Motomachi, Japan - It’s not often that we feature a model whose only distinction is its paint colour, but in this case we think it’s worth it.
This limited-edition model is an otherwise standard Lexus LC500 V8, finished in a very special paint called Morphic or structural blue - inspired, we are told, by the shimmering iridescent blue of the American Morpho butterfly's wings.
It has taken 15 years of colour research to develop a finish that is deeper, shinier and more ‘blue’ than anything Lexus has used before, using 300 billion incredibly small metallic flakes per car to generate iridescence, so that the colour constantly changes with the light.
While the emperor butterfly is renowned for the stunning blue of its wings they are, in fact, completely colourless. The blue seen by the human eye is created by light interference on the microscopic lattice surface structure of the butterfly's wings.
And that’s how this paint works.
In essence, says Lexus, the colour is imparted by a light effect created by the clear coat over the iridescent flakes - there’s no blue pigment or dye involved. The result is a deep royal blue that shimmers in sunlight, but glows under artificial light at night, varying from deep blue to violet at certain viewing angles.
Conventional pigment flakes reflect less than 50 percent of the light that strikes them as a visible blue colour, but Lexus claims that the special Morphic metallic flakes reflect nearly 100 percent of ambient light.
Obviously the pictures don’t do it justice - the paint is designed to work in conjunction with the human eye to produce the ’shimmer’ effect, but even in these pictures, it’s a striking colour.
Just making the flakes is an eight-month process that includes 12 production steps and 20 quality inspections. The paint is then applied in seven layers, in a dedicated spray booth that produces just two bodies a day.
Each car is then trimmed in a special blue colour scheme with orange and white elements in semi-aniline leather and alcantara, set off by carbon-fibre scuff plates.
The LC500 Morphic Blue Limited Edition will be available in South Africa from late August 2018; pricing will be announced closer to the time.