In the past month at Turbo, a question has risen about feature vehicles. Which is more impressive: a low-10-second, turbocharged Honda trailer queen or a turbocharged Lexus that tears the strip up at a blazing 10.9, and then drives home? Personally, I think any import that weighs in at 3,500-lbs. and is capable of eclipsing the quarter mile in under 11 seconds is incredible. However, some might contest that the Lexus sports a 3.0-liter engine and has six cylinders to power it down the track as compared with a Honda that only sports four cylinders with a displacement of 1.6 to 2.3 liters. One is rear drive and the other a front drive. One with full leather interior, the other with a bucket seat and aluminum dash. No matter which vehicle you prefer to see more of, we plan to bring you both.
With the exception of the 18-inch Speedline wheels and dual GReddy canisters exiting the rear of the SC, one would pass over the coupe as just another cushy, lethargic luxo-cruiser. Not until the Lexus opens a can of whoop-ass, and puts you to shame at a stoplight, will the true potential-the dark side-of this car come to light. This is definitely not your average mom-and-pop Lexus SC300. Owner Bill Ogden from the Sunshine State of Florida first purchased the five-speed-equipped, dark blue Lexus SC300 new in 1997. His first stop after picking up the vehicle from the dealership was Toyomoto in Miami. Ogden had a battle plan: The Lexus was to be transformed into an ultimate sleeper with a custom Toyomoto turbo kit and a six-speed drivetrain from the Supra turbo. His instructions were firm and brief, "I want everything brand-new, nothing used and it has to drive like stock." Up for the challenge, the crew at Toyomoto went on the offensive.
First on the list of modifications was lowering the 2JZ engine compression. The factory compression of 10.0:1 was lowered to a much more turbo-friendly 8.5:1 using a Toyomoto custom, thicker-than-stock, 2-mm head gasket. Seeing no need to fortify the bottom-end of the engine, the stock head was bolted back into place. Next in line was building a turbo kit for the SC. Having already performed a number of these turbo kits on SC300s and normally aspirated Supras, Toyomoto has designed its own cast-iron exhaust manifold exclusively for 2JZ engines. The cast-iron process was selected because it's less prone to crack, like tubular stainless-steel construction. Mated to the exhaust manifold is a Mitsubishi TD07-25G-14cm2 turbocharger. A Turbonetics Racegate and HKS EVC boost controller regulate the Mitsubishi turbo to 1.5 bar (22.05 psi) of boost pressure. Once compressed, the charge air is then fed via 2.5-inch I/C piping to a GReddy air-to-air intercooler mounted in the front bumper of the SC. The front-mount intercooler chills the charge air, decreasing the chance of detonation before being force-fed through the throttle body.
Since the Lexus did not come turbocharged, great attention was given to the fuel delivery system. In order to make horsepower, you need air and fuel, and you need it in the correct ratio. Since airflow was already addressed, Toyomoto addressed the fuel demands of the 2JZ by upgrading to a higher capacity 50-gph fuel pump from Toyomoto. A set of larger 440cc injectors replaced the factory squirters. An HKS Vein Pressure Converter (VPC), with a custom Toyomoto VPC chip, handles the tuning of the fuel curve. The HKS VPC unit also deletes the use of the factory mass air sensor by converting the metering system to speed density. The factory ECU also received some massaging by G-Force to handle the newly turbocharged 2JZ powerplant. A GReddy Rebic III additional injector controller is tag teamed with two 550cc injectors to address fuel enrichment. The ignition system of the Lexus was left fairly stock with the exception of a MSD 6AL box.
As mentioned in the beginning, the SC received major drivetrain upgrades. A six-speed Getrag unit from a twin-turbo Supra replaced the factory five-speed transmission. Along with the transmission, a Supra flywheel is mated to a RPS Carbon Claw clutch assembly. A custom driveshaft links the six-speed tranny to the Supra 3.13 rear-end.
As speed increases, the demand for a more tenacious suspension system also increases. The SC sports a lowered center of gravity, thanks to Eibach sport springs at all four corners. Bringing the Lexus to a quick halt is an upgraded braking system from Brembo. The SC remains firmly planted at all times thanks to a set of 18-inch Speedline forged aluminum wrapped with Toyo T1-S tires. With the Lexus back in Bill's hands, the SC was sent into the Colorin Body Shop in Miami for 10 layers of PPG gloss black paint to cover the original blue hue.
So which ride do you think is more impressive now? The 1,900-lb tin can racecar, or the 3,500-lb sleeper. Your girlfriend already knows which car she'd rather be in and we guarantee you-it's not the tin can. Whichever is your flavor, Turbo magazine plans to be there and bring it to you.