Will Lexus go racing with the LC 500?

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Lexus has loads of experience in the world of GT3 racing. Most recently, the Japanese manufacturer backed track-prepped derivatives of the SC430 for its homegrown SuperGT series, as well as a GTE-spec variant of the LFA. Lexus’ latest effort is the RC F GT3 racecar, which launched as an integral part of the automaker’s motorsports program going into 2016. Realistically, the RC F has a good deal of development ahead of it before its ready to go for a title shot, but regardless, there’s still a chance we may see another GT3 racer out of Lexus sometime in the future. Why? Simple – there’s a new flagship on the block. It’s called the LC 500, and it’s a sports coupe instilled with Lexus’ sporting intentions front to back, making it a prime candidate for racing glory.

If Lexus does decide to move forward with a competition-ready LC GT3 racer, it’ll probably see action at events like the 24 Hours Nurburgring and benefit from the support of go-faster wizards from Gazoo Racing. But what’ll it look like, both on the outside and under the skin?

We wanted to know, so we penned a rendering and drummed up a little speculation.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Lexus LC GT3.


2018 Lexus LC 500 High Resolution Exterior
- image 661460

Note: Lexus LC500 pictured here.

We got a first look at the LC 500 in 2012, at the North American International Auto Show (NASIAS) in Detroit, where it debuted in concept form as the LF-LC. Later, the two-door was spotted lapping the Nurburgring, clad in camouflage. The production version finally broke cover earlier this year, once again in Detroit.

Critics were immediately floored by the look of the thing, as the exterior design is remarkably close to the original concept. And as we’ve seen with Lexus’ past GT competitors, not much is needed to make the transition to homologated racecar, at least when it comes to aesthetics. And that’s a good thing – if you want to use something as chaotic as motor racing to promote a product, you’re gonna want it to be as easily recognizable as possible.

Just about every component of the LC GT3’s body should be made from the composite material, including the large front splitter and side skirt extensions

Let’s start up front, where the automaker’s large, hourglass-shaped spindle grille takes up the majority of the fascia. The highly angular headlights are also unaltered, including checkmark LED daytime running lights. The triangular intakes on either side of the grille will undoubtedly include plumbing to keep the front brakes nice and cool, while any air escaping to the sides will get redirected over the massively flared fenders by small canards made from carbon fiber.

In fact, just about every component of the LC GT3’s body should be made from the composite material, including the large front splitter and side skirt extensions. A flat underbody keeps the air underneath moving smoothly, while vents in the hood help disperse thermal buildup from the engine bay. The roof is finished in unpainted carbon because, well, it looks sweet. In back is a mammoth swan-mount wing to keep the rear end glued down at speed.

The wheels come from Japanese manufacturer Rays, which provides its forged, one-piece TE37 rollers for ultra-light weight and super strength. You’ve probably seen these wheels before, mounted on a variety of other vehicles from the Land of the Rising Sun, such as time attack cars and drift-mobiles.

Finally, airjacks are installed out of sight for quick tire changes between stints.


2018 Lexus LC 500 High Resolution Interior
- image 661493

Note: Lexus LC500 pictured here.

See ya later luxury, hello carbon fiber.

Although we didn’t render the LC GT3’s interior, we’re imagining it coming stripped down and ready for business. Replacing the leather upholstery and high-gloss trim will be bare composite, maybe with a little brown Alcantara on the steering wheel and dash to enhance grip and reduce glare.

A single-unit LCD race display replaces the gauge cluster, while a panel of switches and knobs takes up the center console

A single-unit LCD race display replaces the gauge cluster, while a panel of switches and knobs takes up the center console. The flat-bottomed removable steering wheel also gets a few controls, such as those for the brake bias and intercom activation. Paddle shifters are placed on the steering column, while the pedal box is adjustable. The glass in the doors and in the rear-facing window will be tossed in favor of Lexan polycarbonate, with sliding vents placed here and there for circulation.

Safety equipment will include a racing harness strapped into a fixed-back Sparco bucket seat, an automatic fire extinguisher system, and a full roll cage.


2018 Lexus LC 500 High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 661492

Note: Lexus LC500 pictured here.

