Extrapolate the acronym VIP and its definition is self-explanatory: very important person. Once saved for political dignitaries, the term is used loosely today. Case in point: Paris Hilton. Night vision escapades and fizzled pop career aside, there's a blossoming tuning segment which borrows the same three letters and rivals the opulence of the ritziest Hilton suite-VIP Style.
But what exactly is VIP tuning and how does one's vehicle achieve such status? Rules and regulations vary, but you begin with a sedan-for purists, one of Japanese origin. Second, make sure the Nihon four-door is rocking muted colors; looking to dye your sheet metal a color from your expanded set of Crayolas? You know, the ones in the really big box with the crayon sharpener in the back? Don't.
Now you take the hue-choked sedan and outfit it with a clean and simple body kit-no big mouths, vents or large spoilers here. Then you pair that with some hot kicks, wheels in the automotive case-really big f'in wheels. The tuning taboo of, gasp, dubs are not only okay with VIP-styled rides, but dare we say, given the proverbial nod.
But that's where the physical limitations end. Like a goopy Rorschach ink blot, the rest is open for interpretation. Take a look at Ryan Tsukiji's pimped-out GS for example. Sedan? An '01 Lexus GS 430-check. Quiet color? Millennium Silver-double-check. Wholesome body kit? Vertex all around-check again. Wheels? Clarification, big f'in wheels? 20-inch Maya DTS rims wrapped in Dunlop SP Sport tires-a loud microphone check. And that's just the tiny, itty-bitty tip of the turbocharged iceberg.
Working as an account executive in the lucrative mortgage industry, i.e., a real job, Ryan "wanted a luxury vehicle with four-doors that could still be seen as a sports car." And who better to convert a tame sedan into a wild street car than XS Engineering. With few performance options for the V8, Eric Hsu, formerly at XS, opted for a custom-boosted route. Starting with an XS modified Garrett GT3540 turbo, an XS intercooler and blow-off valve were plumbed to an HKS wastegate increasing the stock sub-300 ponies to 365 dyno-proven whp at 385 lb-ft of torque. While that may not sound like a whole lot compared to most Super Street features, consider this: that's more than 430hp at the crank with the boost benignly set at 5 lb. The previous iteration of the BMW M5s only made 394hp. You do the math.
Not one to build cars that make obscene amounts of power with a hair trigger firmly planted on detonation, XS built the GS for reliability. Getting stuck on the side of the road with friends is funny-stranded with clients in the car...not so much. Thus, a fresh set of 500cc injectors backed by a 255lph fuel pump and a reflashed ECU was masterfully tuned to XS quality. An assortment of polished, chromed and painted items spruce things up under the hood, while Earl's braided lines, transmission cooler and a Tom's radiator cap adds some use to the spruce. A Blitz Nr-Spec exhaust gives the VIP beast a louder bark and a billet stall converter gives the transmission the necessary bite.
With the Lexus chassis being softer than Rosie O'Donnell's pudgy midsection, modifications had to be made to handle the increased power. Do-Luck rear cross and floor support bars, Tom's suspension braces and Tein HA coilovers tightens the body quicker than you can say tummy tuck, and an L-Tuned steering ECU liposuctions the loose pirate ship-like helm for tighter control. Huge six-piston Endless brakes tucked behind the massive dubs ensure the newly tautened body not only performs better, but that it stays that way.
The VIP treatment to the exterior is plush, however sit inside the cabin and that's where the real royal treatment begins. The DVD head unit may look stock but turn up the tunes and the Creation Audio-installed Audio Control EQS pre amp equalizer and Epic-150 bass processor, PPI amplifiers, Eclipse subwoofers and Boston Acoustic and MB Quart speakers will shake the earwax out of you with crystal clear clarity. And if the audio doesn't impress you, the Pioneer video switcher, PlayStation 2 and a slew of monitors custom sprinkled throughout the interior and trunk will. Other electronics stemming off the performance branch include an A'PEXi SAFC mounted in the glove box, HKS Chrono DB gauges and a turbo timer. Recaro custom leather-wrapped seats are also electronic, though the Willans safety harnesses and Nardi steering wheel are not.
So how is Ryan Tsukiji's GS 430 an interpretation of VIP styling? It's flawless with a touch of American ingenuity. This car's got more checks on the VIP list than a mailbag full of bills.
But here's a fact that you need to check, Ryan jumped on the VIP wagon quicker than a drunken Miss USA contestant loses her inhibitions-this car was photographed over two and a half years ago. Check the sidebar for the car's updates.
Owner Ryan Tsukiji
Hometown Davis, CA
Daily Grind Account Executive
Power 365 whp (at 6,250 rpm) with 385 lb-ft of torque (at 6,500 rpm)
Under The Hood XS Engineering GT3540 turbo, Skyline GT-R core intercooler, blow-off valve, manifold, downpipe; HKS wastegate; Earl's stainless steel lines; 500cc injectors; 255lph fuel pump; custom painted engine covers; polished intake manifold; chrome timing belt covers; Blitz Nr-Spec exhaust; Tom's high-pressure radiator cap
Drivetrain Earl's transmission oil cooler; billet stall convertor
Brains XS Engineering ROM-tuned ECU
Stiff Stuff Tein HA coilovers; Do-Luck cross bar, floor support bars; Tom's front upper strut bar, rear six-piece suspension braces; L-tuned steering ECU
Rollers 20x8.5 and 20x10 Maya DTS chrome wheels; 245/35ZR20 and 285/30ZR20 Dunlop SP Sport 9000 tires
Stoppers Endless six-piston calipers, brake lines, brake pads; Zeal slotted rotors
Outside Vertex front and rear bumpers, side skirts; PIAA D2S 19994 HID lights, Superwhite bulbs
Inside Recaro Sport custom leather-wrapped electric seats; Willans Super Sport 4x3 safety harnesses; custom rear deck and gauge pod; HKS Chrono DG gauges (two EGT, two temperature, one pressure meter), turbo timer; A'PEXi SAFC; Nardi steering wheel
Ice two 12-inch Eclipse Titanium subwoofers; two PPI Power Class amplifiers (2600 and 6600); 6.5-inch Boston Acoustic Pro Series components; MB Quart 5-inch subwoofers, 4-inch speakers; modified stock DVD navigation monitor; two NESA 5.8-inch monitors in sun visors; SAVV 5.6-inch monitors in each seat, 7-inch monitor in trunk lid; 13.3-inch monitor in trunk; Pioneer video switcher; Audio Control Epic-150 bass processor, EQS six-channel pre-amp equalizer; two Optima Yellow Top batteries; PlayStation 2