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First foray into LexusWorld, UCF21 build

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Old 04-01-14, 08:16 PM   #1
TMAdash1
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Default First foray into LexusWorld, UCF21 build

Decided to finally put a build thread together for my 97 LS400, this first post will encompass everything from July to today. I've always wanted to do a VIP car since I saw my first one back in the mid 2000s in an Option magazine. I was really looking for a Y33 Q45 but all the ones in my area at the time weren't in the best shape. Ended up selling my STi and picking up a 97 UCF21 (I actually can't stand silver cars, go figure).

Pic of my old STi and the LS the day I picked it up back in July




After buying it I soon found myself knee deep in forums planning what I was gonna do.

First thing I did was yank out the old aftermarket DVD player and put something in a little newer with iPhone capability. Unfortunately whoever did the install left me a mess of wires to deal with



I decided to just redo the wiring and to make it easier I bought a male/female set of Honda S2k harnesses (adds VTEC) so if I ever change the stereo again all I have to do is unplug it and wire in the new harness



Its a little hard to see but here's the finished product, all the extra wires and crappy taps deleted and everything wrapped nice and neatly. Speaker wires on the left, power etc on the right.



Now that I had something to listen to other than crappy Atlanta radio I set my eyes to acquiring a set of wheels. I knew I wanted a full face wheel in 19s since that seems to be the best size to accentuate the big bodies of these cars.

Every once in awhile I would see an LS on 18s but realized to pull that off you'd have to be pretty aggressive, much more than with 19s. I figured if I was gonna do it might as well go big so I ended up buying a set of Locksmice Dukes which worked out since these were my #1 choice for wheels!

18x10 +12 225/35 Federal SS-595s
18x11.5 +18





Next on the parts list was suspension! After many weeks of research I decided to get some custom spring rate BC Racings, 14k front 10k back. Instead of them just putting a new spring on since its within 2k spec of the normal coilovers I got them to revalve the shocks to 14/10 so if I ever need to go 16/12 I wouldn't need to send the shocks in to get revalved, I can just pop the stiffer springs on. Took advantage of some Christmas sales and got them ordered



Finally after what seemed like forever I decided on a rear tire, bought some Achilles ATR Sport 265/35. I didn't want a crazy stretch like the front tires, just a nice one and thats exactly what I got. Whenever the front tires get trashed I'm gonna swap them out for some 225/40s to match





And a pic showing the diff between the stock rear wheel and the new setup



Anyone with a Lexus knows the issue with the fenderwell harness so this past weekend I got around to tucking it so it doesn't get chewed up by my tires since I'm aiming for some dirty lowness.



Most people push the bundle up close to the frame horn on the top and zip tie it. Thats what I was originally gonna do but I was barely getting any slack and there was no way for that to work for me. So I took a page from the SC guys and unplugged everything from the fusebox (they normally unplug from the footwell) and ran the wires into the engine bay.







The only issue with this is I had to lose a hood strut and my hood doesn't exactly close all the way now.



To solve the this I'm thinkin of cutting out a portion of the hood brace where the harness is now to give it more room. As far as the hood strut goes I'm still trying to think of something there, that hood is heavy as hell and having to bust out a piece of wood everytime I need to open the hood I find to be annoying.

So this is where I am today, plans are:

- install coilovers this weekend
- figure out hood clearance and hood prop issue
- cut out holes for UCA
- shave fenders
- fab up custom single exhaust
- finish sub wiring
- tint windows darker
- install and paint rood spoiler
- cruise the hell out

Last edited by TMAdash1; 04-01-14 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 04-02-14, 12:02 AM   #2
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Looks good man, nice progress so far!

Nice to see more and more 95-97s getting cleanly worked over as well!
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Old 04-02-14, 01:21 AM   #3
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good stuff, welcome

I actually routed my harness the same way, had to exgend the washer wires and turn signal wiring. same issue with hood prop and being ~1/8" high on that side.''

Only thing to add is that you have a UCF20, not a 21. Check the driver's door trim/vin plate and you'll see UCF20L.
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Old 04-02-14, 05:00 AM   #4
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Looks good man, nice progress so far!

Nice to see more and more 95-97s getting cleanly worked over as well!
Thanks man! I agree not too many seems its mainly the 98+ LS400s getting done

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good stuff, welcome

I actually routed my harness the same way, had to exgend the washer wires and turn signal wiring. same issue with hood prop and being ~1/8" high on that side.''

Only thing to add is that you have a UCF20, not a 21. Check the driver's door trim/vin plate and you'll see UCF20L.
I thought UCF21 meant it had factory air suspension, which is what I have and surprisingly works pretty fantastic. I almost feel bad for taking it out.

Another question for you PD I saw that the Mighty Lift D95959 hood support was strong enough to lift your hood with only one support. I went out and bought one and theres no way it would hold the hood up by itself, is yours still working??
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Old 04-02-14, 05:07 AM   #5
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Nice progress and I like the tires. Do you have any rubbing in the front when turning?
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Old 04-02-14, 12:07 PM   #6
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Not in the US it doesn't. UCF21s were the "C-type" or fully optioned cars with both air and rear seat massage/etc... afaik. Never sold any 21s in the states. Again, door trim tag to confirm

I never ran mighty lifts, i'm running ebay lifts and the single lift was enough, now isn't after it's worn in. unless it's hot
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Old 04-02-14, 02:10 PM   #7
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Nice progress and I like the tires. Do you have any rubbing in the front when turning?
No idea I'm installing the coilovers this weekend

