One of my favorite car clubs, The Los Bouleverados, proudly boasts that their cars are ‘Too Late to be Traditional, Too Custom to be Lowrider, Too Lowrider to be Custom”
Essentially, each car in the club is a blend of several visually expressive car cultures. I’m a big fan of this club because their cars kind of fit in to all three of the aforementioned genres, without strictly adhering to a single one. Their train of thought meshes very well with my ‘do what you want, with what you own’ mindset towards car modification.
I’ve been criticized for that mentality many times, and yet I still deeply believe in it. Why? Well, cars like this S140 Toyota Aristo are the reason.
At first look, if you’re not familiar with the Toyota Aristo chassis, it’s simply ‘another’ slammed and kitted JDM sedan. Boring, right? I can already hear keys clacking, and thumbs err.. thumbing: ‘Can’t Keiron find some interesting cars for Dave to write about?’
Well, I’d like to think with this car he did.A Subject Of Experimentation
Kemal, or ‘K’ as most call him, is not shy to admit that this car is basically a test bed for any idea that crosses his mind. It’s seen several different looks in the 10 years he’s owned it. It’s also been in various states of repair, from pristine to decrepit and back again.
One thing that has remained consistent throughout is that it’s always been a driven car. Not just on the street in New Jersey, but on the track as well.
The mismatched Bride seats in the dyed black half interior are not for a judges scorecard. In fact, K doesn’t really like shows much at all; sitting around looking at the car for eight hours or more just doesn’t interest him. Small parking lot meets, informal gatherings and drift days are where he’d much rather spend his time.
When he’s not wrenching of course.
As such, the Aristo is built to drive well and look good.
Starting under the custom vented Suprlife hood, the 2JZ-GTE engine benefits from a front-mount intercooler and intake, with 17psi of boost dialed up through a Hallman manual controller. Lexus IS 300 fans provide an OEM parts bin cooling solution.
Otherwise the motor isn’t overly fettled; it’s just kept at the ready for when the clutch may get clicked. Yes, Toyota never saw fit to put a manual transmission in these cars, but K did with a R154 from a JZA70 (MkIII) Supra.
Aesthetically, heavy metal flake hint towards the classic car influences pulling the Aristo together. K admits his true talents lean more to the artistic side of automobile customization. His dad Kenan saw to his initial driveway-based education in American car styling, and K’s professional mentor John followed that up with hands-on experience.
Prior to opening Suprlife, K worked his fingers raw modifying and block sanding custom vehicles from the ’50s through ’70s. Pushing sandpaper strengthened his appreciation for quality body work and clean paint.
That appreciation has been applied to this car, most noticeably on the roof. Almost comically, K no longer likes the roof himself; an artist’s quest for perfection means he sees the flaws in it none of us ever could.Staying Busy
With custom bumpers front and rear, along with hand-built steel fenders all around, the Aristo is a rolling display of K’s entire skill set. He’s had a silent hand in cars that have been seen on Speedhunters before, and there will be more to follow as Keiron gives us a tour of his shop.
For now I’ll continue to focus on just the car.
Shooting out from within the rear bumper is the twin tip of a 4-inch oval exhaust. The bumpers, front and rear, have been extended downward to line up with the Wald side skirts, because even side profiles are extremely important.
The bottom half of the car has been painted a contrasting rose gold color, which is both a stylistic and practical choice. Changing the body styling as often as K does, the two-tone look allows for a quicker update, be it brought on by waves of creativity or trackside debris.
Ksport coilovers fitted with Swift 30k/20k springs keep the one-off kit from kissing the pavement too often. Modified Megan and Battle Version upper control arms position the 19×10-inch and 19×11.5-inch chrome Work Emitz 2-piece wheels.
Yes, the wheels are on a bit of a lean, but given the fenders were literally shaped around this spec the look is pretty fluid. If you’re into that sort of thing, of course.Searching For The Next Challenge
Like many creatives, K isn’t the greatest at sitting still; he prefers motion to stagnation and typically he’d prefer that motion be rather significant. “I love challenges, jobs outside the norm, and the fear that comes with something entirely new,” he told me.
‘Impossible’ is where K loves to operate, welcoming the jobs other shops turn down. The more creativity a job requires, the more energy K seems to have for it. His results thus far have spoken for themselves; his talents are currently booked months in advance.
Being busy has meant that more time than usual has passed since the Aristo’s last refresh. As a business owner this isn’t a bad thing, and K is somewhat relived that his car isn’t the only calling card for his talents.
K is so thankful for the opportunity to create every day that he’s doing his part to pass the craft on. Prior to COVID, he was offering night classes at his shop to teach people the same way he was taught, by doing.
Hopefully the opportunity for K to share his knowledge presents itself once more, so he can help set others on the path to build cars that are to new too be classic, too inviting to be shown, and too unique to be boring.
Photos by Keiron Berndt