By Steve & Tamami Laser
Lexus has become a totally cool car company lately, with its slate of new products including the 2016 RX and 2015 NX luxury crossovers. Then it “Made the Impossible, Possible” with the experimental Lexus Hoverboard that even works on water. Now Lexus has taken the next step by creating “The World’s Coolest Wheels.”
They’re not chrome-clad, powder-coated, wire-spoked or anodized. Instead, they’re made of frozen water. Four specially crafted wheels and “tires” made of ice were recently mounted to an NX and driven – slowly – on a road in London.
True to its mission of “Creating Amazing” and inspired by the craftsmanship that goes into every vehicle it makes, Lexus commissioned a team of ice sculpture specialists to explore how ice could be used in place of conventional metal alloy and rubber.
Hamilton Ice Sculptors in London has a 35-year track record freezing its pants off for customers while producing innovative and large-scale works. For the Lexus commission real NX wheels and tires for a European model were laser scanned and replicated using computer design and numerical control techniques. Lexus says the result was an unprecedented fusing of art and engineering.
“The Lexus hallmarks of expert design, sublime style, and supreme craftsmanship have driven our ethos of ‘Creating Amazing’ for years, both in our production vehicles and our concepts,” says Lexus. “For our latest project, we put a team of master craftsmen to the test as we tackled our coolest concept yet: the ice-tire Lexus NX.” (video: Lexus)
“The idea of putting four ice wheels onto a car and driving it is a bit crazy…and exciting,” said Duncan Hamilton of Hamilton Ice Sculptors. “Most of what we make is one-off and it’s a thrill. To me it’s like a little journey of exploration.”
This video goes behind the scenes to show how the coolest wheels and tires were made and fitted to a Lexus NX. (video: Lexus)
Lexus says just as the skills of its famous takumi craftspeople are used to achieve the highest quality, the human hand and eye were fundamental to the success of the project. Four sculptors worked for 36 hours to produce each wheel. The millimeter-perfect finish was achieved with hand-crafting, using Japanese steel chisels and shaping tools. Even the tread patterns on the tires were faithfully reproduced.
The ice was made from softened water taken from a moving flow to ensure it was perfectly clear when taken from the freezer. Acrylic inserts were added to ensure the wheels could take the load of the NX.
After three months’ research, design and testing, the finished wheels were fitted to a Lexus NX for the ultimate ice drive. The car itself was deep-frozen, stored for five days at -30°C (it started first time) before being driven on a London road. The use of in-wheel LED lighting added an extra dramatic dimension to the project.
“Creating Amazing is what Lexus is about,” said Richard Balshaw, Lexus Director. “Projects such as our hoverboard, the origami-inspired cardboard car and now a dazzling set of fully functioning ice wheels, demonstrate how we use advanced technologies and the best craftsmanship traditions to achieve outstanding results. That’s not just for eye-catching one-off projects, but for the cars we deliver to our customers, too.”
News source, photos and videos from Lexus UK
Story © 2015 CarNichiWa.com