When USDM Doesn’t Suck: Lexus Attack
The Long End Of The Stick?

Being a Japanese car enthusiast in the United States hasn’t always been easy. For starters, many of the coolest Japanese models were never even sold here. Nissan Skyline GT-R? Nope. Toyota Chaser? Nope. Honda Civic Type R? Nope. And unlike many other countries, our laws don’t allow for the easy importation of secondhand Japanese imports. Even our friends up north in Canada are much better off than we are in that department.

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And even if we do get the cars, they are often changed or watered down for the stateside market. Take the S13 and S14 240SX  for example. Everywhere else they came with potent turbo motors, but here in the US we had to make do with an engine borrowed from a Nissan pickup truck. It’s not hard to see that we really got the short end of the stick on that one, and it’s no wonder Nissan decided not to import the S15.

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But sometimes things aren’t so cut and dry. On occasion you’ll find US-spec cars aren’t necessarily worse than their JDM counterparts – just different. The Lexus IS300 is definitely one of those cars. The first generation IS was badged a Toyota Altezza in Japan, and in RS200 guise was available with a high-winding Yamaha-tuned 2.0L 3S-GE four cylinder engine. The US Lexus version however, was exclusively sold with a 3.0L inline six.

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Of course, this wasn’t just any inline six. It was the naturally aspirated version of the legendary 2JZ from the Supra. In terms of performance there wasn’t a whole lot that separated the Altezza RS200 and the Lexus IS300 – they just went about doing their thing in very different ways. It was a choice between revs and response or velevety smooth torque.

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With its bulletproof motor, the one thing that US market car offered was a ton of aftermarket potential – something that’s led to some pretty radical IS builds over the years. Which brings me to the red machine you see here, belonging to Faiz Rahman.

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‘Fizzy’ as he’s better known, works as an automotive photographer and spends a lot time around modified cars (hmmm… sounds like a few people I know). He acquired the IS300 about two years ago, convinced by his friend to do a 2JZ-GTE build.

Joy Of 2JZ
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Sure, he could have bought a Supra, but he liked the idea of a sedan, and the IS300 was an easy choice seeing as it came equipped with a 2JZ from the factory. His idea was to build a fun and powerful car that could be enjoyed on the street and also at the occasional track day.

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After many all-nighters spent in the garage putting the car together with friends, the finished version of Fizzy’s IS300 emerged this past fall. And having the chance to check it out at a couple events, I can say it’s easily one of the most impressive IS builds I’ve ever seen.

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Helping out Fizzy when it came to the engine part of the build were a pair of his friends named Chris and Mike, and he greatly appreciated their expertise when it came to piecing together the motor. Based around the VVT-i version of the 2JZ, the engine is fitted with a single Comp Turbo 6767 ball bearing turbocharger and a number of supporting upgrades.

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These include a TiAL wastegate and blow-off valve, a full 3-inch exhaust, a Delta Fin front-mount intercooler and a very trick ARC Super Induction Box with dual filters.

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Having plenty of streetable power was Fizzy’s biggest goal with the 2JZ build, and he says that once he installs his new fuel injectors and gets the car properly tuned, it should be seeing just upwards of 500 horsepower to the rear wheels.

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But it’s not just about power. Engine bay aesthetics were also high on his priority list and thanks to touches like a powder-coated valve cover and intake manifold, along with burnt titanium fasteners, the bay looks clean enough to eat from.

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Building the motor was just the beginning though. If the car was going to be an all-rounder that could be taken to both car shows and track days, it was going to need a lot more than horsepower alone.

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Suspension-wise, the IS300 has been fitted with a set of Fortune Auto Dreadnought Pro two-way dampers with external reservoirs, and there’s also a Fortune Auto Müller Air Cup Lift System to help the Lexus get over those occasional obstacles in the road.

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Other upgrades to the car’s footwork include a front tower bar from Juran Racing in Japan and a rear sway bar from Hotchkis Sport Suspension right here in the US. Stopping power has been improved with a Rotora big brake kit up front and drilled/slotted rotors in the rear, with a Wilwood brake porportioning valve.

Style + Function
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In stock form the IS300 has simple, attractive lines, and it’s actually one of my favorite car designs from the late ’90s/early ’00s. When it came to the exterior styling, Fizzy decided to build on those looks with a few off-the-shelf parts from Japan and lots of one-off custom work.

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The front bumper for example is from Vertex, but it’s been fitted with a custom lower lip and front splitter. The splitter was actually designed by Matt from the F.A.S.T, who handled most of the custom aero work on the car.

