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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey everyone! This is a build/story thread I'm starting in order to document the journey of my Millennium Silver Metallic 2005 Lexus IS300 5A/T. Quick disclaimer, I tend to write a lot, and most of the beginning posts will be narrative. But I promise it's an entertaining read nonetheless. My motivation behind building this car is partly because I wanted a cool ass boosted IS300 since I was 8 years old, and partly because of the heartbreak when my first IS300 was totalled in a hit-and-run on the highway when I was on my way to senior-year final exams in college.

I am a lot more active posting on Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat. The entire journey of this car (and my previous cars) is in my Instagram highlights, since that allows me to post captioned videos on the spot, super easy!

FB: Wali Rifai
IG: @wali.rifai
SC: waldoalmighty

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I've been lurking this forum since I was looking for my first car in 2015, hoping to see an IS to pop up for around $3000 back then. Ended up with a deceivingly pretty NB Miata instead. What a learning experience that car was! Quick story about that car before I begin the journey of my current (third) car... This first post will be more about my car journey before buying my current car.

---------- My First Car - Marissa the Hooptie Miata ----------

I fell in love at first sight with this automatic trans Crystal Blue Metallic 2001 Mazda Miata NB2 because of the color. I really wanted this particular car because it was gorgeous, it was insanely fun to drive, and it was automatic (so my mom could drive it to work when she wanted!). It also had the LS package, sports package, custom upholstered seats, and the more powerful VVT motor. Best deal in the area by far! I ignored the CEL/ABS/airbag lights during the test drive (I told the seller I'd buy it for his asking price of $3800 if he got rid of the ABS and airbag lights). He got rid of all the lights and I bought the car in September 2015 for $3800 with 101k miles and a clean title. The CEL was an intermittent P0012 cam sensor code which I fixed with a new cam sensor before inspection.



6 months later (March 2016), the car developed a puzzling misfire, and the P0012 was back with some friends, P0430 and P0302. With my head under the hood while diagnosing the issue, I noticed a vagina-sized hole in the passenger side frame rail facing the engine (no wonder the fender liner was riveted in place on that side!). I had a buddy run the VIN (6 months too late!!!), and the report came back 5 pages long. Apparently it had been totalled twice before I bought it. Once in the back from being rear-ended in 2004, and once from the front passenger side in an accident where the car had to be towed away with frame damage. The private used-car dealer sold it to me with a clean title after title washing it! That was a rage-filled evening, I asked my parents if they knew any lawyers, but deep inside I knew I was an idiot to buy as-is without a CARFAX first. Apparently there's some loophole that involves transferring titles between VA and NJ where you end up with a clean title. Whatever, that won't get me my $3800 back, and I still have the car ¯\(ツ)/¯. I drove around with it sounding like a subie for a few months because the misfire was intermittent. At first, it would go away when the engine was warm. But as time went, it would just stay running on 3 cylinders.

Father and son backroad sesh :)


My dad borrowed the car one Friday in July 2016, and the water pump/alternator belt snapped (these cars have a separate belt running power steering/AC because deleting those is much easier that way). Well, the car stayed running long enough to overheat the motor with the water pump not spinning. This is the first time the engine had to come apart. Long story short, the timing belt was never done. First, I hired a local mechanic to do it for $500, and it wouldn't start when he was done. Then I had it towed 100 miles north to RP Performance in Summit Point, WV, a "true Miata racing shop." They said a dowel pin on the VVT camshaft was sheared and I needed a new cam. I send one over and they changed the cam and did the timing for $1200, and it still wouldn't start. I had it towed back via AAA to a new friend's shop, Method Automotive in Rockville, MD (now a good friend of mine). Apparently the 2 mechanics from earlier got the timing wrong! 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️ He got the car running and I cried when I drove it for the first time in 9 months (first time a car has ever made me cry lol). It ran well, but I noticed a whirring sound from the head when revving the engine (foreshadowing).

