It's been almost 4 months since I left Philadelphia after earning my MBA.
When I decided to go back to my country, I hadn't given a second thought about selling my 2009 ISF. My car had a long journey over the Pacific and found new home in Korea.
Just in case if you wonder, personally importing a car to Korea never makes financial sense.. Especially since Lexus Korea began selling ISF for the Korean domestic market at around $75,000. ISF has been available here since Sep 2010 as a 2011 model. But I just can't sell mine even if that means I have to pay more than $20,000 for custom and registration taxes. Yes, my ISF is that special to me.
May 16, 2011. On the trailer and ready to go! My ISF will never see the US soil ever again. Even though the fender of the trailer did flip, you can't open the door. I had to crawl out of the window. I had the front plate bracket mounted before the car goes aboard.
At the warehouse where the car will be loaded onto the container. It was not until a month and a half later that I got to have a chance to see her.
On June 23, 2011, my ISF finally came across the Pacific! In PA you don't have a front license plate. But in Korea, it is a serious offense not to have one. It was strange scene with Korean temporary license plate and all the Korean cars around.
Hmm.. Do I spot another ISF in Korea??? In fact, that is KDM 2011 ISF that my brother owns. He came from an Exige community in search of "civilized performance."
We all know that '11 ISF is different from the previous model-year cars. Here are some small differences that your car magazine never tells: (There may be KDM vs. US-spec differences, too)
1. Dashboard: Interestingly, the textures of the dashboard are not the same. '09 dashboard is more 'plasticky'; '11 is more 'rubber-like'
2. The shape of the rear headrests: '09 rear headrests are smaller and contoured into the seatback. '11 has upright headrests.
3. Exhaust sound: '11 is noticeably louder. I wonder it is because the noise regulations are different for US vs. KDM markets? I can't explain..
4. No TPMS for '11: Probably a KDM thing..
5. Power folding mirrors for '11: Definately a KDM thing. It is a neccessity, not a luxury, to have them in Korea!
6. '11 brakes don't squeal....
Now my ISF is legally registered (after all the inspections and things) with the legitimate license plate.
My brother thinks that my car is too black, with all the plasti-dipped emplems and JoeZ exhaust covers. I think so, too. Sharp-eyed members might notice that the license plate is placed a little bit lower than it should. That is because the Korean license plate is a tad bigger than US counterpart and the bolt holes do not align. A custom mount was required...
My brother's '11 ISF. Note that it has longer licence plate (mine has short one..) All post-2008 cars in Korea require a long, EU-like plates. However, short plates are still available for older cars and gray-import cars like mine.
Happy motoring, guys! Give me a buzz if you have a chance to come to Korea. I am going to Korean F1 GP in two weeks and I hope to see some of you there, however the chance is so slim.