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Matt has lot of experience working on time attack cars, and it shows in the work completed up front, the rear diffuser and the custom aluminum mounts for the APR GTC-300 wing.

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Other additions to the body include a set of of C-West side skirts and rear add-ons from Varis. Let’s not forget the retro style over-fenders as well.

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Sitting beneath the flares are a set of RAYS Gram Lights 57DRs in satin black finish. The fronts measure 18×9.5-inch while the rears are 18×10.5-inch.

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The tires are Toyo Proxes 1s sized 265/40R18 in the front and 295/35R18 in the rear, and they’ve been finished with white lettering to complete the racecar look.

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Inside, the cabin has treated to a number of parts from Statüs Racing including a pair of GT racing seats with matching six-point harnesses and Statüs Racing side mounts.

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Other details in the cockpit include a Personal Trophy suede steering wheel with an NRG quick-release hub, and a custom pod for the AEM UEGO wideband controller and Prosport gauges. Next on the IS300’s to-do list is a roll bar setup.

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What Fizzy enjoys most about the car is the balance. Despite being heavily modified, he loves the comfort of the suspension and the seats, the refined nature of the interior and the easy take up of the clutch. All while having all the power and handling he could ask for in a street car. It’s this combination of drivability and performance that truly defines the car.

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When Toyota decided to fit the US version of the Altezza with the 2JZ engine, it was all about smoothness and refinement rather than screaming redline shifts. But as Fizzy’s IS300 shows, it was a decision that actually turned the little sport sedan into the perfect tuner machine.

See, it isn’t always doom and gloom for Japanese car fans in the US.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: speedhunters_mike
mike@speedhunters.com

Photos by Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto
larry@speedhunters.com

Cutting Room Floor
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95 comments

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1

So he wants a sedan, but makes the back seats useless by having harnesses...

2

@kek You can see the stock seat belts remain and ,harness bars are removable.

3

idk....im on the fence about it...

4

The first Lexus IS never gets old, a 15 years design that still looks actual.

5

Too much stickers kill the stickers. Otherwise I really like it.

6

The stickers and that huge rear wing kill the poor thing.. Oh and the white marks on the tyre. There is no need for those!

7

Nice build!

I'd do a few things differently, however. Less stickers, painted silver, hide the shock reservoirs.

8

Me encanta ese Spoiler   O.O

9

I'm not a Toyota transmission expert, but shouldn't the car's owner switch to a 6 speed supra transmission if he's planning to make more than 500whp?

10

do these use a W5# or R15# boxes??

11

Nice instrument cluster. Pulled that one right off a watch and scaled it up, didn't they?

I always liked these. You really can't go wrong with what's essentially a Mk. IV Supra sedan.

It's only a matter of time before we can have JZX100s, R34s and all the rest of the partygoers stateside.

I may have to put up with that stupid 25-year importation ban, but I figure it's not so bad - I do live in one of the only countries on earth where I can legally own both an R32 Skyline and a Glock 19.

12

I was finger crossed on the engine it have , but it turn out to be not what I expected .
Anyway , love the instrument cluster ever since this car was unveiled , even though I was like 8 years old back then .
Another thing is , this is one of the few time I see a car without stretched tires ... and it still managed to looks so good !

13

I am trying to like it, but the obvious absense of the necessary SH towstrap ruins it for me. Incomplete :(

14

RDS The bottles are external reservoirs for the suspension. You are correct.

15

This may seem stupid but I thought the lexus is300 only came as an automatic.

16

They did, only for the first year of production.

17

nice car men

PS...Beams > 2jzge..aka "the boat ancher"

18

Ice Age mk 4 supra sedan?  That is GS...

19

Nice car, met the owner after he was on his way back from SEMA and had a short chat about the build. Was pretty cool to see in person and didn't have the wing on. 

It's a shame he made such a poor choice of tires on the car with all that power. Always confuses me when I see a tuner who puts tons of effort into making the sure the motor has power, digressive valved shocks and light weight wheels only to be wrapped in what basically amounts to an all season. Pilot Sports, Direzzas, RS3s or something equivalent would really bring the car to a much higher level. 

After seeing the owner drive in person and the choice of tires I would say this is a show car and it hardly sees any track time. Still a nice car that looks the part and was very clean.

20

@turbo BEAMS ae86 Yup...I get a good laugh when my die hard import friend's dog on me for liking LS swaps. A lot of them will ask why I'm not into 2JZs and when I tell them they are much heavier than an aluminum head and block LS they argue until they look up the weight. It gets me every time to see peoples reaction when they find out the LS motors are a couple hundred pounds lighter than 2JZs. 

