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Seat Time with Hiromu Naruse

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Filed under: Etc., Lexus, Toyota

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Hiromu Naruse's Creations - Click above for image gallery

Last October I had the chance to shake hands with one of my heros. I was attending the launch of the Lexus LFA in Florida and after taking a few hot laps around Homestead, I was offered a ride with Hiromu Naruse, Toyota's "Master Test Driver" and the man responsible for the automaker's first and last supercar.

At 66 years old, he put me to shame. Smooth inputs, graceful slides and nearly imperceptible throttle inputs had him lapping the track seconds faster than anyone in attendance. Including one race driver. But the LFA wasn't his greatest work.

Naruse-san helped create my childhood dream cars. Stapled above my Countach poster and a cutaway of the Acura NSX was a small picture of the Toyota 2000GT carefully snipped out of my first issue of Road & Track. That was his first baby and there were many more to follow.

While most of my Valley-born peers were interested in muscle cars and pickups, I was fawning over the Sprinter Trueno and the original MR2. When the Lexus IS300 showed up in the late '90s, I scammed my way into one of the first manual models at the local dealer and racked up 30 miles on to the odometer during an elongated "test drive."

Naruse-san was responsible for all of them, and now he's gone. One of the few men left at Toyota passionate about driving has exited stage right, and the automotive world stands to be a worse place without him.


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Seat Time with Hiromu Naruse originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 23 Jun 2010 20:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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