2002 Lexus IS300 – Import Tuner Magazine

21 Oct 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2002 Lexus IS300 – Import Tuner Magazine
Lexus IS300

A world apart, some things are universal.

We know what you’re thinking. Plenty of cars are faster, quicker, and meaner-looking than this unassuming IS300; just what does this thing do best? Simple. It’s the best at doing pretty much everything better than most, including getting away with it. This 850whp beast has done the quarter-mile in 10.22 seconds with a trap speed of 144 mph, after a few years spent cutting its teeth as a circuit car.

And it’s been driven hard on the street all the while.

Its quarter-mile performance is a world record for a street-trim Lexus IS 300, and for an IS 300 with a manual transmission. It doesn’t stop there. Its output to the wheels-850 whp and 705 lb-ft of torque, running Q16 race gas-is another record, this time for a car with a 67mm turbo and no nitrous. It belongs to New Yorker James Suh and it does all the stuff we Americans dream about building our cars to do-including avoiding undue attention.

It’s a car many of us just might call perfect.

It wasn’t always this badass, though-it used to have an automatic transmission. But now all its power goes to the rear wheels via a Supra Getrag V160 six-speed manual. Which brings us to another notable point.

One of my favorite features, says Suh, is my Night-Pager/Works Bell paddle shifter kit, wired to a line lock-to lock the front brakes for burnouts-and a two-step/anti-lag, which allows me to build boost at the line. In a street car.

Perhaps we ought to back up a little. Suh was your typical young car nut, trying to recognize every make and model on the streets from the passenger seat of his parents’ car. In the days before cable TV, he would still seek out every form of motorsport being broadcast, even the most American pastime of all, next to monster trucks: NASCAR, he says.

I loved it all.

Suh had grown up during a time when Toyota was just starting to make interesting stuff like the Supra and the, um. Supra. And later, When Lexus introduced the IS 300, he says, it went to the top of my list.

It’s no secret that today’s trends among Stateside enthusiasts originated in Japan, and Suh loved the clean, functional look of JDM-tuned cars. Since the IS 300 was platform-identical to the Altezza Gita Wagon, running a 2JZ-GE engine in Japan (as found in the Supra, minus the turbos), there were plenty of OEM and aftermarket parts for it.

Lexus IS300

As soon as I bought the car, I started off with basic suspension (coilovers, sways, braces) and engine (intake, header, exhaust) mods, says Suh. I also added JDM Altezza exterior mods and various sets of JDM wheels. Enter Fizz Autosports.

This New York-based shop was one of the first on the East Coast to import JDM product. Fizz sourced all my JDM styling, suspension, and interior components. Then two things happened.

Motorsport: I started getting involved in time trials. And the internet: It was the early days of the IS300.net forums (now http://my.is) that showed me what was possible.

Through the forums, Suh made contact with Swift Racing Technologies (SRT) of Beltsville, MD. When the speed and power bug hit, I started with a basic bolt-on turbo kit from SRT in 2005, says Suh. This resulted in a healthy 400 whp. Then a move to NYC meant no more need for a daily driver.

That’s when Suh decided to push that envelope.

My car was the first to feature many new SRT parts, but there were surprisingly few problems, says Suh. The only issues we encountered were with learning the limits of various components. We’d approach the limit of a stock part, SRT would find or design a stronger, better replacement, and we would move on.

Having beefed up the engine and then run several time trials, a rebuild coincided with Precision Turbos introducing new billet turbochargers. So on went a PT6765H 67mm blower, and the straight six got built, balanced, and blueprinted. Compression went down from the stock 9.6:1 to 8.5:1, while the rev limit was raised to 8,900 rpm.

Lexus IS300
Lexus IS300
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