Good Afternoon Everyone,
I haven't posted in a long time and the last time I was active I was going through a life crisis with only 1 of my old IS300's left. I have never really shared the story of all the IS300's that I have owned, and I thought it might be interesting for some to read a little bit about my cars and my adventures. I love talking about it all and I take a lot of pride in my stuff. I am a rare breed that does not appreciate fancy wheels or stanced cars. I like to see sleepers and clean OEM+ cars. My builds reflect that. Let me know what you think!
The Best car I have ever owned
My 2001 Lexus IS300 that got me into this obsession. This car was perfect when I got it. It had a little less than 150k miles and it was very well taken care of. You can see my original post on my.is here https://www.my.is/forums/f257/my-200...-is300-579682/
I started off like most people and tried to get the most out of the car before boosting it. Keep in mind my knowledge of cars was very limited. At the time I couldn't even change my own oil. I did things like a Megan strut bar, Function and Form Type 2 coilovers, SRT intake... Things like that.
My girlfriend and I found ourselves with a large sum of settlement money from a car accident. Rather than being responsible and investing it or using it as a down payment for a house (I was 19 at the time) we decided to blow it on vacations, fancy dinners and of course our cars. (During this time, we got our second IS300, but I'll get to that later) Naturally we bought a CXRacing turbo kit for my daily (at the time I was a pizza delivery driver in school for mechanical engineering) I had a friend help me install it with the emanage ultimate and other specs I don't really feel like getting into. That info should be on my profile somewhere.
I ran into all sorts of issues and blew the turbo a couple times and burnt up oil lines. This was my daily, so I would still drive it every day and it was not reliable. The car leaned out quite often and I started to get a misfire on cylinder 6. Turns out I cracked a Ringland and the piston fell apart in the cylinder. somehow by some miracle I didn't have any sort of catastrophic failure. Over the winter break of 2016?? I think… I knew the engine was on its way out, so I built another engine with BC 272 cams, GTE internals, a bunch of ARP stuff, and other things I am not too interested in going into. And I also purchased a megasquirt pro 3 and had a custom plug and play harness made for me. Keep in mind I didn't even know how an engine even worked prior to this. This is where I learned.
I built the engine and, in the meantime, stopped driving the turbo car and I was given a blue IS300 (I will get into later) that I daily drove. Come around March-April around spring break time I swapped in the new engine with management with all the sensors. I got the car started and running with a base tune and all that was left was to get it tuned. I hired someone to street tune it and he overheated the engine and cooked it. That is honestly a story and for the sake of space I would rather not get into all of that here. At that point I was devastated. I bought A 5 speed IS300 during this time too. (Again, will get into later) And I tried to recover my built engine by doing the head gasket with no success (I snapped an ARP Head stud inside the block and it was not coming out) and the car sat in the garage for a couple months.
Behind the scenes in my personal life my relationship with my girlfriend was falling apart, partially due to the ridiculous amount of time and money I spent on all these cars. This is kind of important because my emotional state helps explain some of my next actions. She ended up leaving with IS300 #2
and I was left with a broken car and the 5 speed that I never registered. This is a bit personal, but I consider the IS300 community to be my family and essentially in a desperate attempt to salvage my relationship I sold the 5 Speed and used that money to try and make things work. (Surprise, the money didn’t do anything) I was left with no car at that point. I would drive my grandpas truck to work. It was summer of 2017 and I worked for the state making decent money for a college student. I essentially traded my whole turbo kit for another engine for me to put in this first IS300 and I put everything back to stock. This was a weird time for me because I was single and making good money, so I started to drive this car everywhere. (Well basically to California and Arizona on the weekends) and just go on road trips because I loved having my own car again. There was a time coming back from Arizona where I had a blowout going 140 mph. That was one of the scariest moments of my life, but it turned out okay. Fast forward about 3 weeks later (and 3000 total miles since the engine swap) my life fell apart all over again. One of the older individuals that lived in my neighborhood was off his medication and ran his car into mine. Effectively totaling it out. The short story is that he recognized the car from when it was boosted, and I would do test pulls around the neighborhood. Seeing me pull into the neighborhood really upset him for some reason and he followed me into the neighborhood and following a turn rear ended me. He initially fled to his house which was in line of sight of where he hit me. He ended up getting arrested and I ended up with a broken car. Basically, my mom paid for insurance still and she kept the insurance payout. The only benefit I got was being able to part out the car since we bought it back.
I ended up buying a motorcycle for transportation in the meantime. But that marked the end of that cars life. This car was my favorite and it really saddens me even thinking about it, but things happen for a reason. RIP The car was eventually towed away with no interior, No doors, no front end, no subframes, or really anything. It was one of the most successful part outs I’ve ever seen. This inspires me later… And on to the next car…
Girlfriends 03 IS300
Following the settlement previously mentioned my girlfriend I decided that the best car for her to get was an IS300.
Since I am jumping around in the timeline quite a bit I wanted to note this was well before I decided to turbo my car.