It ran well for 2 weeks, until the misfire came back, intermittent again this time. I brought it back in to Method Automotive. We tore everything apart again and double checked the timing. It was spot on. The problem ended up being a dead injector, so we replaced all the fuel injectors and that fixed the misfire completely. It ran on all 4 cylinders once again, with no CEL. What a relief! That was done in March 2017. I left the car in May 2017 for my parents to drive around in the summer while I interned for Amazon in Seattle. They drove it around happily with that engine whirring along, until one afternoon at the end of July 2017 when the car overheated again and quit running randomly. My parents had it towed to Method Automotive and the engine had zero compression on all 4 cylinders. Apparently, the intake camshaft snapped at the first cam cap. RP Performance mixed up the cam caps while swapping the intake cam, and the whirring sound was metal-to-metal contact that got so bad, the cam started binding and eventually snapped from the heat. As a college student, I didn't have money or time to deal with this when I came back from Amazon. I had dumped over $3k keeping this thing running, so I cut my losses and sold it to an aircraft mechanic in September 2017 with a blown engine for $1200. I owned the car for 2 years, and it was running for only 10 months of that time lmao. Here's a pic of that turd being towed away by the new owner...



---------- My Second Car - Isabel the Black IS300 ----------

That same month, I started shopping for an IS. My dad sold his 2005 Honda CBR600RR Tribal Edition to help my broke college student self afford a clean car for once. I found a one-owner lady-driven clean title 2002 Black Onyx IS300 in Mechanicsburg, PA for $4200 with 151k miles. I later realized the dark chrome tails on that car are what really drew me in lol. Driving it home was heavenly, the smooth torque, Lexus ride, beautiful gauge cluster. I felt truly blessed that I finally had my dream car. My goal for it was a simple street-style build, beautiful exhaust note, Neo V1, white 18" TE-37 with a nice meaty stance...





It wasn't perfect, it had dents in the fenders on either side where the bumper meets. Those are from the previous hitting the garage door while she was pulling in. The interior also had some strange mold in it. Probably filthy from having kids in the car. It was driven by a mom of 3, and apparently it was her first car when she bought it new back in 2002. I owned that car from September 2017 to May 2018. I cleaned up the sticky dash, pulled all the seats and shampooed the carpets and got rid of the mold. I put Tein Street Advance Z coilovers on it in April 2018 (As much as I could reasonably spend as a fresh college grad 2 months into a new software job). I was shopping for black Altezza front ends to fix the fenders and facelift the rock-chipped hood/bumper. I had an appointment with Zury Fabrications on May 5th, 2018 for some exhaust work. I was gaining momentum on this project!





In a sad turn of events at 10:48 am on May 1st 2018, this car ended up saving my life. A silver 2013-2018 Ford Fusion changed lanes into me in the left lane at 70 mph (phone was covering the left side of the driver's face!). First I countersteered left (they hit me in the rear right), then it snapped back to the right and I hit his car again. This ripped my fender liner and wedged it under my front right wheel rendering the brakes on that side useless while ABS was freaking out. I bounced off his car and now I'm countersteering right at 60 mph facing the median wall. I closed my eyes as the deafening crunch echoed in my head and my car ricocheted off the wall careening into the traffic lanes while bouncing violently, on the verge of rolling over counterclockwise. I see a semi trailer out of my passenger side window and countersteer hard to the left to save it. Thankfully, the car slammed back down onto the right 2 wheels and I stopped on the shoulder with the frame dragging on the ground.

This happened under the New Hampshire Ave bridge on the inner loop of I-495, a minute from College Park, MD. I was okay. Bruised my hip on the door hit and my head on the door glass when my car hit the wall at highway speed, but no concussion symptoms. The roof rippled from the force of the impact. RIP Isabel the IS300 (2002-2018). VIN: JTHBD192820055210 (you can see the aftermath in pics when you google that VIN). I still miss this car dearly. Life is such a roller coaster.



Here you can see where that moron hit me in the right rear


Front damage from the wall


The left rear suspension crumbled from the violent bouncing and almost rolling over in front of a semi. The lowered ride height might've saved my life












With the insurance check from that car and my savings I had incurred from work (which were going to go into building that black IS), I had the option of buying a Lexus ISF. I test drove a couple, but I had a hole in my heart. I hadn't experienced everything the IS300 had to offer. It had been my dream car since 2005 (3rd grade!), and I wanted a modified IS300 very badly. So I turned away from the ISF and bought my current car Lola, a.k.a QWKSLVR.

My goal with this car is to build it into my dream IS300 aesthetically, and make it faster than an ISF (because 2jz, duh). I have to dump ISF money into it lol. Here are some pics of when I bought it in May 2018, and how she looks currently (October 2019)...

