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Automotive Intelligence - Lexus IS300

This "smart design" Supra-powered IS 300 does it all

Robert Choo
Sep 15, 2005 SHARE

Designing the perfect car requires big dreams, real-world conceptual skills, a crystal ball and a touch of cosmic blessing. The purpose of the car and the demands that will be placed upon it (drift, drag, etc.) determine what performance parts are needed; the rest is karma.

Charles Park had big dreams when he acquired his 2004 Lexus IS 300. He wanted the ultimate street car that could flex hard on the street, yet still drag with the best of them and then turn around and beat exotics on a road course. Luckily, Charles had experience on his side; his previous vehicle was a heavily modified 2001 IS 300 that had been featured in other magazines.

The concept for his new IS 300, however, were next level in a big way. According to Charles, the results were clear: "This car is better in every aspect. It excels at things that my 2001 car didn't come close to accomplishing."

Charles was meticulous in his intentions for this Lexus. "Making the right decision on modifying a car is sometimes [very hard]. Nothing is stock. Everything has been addressed and modified to balance everything else."

Using his "smart design" philosophy, Charles was very careful not to push the car too much in one direction. He built the car to perform in all motorsports domains. He says, "This is not a drag car but a complete all-around car that will go 10s in the quarter-mile, be very competitive on the road course (against Vipers, 'Vettes, etc.), and drive [well] to and from the course on the street."

Building a vehicle that can hold its own on all forms of racing requires horsepower, and Charles' IS 300 has plenty of it--952 hp to the wheels on C-16 juice. Charles chucked the IS block in favor of a Supra turbo 2JZ-GTE bottom end. The techs at Swift Racing Technologies (SRT) performed the honors on the powerplant before making their way into the engine bay. The SRT crew used tried-and-tested components from JE Pistons and Crower. The bottom end was balanced, blueprinted and assembled with custom-coated SRT bearings and ARP hardware.

Up top the IS 300 GE head was ported and polished by Head Games before being reassembled with a Ferrea valvetrain that consisted of stainless-steel valves, dual heavy-duty valve springs and titanium retainers. HKS 272-degree bumpsticks on both the intake and exhaust side are fine-tuned via HKS adjustable cam gears.Pressurization of the cylinder chamber comes by way of a custom SRT equal-length stainless-steel turbo manifold and Precision Turbo PT76 turbocharger. According to Precision Turbo, the PT76 is capable of producing enough airflow to generate 1,200 hp. Pressurized charge air is routed through lightweight aluminum I/C piping into a SRT-spec four-row Garrett intercooler.

The cooled-off charge air is then force-fed into a 105mm Accufab throttle body attached to a custom sheet-metal intake crafted by SRT. A total of seven injectors (six 1000cc injectors and one 1600cc injector) fuel the thirsty beast with an array of different-octane fuels depending on occasion.

Once in the cylinder chamber, the compressed mixture is ignited via individual Supra coil packs amplified by an AEM C2DI digital multichannel ignition system. The entire engine package is fine-tuned by a Haltech E11 sequential engine management.

As we mentioned earlier, the engine generates 952 hp on just the turbo-sucking C-16 fuel with 39 psi of boost pressure. However, on 94-octane pump gas and 20.5 psi of boost, the engine generates 723 hp. Since 94-octane pump is not readily available, Charles only drives around with 650 hp with 91 octane. Not too shabby.

Transferring all that power to the ground isn't an easy feat. The five-speed IS tranny was changed in favor of a six-speed Getrag tranny off a twin-turbo Supra. A custom Tilton multiplate clutch and 12-pound flywheel transfer the power to the one-piece chrome-moly driveshaft. To handle the excess power, a GS400 rear end outfitted with a TRD limited-slip differential was modified to fit onto the IS.

Ensuring the car stayed firmly planted at all times, Tein HA coil-overs with EDFC controls soak up the NYC potholes. A battery of Tanabe components were also added, from sway bars to subframe braces and strut bars.

Further chassis stiffening was made possible by a Cusco six-point roll cage and Do-Luck rear crossbar. Bringing the IS quickly to a standstill are massive 14-inch StopTech rotors at the corners that are clamped down by four-piston StopTech binders.

Hopefully this automotively intelligent vehicle has inspired others to create more all-around streetable heavy hitters. Even with Charles' "Everything has been overbuilt" philosophy, this vehicle still maintains a full interior, auto climate A/C and all the amenities of a Lexus. Yet, it can compete with any street car out there in any performance category.

Not many cars carry that bragging right, but more should. Who says you have to give up the A/C to enjoy the whooshing of a big turbo? With all the swagger this car garners, it's no wonder it took first place for Best Lexus at the 2005 IAS SEMA show in Atlantic City, N.J.

A stellar car is well thought out from the first part to the final touches. While some piecemeal their cars with random parts, others take a more refined approach and stick to a theme. For Charles it was best all-around performance with a dash of anal-retentiveness. Charles maintains, "Nothing has been compromised in function and practicality."

So what's next you for Charles? Well, there is this little nitrous bottle he has been dying to try out and hopefully break the 1,000-hp mark. How many four-door luxury cars do you know that make 1,000 hp?

You can start your list with this immaculate gem.

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By Robert Choo
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