This month, we uncover five things about Lexus Takumis - master craftsmen who oversee every aspect of development at the Lexus plant
March 2014: Five things you didn't know about Lexus Takumis PHOTO: sgCarMart.com

There is a small group of 'elites' called Takumis or master craftsmen - a sort of dream team of engineers who has a lot to do with the innate superiority of Lexus vehicles, but their stories have rarely been told. Here are five things you didn't know about them.

1. To ensure that the pistons are firing smoothly, the 'Engine Assembly' Takumi supervises a test where a Martini glass, filled to the rim with a pink liquid, is placed on top of the engine. No amount of liquid is permitted to spill out of the glass, and none does.

2. The 'Paint' Takumi issues a 'hue' test to each paint worker, which involves correctly placing subtle shades of the same colour in the right order, from darkest to lightest. Tests like these are part of a stringent skills qualification audit that must be passed every four months.

3. In order to qualify as a stitching craftsman working on the Lexus ES dashboard, a Takumi must pass a unique test - fold a perfectly constructed origami cat, using only the non-dominant hand, within 90 seconds.

4. To the trained ears of the Takumi in charge of engine assembly, a Lexus engine produces a sophisticated symphony of 20 different sounds, which must be finely tuned. Similar to the conductor of an orchestra, he knows that the crankshaft, pistons and camshaft are working when all sounds hum in perfect harmony.

5. To keep the 'Vehicle Body' team on its toes, the Takumi sneaks a body that is below standard onto the production line every day. Not one has ever slipped past his team.