Keeping in mind the wheels, AC and cage it is an interesting comparison:

http://www.rx7club.com/other-engine-conversions-non-v-8-118/stock-vs-ls-vs-2jz-weight-1063061/

21

Made a typo above, the difference between LS1 and 2JZ is 134lbs (2JZ = 594, LS1 = 460 ).

22

Love this car, always have liked the lines of the IS200s and IS300s, and this car is just brilliant

23

hypodermic W55

24
researchisyourfriend

this car is all over the place.. gold heat reflective tape and a center mounted exhaust? And if that wasn't bad, you have the in-your-face awkward blue reservoirs F&R, seemingly random dimple died supports exposed due to a chopped bumper, and to top things off a massive wing for a car that will never see the track.
it definitely makes a statement alright; something like PLEASE give me attention and tell me how good of a job I've done at trying to make this appear worthy.
lots of potential here, but a really bizarre angle of attack ruined it for me.

25

Not really a fan, just parts and trends thrown at an unsuspecting car. Am disappoint.

26

PT 6767 for 500hp :/

some odd decisions made with the car but meh, it's for the owners enjoyment.

27

tegseeker589 The big Fortune Auto banner on the windshield suggests the reservoirs were exposed for a reason. Semi demo car I suspect?
I kind of like it though... if it were mine I'd perhaps tuck em slightly more and put a grill in the front.

28

overall I like the whole car, I only have a few nitpicky things like why purple interior bits on a red and black car? also the mounting positions of the external reservoirs are a bit too show-offy.

29

too much influence from a rocket bunny or LB Walks show car

30

Man, everyones a critic. What a shame.

Beautiful car my friend
-Yogi

31

MikeDonnelly 
"show-offy"?
 
The car is painted red and has a huge wing on the rear. I thing showing off is the point.

32

Reads (and looks) like a Super Street article.

33

After reading the comments below I understand that the choosen style may not suit everyone's taste. For me though it makes sense, it expresses the vision of the owner a provocative blend of Time Attack and luxury, the Air Lft System is a great idea.

34

I DONT UNDERSTAND THE CHOICES SO IM COMPLAINING REALLY LOUDLY. HOW DARE HE MAKE A CAR I DONT LIKE.

35

@Schlitz This car probably has a r154 supra mk3 transmission with a jz bellhousing. The v160 is way to expensive and the r154 can hold up to 1000hp.

36

Should have spent a little less on custom wingstands and custom resevoir install, and a little more on a works bell hub.

37

Always liked the IS300/Altezza overral design, since my GT2 days. Only downer for me is the rear wing, but that's the owner taste after all.

38

TarmacTerrorist lol

39

Lots of stupid comments by stupid people talking out of their ass. Nice car, and a great demo vehicle for SEMA. Fuck anyone that frowns on 500hp, RWD and 2-way $3500 competition coils with exposed external canisters while nitpicking demo stickers, demo tires and fucking stupid shit like steering wheel hubs and the way the rear diffuser was mounted. Fucking clowns.

40

FunctionFirst Period?

41

Got that right about Canada having easier importation laws for JDM vehicles; with the age being 15+ years almost everywhere except Quebec, we can literally import a generation or 2 ahead of US car enthusiast if we choose (Quebec just has to be special, with it's 25+ year law like the US, and it's stance ban).

This is a really cool car I think, and 500hp sounds just right for 2JZ's. Only thing I personally don't like are the wingstays, which I'd prefer to be trunk mounted but hey, if it works then its still good.

42
Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

5th pic in the second chapter. Is he single spinning that thing?! Lol

43

Wat

44

Man, lots of articles with cars flying down Vineyard St. SLOW DOWN you young whipper snappers!!!

45
researchisyourfriend

FunctionFirst, seems like it to me.. must not like different opinions.

46

@researchisyourfriend FunctionFirst Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and they all stink.

47

"His idea was to build a fun and powerful car that could be enjoyed on the street and also at the occasional track day." 


Some people might have to read this line again.

48

Wildcardfox No one was flying anywhere, we were driving normal, and I was shooting slow shutter.

49

FunctionFirst Speedhunters commenters are just getting better and better, haha.

50

TarmacTerrorist I know right?

51

Larry I'm just joking being that I know exactly where you guys did he shoot.
Btw I posted this in another article, but Gary Kubo asked me to tell you that he says hi. You should stop buy and see him some time. He works right off of Geary.

52

Wildcardfox You got me so good. Tell him I said hi, Mr. Salmon eater.

53

Will do!
Cheers.

