Mike Stevens | Feb 25, 2009

As part of the lead up to the 2009 Melbourne International Motor Show, the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce arranged a special ‘drive demo’ for the press today, and a gaggle of journos and photographers gathered at VACC Park in Melbourne to check it out.

Convincing myself that a ride in the V10 Lexus LF-A Roadster Concept was anything other than a pipe dream, I grabbed one of the TMR cameras, deserted my post, and got my arse down to the event.


First, allow me to put your hopes to rest: I didn’t get a ride in the Lexus LF-A Roadster. On the bright side, neither did anybody else. In fact, it didn’t move an inch the entire morning.

You see, it turns out that the gearbox in the LF-A Roadster Concept is a regular bit of Toyota/Lexus kit for the sake of manoeuvring the car, and not at all suited to assisting the big V10 in moving any real power to the wheels.


It was even joked that, under proper driving load, the transmission lasts about eight minutes before it starts to take on the appearance of the T-1000 during its fiery death at the end of Terminator 2.

Regardless, the LF-A Roadster is a real beauty. Hand-formed as all concepts are, the attention to detail and the love with which it was put together is obvious and perfect.


If Lexus doesn't end up bringing this supercar to production – along with its hardtop sibling – it’ll be a damn shame. Understandable, but a genuine shame nonetheless.

Of course, obsessed as I may be, the Lexus LF-A wasn’t the only car on display this morning.


The Carver One, which we’ve posted about recently, is at once the most exciting and frightening experience I’ve ever had on the road. Perhaps even more so when you’re only the passenger, which we all were today.


It doesn’t take long to get used to the leaning – and as a former motorcyclist, I can say it’s little to nothing like riding a bike – but even once you’ve got your head around the feeling, it’s never quite second nature. Or at least, not in the course of a few laps.

Next cab off the rank was the Subaru Stella, an actual honest-to-Gawd electric car that Subaru sells as a kei car in Japan.

Powered entirely by a 40kW electric motor, the Stella is capable of a top speed of 100km/h, and offers a travel range of about 80km on a full charge.


Compared to the rest of the lineup on the scene today, a different mindset was required to save the Subaru Stella’s laps of the circuit from being less than stellar (sorry folks, had to do it), but from a genuine ‘daily driver’ perspective, this is one car I’d definitely like to see Subaru offer in Australia.

Other cars present on the day were the Bentley Continental GTC, the Lamborghini Murcielago, and a Python Roadster, essentially a Cobra replica.


I won’t talk about the Continental GTC or the Lambo – we all know enough about these beasts – but the Python Roadster… now that’s a welcome and rollicking return to the days when heading into a corner at anything approaching speed was the perfect mix of pack-your-dacks frightening, and edge-of-the-seat exhilarating.

The Python Roadster’s not glued to the road, it doesn’t have a dozen airbags, and the only crumple zones are the soft fleshy lumps holding on for dear life in the seats. That’s old school motoring, and it’s magic.


Overall, it was a fantastic day. Cheers to Greg Shoemark and the other folks at VACC for putting it together!


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