Before/after featuring H2Oi 2k19 in Ocean City




Since my dad sold his motorcycle to help me buy the black IS, I saved up and bought him his dream bike as a complete surprise in November 2018. Peep the full Altezza kit 😜


I have owned this car for 1 year and 5 months now, and it's been an amazing journey so far. This is actually the first car I've actually driven enough to change the oil lol.

Here's the mod list from bone stock up to present day in October 2019. Subsequent posts will pick up from this list...

Suspension/brakes:
*GP Sports G-Master coilovers
24k T-Demand springs up front
18k Hypercoils in rear
*Cusco negative front upper control arms
(*) Imported from an Up Garage in Okinawa, Japan.
Figs poly rack bushings
Figs 17mm RCA's
Shy Factory -30mm drop spindles in royal blue metallic
Brembo blanks with Raybestos pads
-5 degrees camber front.
-3.5 degrees camber rear

Wheel/tire specs:
Blitz BRW Type-03 (imported direct from Japan with fresh tires on them)
18x9 +45 front (4 inch polished lips)
15mm spacer, effective offset is +30.
18x10 +45 rear (5 inch polished lips)
5mm spacer, effective offset is +40.
Faces powercoated root beer metallic
Achilles ART Sport 2
225/35R18 front, 235/40R18 rear
205/55R16 Nexen Winguard Winspike on OEM 16" wheels during winter

Body:
Altezza TRD "Elegant Sports" body kit imported via Shy Factory
J-Blood custom spec carbon bonnet imported via Mastermind North America
Beatrush racing aluminum underbody
Custom carbon fiber radiator cooling plate
Fenders rolled flat all around and all liners trimmed back 3 inches at the top of the arches
35% tint on rear window only

Lighting:
OEM Altezza Black Chrome tail lights (imported)
OEM Sportdesign dark housing yellow fogs
OEM autoleveling headlights pulled apart and painted Graphite Grey Pearl and recleared+Xpel wrapped
Nokya Hyper Yellow high beams
8000 lumen 60W LED low beams
LED plate lights
LED cluster and center console lights
LED reverse lights
7443 conversion for LED front turn signal switchbacks/DRL's
1800 lumen hyper orange LED rear turn signals
1800 lumen strobing LED tail light bulbs
"Fog light mod" to turn on fogs without low beams

Interior:
Full black leather interior with the cubby
Custom suede dash mat
Sticky dash trim area stripped to grey
TRAC button moved to center

Engine:
Stock, I realized it even had the original air filter until 151k miles when I tuned it up lol. It's only ever had engine oil changes for drivetrain, and nothing else before my ownership.
Custom axle-back muffler delete with 4 inch titanium tip

Thank you for reading this massive first post!

The next posts will be me updating this thread chronologically with each modification/incident that this car underwent. As of October 2019, I have acquired a J-blood hood from Japan among over $5k in japanese imported parts, a VVTi engine out of a 1998 NA Supra to be built with forged internals to sit in front of a T56 magnum. I also acquired an M98 LSD and a TON of other parts scattered in my garage and bedroom (almost $12k spent, and another $15kish to go until it is where I want it to be!). If I feel comfortable after thinking about it, I'll post a link to my planned parts list here for your viewing pleasure.
 

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looks like it'll be a pretty solid build. looking really good so far, big blitz 03 fan here.

really sucks your car had to be totaled due to a negligent driver, but damn that must be scary. At least you got out of it without major injury. i had a similar thing happened to me, driver was on his cell phone and rear ended my s14. I ended up buying another one asap of course.

is the car going to be doing winter duty or did you pick up a beater?
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
looks like it'll be a pretty solid build. looking really good so far, big blitz 03 fan here.

really sucks your car had to be totaled due to a negligent driver, but damn that must be scary. At least you got out of it without major injury. i had a similar thing happened to me, driver was on his cell phone and rear ended my s14. I ended up buying another one asap of course.

is the car going to be doing winter duty or did you pick up a beater?
I do need to pick up a winter beater but I don't have space for one atm. Maybe a storage unit to store the IS during the winter would be a good idea, but I love driving it year round too. Too many toys to add another car :(

I do have a separate winter setup for it though, it looks like this right now:



Set of OEM 16" winter wheels left over from my old IS, wrapped in 205/55R16 Nexen Winguard Winspikes. Excellent setup for the winter! Very stable and it gets around on snowpacked roads fine, within reason.

