC 430 buyer is someone on-the-go who is looking for excitement and luxury all wrapped up in one package," commented Nakagawa. "I'm certain they won't be disappointed."