Making a statement on the street is harder than ever in Puerto Rico. Boulevard bruisers are at every turn and any sedate sedan can be a sleeper to the Nth degree. Tony Garcia and his shop, Tony Performance, works on lots of Toyota Supras, Nissan 350Zs, Infiniti G35s and wanted something that stood out from the pack: "So we decided to do the Lexus that we got at a fairly good price, $8,000, because it would make a pretty unexpected performance car," Garcia says.
"The car needed lots of body work and that's when I met Jose Diaz and Sammy, the mastermind painters from Extreme Auto Body," Garcia says. "We decided to join forces and work together on the project. So I dropped off the shell and it was my turn to make the combination for the engine and drivetrain."
Tony Performance set off to build a familiar Toyota 2JZ-GTE. The block was fitted with Ross custom pistons and forged Carillo rods and topped with a head infested with Ferrea valvetrain components. HKS 272-degree cams and GReddy adjustable cam gears command the stock-sized Ferrea valves.
Induction comes courtesy of an off-the-shelf GReddy T88-H SPL turbo kit. The 2JZ kit was developed for serious strip action. The SPL portion of the kit refers to its many upgraded components compared to other GReddy T88-based kits. The SPL package includes a stainless steel turbo header with larger runners, a 94mm downpipe that's bigger than the standard 80mm pipe and a Type-C wastegate instead of the normal Type-R unit. Tony Performance elected to run a 60mm TiAL Sports wastegate and a TiAL Sports blow-off valve on its 2JZ. A GReddy FMIC chills the charge air.
One of the critical pieces to make big power in the 2JZ is the Veilside large-plenum intake, which includes a hearty 100mm throttle body. The discontinued manifold or something of the same magnitude are pretty much must-haves for anyone looking at 900 whp or more.
The combination is tuned, via an Electromotive TEC-II, for 22 psi on the street and 30 psi for more intense situations at the strip, which this SC300 sees a lot of. The "TEC" in Electromotive TEC-II stands for Total Engine Control and that's what the unit provides with fully programmable fuel and ignition curves. It also includes its own coil pack and CDI ignition.
A tried-and-proven driveline has been conjured to put the 2JZ's substantial power to the pavement. A GM Turbo-Hydramatic 400 automatic tweaked for battle by North Caribbean Transmission puts the twist on The Driveshaft Shop axles and a TRD LSD. Cushioning is provided by Tein Flex coilovers, while Supra calipers enhance the luxury coupe's stopping power.
The car's split personality is most evident when you pop open the door. Here you're greeted by high-performance Sparco EVO 2 bucket seats, an O'Neil Race Cars rollcage wrapped in leather by Specialty Leather Interior and an old-school ratchet-style shifter.
Garcia points to the GReddy T88 SPL kit as his top mod. "Everybody thinks this turbo is small compared to other turbos people use on the 2JZ, but this turbo has a big heart and we have not yet gotten all it has to give," he says. He's also proud of the Veilside intake setup. "That intake manifold looks awesome and it works great." The third item on Tony's list of favorites is connected to that outlandish looking pistol-grip shifter. "The transmission setup really makes the car streetable because it is totally easy to drive on the street, which can be tough especially when you have great power. Yet it's ready to throw down at the track."
"I have driven lots of great cars, Supras, Porsches and Nissans, but the Lexus is totally different because you don't even hear the road thanks to all the padding for noise reduction," Garcia says. "You can't even feel the speed. You can blast past 100 mph and think you're doing 50."
Garcia and the Tony Performance crew got a special treat or provided a special treat, depending on how you look at it. As the Lexus project was in its final stages they received a call from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "There was a 16-year-old kid with cancer who had a dream of getting in a race car and doing a pass on the strip so we didn't hesitate," Garcia says. "Our guys jumped on the phones." Titan Motorsports quickly helped get the parts for the second seat and seatbelts. They only had two days before the race so they had to work overnight to get everything ready. The racetrack found out about the wish and prepared a special spot for the exhibition pass.
"The time came and I was very nervous," Garcia says. "I was worried that the kid had never been in a race car and not to mention we were doing the first pass ever with the Lexus. The family of the kid told me to take it easy so I lowered the power on the car and believe it or not, it ran 10.64 at 139 mph. We were more than pleased with the numbers and happy we made a kid so happy. He loved it and didn't miss a beat. So we are confident that next time we're at the track we will be laying down some 9s in my street Lexus."
We asked Garcia about his future plans for the black luxe-coupe and in true Puerto Rican bravado he snapped, "We are working on becoming the fastest street Lexus in the world." Lofty goals for sure but if our coverage of the Puerto Rican scene has uncovered anything it is that the island is savvy and these enthusiasts aren't playing with the traditional old-school cars anymore. Look out 9s.
1993 Lexus SC300
Power Output: 838 Whp
Ross custom pistons
GReddy T88-H turbo kit
Veilside intake manifold
Veilside 100mm throttle body
Tial 60mm wastegate
Tial blow-off valve
GReddy four-row FMIC
Innovate boost control
HKS 272 cams
Nitrous Express nitrous system
Turbo Hydramatic 400 by North
The Driveshaft Shop driveshaft
The Driveshaft Shop rear axles
TRD limited slip
Tein Flex suspension
Supra brake calipers
Wheels & Tires
Volk GTC wheels
BFGoodrich drag radials
Custom paint job and body by Extreme Auto Body
Sparco EVO 2 seats
Sparco steering wheel
O'Neil Race Cars rollcage
Specialty Leather interior