Yes, that is a rust spot right on the nose of the car. I bought it like that lol. It gets worse every time I look at it, now I can stick 2 fingers in that hole (giggity). That's the only rust on the entire car; the sway bar end link bolts have minor surface rust, but that's it. Not bad for a Philly car!

I have a J-Blood hood from Japan on its way from the Mastermind NA warehouse in Cali to address the rust spot. Should be here in a week or two. I've been waiting for 5 months, very excited! The shipment is actually for 2 carbon hoods, my buddy bought an Elixir hood at the same time in the same shipment. He's actually the current owner of Matt's NA-T IS300 in this thread... https://www.my.is/threads/matts-build-of-impatience-imperfection-and-imbalance-pic-heavy.487138/page-5


Vid of a quick first gear pull:

That car is currently pulled apart for new cams, new XM/Panic/Link ECU, CD009, and more power. Both of our builds should be done by this time next year hopefully. In the vid, it was pushing 500whp on 16psi. Kelford 272 non-vvti cams, 6766, SRT billet ffim, Haltech Platinum supra bottom end, built A350E, etc. exactly as it left SRT into the hands of the previous owner (owner of the linked thread).
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I received my J-Blood carbon hood from Japan the other day, and installed it as soon as it arrived lol. I went out for a cruise with my buddies for the first drive during the daytime and I LOVE how it looks. Does anybody else run this hood? I'm aware of 1 other guy on Instagram in Japan (@takum_mr.3) who runs one...




 

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Discussion Starter #6
Looks very nice, not too crazy, and also not common. Nice find!
It's also the only vented hood for this car that has optional rain guards from the manufacturer lol. So I can run the hood year round and protect the engine bay from snow in the winter :)

That's what sold me!
 

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It's also the only vented hood for this car that has optional rain guards from the manufacturer lol. So I can run the hood year round and protect the engine bay from snow in the winter :)

That's what sold me!
Oh it has some sort of rain guards??? How does that work? my vents are just open right to the engine, but I never had any trouble with it all year, rain or snow
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Oh it has some sort of rain guards??? How does that work? my vents are just open right to the engine, but I never had any trouble with it all year, rain or snow
I don't have pics of mine, but I'll install them later tonight because it might snow early tomorrow morning.

My car spends half the time parked outside the garage, so I didn't want anything getting in the engine bay.

Here are some pics pulled out of ICB Motorsports listing for the hood:
Guards installed
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Guard removed on one side.
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Pretty nifty lol.

Also, the hood latch loop feels solid in the stock latch and it doesn't move anywhere. It's well bonded in there with a nice surface area and solid looking construction. However, I can see the hood shaking when I'm above 90mph. It gets concerning around 100mph. Do you run aftermarket hood latches on your Chargespeed, Toby? Which latches do you prefer? Do you run your stock latch anymore?
 

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Oh those are some nifty covers in there! So, it looks like the purpose of them is to try and block up the openings entirely? Not just divert air flow somewhere else. It seems like those would just fill up with water, and eventually leak into the engine bay anyway? Still, a pretty cool idea, though it does kinda defeat the point of having the vents if you're just gonna cover them up? I look forward to seeing any pics you take!

As for the vibrating/sharking, I think that's simply from the more flexible nature of the carbon fiber itself. The latch should still be fine. I think the problem comes from weaker hoods/latches, when it flexes too much and then it just splits apart. The hood is also lighter, so that means it doesn't "stay down" as much. Also, the aerodynamics are different, thanks to the vents.

I don't run latches on mine, I never have even on my previous car. I never had any trouble. They can be for reassurance, but even when my car was wrecked in the front, the hood buckled and folded in half, yet didn't unlatch or break there. I personally don't like the look of latches, or the hassle with them.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Oh those are some nifty covers in there! So, it looks like the purpose of them is to try and block up the openings entirely? Not just divert air flow somewhere else. It seems like those would just fill up with water, and eventually leak into the engine bay anyway? Still, a pretty cool idea, though it does kinda defeat the point of having the vents if you're just gonna cover them up? I look forward to seeing any pics you take!

As for the vibrating/sharking, I think that's simply from the more flexible nature of the carbon fiber itself. The latch should still be fine. I think the problem comes from weaker hoods/latches, when it flexes too much and then it just splits apart. The hood is also lighter, so that means it doesn't "stay down" as much. Also, the aerodynamics are different, thanks to the vents.

