In these harsh economic times, it's become increasingly difficult to go all-out on the project car of your dreams. Times are tough, rent needs to be paid and food costs are adding up. Sacrifices need to be made and more increasingly the car hobby thing is usually the first to hit the back burner. Not only can you no longer afford that new car you've had your sights set on, you find yourself dipping in the same car you've had since your first year of college.
Luxury and excess is a privilege and not a necessity. If you want to build a car, you're most likely looking to build something a bit older. Parts are readily available for older models and prices on the cars themselves have dropped significantly to match the slow economy. New cars are hell on the wallet. Parts are expensive and the market for new models is small. Most people wouldn't touch a car until it has reached 4-5 years because they typically don't have the means to build them.
A car like a 2009 Lexus IS-F is not only on the opposite end of the spectrum of affordable automobiles to modify, it also happens to be quite the badass straight from the factory. So much so that most wouldn't even think to lay a wrench on. With a 5.0L V8 that makes over 400hp stock and an 8-speed transmission, why would anyone even dream of touching it? Oh, we almost forgot to mention the near $60,000 price tag.
Good thing we collect Super Street paychecks; we crunched the numbers and figured out that the staff here would be able to afford an IS-F in the year 2035, collectively. By then parts should be pretty cheap for it and we'll be able to floss hard when we pick up our grandchildren from school. Sarcasm and wild fantasies aside, the Lexus IS-F is all luxury and excess. Most of us are still living off necessity.
Living in the deep unseemly bowels of "it must be nice" is none other than Brian Fox. Not only is he the owner and creator of this one-off Lexus IS-F, he also runs Fox Marketing, a brand development company that basically designs and builds any and every vehicle you can think of. The man builds cars for a living. He doesn't have to worry about a budget because the cars he builds pays his bills.
"I have built so many magazine-featured cars that it isn't even funny," Brian states, "With this Lexus, I wanted to be the first to build a twin-turbo, widebody IS-F in the world and I accomplished it in two months time."
"I set out to give the IS-F an aggressive makeover. With the help of STS/Turbochargers.com, we not only made the engine more aggressive, we were also able to enhance the original bodylines of the exterior without completely rethinking and abandoning the lines of the IS-F."
The body enhancements most noticeably begin with the custom widebody treatment in the rear. The arched or "blistered" rear flares help make this IS-F 2-inches wider on each side. Fox further augmented the exterior by modifying the rear bumper to accommodate the flares, adding subtle touches to the side skirts and creating a custom front lip. Once all bodywork was completed, Powell Customs re-sprayed the entire IS-body in BASF Glasurit Sunset Orange Pearl paint. To add a bit of contrast, Brian chose to spray the roof of the Lexus a Glasurit Black tone.
Being that the car was still in the early stages of its young life, there was no real need to do any serious suspension work. After all, this was meant to be a luxurious albeit extremely powerful street car. The only thing Fox wanted to do was give the IS-F a sportier ride and look. To achieve this, he contacted one of his featured clients, Yonaka Motorsports, and they sent him their newly-released Spec II 36-way adjustable coilovers. Housed underneath the widened rear fenders are 20x11.5'' iForged FS Imola wheels with smaller 9.5'' wheels wide up front. Monstrous Toyo T1R rubber gives not only guaranteed traction on the streets of York, PA, but also help to maintain the creature comforts of a Lexus luxury vehicle.
Other than the one-off widebody treatment, the most significant modification to this IS-F would definitely have to be the twin-turbo set-up. The factory V8 is quite large in size, so large that the design of the IS-chassis had to be raised to accommodate it. Fitting two turbines, with all the necessary piping and what not would definitely be a stretch of the imagination. There just isn't enough space for it to be feasible. Fortunately for Brian, STS Turbo was developing a kit for the Lexus IS-F and Fox's project was the perfect guinea pig. What's different about the STS systems from conventional turbo systems is that they're completely remote-mounted - meaning that the turbines not only sit completely outside of the engine bay, but are mounted all the way under the chassis in the rear. The turbines of choice for this particular build are dual Turbonetics GTK-350 turbochargers accompanied by 38mm wastegates of the same brand. With a solid tune by Turbochargers.com, the 5.0L engine is able to hit horsepower numbers in the high 600s, way more than enough for the streets.
"What I learned from my first Lexus build is the quality of the engine and driveline from the factory," Brian explains, "I now have 13,800 miles on this motor and it's still stock (other than the twin-turbo). I beat the living crap out of the car and added over 200hp to it! If I did that to an M3 or something with a stock motor, it would blow sky high. This just shows how over-engineered the IS-F is and that it's worth every dollar!"
2009 Lexus IS-F
Owner Brian Fox/Fox marketing
Hometown York, PA
Occupation Brand Consultant/Car Designer
Engine 5.0l 2ur-Gse V8; Artisan rear-mounted turbo kit by STS/Turbochargers.com; twin Turbonetics GTK-350 turbines with dual 38mm wastegates; Yonaka dual intercooler; 118ft of Yonaka 2 and 3-inch T-304 stainless steel piping; Amsoil 0w-30 synthetic motor oil
Drivetrain Amsoil Automatic transmission fluid
Footwork & Chassis Yonaka Spec-II 36-way adjustable coilovers
Brakes Factory Brembo IS-F 6-piston front calipers and 2-piston rear calipers with two-piece rotors
Wheels & Tires 20x9.5'' iForged FS Imola; 255/35-20 Toyo T1R (front); 20x11.5'' iForged FS Imola; 305/30-20 Toyo T1R (rear)
Exterior BASF Glasurit Sunset Orange Pearl paint and BASF Glasurit Black Paint; Webasto Hollandia 9001 sunroof; Fox Marketing front bumper, side skirts, rear valance and custom 2-inch fender flares; Impressive Signs graphics; Meguiar's car care products; paint & bodywork by Powell Customs
Interior Black leather seats with blue stitching; Callaway golf clubs in the trunk
Thanks You Justin Hood from Lexus for the belief in my abilities as a car builder, designer and marketing person. He believed in me when others were skeptical that I could deliver a car that would represent the brand at a high level. He is the reason why I brought "it" to SEMA 2008 and addressed performance, first and foremost. That is what the IS-F is all about to me: PERFORMANCE!!