So off we were trying to find one either locally in Vegas or within a 4-hour driving distance. Alas, we found a good looking white IS300 (or so we thought) near where my grandparents lived in Ventura county, California. Everything seemed good, it was an 01 just like mine. And it had similar miles to mine as well. We agreed on a price of $5900 and made plans to head down to California on a weekend to pick it up. Before we drove down I had my grandfather that lived near go look at the car for me and he said it was great. The weekend comes where we would proceed to drive down to Ventura to go pick up the car and come back same day. I had a friend come with us because my girlfriend still wasn’t that comfortable with her driving. We arrive to go look at the car and it was a mess. There were dents and scratches everywhere. Loose wiring for the ghetto subs in the back, a huge fart can exhaust, and the car smelled of burning coolant. We decided to walk away from the deal and unsure what to do we decided to rent a room for the night and try to find another IS300 locally that we can look at the next day.
We found nothing within our price range. Keep in mind the market for IS300’s was much different 3 years ago. I believe this was like summer of 2016. We came across 2 options: a stock 5 speed for $5900 or a Fully loaded auto for $5900. Both cars were black, but the fully loaded auto was listed for $8000 so it seemed like a great deal. There is not too much else to the purchase other than getting $2100 off list price with for 140k miles, Custom Sound System, Full leather heated seats, Spoiler, Navigation, Chrome wheels, yadayada… It was a good looking and sounding car. We get the car back and over the years it has been a very maintenance heavy vehicle. Oil leaks everywhere. Destroyed motor mounts I had to replace. Burning coolant. Burning Oil. Every bushing is shot. Throttle body taking a crap. This was the most expensive car we got, and overall the most maintenance heavy. We still have this car today. I didn’t mention yet but me and the girlfriend did end up back together. It is in my garage as I type this up. Currently needs #2
control arm bushings and new struts all around. Also rear main seal needs to be replaced. I still like the car, it usually looks the best to be honest (but I don’t tell her that)
The blue Sh*tbox
Truthfully, I haven’t spoken about this car in a very long time. This car screamed bad luck. Remember the friend that came with us to buy my girlfriends IS300? Well he liked the car so much he decided to buy one too and it was the 2001 Blue Tan interior 190k car. This poor thing was falling apart. I felt bad because I went with him to buy it and I thought it was a fantastic buy at $4100. Anyway, my friend was a master’s degree engineer and his time in Vegas was limited. He ended up moving back home to Philadelphia. When he did that he basically gave me his car because he knew I was having issues with my turbo IS300. The ball joint snapped on me with this car. It was a mess. The factory amp frequently stopped working and overall, I wasn’t a fan of the car. Although I cannot pinpoint the exact date I got rid of it. My friend was talking to me about how a friend needed a car and I told him to just take it back. I was sick of it and wanted no part of that car
The Frame Damage 5 Speed Electric Green
So, while I was working for the state I purchased a Copart car from Michigan. I believe I spent around $3k total on everything after fees, my bid, and shipping. By the way it is a nightmare to get a car shipped across the country. I posted a craigslist ad in the city where the car was held before the auction. I asked for a mechanic to look at it and see the extent of the damage to the front end. This was the worst $50 I ever spent. They sent my pictures and everything, but they claimed that there was no real frame damage. That it would just need a new crash bar. Boy were they wrong. Anyway, I got the car and It was nice inside. The damage to the car however was way worse than what I could fix. I drove it around a few times and I thought it was okay. It had A LOT of rust. More than I was comfortable with being from Vegas and never seeing that before. For reasons previously stated I ended up selling it for the same amount I paid. I did things like get a new battery, new bumpers, and a new radiator. But, I gave up on that project quick. One of my best friends owns it now, and he is working on fixing everything I couldn’t. He ended up getting it for like $1200 and he loves it. I even work on it from time to time in my garage.
The New Daily
For a while I was only riding a motorcycle to work and school every day following my first car getting rear ended. I needed something else, but I didn’t have that much money. I ended up swooping a 04 Black IS300 for $1200 with a misfiring engine and some body damage on the passenger side that was later revealed by a Carfax to have met with a median. I am not sure what to say about this car. It was kind of garbage when I got it. Nothing worked, and it honestly sat for a couple months before I could save enough money to buy an engine for it. I bought an engine off someone local and replaced some of the seals. I swapped it at someone else’s house which was a nightmare. There was a point where I thought they were going to try and keep my car. Anyway, I got pretty good at swapping the engines and I swapped it and drove the car home. Unfortunately, In the process of swapping it I spilled power steering fluid onto my ecu. This was such a terrible mistake and I was chasing a throttle body issue for weeks because of it before I concluded that the ecu was bad. I purchased an ECU with key locally and it still works to this day. I fixed a lot of the cosmetic issues with the car but mechanically I have not modded it all. I vowed that I would never do anything to my daily again. I have done some tasteful things like a 03 SD Grille and a new head unit, SD tail lights, heated seats, etc. I really love this car and I still drive it to this day. It has never let me down.