I don't run latches on mine, I never have even on my previous car. I never had any trouble. They can be for reassurance, but even when my car was wrecked in the front, the hood buckled and folded in half, yet didn't unlatch or break there. I personally don't like the look of latches, or the hassle with them.
Yeap, the guards close up the vents, but have a channel molded in to direct/drain water away from electrical components under the hood like the ECU box area and MAF sensor area.

Glad to hear the latches are nice and strong. The front-end wreck part of your thread still hurts to read, just like the rear-end damage hurts to see atm. However, the comeback from the front-end wreck was epic, and I'm sure the comeback from this one will be epic as well :)

Excited to see what's next on your build!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
New wider tires installed on Saturday with a fresh alignment!

Took a chance and ordered some 255/35R18 BF Goodrich G-Force Comp2 A/S for the rear assuming a nice tight fit with the 5mm spacers pulled out. Whaddaya know, I have comfortable room for more lol. Maybe the next setup will be 275's with a slight pull in the rear. I stuck with the same old tire sizes for the front though, just different brand. Current new specs are as follows:

Blitz BRW Type-03
18x9 +30 front (4 inch polished lips, 15mm spacers included in offset)
Federal SS595 All Seasons 225/35R18
18x10 +45 rear (5 inch polished lips, no spacers).
BF Goodrich G-Force Comp2 A/S 255/35R18
No changes to fender rolling. All corners are still rolled flat with liners trimmed as before.
No changes to ride height
-3.5 camber all around. My Cusco arms are maxed negative with Shy Factory -30mm drop spindles. The eccentric bolts are pulled almost all the way in.

Lets see how the tire wear is this time around...









I'll attach the alignment sheet as soon as I get a chance.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Ohh boy I'm still riding this high! The good goodies came this week, I can totally see why buying car parts like this is addicting lol.

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Full CXRacing turbo kit. I'll use everything except the actual turbo, wastegate, and probably blow-off valve. Planning on a GTX3582R, 44mm Turbosmart or Tial wastegate, and HKS SSQV (probably a rep). My end goal is to run 500-600whp on 93 pump gas. I've seen setups with completely stock head, my same fuel system (single 450 and ID1050x), same manifold/kit and 62mm turbo reach this goal with 20ish psi. Exactly what I'm going for.

Overall, I'm quite happy with the initial quality of the kit. Great bang for buck considering just a manifold from some places is $1200. The CX manifold is really good for the price, beefy and welds seem decent.

Since the kit comes with a knockoff GT35, Tial rep, and some cheap BOV, the current parts are a close enough match to be used for mockup, plumbing lines, etc. Only unknown for me at the moment is running coolant lines for the GTX3582R (from where to where, and routing). I still need to research that.

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The compressor housing looks quite close to the 3rd exhaust runner, so I might end up running a 1.5" flange spacer to alleviate possible heat soak issues. I might encounter wraparound intake throttle body/charge pipe clearance issues in that case, but we'll see.

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I am still torn on going the FFIM route, but every single person I've consulted with is saying it's a good idea. The piping after the intercooler definitely has enough bends and material to cut, bead roll, and run couplers to fit the FFIM though.

Next on the to-do list is installing the valve springs/retainers and contacting the machine shop for engine block work. I'm excited and overwhelmed at the same time, its an amazing feeling 😅
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Looks very nice!
Thanks Toby! Your car is a strong inspiration for the general route I went cosmetically, with some hotboi twists. I really love your car's OEM+ vibe, and the mystery factor behind the detail mods like the Triton switchbacks.

I remember spending half a day and 1 full night reading your entire build thread, and that was the week before I bought my first IS (the black one) when I was a college senior!
 

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Mr. Roo
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Thanks Toby! Your car is a strong inspiration for the general route I went cosmetically, with some hotboi twists. I really love your car's OEM+ vibe, and the mystery factor behind the detail mods like the Triton switchbacks.

I remember spending half a day and 1 full night reading your entire build thread, and that was the week before I bought my first IS (the black one) when I was a college senior!
I really appreciate the encouragement! I'm just glad all my efforts trying to find a nice OEM+ vibe finally worked, as I went through many iterations to get to that point. Now that I'm happy with the car, it's done, and I'm glad instead that other people are carrying on with the mods! Really makes all that effort on my build thread worth it haha.
 
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