As far as the Lexus brand goes, there is a limited amount of cars tuners can, well, tune. With the types of budgets we have, the economy going for broke fi-broke and the cost of a gallon of gas costing more than a five-minute hand job from a woman named Lucy behind the I-95 Waffle House parking lot, the only time we can feel the soft leather of a Lexus seat is when we're test-driving one at the dealership. Let's take a gander at its lineup: The LS is for grandpa with its roomy rear seats, self-parking capabilities and available heavy-duty Pride Jazzy Select roof rack. The GS series is for dad, who wants it because he can place his set of golf clubs, briefcase and bag of dry cleaning filled with all the clothes he wears while boning Juanita on his weekly trips to Tijuana all inside the extra-spacious trunk. The RX is especially made for desperate housewives, using the easily removable backseats to pleasure the local mall cops so they can use their 20-percent discount on flat silverware at Crate & Barrel. What about us, right? The poor college grads with student loans equaling Kenya's total gross domestic product, an empty apartment lined knee-deep with empty Cup-o-Noodles cartons, and reaching level 70 for the 10th time on World of Warcraft.
Thankfully, Lexus has answered us with the IS 300, a car that was so hot it inspired a taillight trend that we all wish never happened. The IS 300 allowed the younger crowd to experience the excitement of luxury. Take, for example, Billy Shea from Chino Hills, CA. He initially purchased a '03 IS 300 to roam the polluted streets of the Inland Empire but ended up going major with one of the wildest motor swaps an IS 300 engine bay has ever seen. "The build took about two years," Billy explains, "During that time, I blew up the original stock motor, which was turbocharged and boosting 25 pounds. So instead of getting the same engine, I opted to swap it for a Toyota Supra motor. This was the catalyst for going all out with my IS."
The Supra motor he decided to go with was a stock twin turbo 2JZ-GTE, which is as svelte as can be without any modifications or shots of Barry Bonds-sponsored 'roids. Billy didn't want to deal with the twin turbo setup and went with a single turbo setup, highlighted by an HKS T04Z turbocharger rolling solo under the hood. The internals of the 3.0L block remains relatively stock, considering that the 2JZ-GTE is already strong out of the factory. It can, after all, boost two turbos. However, Billy made sure everything around the block was modified to the brim.
Above is a set of HKS camshafts, polished intake manifold and a HKS system of 680cc fuel injectors squirting fuel to the combustion chambers like Lily Thai on an unsuspecting man with a very thick mustache. A Walbro 255 fuel pump and an HKS fuel rail round out the fuel delivery components, especially important when something of this beastly nature is sitting in the engine bay. If the fuel isn't delivered with the speedy haste of a UPS package, the whole setup can be all for naught. Sucking air into the chambers of combustion is an HKS air intake with the help of the stock throttle body.
Helping the turbo spool with the utmost power, Billy opted to go with the three letters of HKS, starting with an SSQV blow-off valve, GT2 wastegate, Type S intercooler and pipes and a EVC6 manning the boosting controls. After all the sucking and compressing is done, an HKS stainless Hi-Power Ti exhaust system, along with some HKS headers, push out the spent air like a fat man does with his bowels after eating dinner at Taco Bell. Naturally, the main question on every tuner's mind is "WTF are the horsepower numbers, son? Tell us, money, tell us!" Well, here we go: According to dyno papers that may or may not have been e-mailed to us, Billy's IS 300 is pushing mad weight with a 492.26 hp run at 4,000 rpm. If that doesn't make you wish you had an IS 300 shell and a 2JZ block sitting in your backyard, we don't know what will.
Of course, inside isn't what really counts, despite what your momma told you: It's the outside that makes all the dime breezys holla back. Billy made sure he got the exterior down pat, with JDM styles that can make a grown man cry with envy. Surrounding the once-stock shell is a Chargespeed Japan body kit, complete with fenders, front lip, sides and rear lip, all of which were modeled to resemble a sense of D1 drifting. In the words of Benzino, "It makes you wanna holla!" Working the Van Gogh is Auto Explosion from Gardena, CA, layering the IS 300 with graphite grey pearl. The finishing touches were given to Ab at Legends Motorsports who not only did the graphics, but also has the shortest name in all of mankind.
