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Turbo Altezza Powered Lexus IS300

Lexus IS300 Meets TURBO Altezza Power

Evan Griffey
Jan 23, 2003

The Lexus IS300 has struck a chord with savvy enthusiasts who recognize the car's intoxicating blend of luxury appointments, seductive styling and a robust suspension. There has also been a lot of action under the hood with a multitude of turbo kits, supercharger setups and engine swaps unleashed on the Lexus.

To the true purist, Oscar Ramos has created the ultimate IS300. His example is the first in America to flex true Altezza power. The JDM 3S-GE also sports J-spec style turbo enhancement and the IS300's skin has been adorned with some serious JDM-inspired body armor.

Area 51 was in charge of the JDM power swap and things started out easy; the 3S-GE was a drop-in using the JDM engine mounts. The motor, purchased from Top Secret Japan, has been massaged by Top Secret to sustain boost pressure.

To this end, a Blitz Altezza turbo kit was imported and bolted in place with the only other engine mod being a Top Secret head gasket that lowers compression from the lofty JDM 12:1 to a more boost-friendly ratio. The Blitz package includes a KKK K3 turbo, custom exhaust manifold and front-mount, air-to-air intercooler.

A Blitz Nur-spec muffler with custom 3-inch piping fabricated by Area 51's Charles Madrid completes the system.

Area 51's Sy Nakashima was in charge of the physical transplant and melding the JDM harness with the IS300. This was a tough task; the IS300 was an automatic and the swap was using a six-speed manual. There were many pin location changes needed, some connectors had to be created and pulling it off with a Japanese-language wiring diagram three weeks before the SEMA Show was a tall order indeed.

The car was up and running and was driven to Vegas, but there could be no big boosting because tuning had yet to be completed. The tuning strategy uses a HKS F-CON V Pro as the centerpiece. The problem? This unit is so new no shops had the software needed to properly program the unit. HKS manager of research and development, Jon Kuroyama, made a special house call to Area 51. The results of this visit will be outlined in a future tuning article.

If you are going to go pure Altezza, it's wise to look the part. Oscar elected to mix and match J-spec parts along with some home-grown pieces to attain the ultimate in VIP sedan style.

At the nose, an Altezza grille was an obvious call but the crazy Top Secret G-Force front bumper cover really adds an aggressive aura to the Lexus.

Down the side are Wald fender flares, Super VIP side skirts and some absolutely dope APR carbon-fiber side mirrors. Deuce Kustoms grafted on the body parts and sprayed the IS300 gold. Deuce had to rework the front flares so they would integrate with the Top Secret nosepiece and they pulled it off nicely.

At the rear, 3 inches were taken out of the inner fender to accommodate the beefy Toyo tires. A combination of 18x10 Volk Racing GT-N wheels and 255/35ZR-18 tires provide the boosted hybrid Lexus with a big traction patch. Up front, the car runs 225/35s wrapped around 18x8 GT-Ns.

Inside, a cool Top Secret steering wheel is flanked by those trick Blitz suction cup gauges and a Blitz Power Meter boost controller. A pair of Bride bucket seats is joined by Takata harnesses to increase the sporty appeal of the IS300 cabin.

Oscar has the first true Altezza in America, and he and Area 51 have executed this "Golden Child's" JDM power swap with quality parts and craftsmanship.

Aluma Pro

APR Performance
(909) 392-0095

Area 51
(949) 472-6320

(714) 777-9766

Brembo Brakes
(714) 641-0104

Deuce Kustoms
(714) 666-1030

(310) 491-3300

Super VIP
(626) 282-6071

Tein USA, Inc.
(562) 633-7387

TG Graphics
(626) 308-1181

Toyo Tires
(714) 236-2080

Volk Racing/Mackin Industries
(562) 946-6820


By Evan Griffey
271 Articles



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