If you had the choice between driving a Lamborghini Diablo, Porsche Twin Turbo, Ferrari Modena, Ferrari F40, Bentley Continental T and Lexus IS 300, choosing to drive just one would be rather difficult. Although such a scenario would only come true in our wildest dreams, that dream is a reality for Bruce Epps of Florida. Each time Bruce decides which car he wants to drive, he has to choose from his fine collection of exotic performance cars. But each and every time he reaches for the keys to his Lexus. Many of us would be scratching our heads and wondering why he would choose the IS over all his other supercars, but keep reading and you will see his selection makes perfect sense.
Bruce's IS is not like every other IS you see on the street everyday. Bruce's IS is modified--very heavily modified. Bruce explains that he wanted a car that he could drive daily that was very fast. Unlike his other exotics that require a bit of man handling to get going, the Lexus just requires a stomp of the pedal and its gone. After purchasing the car brand new, he contacted Lance Ho Lung of Toyomoto in Miami, Fla., for some power enhancements. To Bruce "some power enhancements" would include a fully built engine, turbo kit and complete stand-alone engine management. Lance was no stranger to Lexus turbo performance since Toyomoto had already turbocharged many Lexus SC 300s, GS 300 and non-turbo Supras in the past. He knew turbocharging the IS 300 would be a breeze since all the vehicles mentioned shared similar powerplants.
Although Toyota engines are known for their durability, Lance wanted to fortify the bottom-end to ensure reliability and durability under extreme boosted conditions. With barely enough miles to require an oil change on the odometer, the powerplant was yanked from the Lexus' engine bay and the Toyomoto crew started turning wrenches. The block was gutted of all its goods and sent to Mesa Balancing in Miami, Fla., for boring and honing to accommodate the 8.5:1 compression pistons from JE Pistons. The factory crank was deemed strong enough to handle boosted duty so it was left stock but the con rods were replaced with stronger billet rods from Pauter Machine. All the reciprocating components were high-speed balanced prior to assembly, increasing life at higher engine speeds. Lance blueprinted the entire bottom-end and assembled it to his exact specifications for lasting performance. The top half of the engine was left stock but was bolted to the engine block with ARP hardware and a Toyomoto steel head gasket.
With the engine beefed up, it was time to construct the custom turbo kit utilizing a T4-based T70 turbocharger. Like we mentioned earlier, Toyomoto has already performed hundreds of turbo kits on the 2JZ powerplant and already offered a cast-iron turbo manifold that bolts to the head. A cast-iron manifold was chosen over the tubular unit due to its durability and it is also less prone to crank from extreme exhaust gas temperatures. Spent fumes are quickly expelled through a 3-inch custom exhaust system muffled through a HKS Hiper canister. From the compressor housing, the charge air is cooled as it passes through a large Spearco front-mount intercooler, increasing the oxygen content of the air as it makes its way to the throttle body. As the charge air exits the cold side of the intercooler, it is routed to the intake via 2-1/2-inch I/C piping. Mounted on the intake tract of the I/C piping is a GReddy Type-S blow-off valve which releases excess boost pressure when the throttle plate is slammed shut. The fuel system was obviously upgraded to quench the thirsty turbo IS as the factory injectors were given the boot and replaced with higher flowing 750cc units. Making sure the injectors have a constant flow of fuel from the tank to the rail is always important to prevent fuel starvation as the Lexus now runs a Supra in-tank pump, custom fuel rail and SX fuel pressure regulator. To handle the increased power output, the factory ignition system was also upgraded with a MSD DIS-4 ignition box. A set of Denso Iridium spark plugs are responsible for making sure the entire compressed mixture is efficiently burned. Behind any high-powered vehicle is a high-powered engine management. The Lexus runs a Haltech E6K stand-alone engine management that is PC programmable, making tuning much easier than engine management system that relies on a hand-held controller to make tuning adjustments. Some of the features of the Haltech E6K are boost control, multiple shift light activation, nitrous control and full datalogging capabilities. With all the modifications performed on the engine Lance Ho Lung tickled the laptop to a ferocious 606.1 horsepower and 576.5 lb-ft of torque to the wheels at 30 psi of atmospheric pressure.
Getting that kind of power to the ground is obviously not easy and especially through a five-speed automatic transmission. One of the fallbacks of the factory auto transmission when power is increased astronomically, is the ability to shift between gears under heavy acceleration. The Lexus was no different as transmission gremlins started to veer their ugly heads and power from the engine was not effectively being transfered the floor. To remedy the situation, Lance had to rework the entire transmission installing the company's shift kit and increasing line pressure to the valve body. Out back the factory differential was also replaced with a TRD limited-slip diff.
With power generation and power application issues sufficiently dealt with, Bruce wanted to address the look of the Lexus. The IS 300's lowered stance comes by the way of Bilstein shocks tag teamed with Eibach lowering springs. The rolling stock was quickly replaced with 19 x 8.5 Lowenhart LD1 aluminum wrapped with 245/30ZR Pirelli P-Zero rubber.
Last on the list of modifications made to the Lexus was the sound system. You just can't roll hard in a fast sedan without the right tunes. Bruce called upon the services of Sound Advice in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., for some sound infusion. At the helm of the sound system is a Kenwood P907 CD player linked to an Alpine DVA 5205 DVD player. The head unit commands a Xtant X1001 and X604 amp utilizing one amp for the subs and the other for the mids and highs. An Audio Control EQX electronic crossover filters the highs and the lows going to the subs and satellites. Since Bruce wasn't planning on hauling any groceries, two 12-inch JL Audio woofers and the Xtant amps have been housed in the trunk. MB Quart Q-series mids and highs now occupy the four doors of the Lexus. Clint Jack meticulously installed the entire sound system with monster cable wires.
Many enthusiasts, including the entire Turbo staff, fantasize about having a dream team garage like Bruce Epps. But for Bruce that dream is a very real everyday occurance. He says the IS is just his everyday car--a beater in other words-- and the rest are his toys. We think he's lying; the IS seems more like the toy and the rest are his beaters. Don't you wish you had a beater like this?