Naturally, an exterior like this wouldn't be complete without the requisite wheels and suspension that every tuner must sport, regardless of sexual orientation, race or creed. Billy made sure he played his role by slapping on a set of 19-inch Work VS-KF wheels, eight inches wide in the front and nine inches wide in the back. These wheels are protected by the rubbery gooeyness from Falken, featuring a set of 452s that can make the most fickle rubber fetishist tickle with joy. Sitting behind the Work VS-KF is some Endless brakes that makes stopping short even easier than before. So you better watch, ladies, because stopping short just came back in style.
Inside is more JDM majorness that can be listed with the eyes closed. A set of BRIDE Gias seats makes asses around the world smile. The panels and the remaining upholstery are modified with BRIDE gradiation. All of these help complement the DEFI gauges, Nardi steering wheel and HKS limited shift knob. The rest of the interior amenities, just in case you're wondering after looking at the pictures, include a JDM Cusco two-point roll cage, Do Luck floor bar, Takata harnesses and a Power House automotive camera mount. Satisfied?
The one thing that Billy wants you to really know when looking at his car is that it was built with one thing in mind, aside from getting the hinas: the concept of speed. "I like speed!" Billy told us, "The wheel horsepower this engine can achieve just makes you want more and having a motor that can handle boost-well, the sky's the limit." In other words, IS 300s rock, 2JZ-GTE engines rock even more and the pain in your nose isn't a pimple, but rather a very large booger.
'03 Lexus IS300
Owner: Billy Shea
Hometown: Chino Hills, CA
Daily Grind: Independent Contractor
Under The Hood: Toyota Supra 3.0L 2JZ-GTE motor; HKS camshafts, fuel injectors, fuel rail, air intake, Hi-Power exhaust, headers, adjustable cam gears, DLI ignition, S-Super series spark plugs, T04Z turbocharger, SSQV blow-off valve, GT2 wastegate, Type S intercooler and piping; Walbro 255 fuel pump; Toyota Aristo oil pan; Koyo radiator; ARC radiator overflow unit, oil catch can, oil cap, titanium air deflector, radiator cap
Drivetrain: 1JZ-GTE transmission; TRD 1.5 way LSD, ORC clutch and flywheel, custom reinforced driveshaft
Brains: HKS EVC boost controller; TEIN EDFC controller power 492.26 hp @ 4,000 rpm
Stiff Stuff: Tein Flex coilovers; TRD stabilizer bars, bushings; Cusco Type OS rear strut brace, trunk floor bar; Tom's chassis bars; Do Luc floor bar
Rollers: 19x8 Work VS-KF wheels with Falken 452 225/35-19 tires (f); 19x9 Work VS-F wheels with Falken 452 225/30-19 tires (r)
Outside: Chargespeed Japan D1 style bodykit; Graphite grey pearl paint
Stoppers: Endless brakes, pads, brake lines; Brembo slotted disks stainless brake line
Rollers: 19x10.5 (front) and 19x12.5 (rear) SSR VF-1 wheels; Pirelli P-ZERO 235/35R19 (front) and 305/30R19 (rear) tireinSIDE Bride seats, upholstery; custom gauge pod; DEFI gauges; Nardi Challenge steering wheel; HKS limited shift knob; Cusco 2-point rollcage; Takata harnesses and pads; Power House camera mount; DEFI control unit
ICE: Eclipse head unit; Alpine amplifiers, speakers, GPS navigation; Monster Cable wiring
Props: My sisters Emily and Natelie; my cousin Alan; Family and friends who have shown me nothing but support with the build; the Uchida family; Nick at Creative Car Audio and Motorsports; Sarkis and family at Dyno Xtreme; guys at Chargespeed; Estefan at Auto Explosion
www alpine-usa.com; brand-endless.com (Endless); brembo.com; hksusa.com; koyorad.com; mackinindustries.com (ARC); oguraclutch.co.jp; tein.com (Takata); versusmotorsports.com (Chargespeed)