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Aug 8, 2002

Our long-term Lexus is coming together. The TRD coil-over suspension continues to impress and we are still looking forward to playing with the firmness settings. We used the car to illustrate a brake upgrade installation in the last issue; the IS was fitted with Stillen 13-inch cross-drilled rotors, four-piston AP calipers, stainless-steel braided lines and all the proper hardware. While we were off to Tokyo to cover the Auto Salon, we left the IS at Stillen so the company could test-fit some of its newly developed products. The car was returned with Stillen's urethane body armor and a set of the company's GTV wheels. The latter was a necessity; the big rotors negate the use of stock aluminum.

Body Tuning Made entirely from durable urethane, Stillen's package includes a front chin spoiler, side skirts and rear bumper valance. The rear bumper valance features a cut-out designed to accommodate Stillen's stainless-steel sport exhaust or other big-tip systems. The kit adds visual appeal and makes the IS an eye catcher--whether coming or going. The kit was color-matched and installed at Body Pros of Garden Grove, Calif. Technician Wally Teklak reported the urethane pieces were some of the easiest he's ever installed.

Stopping Power Brakes are a necessity for any car that has enhanced acceleration or cornering capabilities. It is a critical system often overlooked on many enthusiast's build-up sheets. A very desirable byproduct of upgraded brakes can be looks--beefy calipers and drilled and slotted rotors make a big statement when used with the right wheel. The Stillen brake system on Project IS employs four-piston AP Racing calipers with sequentially sized pistons for firm, sure response. The cross-drilled, chamfered and slotted 13-inch rotors allow for proper out-gassing and optimum cooling characteristics, and are cadmium plated for corrosion resistance. Braided stainless-steel brake lines give the driver outstanding responsiveness and firm pedal feel. In fact, the four-piston AP calipers bite so hard they could teach a pair of vice grips a thing or two about clamping power. We have been quite pleased with the expanded safety envelope the Stillen package affords. With such big rotors, a rolling stock upgrade is a must. To get us on the road, Stillen allowed us to run a set of its GTV wheels with 225/40ZR-18 BFGoodrich G-Force rubber. The GTV wheel, developed exclusively for Stillen by Enkei Japan, has the look of a wheel designed for a brake upgrade company. The wheel is a five-spoke design, with thin spokes that serve to open the wheel and expose the major brake components. The G-Force tires are at home on the IS and we have been steadily pushing the car. An off-ramp we started taking at 60 mph is now at 72 mph and the car is still well within itself. We are still getting used to accelerating, not decelerating, off the freeway.

Future Plans The time has come to bolt on some power and see what we can get out of the IS 300's 2JZ-GE powerplant. The Lexus is a good deal of car for its $31,000 base price and we look forward to pushing the performance envelope.

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