The ‘Origami-Inspired’ Lexus: the IS that’s made out of cardboard – and actually drives

Published: 05 October 2015

► Full-size IS saloon replica
► Made from 1700 pieces of card
► It’s drivable, too!

Introducing CAR’s long-term Lexus NX300h hybrid, managing editor Greg Fountain theorised that its curve-phobic body was so edgy it might just have been inspired by the art of origami.

Many a true word spoken in jest and all that, for today Lexus has published photos of the ‘Origami-Inspired Car,’ a full-size replica of an IS saloon created almost completely in cardboard. And what’s more, it’s drivable.

Read CAR’s 10-month long-term review of a (non-cardboard) Lexus IS300h hybrid here.

And the point of this is…?

To celebrate ‘the human craftsmanship skills that go into every car’ Lexus builds, says the company. The cardboard creation will go on display at the Grand Designs Live show at the NEC in Birmingham from 8-11 October 2015.

Inside the cardboard Lexus

Mind you, using the term ‘origami’ is perhaps using just a little poetic licence. This isn’t so much the art of paper folding as the art of cutting cardboard panels out with lasers and sticking them together. Compelling stuff, nonetheless.

The story behind the build

Designing and building the Origami-Inspired Car fell to London firm Scales and Models. It’s formed by as many as 1700 separate laser-cut cardboard panels, painstakingly assembled with wood glue over a subframe containing an electric motor to provide the drive.  The build took three months in total.

‘This was a very demanding job, with five people involved in the digital design, modelling, laser cutting and assembly,’ says Scale and Models director Ruben Marcos. ‘The seats took a few attempts to get just right and the wheels required a lot of refining.’

Even the interior is fully replicated, right down to the IS’s fiddly infotainment controller. Now that’s attention to detail. Watch the oddly absorbing video of the car’s construction below and click through its fiendishly intricate details in the gallery at the top of the page.

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