Ever wonder why Lexus luxury cars look so shiny?

The secret’s not so much in the paintwork, but in a process that brings together old fashioned craftsmanship and the latest robot technology.

At the Myata car factory near Fukuoka, Japan, man and machine come together to produce a finish like a guardsman’s boot – you can see your face in it.

Of the 19 hours it takes to build a Lexus, 11 of them are spent in the paint shop to produce a shine in which you can even see the reflection of the hands of your watch.

The cars are dipped, base-coated, sprayed, hand-polished and sprayed a couple more times to achieve the lustre required to pass out the factory gates.

Paint shop staff spend more than three months training to take their place on the line and then it takes many more years to achieve craftsman status.

Once out of the paint shop the cars are put under special lights where trained eyes look for imperfections – and around 10 per cent don’t make it. They have to go back through the process.

Toyota, which owns the Lexus brand, is renowned for the quality of its vehicles, and it is even tougher on the luxury make.

Once the car is assembled it has to go through quality checks involving a staggering 1,400 items – 200 more than Toyota models. There are some 2.5 kilometres of quality check lines at Myata making sure that not only does everything work, but such things as the door closing speed and the sound of the seat and sunroof sliders are monitored.

Such attention to detail means that currently around 30 per cent of the IS sports saloons and RX sport utility vehicles are rejected by the quality police and have to go back for treatment.

A factory spokesman said: “That number is too high and we are working at getting it down closer to 10 per cent. But it is important that we maintain the highest quality.”

Published 22 October 2007 Melanie Carter

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