So the first time I saw this car it was sadly in a plum of smoke on youtube. Shortly after JapFest 2017 this video started showing up on all the usual channels.
Being that I don’t own anything Jap, I watched the video, felt for the owner and then quickly forgot about it. Until last week, when I read another post on Facebook about how Nicky had worked day and night for the past 5 months or so and put his beloved IS200 back on the road. So this is a little feature on a super fly looking car, that been to hell and back and is on a mission to tear round the track.
Nicky was part of the MX5 crew till that day 5 years back when his supercharged MX5 shat itself and blew the engine. The hunt for another MX5 was on, but then like most people when they come to replacement car shopping, you start to think about all the things that weren’t quite right, or practical, for example Nicky needed a boot for tools, not that I imagine he carries too many tools about in this anymore, but at the time it was an issue. So Nicky’s hunt for a MX5 ended up with a nice practical Lexus IS200 Sport with 90k on the clock and a full dealer history, which is pretty sweet. Personally I’ve always had a soft spot for the IS200. When the world was all going German, I always figured I’d get a Lexus because it was similar in size and status but not so common on the roads, this I might add was way before the drift thing took over and everybody wanted to go JDM yo. My only real problem with the Lexus is the crappy circular lights in the boot lid, still not a fan of them.
Within 3 days of Lexus ownership Nicky had ordered some HSD Monopro coilovers and a 5Zigen exhaust, with the full intention of drifting his new ride like a boss. For the next 2 years it pretty much stayed as it was, but then as always, the desire for more power kicked in and took control. Nicky, a man who knows way more than I do, had his heart set on a 1JZ GTE out of a Toyota Soarer. Halfway through the swap which was done by Drift Factory in Guildford he found out that his donor engine was shot with compression down in two cylinders. This meant that a set of forged CP oversized pistons were fitted and he gain around 30cc off this which was a bonus. The car was away for about a year to get all this done and in the meantime Nicky was rolling about in a nippy 1ltr Micra, so when he got to pick it up it must have been an amazing feeling driving it home. Running 327bhp at 1 bar on the dyno, it must have felt like a jet plane.
So for a few months Nicky just tootled about, getting comfy, testing the water, but that was never enough so the drift days started, and this Lexus performed beautifully. But of course things never stay as they should and the next decision was made, more power please. On a car of this pedigree more power isn’t straight forward or cheap so for another year Nicky accumulated more parts and eventually sent the Lexus off to Slide Motorsport to squeeze some more power from his 1JZ. Nothings ever straightforward in the car world, so there were more setbacks. Broken injectors and wiring issues needed to be overcome but once they were this little IS200 was recorded at 405whp on the RDT hub dyno, so around 480/500bhp at the flywheel, and in the mans own words;
“It was savage from what used to have 150bhp now had nigh on 500bhp”.
Rolling about with 500bhp under the bonnet must be nice, but Nicky didn’t get too long to enjoy it, sadly and very publicly Nicky’s pride enjoy decided to self-combust on track after a fuel line from the fuel pressure regulator popped off the rail and sprayed the engine bay in fuel which is never going to end well.
After getting the car recovered home by his insurance, which is a rare thing these days, I’m surprised they didn’t try and write it off, Nicky got down to starting the rebuild. As with most car folk these days, you have to have a handful of hard working useful friends, so Nicky and crew got to work, dropping the engine out, sorting the bay, making up a new wiring loom and dealing with the rest of the paintwork. All that work finished up about 2 weeks ago, which means Nicky and his Lexus are back on the road and feeling pretty happy about it.
Now I’m not sure which bits came where in this story so ill give you a summary run down. This beast of a IS200 is currently running a 1JZ GTE engine with 86.5mm forged oversized CP Pistons, a Holset HX32 turbo, and a Haltech ps500 standalone ECU, which if you follow Mighty Car Mods you’ll know all about. The engine has been rebuilt with a reshimmed head, ARP head and rod bolts, new gaskets throughout, 3inch boost pipes, compressor racing 50mm watergate, a big front mount intercooler, Janspeed Race Spec manifold, and a full 3inch straight through exhaust. With that much engine you need some cooling so a 50mm Firenze radiator is in place with twin 12″ fans for the extra punch. To get that power to the stunning gold 18″x9.75 XXR 527s, or if on track its semi slick race ready Achilles 123s, it’s got a R154 manual box, rebuilt with a with Marlin crawler billet shifters and uprated syncros, ACT 6 puk clutch, driftworks lightweight flywheel and a IS300 big case LSD. I’ve not got as far as swapping out boxs yet, but I know the basics, and I know that this means faster, lighter, smoother gear changes, which means more power when you need it to his custom propshaft, which means better, more reliable performance, or something like that. You can’t have that power and that drivetrain and still be 6ft up, so HSD Monomer coilovers, Hotchkis front and rear anti roll bars, and adjustable KFD rear arms allow this Lexus to kiss the tarmac. To help with some hardcore drift steering its had some 5mm rack spacers and quick steering knuckles put in. To stop her there’s some Impreza 4 pot callipers, with 325mm discs up front, braided brake lines, abs delete and a hydraulic handbrake. So all in all she’s pretty much a beast from every direction you look. Which brings me onto the looks, all the custom bodywork has been carried out by the man himself in his garage, which we like to see, and with the bolt on arches, hudge splitter, even bigger rear wing and stunning gold XXRs this things looks every bit as mean as it should. Its a honour to have this car grace our pages, I love a rise from the ashes story, and I love this Lexus.