In stock form, the LC 500 uses the same naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 engine as the RC F and GS F, sending 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission. A run to 60 mph takes around 4.5 seconds.

That ain’t bad for a street car, but of course, the GT3-spec will come packing a much bigger punch than that.

Top speed will also increase, up to around 190 mph flat out

For starters, total output will be rated above 500 horsepower – I’d say 550 ponies is a fair guess. All things considered, that’s not too far off the factory figure, but the real difference will be in torque. There will be far more twist available everywhere in the rev range, especially down low, making it much easier to find the limits of grip coming off an apex, giving the LC GT3 an advantage over the forced-fed competition.

Redline will rise from 7,300 rpm to a heart-stopping 8,000 rpm. Top speed will also increase, up to around 190 mph flat out. With the proper gearing, the LC GT3 could easily crest the 200-mph mark, but as is the case with most racecars, acceleration is much more important than a little extra in the top end. A run to 60 mph will take just three seconds flat.

Speaking of gearing, a six-speed sequential transmission will be used instead of the standard 10-speed.

Chassis And Handling

2018 Lexus LC 500 High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 661504

Note: Lexus LC500 pictured here.

While still using a front-engine, RWD layout, the LC GT3 will move the drivetrain back as far as possible to keep weight away from the front axle and even the distribution as close to 50/50 as possible (the stock car already boasts a 52/48 distribution).

All told, expect around 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds) per horsepower.

That said, there won’t be a whole lot of weight left after the racer’s hardcore diet. GT3 homologation usually requires a minimum of 1,200 to 1,300 kg (2,646 to 2,866 pounds), and although Lexus has declined to specify the LC 500’s exact curb weight, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an extra 1,000 pounds to cut in making the GT3.

All told, expect around 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds) per horsepower.

Double-wishbone suspension with adjustable everything replaces the stock pieces.

Depending on the series, ABS and traction control could be allowed. Carbon-ceramic brakes with six-piston calipers shed the speed. Finally, ultra-wide racing slicks make max adhesion.


Bentley Continental GT3

2014 Bentley Continental GT3 Race Car High Resolution Exterior
- image 514762

Although better known for its plush cruisers, Bentley has a long history steeped in motor racing. The marque’s latest effort is the Continental GT3, the first dedicated racing car Bentley has produced in a decade. To bring it up to speed, over 2,200 pounds was stripped out, followed by the retune and relocation of the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8. A six-speed sequential transmission handles gear changes, while the body panels are all made from carbon fiber. Should Lexus produce the LC GT3, it could go head-to-head with the Continental in the Pirelli World Challenge, FIA Blancpain GT Series, and GT Asia Series.

Read the full review here.


2016 BMW M6 GT3 High Resolution Exterior
- image 646109

Since 2010, BMW has backed the Z4 in its GT3 racing efforts, but now, there’s a new kid on the block. Going into 2016, the Bavarians have elected the M6 Coupe as the way forward in endurance competition. Making the go is a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 producing 585 horsepower, equipped with an air-to-air intercooler to keep the intake charge frosty. Curb weight is at the upper range of the GT3 spec at 2,866 pounds. Like the Bentley, a six-speed sequential transmission routes output to the back. BBS provides the rims.

Read the full review here.


2018 Lexus LC GT3 Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 663956

Lexus’ new RC F racer is just getting off the ground, but who knows – maybe the LC 500 will prove to be a better platform when it comes to motor racing. After all, BMW and Bentley are already backing grand tourers, so maybe the new GA-L architecture will be the way forward for Lexus’ racing programs.

Ideally, both the RC F GT3 and the LC GT3 would have Lexus’ blessing. That would make for a rather hefty investment, but it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility. More likely is the prospect of the LC replacing the RC F some time in the future, which means the LC GT3 is still many years away.

Really, it all comes down to how well the RC F GT3 performs on the track, not to mention how well the LC 500 sells at dealers. Here’s to hoping for success in both ventures.

  • Leave it
    • Would probably supplant the RC F GT3
    • New, untested platform
Jonathan Lopez
Jonathan Lopez
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