Sketchy Silver IS
A few months passed, and my girlfriend and I managed to start renting a house with a huge backyard by ourselves. Naturally I think I am going to buy a project car to fill my void of working on cars since I vowed not to touch my daily. I purchased a SC400 for $200 and fixed it up to flip and sell for $1200 after all the parts I made around $700. At this point I think I am a master of cars so I frequently browse for sale pages to hopefully pick up another potential flip. One night at around 11:00PM I refreshed the offerup feed to find an IS300 posted up for $300 running and driving with like 150k miles. 5 Minutes later I was on my way to this random meet up spot in one of the sketchiest neighborhoods in Las Vegas (and that is saying something). I didn’t even look at the car I just paid the guy and took the bill of sale and drove it home. “He gave me the title too”
28521; I drove it home and as I was pulling it in the driveway the car died on me. No power or anything I was lucky to make it home. I pulled the car in my backyard and waited for the morning to assess. I first checked if it was stolen and it was not. I posted it up for parts and made a very hefty profit from it. It was a good deal all around. I later had a tow truck take it away from me. I used a lot of the parts on this one to fix up IS300 #7
High Mileage Silver IS
One of my really good friends Is really into MR2’s. He crashed his IS300 and he was looking for another car to work on. He settled on an MR2 in California and he asked me to come with him to drive the rental car back. I agreed and off we went to go see this MR2. When we get there, the car was a mess and it was not as described. We decided to walk away from it and we were on the hunt to find another turbo mr2 somewhere in LA. We ended up sleeping inside the rental car that night. The next morning with no luck finding another MR2 that was willing to go as low as he was willing to pay I decided I was going to look for a car. I made it my mission to lowball everyone selling an IS300 in Southern California. I came across a salvaged title 220k mile 03 MSM IS300 that was beat to hell sitting on Apexi N1 coilovers that were blown. This thing would misfire, and it was not driving correctly. But at the same time, it was only $900, and I was determined to take another car home. So, I said screw it and took a gamble on driving this deathtrap back from LA. The only issue I really had with that car was the hood latch failing on me and almost having it fly open on the freeway. I ended pulling over and using the wire from inside the tires that have blown to tie up the hood. I pulled over at the closest gas station and appropriately bought duct tape and bungie cords to make sure the hood wasn’t going anywhere. I got the car home and I parked it. I forgot to mention that the inside of the car smelled like death. Come to find out later that the rear seats had worm looking maggot things underneath and something had died in there. It was a disgusting car. I had a friend in Arizona with a salvaged 6 speed G35 sedan that he wanted to trade. The G35 was a mess but I was happy to get rid of that car.
The Free Black 01 IS300
After I traded for the G35 I traded that for a Charger R/T. I then traded the Charger R/T for a Kawasaki Ninja ZX9R. When I got the bike, I noticed he had an IS300 in front of his house. I asked him how much he wanted for it and he basically told me if I get it out of his driveway its mine. The car was missing most of the interior and some of the front end. No fenders or bumper but there was an engine still there. I got it towed to my backyard and I stripped everything off it. I used the engine in this car and built it Using Non-VVTI rods, GTE Pistons, GE HG, ARP head studs, and a stock head. This engine will live on inside IS300 #9
. I parted out what I could then scrapped it a couple weeks ago.
The final car in my arsenal is a 03 Sport Design I got from California back in December of 2018. The chassis has 190k miles the body is a tad rough as in the paint is faded in some spots. And there are 2 dents on the car. I drove to California to buy it off some guy, and he claimed he had the clean title on hand. When I got there all he had was lien sale paperwork from an auction he bought it from. He was flipping the car. I was a little upset about all of it, but he instructed me that all I would need to do is take it to the Nevada DMV to get it titled. This was not the case. I brought the car back with all the paperwork and attempted to take it to the Nevada DMV. They told me I needed to get it titled in California first. This really pissed me off because I had to drive all the way back to California to get this sorted. I drove to Needles which is about a 2-hr. drive away. They tried to get me to pay $900 in back registration to get the title. After a couple hours and being very persistent I managed to get away with spending only $80 and I got the title in the mail 2 weeks later. I got a smog test, all inspections, and registered it in Nevada. The very next day I pulled the engine and proceeded with my NA-T IS300 project once again. I am going to skip all the specs but essentially it is currently on stock ecu and injectors. The car boosts good and it is much faster. The main issues with the car is that outside of boost it runs way too rich. More to come on this car but for now I am going to leave it at that. I am trying to sell it or trade for a wagon. But if I don’t get either I will happily keep it and continue to mod the car.
Okay, so this was quite the post. A bit personal but it helps get in the head of a car nut. I do indeed have a problem. I am still going to school and I am still working (now for the gas company) and I look forward to expanding this list even further. Let me know what you think! Now I need to get all these pictures added! And I also hope that my terrible writing skills didn’t give you any headaches.