It's no secret that any car labeled "Lexus" represents a milestone in a tuner's career. It's a crossover, if you will, from childhood to adulthood, from boy to man, from... uh, you get the point. It seems to have the style and presence to tempt young boys out of their Hondas, Scions and Nissans and into something much more grown up. Chris and Joan Chan are such lucky converts. Both have either owned or experimented with Integras, 240SXs and Scion tCs before deciding to build out an all-out VIP platform, this 1991 Toyota Celsior, better known to us as the Lexus LS 400.
It was a project that took seven months, nearly $13K and a healthy eBay account, which they used to sell anything that can be shipped legally from the Scion tC show car they previously owned and loved. The reason for all the fire sales is because a project like making a luxury car more hyphy than it already is takes time, money and, well, mo' money. "We saved and saved until we had enough funds to complete the project," Chris explained, "It was one of those things where once you start it, you have to finish it." And finish it they did.
The first modifications were the JIN Spec coilovers. Straight from the land of Godzilla, burasera and JDM, the JIN Spec coilovers are so rare, it makes finding the Hope Diamond seem like a simple turning of the couch cushions and feeling around. This suspension system lowers the LS 400 to its desired height, while giving it enough rigidity to make turning into a normal driveway feel like an S-shaped chicane on the tracks of Monaco. When Chris and Joan take it to car shows, they lower it to the max, where it's nearly impossible to drive. "We like slamming it to the ground," they said. "It makes it more dramatic. The only problem is that it takes approximately 35 minutes to lower and raise it."
The coilovers originally accompanied a set of stock and boring wheels only a Lexus built in the early `90s can provide. They immediately sold and replaced them with 18-inch SSR Kreis wheels, which are so sexy that Justin Timberlake is asking for a refund. They're wrapped around by Pirellis in the front and Yokohamas in the rear. When asked why they opted for a different type of rubbers, Chris and Joan didn't reply because frankly nobody really asked. It's all filler content from here on out.
But filler or not, the Lexus LS 400 speaks for itself. It is one of the best luxury cars Toyota ever built. It was the first flagship ride of the young luxury line back in `89, when it boasted to be one of the first luxury sedans to have digital A/C readouts, power adjustable shoulder belts, front seat heaters and an electrochromic rear-view mirror. If you think all of those features are trivial now, imagine how major it was to have digital readouts and self-adjusting rear-view mirrors back in the early `90s. As Marty McFly would say, "That's heavy, doc." The LS 400 also made Top Ten lists from practically every magazine and Web site since then, beating out the likes of Audi, BMW, Cadillac and Jaguar. The `91 LS 400 falls into the first-generation of the LS line, and it's sad that nobody builds it as much they should, because it's original like a bag of Lay's potato chips.
In between the wheel swaps, saving money and installing a set of rare dinosaur-egg coilovers, Chris and Joan took their ride to A&A Autoworks, the body shop that made the exterior look like a masterpiece sculpture. The first add-on was the Insurance body kit. Insurance body kits are as coveted as they are beautiful. They mainly focus on making kits for the Lexus family of rides, featuring massive front ends and TGIF-type flares. To add more excitement to the chassis, they also decided to add a Junction Produce rear wing. And if you haven't heard of Junction Produce before, you're not alone. This company also makes kits and body parts exclusive to luxury cars like Lexus and Infiniti. The finishing touch to this pretty ride comes courtesy of a custom black with gold pearl paint job, putting it all together like a game of Clue.
If you notice and question the lack of engine and interior modifications, then you're not familiar with rule number 4,080 of the VIP Modifications Bible, which states you leave alone the engine and interior because it's all about exterior looks. If you're still confused, go to your local Barnes & Noble and get the VIP Modifications Bible, despite the fact it doesn't even exist.
With that being said, it's nearly impossible to write and talk about Chris and Joan's ride. Because when you look at it, you immediately know it's major and hyphy all rolled into one. For starters, it's a Lexus. For seconders, if there is such a word, it's one of the best looking Lexuses you'll ever see on this side of the Pacific Ocean. "Everything on this car is unique," Chris adds, "We have not seen anyone with this full setup yet. And we're proud of that!"
OWNER Chris and Joan Chen
HOMETOWN Palmdale, California
DAILY GRIND accounting assistant/Rite Aid DC 88
UNDER THE HOOD N/A
ROLLERS Front: 18x8.5 +35 offset SSR Kreis wheels with Pirelli 225/40-18; Rear: 18x9.5 +30 offset SSR Kreis wheels with Yokohama Avid 235/40-18
STIFF STUFF JIN Spec coilovers
OUTSIDE Insurance body kit; Junction Produce rear wing; JDM OEM Toyota Celsior lighting; 11-piece body kit installation; custom black with gold pearl paint job
PROPS Chan family, Tolentino family, Outkas family, Supertuning Motorsport, A&A Autoworks, Team High Intenzity