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Only 500 of These Lexus Sports Cars Were Ever Made. This Filipino Car Collector Has 2 of Them

Talk about a hardcore collector.
IMAGE CYRIAN AGUJO
ILLUSTRATOR WARREN ESPEJO
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Some people collect Starbucks coffee mugs. Some collect Barbie dolls. Those with the means can collect more sophisticated items like high-end sneakers, watches, or handbags. But outside of collecting houses or yachts, there is, perhaps, no more impressive item any person can choose to acquire and save than automobiles. 

While there are those who will never understand the allure of cars, calling it frivolous and unnecessary, the truly passionate don’t need their approval. Collectors do it for the joy it brings them, and because they can.

John Andres* is no different. The 42-year-old financial securities and equities trader is the proud owner of “a number” of luxury vehicles. His garage looks better than many carmakers' showrooms—a smorgasbord of sedans, vans, and sports cars that he’s collected over the years. 

Late bloomer

That Andres loves cars is obvious, but he admits he didn’t learn how to drive until he was around 20 years old, which is late for an automotive enthusiast.

Just a few units in Andres's car collection

Photo by Cyrian Agujo.
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“In college everyone had their own cars na,” he tells Esquire Philippines. “Hindi pa ko marunong mag-maneho (I didn’t know how to drive). Because my dad said that yung mas marunong mag maneho, mas mababa daw yung grades (those who knew how to drive had lower grades). So he always discouraged me from driving. I was in my senior year na when I learned how to drive." 

After graduating from college, Andres finally got his first car: a first-generation Lexus IS 200. After the IS, he went through a series of automobiles, including a GX 470, an SUV from Lexus that first came out in 2003.

“At the time, wala pang Lexus dealer here, so you had to buy from imports,” he says. “(The IS 200) had the two round taillights at the back. But I’ve always wanted to own a sports car. Just like every young male. I was always attracted to the young, loud, shiny sports cars.”

While he developed a passion for cars early on, Andres says he never really planned on becoming a hardcore collector. 

“I remember when I had just two or three cars,” he says. “I would sell one and replace it with a new one. And then suddenly, opportunities came up. Cars were being sold below market value. And then I started buying.”

The collector says he has "15 or 16" Porsche 911s

Photo by Cyrian Agujo.
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Andres let Esquire Philippines take a peek at his garage, and it’s no exaggeration to say that it’s every car collector’s wet dream. He started acquiring his dream sports cars, including several units of Porsche’s classic 911, all of which he still has today.

“I have maybe 15 or 16 911s,” he says. “All the numbered 911s.” In addition, he also has an IS 300, an LM (van), and other cars “for daily use,” including his current daily driver: a Toyota Hiace Super Grandia Elite.

Two Lexus LFAs

But the jewel in Andres collection is the Lexus LFA. Actually, make that “jewels. Because the collector has not one, but two of the Japanese carmaker’s prized sports car. To illustrate just how exceedingly rare this vehicle is: only 500 units were ever made of the LFA, a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe. And of those 500, only 64 of the so-called Nürbugring Edition were produced for the worldwide market. (In case you were wondering about the difference, Lexus says that, “while the standard Lexus LFA could be described as a road-legal supercar with Nürburgring-honed track capabilities, the LFA Nürburgring edition retained the car’s core character but was reverse-oriented and can therefore be viewed as a Nürburgring-prepared supercar with road capabilities).”

Andres's Lexus LFA

Photo by Cyrian Agujo.
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And Andres got one of each.

“I remember the launching of the LFA (in the Philippines) was in the Lexus showroom,” he says. “When (Lexus) chairman Alfred Ty revved this white Lexus, it sounded like nothing else I’d ever driven or owned.” 

Right then and there, Andres decided that he wanted an LFA for himself. Unfortunately, the unit presented to clients at the Lexus showroom—the lone unit that was officially allocated for the Philippines—was not for sale. That LFA is still displayed at the Lexus showroom in Bonifacio Global City.

“They said it was their own showroom demo unit,” Andres said. “So I had to look for one myself.”

Andres is the only one in the Philippines with 2 Lexus LFAs

Photo by Cyrian Agujo.

He found one abroad, through a dealer who was willing to sell both variants: the regular LFA, and the Nurbugring edition.

Although Andres did not divulge exactly how much he shelled out to acquire both units, the list price of the regular edition upon its launch in 2009 was around $350,000 (around P17.5 million). But, of course, because it’s a limited edition and demand was so great upon its release, that price has since gone way up. Chatter among local motoring enthusiasts has the LFA’s price hovering above P30 million, with the Nürbugring Edition fetching far more. 

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“These two LFAs were being sold at list price before, so I decided might as well just get (them),” Andres says. “I knew the engine was built by Yamaha and that they destroyed all of the molds na after building the 500th car. So I knew that they couldn’t make another car with this engine.

“And I really like how it sounded,” he adds. “There’s just nothing that sounds like it. Or revs like it.”

The interior of the LFA

Photo by Cyrian Agujo.

Andres loves the LFA so much it’s no accident that his firstborn has the same initials. He is also an unabashed fan of Toyota and Lexus.

“I’ve always liked Toyota, because I know they’re reliable,” he says. “They don’t break down. And I know they hold their value. And as for Lexus, (I like it) because it has the reliability of Toyota, but the comfort of European luxury cars.”

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Cars as investment

Clearly Andres sees his LFAs as an investment as much as a passion purchase. But the obvious question is, even as a car lover, why insist on buying something whose value notoriously depreciates so quickly?

“The general rule on cars is that, once you buy them, as soon as you’re out of the showroom, you lose, what, like 30 percent of the value of the car immediately,” he says. “And that’s true with like, 99 percent of the cars that you buy. But you realize that there are certain cars that, as soon as you drive out the showroom, kumikita ka na (you’re already earning). You just have to know which cars.

The striking silhouette of the LFA

Photo by Cyrian Agujo.

“You have to know where to look and when to buy,” he adds. “It’s easy to always want the newest and shiniest product. But the newest and shiniest product is not always the best to own and keep. If you’ve been buying cars for, like, 20 years, you know na rin. You sort of have a feel of which ones will hold and which ones will drop like a rock.”

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Unlike other collectors who would choose to buy something and keep it in its box and wrapped in plastic, Andres actually plays with his “toys.” He says he’s driven his LFAs “everywhere:” to Tagaytay in the south and the Clark race track up north. Both of his LFAs have logged about 11,000 kilometers each.

The owner says he takes out and drives the cars as often as he can

Photo by Cyrian Agujo.

Lexus co-developed the LFA's engine with Yamaha

Photo by Cyrian Agujo.
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“There is this car-spotting Facebook page,” he says. “You’ll always see my cars there because I always drive them, especially in the Petron station along Pasay Road. Some car paparazzi are always there. Kahit weekday ko nilabas, napi-picturan pa rin (even if I take it out on weekdays, they still manage to take pictures of it). It’s funny.” 

Only in his early 40s, Andres is still pretty young and so there’s still plenty of time add to his collection. However, when pressed for any other car he’d like to one day drive and park in his garage, he answers demurely.

“I guess I bought all the cars I wanted to own,” he says. “(I have) all the cars that I feel will remain reliable through the years and will hopefully continue appreciating through the years. Let’s just put it that way.”

The collector considers the LFA a smart investment as he's confident its value will continue to appreciate through the years

Photo by Cyrian Agujo.
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Lexus only came out with 500 units of the LFA and never made more

Photo by Cyrian Agujo.

*name changed over privacy concerns

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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