How Lucra is Changing the Custom Industry Forever
It is difficult to properly qualify Lucra. One the one hand, they produce an insanely fast bare-bones supercar, the LC470. They call it “STREET LEGAL…but just barely.” On the other hand, they provide custom parts and carbon fiber shells on a bespoke, for-hire basis. They also have begun work providing stunt cars for a certain car-related movie franchise. In short, Lucra does a lot, and they are changing the way that we look at the custom car industry. We spoke to Luke Richards, the founder and CEO of Lucra Cars. You may know them for their retro-inspired creation, the LC470. It is a purist’s machine, with a 0-60 time of just 2.5 seconds and not much in the way of creature comforts. Their creation has recently been featured in Motor Trend, and they are looking to find ways to make the car available to more buyers and more markets. Lucra is growing. And that means expanding outside of simply selling their products, it is about creating wholly new ones. “We do a few things.” Explained Luke via a phone interview. “We build custom cars for anyone who wants them. That is our side gig. And we’re making our own cars. The LC470 and a new ride as well.”
More on the side stuff later, but for now, let’s talk about Luke and how the LC470 came to be. “It just sort of happened.” Exclaimed Luke, pondering the path that led to this point, “As a kid, I started building radio control cars that were 1/8 scale. We were building them out mechanically, going way beyond what others were doing. As I grew up I started dealing cars and making cars. I got tired of dealing with everyone else’s products and equipment. I wanted to make a car myself.”
And make a car he did. According to Luke, the LC470 is meant to conjure up the racecars of the 1950s. You can see Testa Rossa in it, as well as Jaguar E-Type.
“Most people like an old car because of a nuance of the design, rather than the packaging itself. We wanted to bring those nuances into a car of today.”
Luke says the most difficult aspects of his journey have been building something from scratch (the car and the business), and the unknown; “A wise man told me early in my career that its not what you don’t know that can get you, but what you don’t know that you don’t know.”
One of those unknowns recently for Lucra has been the future of its powertrain supplier. Currently, General Motors provides a 505-horsepower LS7 crate engine. It gets the LC470 through the quarter mile in a scant 9.4 seconds, but it requires a manual transmission, and Luke can see the road ahead for the manual, “We’ve realize that people under 35 are less and less interested in a manual, but they want a performance machine. To be competitive, we needed to offer a sequential paddle shift gearbox.”
As such, Lucra is in discussion with Renntech as well as well as another supplier for both engines and the much-desired transmission. This gives Lucra a new visibility in international markets, where the GM block is not placed in high regard.
“A lot of countries are not interested in GM engines.” Explains Luke, “Buyers in Dubai and UAE scoff at GM, yet loves AMG. Going to a new powertrain solves this issue. It’s compact, powerful and responsive.”
There is a new car on the way as well, which is coming in 2014, but it is another future project that has our attention:
“We met a member of the Fast & Furious production team at a car show in Burbank. He invited me to the set one day and I met the team, and now we’ve been involved with the production of FF6 and FF7.” The LC470 will make its way into the next installment of the Fast & Furious franchise but it is a lot more than that; “Many of the cars used in production of the film are incredibly rare. Cars like LaFerrari and the McLaren P1 are very limited in production. But we can produce replicas that look the part and drive fast enough for filming purposes.”
Lucra has just found a low(er) cost way to produce “stunt double” cars of the original thing. This is possible via either CAD files directly from the manufacturer or laser mapping of a particular vehicle. Lucra then uses a 3D printer to create molds that are the basis for carbon fiber parts.
“We can have a body team working at the same time as the chassis team. We can basically create any design we want.” Not only can Lucra’s supercar replicas be used for more stunts (and are more likely to be used in crash scenes), but also they can open up the flexibility of the film crew.
“Our car can hang around the set and be used for filming long after those rare hyper cars may have to be returned to their owners.”
This venture has opened Lucra up for a lot of new business, and even changed the way it views itself as a company,
“Part of us is now basically engineering-for-hire, for large and small-scale projects.” They can produce entire cars or just a single part for a customer that wants new fenders for their older car, “A car is the most complicated engineering project that any individual can take on. There are so many different parts, but when you are doing a single part, with CAD, 3D printing and our carbon fiber techniques, it’s a snap.”
There really is no part that they cannot produce, which changes the way we think about custom work. It is no longer a matter of finding the guys with the skill to hammer out that part. You now just call up Lucra and your imagination is the limit.
All photos: Lucra Cars