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Not in the US it doesn't. UCF21s were the "C-type" or fully optioned cars with both air and rear seat massage/etc... afaik. Never sold any 21s in the states. Again, door trim tag to confirm

I never ran mighty lifts, i'm running ebay lifts and the single lift was enough, now isn't after it's worn in. unless it's hot
Ahhhh gotcha, learn somethin new everyday! You don't happen to remember which ebay struts you got do you? Really would like to solve this hood prop issue even if I have to buy new ones prematurely cause of it wearing out.
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Old 04-02-14, 02:15 PM   #8
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Why not try and lay the harness flat across the tower rather than in a thick log like it is?
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Old 04-04-14, 05:49 AM   #9
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Why not try and lay the harness flat across the tower rather than in a thick log like it is?
I was thinking about that but I think the issue is twofold. There are so many wires in that bundle that to lay them in a pattern to rid of the hood gap it would have to be pretty wide. Which than leads me to the second issue of the hole for the UCA. I have yet to drill that and I'm not entirely sure where it will lay on the strut tower.
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Old 04-06-14, 05:32 PM   #10
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Got the coilovers on this weekend, pretty straightforward minus some issues with the rear lower shock bolts. Man those things musta been torqued down by Thor at the factory. Ended up rounding off one of the nuts pretty well, went all around trying to find a replacement and couldn't. Got it back on there but definitely plan on hitting the parts dept tomorrow to try to get one. I need replacement clips for the bottom of the back seat too, whoever popped it open before broke all but one of them.

No pics of the car on the ground quite yet, couldn't really get it off the jackstands because it was too low so I'm just gonna leave it up in the air until the fender roller guy comes out Saturday. Let him do his magic and than do final adjusting of height, hoping to get it all dialed in within the stock adjustments.

I look at these pics and the only thing I can think of is its SO CLOSE TO BEING DONE.







I will say that now I'm second guessing my rear tire size and thinking I shoulda gone with more stretch much like the fronts. Guess we'll see what happens this weekend when the fender work gets done.

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Old 04-09-14, 06:46 PM   #11
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never knew about the UCF21 differences either. keep the factory air suspension to sell to another member as there are lots looking for them lately. welcome and this looks very promising!

i never had any issues with the wire harness as the UCA always hits before the tire can touch the harness. i know you'll be making a hole but wouldn't you have to cut off that body seam as well. it can shred the tire!

pretty cool the dukes have enough pad to clear the brake calipers.
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Old 04-09-14, 06:52 PM   #12
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Tackled clearancing the UCA, drilled the pilot holes when I installed the coilovers. Got a good quality 2.5" hole saw and used air tool oil to lubricate the saw while I was cutting

First taped off where I was gonna cut





Then after what seemed forever the saw finally went through



As you can see the metal is really two layers with the bottom being the largest



Grabbed a can of undercoating to spray on the hole



Prepped the area and went to spraying, Tina Fey approves



Annnnd the finished product





Now the UCA has plenty of room, only thing it'll hit now is the big seam under the strut tower but I doubt it'll ever get to that point

Also installed my hub rings, took off the fender trim, and pulled the plastic clips to get ready for the roller this weekend.

Speaking of, the rear doesn't have a fender liner but I noticed theres a decent layer of undercoat on the fender lip, do I have to remove that to roll the fenders? And if I do how does one go about removing that stuff from it???

Last edited by TMAdash1; 04-09-14 at 07:05 PM.
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Old 04-09-14, 07:05 PM   #13
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never knew about the UCF21 differences either. keep the factory air suspension to sell to another member as there are lots looking for them lately. welcome and this looks very promising!

i never had any issues with the wire harness as the UCA always hits before the tire can touch the harness. i know you'll be making a hole but wouldn't you have to cut off that body seam as well. it can shred the tire!

pretty cool the dukes have enough pad to clear the brake calipers.
Preciate it man, also thanks for answering all my questions back in July when I first joined the forum, really nice to have super helpful people for the newbs

As far as that body seam goes I cut the hole proactively, no clue how low I'm gonna be yet but I'm assuming fairly low. When I extend the control arm up it does hit the seam now but I doubt it'll ever get that high unless I really hit a big dip. I'll keep an eye on it and if it does do some damage I might hammer it down or maybe notch it.

I'm thinking my dukes are of the high disk variety, and they clear by at most a mm or two. I was pretty happy to see that and not have to go through the hassle of spacers/extended studs!
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Old 04-09-14, 07:55 PM   #14
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More nice progress!


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Speaking of, the rear doesn't have a fender liner but I noticed theres a decent layer of undercoat on the fender lip, do I have to remove that to roll the fenders? And if I do how does one go about removing that stuff from it???
Yes, definitely remove! A radial wire wheel on a die grinder works best!
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Old 04-10-14, 03:26 PM   #15
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Yes, definitely remove! A radial wire wheel on a die grinder works best!
Awesome thanks!

Speaking of the rear I've got a bit of an issue. I cranked my rears down so I could see how much fender work I might need, I turned the coilover until it stopped completely. It felt like it bottomed out in the shock mount.

But here's the issue, once I lowered the car this is as far down as it got, am I missing something here?? Thats not even that low! I have the rear sitting on some wood with the front still up in the air on jackstands, could that be causing it? I don't see how there would be a difference in weight between it sitting completely on the ground and the way its sitting now.





And before anyone asks the rear are the rears, they were the longer pair, had R on the side of them, and had the 10k (vs 14k) springs in them

Last edited by TMAdash1; 04-10-14 at 03:33 PM.
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