Project LS: A Boot Install, Interior Refresh & Wheel Work

It’s been such a whirlwind year that it feels like forever since Project LS received its Air Lift Performance air suspension install. Truth be told, it’s also been a while since the interior re-trim and audio install I’m about to share with you today was completed, but finally we’re here. 

Since having the Air Lift kit fitted by the guys at The Lowdown Co. a few months ago, I’ve actually put quite a few miles on the Lexus. I have to say, it’s been really enjoyable too. The LS now rides way better than it did on the stock suspension, and even with its flaky, fading, seen-better-days paintwork, the amount of attention the car gets is amazing. And that’s before I slam it on its belly when I park up anywhere.

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For this latest round of upgrades, I dropped Project LS off at Autosound Gezina, where Abdul and his team would be taking care of a custom audio install and refreshing the stock interior.

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When it came to the boot install, I gave Abdul completely free rein. I knew he already had some ideas in mind, and his work is second to none so my car was definitely in safe hands.

First up, the original trim panels and spare wheel had to be removed, then Abdul’s guys began mocking up the enclosure.

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Next, the rear parcel shelf was cut to create openings for the subwoofers to fire through. The prefered route would have been through the centre console in the rear seat, but in the LS 400 this is where the fuel tank sits.

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Prior to the install happening, my VW Caddy had been returned to stock and sold, meaning I could reuse all of its Rockford Fosgate audio equipment in Lexus. To this I added an extra subwoofer along with some other small items like sound deadening and new wiring.

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While the audio install was being finished off, the seats, steering wheel, shift knob and centre console were removed from the car so they could be re-trimmed.

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We decided to go with genuine leather in a similar colour to the original Lexus material so it would match the rest of the interior as close as possible. For a custom touch, a diamond stitch pattern was added to the seat centres.

The car stayed at Autosound Gezina for a few weeks, so when I finally got the call from Abdul saying that it was all done, my excitement levels were at an all-time high.

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Seeing the install for the first time, I was totally blown away. Never did I think this old tank’s big boot could look this sleek.

The setup features twin Rockford Fosgate Punch P2 10-inch subwoofers on show in the rear, while the two amps that power the entire system are hidden away for a clean look. The Air Lift Performance manifold has become the centrepiece of the entire install.

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Then there’s also the dual Viair compressors and FLO 5-gallon tank with some custom-made hard lines. Abdul wanted to keep the design classy, hence going for leather all over and some silver air vents with black accents.

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To finish it off, the side panels each hold an infinity mirror with the Autosound Gezina logo in a ghosted effect, and LED lighting.

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The audio system looks and sounds great, and having the air suspension system on show is just the cherry on top. I don’t for one second regret leaving the entire design process up to Abdul, because it came out so much better than I could have ever envisaged.

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Sliding over to the interior, the re-trimmed seats are just as I hoped they’d be. The colour matches all the untouched interior parts like the dash, door panels and roof lining perfectly, and with the new padding fitted they’re so comfortable.

The detailed double stitching paired with the diamond pattern really gives the interior a more contemporary feel.

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I decided to keep the OEM steering wheel, but had it re-trimmed along with the shift knob and centre console lid.

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Finally, the original head unit was removed and replaced with a double DIN Sony unit that has much more control along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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While all this was being completed, Zahid at The Wheelshop had an opportunity to complete some work on the Riverside Trafficstar STR 2-piece wheels I purchased a little while back.

The 9-inch rears have been fitted to the front of the car, and the previous fronts now benefit from new barrels that have increased their width to 10 and a half inches, so they’re on the rear. The fitment is not perfect yet, as the fronts still needs a bit of spacing and the rears could do with a little more negative camber, but we are definitely getting there.

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I’m not sure if this will be the final colour for the wheels either, but I’m definitely feeling them a lot more now than when I got them though. Options for quality (read: non-replica) new and used wheels are very limited here in South Africa, so it’s definitely a bit of a take-what-you-can-get situation.

