This LS-Powered Lexus IS300 Makes Over 1,000HP
Daily Slideshow: This IS was built for one reason and one reason only: to haul ass!
It isn't exactly every day you see a Lexus built for the sole purpose of accelerating as quickly as possible in a straight line. And yet, every time we do lay eyes upon such a machine, we wonder why more people don't build Lexus dragsters. Take Matt Owen's 2003 Lexus IS300, for example. Owen is no stranger to turning Japanese rides into serious horsepower machines, but his main interest lies in Toyotas. That is what led him to build a scary fast Lexus in the first place.
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By trade, Owen specializes in fabrication and engine building for a Texas company by the name of T1 Race Development. And as you already know, everything's bigger (and more powerful) in Texas. 1,000+ horsepower rides are the norm at T1, and Matt has built plenty of them himself. But even though he's got quite a bit of experience with the bulletproof 2JZ, he decided to go a more conventional (read: American) route with his Lexus and shoehorn an LS under the hood.
Recipe for Power
The idea for a drag IS came to Owen while scanning the local Craigslist ads. He came across a basic IS300 with a cloth interior and few options, and not even a sunroof. It was the perfect candidate for his speedy build. First, Owen sourced a 5.3-liter LC9 and fortified the bottom end with Scat rods and 11.5:1 compression Wiseco pistons. A custom ground cam helps make power, but it's what's on the outside that counts - two massive Precision 6266 turbochargers. A Garrett A2W intercooler keeps the whole thing cool, while a MoTeC M150 engine management system controls the whole setup.
Dare to be Different
The impressive setup is good enough for 1,162 horsepower and 936 lb-ft of torque at the wheels. But as surprising as this build is, the most interesting thing is Owen's choice of transmission. Instead of going with some cookie-cutter dragster automatic, he rows his own gears with a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual. He didn't take any chances with the rear end, opting to go with the legendary 9-inch Ford. The rest of the suspension is set up for drag racing (duh!) with AFCO drag coilovers and custom lower control arms.
Obviously, Owens put a ton of work into fabrication underneath the skin of this Lexus. But the body is essentially stock, save for some fender cutouts for the wastegate pipes and the massive intercooler peeking out. But the big and little rolling stock is a dead giveaway of this car's intentions. Weld RTS wheels hold Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial Pros, which measure in at 275/60R15 in the rear.
Inside, you won't find many clues to this Lexus' potential, however. It's mostly stock IS300, save for a set of old-school Japanese Recaro seats up front and a MoTeC C125 dash unit that helps Owens keep tabs on things. It's just enough to make this car somewhat of a sleeper, especially if you swap out those wheels and tires with something a little more stock-looking.
All-in-all, it's hard to think of a more appropriate car to come out of the great state of Texas. With massive power and little else, this Lexus IS300 eliminates all distractions and focuses on going fast and burning rubber. And considering how over-the-top many Texas-based builds are, we appreciate Owen's desire to keep things fairly innocuous in regards to the car's appearance. And we're guessing it pays off at the drag strip in more ways than one.
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