The Novel IS F: An Unusual Base

It’s pretty hard to go through the thousands of pictures I snapped at the 2016 Tokyo Auto Salon and pick cars that stood out. There is just so much I want to share, which I’ll do once I wrap up these extended spotlights I’ve been hitting you guys with.

But one car that in my opinion deserved extra space was probably a vehicle you would never expect to be tuned in such a way…


I’ve known about Novel  for a while, and started following the company even before it had a shop or website set up. It just popped up on my feed one day and I thought it was cool that a company was doing unusual things with Lexus’ most performance-based models.


Novel initially started off selling high-end, hand-constructed exhausts for the IS F, but has since expanded to develop and create a range of other parts for the RC F and GS F models that recently joined the Lexus line-up. But it isn’t Novel’s RC F or GS F that I want to share today; it’s the centerpiece of the stand it had set up in front of Work Wheels’ booth.


It’s not every day that you see an IS F quite so extensively built up, and when I say ‘built’ I mean from the ground up. This car was stripped to its bare chassis, fully stitch-welded and put back together with numerous carbon fiber additions. It now sits on Enkei rims shod with slick tyres, and is referred to as Novel’s ‘Nürburgring project’. That is, a car built purely for the track to show what can be achieved with the IS F when you think outside the box a little.


It isn’t until you look at the cabin that you realise just how seriously it’s all been taken – this thing is built for racing.


It’s still pretty rare in Japan to see a rollcage fabricated to an international standard, but with the idea to hit the Nordschleife eventually, making sure the car is up to the challenge and safe for the driver is probably a good idea…


Not much has been done to the high-revving V8 motor sitting up front; it’s been fitted with Novel’s own headers, race exhaust and custom engine management solution to maximise the performance.

It will be cool to see what Novel manages to achieve with this car, but it already has my respect for doing something a little different from the norm. Now, just put this car on Tsukuba and let’s see what it can do!

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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That is one big ass wing there !
Very rare to see people try to made IS F into a racer , but , awesome work !


Top notch work!


Seen this in person! So epic!


It kinda reminds me of Lexus' own IS-F CSS-R concept from a couple of years ago.


Nice car, but the roll cage does not look to any international standard,
in fact it looks quite amateurish, with more than a couple of
not insignificant engineering problems. It's not a serious race strip job either, it still has all the factory glass, so it probably also has the interior door structure. Looks like a rich kid's toy, somebody that doesn't really know what he's buying.


* Squints* pretty sure it's still auto. I love these cars and have one personally (in the same blue no less) but race car, it is not.  

Add the 6 speed getrag from the might Supra and the 2010 option LSD and then we're talking !!!

Sidenote - Lexus, why for no 6 speed????


110% not ever hitting the ring...


Great looking car, and I agree that it's cool to see a car like an ISF be modified like this. Reminds me of some good'ole fashioned touring car styling.
I have to say though, I agree with some of the other commenters in that this hasn't been executed as well as it could/should be. For one, it's a full auto, not even paddle shift. That right there just screams amateur. The factory glass, including the rear window still with the defroster, is another head scratcher. Why go to all that trouble and skip doing the glass?
Starting with a base like the ISF, leaving the motor relatively stock is something I'm OK with. It's already powerful, so lightening the car should be the main priority. After weight, the biggest things I would focus on would be adjustable suspension, and upgraded brakes. I don't see any mention of that in the article, or evedence in the photos, so I'm assuming that was skipped over, which is a real shame. Reducing the weight that much and sticking with the stock suspension, designed for a much heavier car, is a mistake.
Were you able to look under the car to see if it had a full under tray, or is the rear diffuser just for show?
I'll be honest, in many ways this car strikes me as having been built by a rich guy with a copy of Forza and a pintrest account.


Spanksy Or even swap in a 2JZ! I like your idea of the ISF being a manual!


I love all the internet warriors on here..if you're so critical, post a picture of your own car on here. I'm sure it'll be much nicer.. Until you internet warriors actually own something nicer than this featured car...
Shut up.


@Guest The more I look at the cage the more it says "rookie". The door bar X is spliced in the middle. If you were to look at the cross section you would see double tubing the whole way except for right in the center, at the weakest structural point, you would see single tubing. It's a really common rookie mistake. The other mistake is worse. Where the door bar X goes up and meets the main hoop in the middle there's no brace running back from that point. There is a brace coming from behind but it meets at the bottom and thus is totally useless just adding weight. There's also about 6" of clearance at the roof. Your helmet is going to stick up above the cage which will make it fail any race inspection. 

The floor is completely gutted so it's going to be race car noise level, and yet they've left the glass in which is substantially heavier than the insulation that was stripped. Which makes no sense at all. You could track this but most sanctioned races don't allow glass except for the windshield.

I don't need to post no stinkin pictures, I've been building cars from scratch for 35 years. If you don't like my viewpoint, tough.


I don't understand why you would swap in a heavier, inferior motor...?
2jz is not a magic engine.


Nice, but I don't think I've ever seen that big of a gap between a cage and the roof before. I'm no expert, just seems like an odd decision. Short driver? U0001f600


Chri5 Duncan

Agreed. It's simply odd to have so much work done without any real consideration for what the car will be used for or what others have already done and proven works or doesn't.

The 'ring is open to the public many days a year and any car can go on it, you don't need to stitch weld and add in a cage just for that purpose. For any sanctioned race event, the current setup will not fly, the cage would likely not pass tech, all that glass is plain comical and the auto-magic gearbox just laughable. 

These are amazing street cars and could be very cool track cars with the paddle shifter in Sport mode. There is a reason these have not been made into race cars in this configuration and it's not because Novel is smarter than the rest of us unfortunately....


Twitch_6 ....this is just a car spotlight article, not a full feature article which i expected too.


I'm going to badge this as a quickly finished "SEMA style build" made just to show up at the show and not really do much else.


Looks like this car made it to Germany for the 02 April 2016 VLN event at the Nurburgring.  As car #136 qualified in SP8 class with a 9:21, three seconds behind the Shulze Nissan GT-R.  So well done,but odd choice using this older model racing platform.  Note the VLN races uses a slightly shorter track than the full 24 hr event,cutting the GP loop roughly in-half.  The pro GT-3 cars were over a minute faster, the fastest SP8 was a Ferrari 458 at 8:51.