At this point I’ve owned Project LS for a year, and I have to say I’ve enjoyed every bit of the build process thus far. The Lexus has so much more character now, and even with its rough exterior it’s my favourite car to drive. I thought I might have had it resprayed by now, but as my panel beater and I have both been super-busy with work, that just hasn’t happened. Every time I mention it to people I meet though, almost all of them say to keep the paint as-is, which I find interesting. I still think a respray is needed, but I’m keen to hear what you guys think – let me know in the comments.

My biggest irritation is that damn tow bar, though – it has to go.

Stefan Kotzé
Instagram: stefankotzemedia



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Love this build to bits Stefan, well done!


Thanks man, really appreciate it!


The trunk end result is fantastic but is it completely impractical now? I know you can't make grocery but at least a travel bag.
The dash of that ear on Lexus are prone to huge cracks surprised your keeping it non re-trimed, i've seen some removed and a new "cover" (be it leather or synthetic or any kind of fabric) glued to it and some others opted the carpet like cover on top of the dash.
As for the last part of the article: i always prefer to keep the paint as the "final mod" unless it's severly damaged and the bare metal is now exposed. The towing pin as is must definitely go but i think it's giving a nice contrast with the low ride setup so maybe change it of something else instead of deleting it (sorry no ideas in my head to make a suggestion).


I never cared for the boot to be practical at all, so doesn't really bother me. The car is always under shade, so I haven't even seen any cracks luckily. I have no idea what I could replace the tow hook with though


I thought you were using it as a commuter also so you might need the trunk.
What about replacing the hook with a USB/charger connector or something to connect a DJ mixer to your sound system, i don't know something custom, unique, and funky in a good way. Just brainstorming out loud to try and trigger a good idea, disco ball also came to mind but that would be too much.


Love the period correct infinity surfaces butttt...
What does this have to do with SPEED?

Is SH rebranding? Lol


They've decided that slow cars with shiny RGB to attract the fortnite kids is a better business decision than including actual fast cars.


The hook does have to disappear, oath man!
I love the paint job but if respraying, would you go with the two-tone as well? IMO it's really neat how the colors transition from black wheels to graphite below-belt to...what, white, bright beige? Smart, clean, authentic, dope.


I think if I go black, I'd go full black without two-tone, but if I decide to go with another colour, I'd certainly like to keep a two-tone finish


Wow I have to say that is quite something it is an absolute transformation even though it's the little bits well that subwoofer is a big deal lol
Looking forward to see what's next in store for Project LS


Glad you like it man! I'm digging how it's coming along. If I really got bored one day, I'd love to swop in the engine and gearbox from a LS460 in there


I'm actually a big fan of how the rear wheels fit now. Is the desire for more camber a ride height thing?

The trunk looks phenomenal! Well done ICE installs seem to be going the way of the dodo but I always appreciate them as I spent a lot of time reading car audio mags growing up.


Probably more of a height thing. I'm a fan of not having stupid camber though, so don't worry about it going that way.

Yeah man, I also used to shoots lots of sound cars, so I can appreciate a good install


Damn that looks comfy, and you're right that tow bar HAS to go.


It really is, driving a couch for sure. I can't wait to chop it off


Welcome to 2003


Thanks for your valuable input


Did you just down vote everything?


You can make it out the hood, but you can't get the hoodlum out of you. Why not hydraulics next


Leave the tow hook. Just add a 8 foot pole to it. Strippers love bass and bags. Add a wet bar and you've got yourself a rolling club. Just an idea for a good time.
PS I'm on the respray bandwagon if the budget allows. Looking good!


Looking great!! I love the progression so far. Although I've never been a fan of audio in trunks (or even just taking up any space) I do think these guys did an amazing job. Looking at the photos the paint doesn't look too bad at all really, maybe just a good thorough detailing. If you keep the same paint/paint scheme I would think about the wheel centers the same grey as the lower body since the black doesn't tie into any other part of the car.


Please remove the tow hook even it you just slap a sticker over the hole... lol!


New audio install looks sick, love the wheels too. Reckon respray in factory colours, although maybe add a bit of pearl to the white. Agree the towbar has to go though.