Lexus has collaborated with a London-based tattoo artist, Claudia De Sabe, to create what it claims is the world’s first tattooed car. Taking a pure white Lexus UX as the base car, Claudia used a dremel tool (in place of a needle) to literally drill away the surface paint, exposing the bare metal underneath.

The design features a koi carp along the length of the vehicle, which in Japanese art represents qualities of good fortune and perseverance. Creating the tattoo required five litres of high-quality car paint, and the entire car was painted by hand. As a finishing touch, a gold leaf was used to create highlights, creating a three-dimensional pop. Once the tattoo was done, another layer of clear coat was sprayed over for protection.

Creating the tattooed UX took six months, a process that necessitated five eight-hour days every week. The finished product doesn’t carry a price tag, but the bespoke work costs upwards of £120,000 (RM633k). That doesn’t include the cost of the car!

“When you tattoo a person, you have to think about the muscles and tissue beneath the skin. With the car it was about the way the bodywork changes shape over the framework,” said Claudia, who was assisted in her work by her Japanese-born husband Yutaro.

“The best thing about tattooing the Lexus UX, and the reason why this car was ideal for the project, is its streamlined shape. Everything from the lines on the side of the body to the shape of the windows, everything is just so dynamic and beautiful. It was a perfect fit for the design and the concept itself,” she added. Claudia is also the co-founder of Red Point tattoo studio in Islington.

Lexus said the project stands as a tribute to the takumi craftsmanship that is applied to every one of its car, evident in “design details and finishes” that were achieved with human skills.

To recap, the UX crossover was designed specifically for urbanites, and it’s the first Lexus model to use the brand’s GA-C (Global Architecture – Compact) platform.

It’s available in UX 200 and UX 250h hybrid guises, both featuring Toyota’s new Dynamic Force 2.0 litre naturally aspirated engine. The third UX 300e pure EV variant was introduced later, featuring an electric motor that makes 204 PS and 300 Nm of torque. At full charge, the 54.3 kWh lithium-ion battery provides up to 400 km of range.