Exquisite, grand, beautiful. Any of these words and more like them could be used to describe the 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible’s design. They also apply to the noise made by Lexus’ 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine. In fact, go down the list. The interior is just as stunning. Its handling defies the 4,557-pound curb weight. Sure, the infotainment system is hot garbage to use, but … who cares?
One look at the dazzling drop top is enough to turn anybody into a believer. The original LC was essentially just the LF-LC Concept brought to life in production form. Few (if any) designs of the past decade have transitioned so gloriously from the make-believe world of concept cars to production vehicles. Seeing the LC parked amongst Ford Explorers, Chevy Tahoes and other regular fare at a grocery store brings into focus how unprecedented the design is. It looks as though somebody ripped the car straight out of a fantasy novel and stuck it on city streets.
The first time I drove the LC, some guy and his friend followed me for several miles until I arrived at my destination, just to scramble out of their car and get a closer look. That’s the kind of car this is. Many years from now, there will be beautifully preserved examples of them sitting on the grass at concours shows across the country, rightfully taking its place as a shining example of peak car design from this era.
And yes, those are heady words. But look at it!
The Lexus spindle grille that looks so awkward and out of place on some Lexus models fits the LC’s face. It’s complemented by a striking triangle-shaped triple-LED headlight design. Lexus designed the front LED daytime running lights to swoosh in the same shape and style of the grille, too. There are no obnoxious or unnecessary fake vents (looking at you, Supra). It’s not trying to be a muscle coupe with a super aggressive chin or bulging hood. The front is just clean, pointed perfection.
It’s when we get to the A-pillar that the Convertible begins to diverge from the Coupe. Connecting to the top of the pillar is, well, a roof. Meanwhile, the Convertible has a soft top that completely disappears into a pocket of space behind the rear seats and in front of the trunk — basically the area where the hybrid battery would go, therefore explaining why the Hybrid and Convertible have equal trunk space and why there is no Convertible Hybrid. The folding action (which takes 15 seconds and can be done at speeds up to 31 mph) is inspired by Japanese calligraphy in that it makes three distinctive moves to imitate the three-step movement of putting the brush to paper.
The long doors lead into outward splaying hips that create a concave angle to the side profile. It’s a much more dramatic set of angles in person than how it appears in photos. Flush door handles contribute further to the clean look of the side, and functional vents live at the bottom to bring air to the rear brakes.
We arrive at the most questionable bit of design just aft of the doors. Like many coupes turned convertible, there’s a kick upward in the body to a flat decklid beyond. This gives some cars a hunchback look to them, and while it’s undeniably present in the LC, the uneven design is executed with a rearward-extending strake about as well as one can expect. You can see the resemblance to the Coupe that kicks upward into the “floating roof” the same way. The Convertible has nothing to meet but open air on its turn to the sky, so it appears out of place.
Unlike the Coupe’s gently falling roofline, the Convertible has a largely flat decklid. This design looks abrupt and not as elegant with the roof up, but it’s gorgeous with the roof stowed. Solution? Keep the roof down!
The rear end is another example of masterful styling. Lexus uses mirrors in the taillight modules to make it appear as though they have no end. The trim around the lights themselves is meant to imitate Japanese swords, and the sculpting of the rear bumper makes the metal appear as though it’s wrapped tightly around the body. Even the badging and model designation is pure class.
Lexus could’ve given the car a more dramatic exhaust exit, but it’s hard to care given how incredible it sounds. The pitch and volume is dramatically affected by whether you have the top down or not, as well as the window position. Putting the top down but leaving the windows up is the best listening experience, as you get the full aural assault from the exhaust, but the engine ahead can still be heard over the wind rushing by, too.
Nothing else on sale today has the same effect. Some cars are louder and sound more nasty and guttural. But the biting and sweet, muscular soundtrack from this V8 can give any other car a proper fight. Sitting in the driveway or playing a staccato rata-tat-tat at 7,400 rpm, the LC 500 Convertible is as beautiful as can be.