54

otar If you think those tires are anything someone who goes to the track would use on a car you are the one who needs to do more reading sir :)

55
Somejuan Actually

Wait...you mean the owner built a car for himself and not everyjuan else on the planet?! THE HORROR!

56

all of that is a waste of the wheels and the airbox

57

Is that harness bar just bolted to the two upper seatbelt points?

58

Stop pointing out the dumb things about this car, it's a super awesome sema demo car that the owner built for himself, to his own liking, so you're not allowed to criticise it at all.

59

DaveT tegseeker589 I thought the placement was genius, talk about ease of access......

60

So besides the price point, what is the MAIN difference between the Gram lights and the Rays Volks? I would love to have a set of TE37 wheels, but given that I would pay more than buying a new engine would cost me, it's hard to justify. I like the look of his 57DR's, and it suits the body of the IS300.

This was the first car of the Lexus line I had ever considered buying, so I'm partial to the body style, and really liked that it had a 2JZ under the hood.

61

earmenau Not sure if serious? Anyone is allowed an opinion, and it's fair if it's a reasonable criticism.
It's a pretty fun build by the look of things, with some unique touches. I definitely feel like the seatbelt mounted harness bar is a genuinely bad move though.

62

Larry Chen FunctionFirst I think you have a few people on here who actually know what they are talking about, some people who don't and a whole host of people who have absolutely no idea what is going on. The majority is the 3rd factor who just want to look at a car and go "wow, it has x amount of dollars in modifications so it must be awesome and anyone who says otherwise is part of the 2nd group." 

A good friend of mine built a record breaking quarter mile Camaro when he was 16 that out ran almost every tuner in the tri state area in the 70s. He was written about in news papers and didn't listen to any of the major "tuners" of the time. Another friend of mine won over 10 national titles in karting and was an Atlantic driver who regularly disproves to me through testing what is commonly accepted as "cold hard facts." Tuner shops included.


To be brutally honest I saw the guy featured in this article on a mountain road and he didn't strike me as someone with talent behind the wheel. He came across as having a huge ego because of the mods he had on his car and the fact he was featured on this blog. You can have all the money in the world and all the most expensive parts, but if you don't know what you're doing with them your @$$ out. You can also have a ton of mods on your car and not have the guts to drive it hard. 

Cars are dynamic and even at high levels there are very few people who truly understand what is going on and how things work. I'm not impressed by this car because it has $3500 dampers and crappy tires. I've seen the guy drive and it's a show car posing as a track car. Sorry to be a bit of an a-hole, but I have to stand up for people when I see them getting dogged on for expressing opinions that are valid.

63

Your confusing far fetched 'I could of been a contender' bar stories, humans, and cars.

64

The article is on the car, not the ability of the driver on mountain roads, the clue is in the pictures of the car, I'm also surprised you didn't comment on the fact the rear wing is actually creating negative lift and not just flapping about in the wind doing nothing, with all your motorsports experience I mean.

65

Kirk_B If I'm not mistaken, Volk wheels are forged which makes them stronger and lighter. The Gram Lights are cast wheels which is a cheaper process of making wheels but they're obviously not as light and strong as forged wheels.

66

Ke$ha.... 
That is my only comment.

67

TarmacTerrorist Yes, because it takes a race engineer to figure out 500hp and aero really help all seasons. :) Get a box of tissues and have fun with the Super Street crowd.

68

Ah but I'm not claiming to know any more then the next person, I also don't claim to know better what to do with a car by proxy
(aha, see what I did there? No? Tyre reference... Referencing how when he listed his credentials to have an opinion he started with "my friend did this once"... No? Oh ok then).
Also, I (Although this could just be me) - But I have two sets of wheels and tyres! I know it's a radical solution but When I want to drive my weekender at something other then the rather costly Tarmac circuits Europe has to offer I put a much cheaper set of rubber on the corners (which also helps keep my car road legal). And go about enjoying my car without even more prohibitive costs, but that's me, guess in greedy.
The car looks like fun, I'm sure it's a blast to drive and that's all that really matters, what demographic it appeals to only matters to people who are into 'scenes' instead of cultures.

69

@OSC  your reading comprehension sucks

70

What engine management?

71

TarmacTerrorist Nice cover. I agree with CR. The reality is a lot of people who comment on these articles really don't understand what they're saying as stated by comments above. It does look like a fun car and I bet it is a blast to drive, but so is a 700whp prelude. Just because something is fun, doesn't mean it's well rounded.

