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17021The Japanese tuner car phenomenon is one that has already traveled the world, in an eastern direction befitting its Far Eastern origins. From Japan to the West Coast of the United States, where it spawned a large number of magazines such as Sport Compact Car, Import Tuner, Super Street and Modified that forever changed the face of car magazine publishing, towards the East Coast, across the Atlantic and into Europe via the United Kingdom, where Banzai magazine (or, as its masthead informs us, Japanese Cars Banzai) is the premier Old World publication of this vibrant international cult.

To report on one particular Lexus IS 300, however, the folks at Banzai turned back towards the west, across the Atlantic (Christopher Columbus parallels, anyone?) and to New York, where a particularly badass car resides that made this trip worthwhile: James Suh's (a.k.a. my.IS member js300) 605 RWHP (on 93 octane pump gas) or 715 RWHP (on 117 octane C16 Race gas) monster. The article, written by Joe Clifford, with photography by Darren Maybury, is a better-than-average read for a tuner magazine article. The Intelligent Sport title, and a passage that reads, "Indeed, the initials 'IS' stand for 'Intelligent Sport'", however, perpetuate a common misconception. The Lexus IS' initials actually stand for International Sedan. It's an unarguable fact, though, that owning or having owned a Lexus IS is an intelligent decision.

Like many magazine article-worthy modded Lexus ISs, this one went through a gradual, evolutionary process to reach its current state. Starting with initial suspension, appearance and breathing modifications (with a little help from Fizz Autosports), James was soon competing in road racing time trials throughout the Northeast U.S. A move to Manhattan made him realize that he no longer needed a daily driver. Far from giving James the urge to sell his beloved car, it meant that he could afford to make it more of an all-out performance machine. At this point, he turned to my.IS Supporting Vendor and 1st-Gen IS300 Go Faster Forum Sponsor Swift Racing Technologies in Beltsville, Maryland. Initially, James had his car fitted with SRT's off-the-shelf Stage 2.5 turbo kit. This, plus a few custom add-ons netted 400 wheel horsepower.

A couple of years later, however, James was hungering for yet more power. SRT was again pressed into action. This time, the internals were exchanged for forged items, the engine block itself was blueprinted and balanced, and the twin-cam heads were ported and polished. This, plus a number of twin-turbo Supra aftermarket items and further modifications by SRT raised the redline to 8250 rpm. All this laid the groundwork for a more powerful turbo. But here, James faced the dilemma of wanting rapid spool-up for instant power out of tight bends while still wanting big power at the top end. After much soul-searching, James and SRT settled on a Precision PT-67 turbo with 0.81 A/R. Yet another key component is Haltech's E11 v2 standalone ECU, with a switchable, supplementary map. On 117 octane race fuel, it produces the aforementioned 715 hp and 624 lb/ft of torque at the rear wheels. Revert to the safer "street" map and 93 octane premium fuel, and you're still looking at 605 hp and 490 lb/ft of torque at the rear wheels.

All this power, of course, would blow the standard automatic transmission to smithereens, so it was replaced by a Getrag V160 6-speed manual from the twin-turbo Mk4 Toyota Supra. Further driveline modifications, including a one-piece SRT propshaft, Lexus GS400 rear axle conversion and a TRD limited-slip differential, plus strategic bracing under the rear subframe ensured that the power would transfer more cleanly to the ground and that none of its road-racing prowess would be lost.

Given James' love for road racing, it's quite understandable that the interior, with its Bride racing seats, Takata 4-point harnesses and airbagless Momo Tuner racing wheel has a stark, functional ambiance far removed from that of a VIP show queen. One particularly clever touch is the way James put the former automatic transmission's steering wheel paddles to good use. The left paddle activates a two-step anti-lag device in the ECU, which creates boost at standstill for quick launches. The right paddle operates a line lock function that clamps down on the front brakes and allows rear end burnouts. These have allowed for impressive quarter-mile times of 11.879 seconds at 121 mph while using pump gas.

To read and see more of this impressive beast, check out <A HREF="">a thread on the General Discussion forum.</A>


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