AutoWeek: #003 and #499 Lexus LFA owner Roy Mallady profiled
Thanks to Lexusenthusiast.com
Roy Mallady turns 68 in a week. So he figured, why not buy himself a car?
He just happened to buy himself a nice, reliable Lexus: an LFA. The fastest, most involving, most superlative vehicle Toyota has ever built. 552 horsepower from its V10 engine, acceleration to 60 in just 3.6 seconds, a carbon fiber monocoque hand-built by Toyota's finest men at a facility designed just for it.
When Toyota first embarked on the project it envisioned low production figures, in true supercar fashion: just 20 built per month, a total of 500. That's it. Three years later, Toyota finally got what it wanted—all 500 cars have been delivered. The last one went to a museum, as supercars usually do. 178 more went to America. Number 499? It fell right into Mallady's lap.
Number 499 is Steel grey, with a red interior and gunmetal wheels. It'll look good parked next to #003, the other LFA that Mallady owns. That's right -- the man pictured above owns the first and last LFAs delivered to America.
Why? Why not?
Mallady reads a letter from his wife to Lexus beseeching them not to sell him another LFA, fer Chris'sakes. Blake Z. Rong
Mallady reads a letter from his wife to Lexus beseeching them not to sell him another LFA, fer Chris'sakes.
Mallady speaks with a smooth Southern drawl, the kind that gets you to sign on the dotted line, and peers at you from intense blue eyes that look like they won't take any doubt for an answer. After working in medical sales for 30 years, he retired in 1998 and now spends his time as "a wannabe race car driver." He's fond of giving the thumbs up in photos, which he does next to his LFA about a dozen times. Whether he's genuinely that enthusiastic about Lexus is a matter for the PR team, but they know Mallady is public relations gem. "It's the greatest car I've ever owned," he gushed in public to an assembly of journalists and Lexus executives alike. "It'll be with me for the rest of my life. That's what I think about your product. It's a piece of art. No one has appreciated the LFA as much as I have."
Mallady first saw the car on the pages of our own Autoweek magazine, in May of 2005. "I was almost taking tranquilizers to stay calm about it." His car history reads like a casting couch of European exotics, starting dubiously with a Maserati Merak, which for thinner-skinned individuals may be enough to swear off this whole car-collecting business entirely. But Mallady stuck with it and proceeded to own -- at various times -- three Porsches, a Lotus Esprit, two Ferrari 360s, a 650-horsepower 911, an Audi R8, and a GTR with 700 horsepower that he likes to take to Atlanta Motorsports Park, from which he lives a mile away.
Between he and his wife, the two have gone through nine Lexus LSs, four LX SUVs and an SC400. Brand agonistes, unite! He goes through cars, as the stereotype goes, like a teenage girl picking out prom dresses: some strolled just 1,000 miles before they were sold.
LFA number 003, however, has racked up 7,000 miles and is already on its third set of brakes.
"This is a better track car than any Ferrari," he said. "I have the only car in Georgia. There's probably 200 Ferraris and 50 Lamborghinis in Georgia, but just two LFAs. People take pictures of me at 70 miles per hour on the highway. People run up to me in the parking lot. I took it to a car show at Turner Field, and you'd think I had Queen Elizabeth with me or something. Hundreds of people just ran, ran to my car!"
When the LFA came out, Lexus played around with some adventurous ownership options, mainly consisting of not owning one at all. After passing round after round of deposits, credit checks, and interviews with high school bullies, prospective LFA seekers could be granted the luxury of leasing an LFA for two years -- at which the company invoked first right of refusal and droit du seigneur to take it back. Mallady bought #003 the day Lexus agreed to the idiosyncratic notion that those who buy a car can actually keep it.
Number 003 was the last car he bought before 499. He doesn't plan on buying any more cars. "I'm done," he said. "Thirty-five years I've been buying cars. Lexus is it. My appetite for other cars is gone. I'm done."
Mallady plans to keep both of his LFA until the day he dies. Why does he need two cars? some in the audience asked. Well, maybe one's a parts car, was our joke. Lexus may not have appreciated that very much.
The lessons of the LFA will carry over to Lexus, said Brian Bollain, Lexus's PR manager. The new GS was imbued with similarly unnatural layers of enthusiasm. The even sportier IS directly lifts the gauges from the LFA. Carbon fiber will play extensively in future models. And though he didn't exactly say this out loud --- remember, there were journalists present -- the fact was known as such: Lexus will produce another sports car, perhaps a supercar. It may be the LF-LC concept from last year.
Well, maybe Mallady will pick up one more car, then. Unsurprisingly, he announced, with no self-doubt, "I'll be getting one on order." We hope it's brown.