72

Larry Chen Are you willing to put your reputation as an automotive journalist on the line in support of a 500hp car that has the tires this car has? With all your "experience" would you really say a car in this configuration is a car that sees dual track time? If you're going to scoff at this type of opinion as expressed by a few commenters here you should also expect to lose a few viewers.

73

@CR Larry Chen FunctionFirst I'm the owner of the vehicle. It's mainly a street car, therefore street tires. Never ever have I said that it's strictly a race car. I'd rather not put wear on the R888's driving from SEMA/Vegas to LA and all over SoCal. I will say the Proxes1's and Fortune Auto Dreadnoughts are very comfortable :)


Also, although I'm not the most talented driver by any means, I don't know why I would go all out on a mountain road I've never ever driven on before. That seems pretty irresponsible, but I'm sorry I didn't strike you as a talented driver. I drove that road for the therapeutic views that southern California has to offer as I don't really get to see anything even remotely close in Virginia.

Everyone has their own opinion and who am I to argue or denounce yours. I will disagree with your statement about me having a big ego though. Earlier you stated that we met after SEMA, when was this?

74

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner Wind was blowing the smoke in that direction :)

75

@OSC, have you ever been to a track? Are you not aware that many people that have vehicles that can pull daily use and track duty have separate sets of wheels and tires based on what they're doing with the car?

76

nice ride. very clean and I like the rear of the car. front is little too provocative due to external resorvors.
Would like to see some under the car pics and suspension set up too!
Cheers~

77

lachlan Good thing you didn't pay for this build, otherwise I'd REALLY be pissed!

78

@P1 Guru It's not just differing opinions, it's also the style of delivery. There's alternate  opinions based on real-world experience, and then there's trolling. I'm sure Larry won't mind losing a few of the latter type commenters.

79

If only it was 2 door. =(

80

Thanks for the answer , I'm quite surprised they are there !

81

After reading these comments I guess I need to have <100 tread-wear tires on my car at all times. You know, just in case an unplanned race breaks out.

82

Because racecar.

83

"Squash air freshener"
what does squash even smell like?

84

I just wish people did more with the 2jzge engines. Their heads flow more than their GTE counter parts. I understand the rods and pistons are crap but whats the point in boasting about the 2jz being found in the Is300 stock if you are just going to rip it out for the "better" Aristo counter part. I hope one day I can put my Na-T build on this website to do the GE crowd justice! Also why the hell would you not go for the vr160 6speed transmission? I understand that they cost just as much as the gte engine itself (sometimes even more than a high mileage one), but the weakest point in the is300 is the w55 5speed transmission which has been known to rip apart the cluster gears at 400 rwhp. Atleast swap to an r154, which has a taller overall gear ratio than the w55. I will leave this comment with dat wing, dat engine, and dem brakes tho.

85

Takahashi Really? He doesn't have massive overfenders or anything. Those are ZG flares from a 240Z, how is that Liberty Walk / Rocket Bunny influenced? He's using OEM parts to give his car a custom look.

86

@researchisyourfriend It's actually already started entering in Global Time Attack events...so it HAS "seen the track".

87

apieceobacon They produced limited numbers in a 5-speed manual, they're just much harder to find.

88

@Epoxy You HAVE heard of a demo or sponsored car, right? Part of the deal is you have to put stickers on your car of all the companies that back you.

89

Aisakey Again, Demo car with Sponsor stickers. They aren't there for looks, it's a business agreement.

90

Fizzyyyyy Larry Chen FunctionFirst How can anyone say the owner came across as having a huge ego if they didn't actually speak and just drove past? That's retarded
Nice car!

91

@http://www.livefyre.com/profile/70339825/ What are the offset of the front and rear wheels?

92

@http://www.livefyre.com/profile/70339825/ What are the offsets of the front and rear rims?

93

With the tune to 500hp, is the plan to keep running the stock 5 speed?

94

So, you write an article about how USDM doesn't always suck...
And compliment the 2JZGE engine.
Directly after a picture that clearly shows a JDM 2JZGTE engine.
http://www.2jzgarage.com/2012/02/2jzgte-vvti-information/
Good job. You made practically the same mistake they did in the first Fast and Furious movie. Not knowing what engine you're looking at, and hoping no one else knows either.

95
fliesonthewall

Fizzy, most of the commenters on here may or may not have built a media worthy feature car.. the health of the industry in today's world relies on cars pushing limits of style, form, function, call it what you will. Thank you for building a stunning car that turns heads! Every individual that's left a comment here has a chance to put their own builds on the line, so I'm sure we all would appreciate seeing their take on vehicular art rather than reading their sour commentary!!!

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