What you see here is the Lexus Gamers’ IS. It is a one-off, custom show car. Lexus will not be putting this thing into production. To which, we, the gearheads, can be eternally thankful. It’s not that it’s a bad idea – Lord knows I’ve seen lots of krazy kustoms in my time, and more than a few with gaming systems – it’s just it would be a bad idea to take on the road.
I’m not a complete Luddite; I’m not. I’ve got nothing against PDK semi-auto boxes and air conditioning and even that stupid auto start-stop feature every vehicle seems to have today. Even when it comes to screens and game systems and such, I’m more or less okay with that too. Hey, if it can keep the kids in back quiet, then who would argue that’s a bad idea. However, suggesting things like using Xbox controllers to drive your actual, physical car on real roads? SMH.
At any rate, here we have the Lexus Gamers’ IS, which is sort of like your game/media room on wheels. You’ll note that it still has a steering wheel and pedals for driving, but, by and large, this has little to do with the car and more to do with what they crammed into it. And how.
The Crowd Goes Wild
Lexus, clever as always, decided to throw the design out there into the wilds of the internet and ask anyone with an opinion about what should go in the car. As it turns out, things went rather uniformly and kind of smoothly.
It started with Lexus doing a live Twitch stream hosted by a gamer/variety streamer/PUBG community member/tournament player/Twitch Rival/singer/LA urban explorer named Fuslie. (And people say my resume is scattered and diverse.) During this Twitch stream, over half a million viewers watched, weighed in on, and voted for their favorite features modifications. These ranged from the gaming-themed exterior wrap to the custom controller to their “game fuel” beverage of choice. Lexus then worked with the fab team at SCPS to actually build the crowdsourced car.
The outside of the Gamers’ IS, which began as a Lexus IS 350 F Sport, features an “Infiltrate” design custom vinyl wrap chosen by 48 percent of those in the Twitch poll. Lexus says it “exudes a technical, interface-driven, HUD-centric design territory reminiscent of first-person gaming, black ops, and reconnaissance.” Whatever. It’s basically gray with some highlight lines running down the flanks.
Lexus Gamers’ IS: Tokyo Drift
The interior is much more flashy. Over 50 percent of Twitch voters went with the “Neon Tokyo” style, which is supposed to resemble “an electrified, neuron-exploding Japanese pop art aesthetic.” Think a casino for 15-year-olds, and you’ll get the vibe.
The headliner is now decked out with a clear acrylic layer embedded with resin “raindrops,” all backlit with programmable RGB LED lights. This is to, supposedly, give the effect of “driving under the lights of downtown Tokyo at night in a light rain.” The rear window can have programmable content projected onto its LED panels to create an animated backdrop. There’s also lots of custom upholstery throughout and tint on the windows that dims the cabin for gameplay.
In addition to the pool-table-sized curved monitor, you’ll find all sorts of gamer goodies. There’s a fully integrated gaming system complete with haptic feedback in the seat, a retractable keyboard and mouse platform, and a one-of-a-kind 3D printed game controller. That controller, a “Cyber” design, was chosen by nearly half (42 percent) of the voters and features a metallic space gray and dark teal color with neon accents.
The center console has a six-drink cooler for your “game fuel” of choice (e.g. something with enough caffeine to give an ox the jitters). The entire Lexus Gamers’ IS is custom wired, including all the electronics and programmable lighting.
In the trunk, you’ll find a custom-built gaming PC with an MSI Gaming GeForce GPU + AMD CPU installed in a sleek custom housing and highlighted by programmable RGB LEDs. If that’s not enough, there’s a fog machine and automated RGB lasers installed for “maximum reveal effect.”
Honestly, I see the trunk treatment as being a little old school. Hot rodders have been doing tricks with their trunks for decades; pull-out bars, pony keg holders, deejay stands to play all the cool hits, that sort of thing. Shoot, this isn’t even the first (or second or third) computer I’ve seen installed in a show car. And they do it all the time with autonomous vehicles.
No Easy Feat
The Lexus Gamers’ IS is part of a new marketing campaign for the 2021 IS. The show car was put together by Lexus and a team of 20 different experts at fabrication company SCPS. Those on the project included designers, 3D modelers, electrical and structural engineers, metal fabricators, artisans, custom upholsterers, and computer technicians – most of whom are serious gamers themselves. From designing the initial concepts to the reveal, the entire build took five months.
Still, the big question is will video games be a thing in our future cars? What about being able to watch live concerts? Those features might be closer to happening than you think. They probably won’t look exactly like this Lexus Gamers’ IS, but all things considered, Lexus is still pretty close with this concept.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.