Many of you know me simply as that guy that always posts on StanceNation, while others know a bit more about me and my past. As some of you remember, my previous car was a Dodge Charger SRT8. While I always thought it was nothing special, quite a few people in this scene begged to differ. I mean, if you take out the small mods here and there, it was pretty much a stock Charger SRT8 with a healthy drop and aggressive set of wheels. I’ve always been a fan of the “clean & simple” look for sure, but the reason my SRT8 was relatively stock (compared to my Lexus) was because there just wasn’t that much aftermarket support for these cars. At least not for the look I was going for. Now that I told you about my previous car, let me move forward.
Photos By: Connor Surdi exclusively for StanceNation.com
Over the last few years I have had the privilege of seeing all kinds of cars and all kinds of styles. One of the styles I particularly had trouble connecting with at first was this new direction that the VIP scene seemed to be evolving into. And I say “new” since it’s really only fresh in the states here even though Japan has been doing it for years. You know what I mean right, all that negative camber, fender radiusing and pretty much lack of true “VIP” style as we in the states here know it. I, just like many of you out there simply couldn’t get the grasp of all that “over the top” modifying. My “judgmental & closed minded” side was telling me that it’s literally a waste of money, while my “creative & open minded” side kept reminding me of all the “judgmental” people that criticized and bad mouthed all the decisions I made with my Charger. In another words, we all have different ways of expressing ourselves whether it’s through the kind of clothes we wear, the music we listen to, or of course the things we do to our cars.
Over time I have grown to not only accept this what some would call “over the top” styling but I was also inspired by it. Weeks before I even purchased my Lexus I had an idea of what I wanted. I’m serious, I had all kinds of renders sitting on my desktop. They weren’t anything fancy otherwise I would show them off here but like I said, it gave me a good idea of what direction I wanted to go with the car. One of the first things I purchased for my Lexus were my SSR SP3 wheels. Right of the bat I took a different approach as SP3’s are far from your typical “VIP” wheel. Why SP3? Because the ultimate goal with my car was to have a mix of that “sporty” look on your traditional VIP platform. After wheels I order my Aimgain body kit from the fellas at Kurumadouraku which I planned on modifying from the start.
While I waited for my wheels & kit to arrive, I approached my good friend John about possibly doing the work on the car. I’ll be honest with you, I simply didn’t have the skills required to get the job done nor did I have the time. John and I talked for days where I explained to him exactly what I wanted, showed him several photos for some inspiration, and pretty much asked him if he was up for the job. John agreed and the waiting game began. My parts were just days away from arriving and I couldn’t wait to get started!
While I waited for my SSR wheels & Aimgain kit to arrive from the motherland I also had my buddy Ian from Studio build me a custom pair of RCA’s up front to get the camber where I wanted, as well as some parts such as toe links, traction links and camber links in the rear from Battle Version out of Southern California. After they arrived it was time to get to work. I drove to John’s house in Manteca, CA and so it began. Right there in his garage.
Shortly after, my “On The Ground” kit from AirRunner arrived from Japan as well. If I remember right, the kit was installed in just a day and John had no previous experience installing air on cars. That should tell you how simple and on point everything was, so big ups to AirRunner for that. But before I get into thank you’s and shout out’s, the first major challenge was ahead of us, and that was body work. Aired out, and maxed out on camber, John ended up pulling the front fenders about 3 inches up front, and 2 in the rear. The rear was then radiused about 3 inches so that the rear wheel doesn’t tuck behind the fender when aired out but rather sit flush like the front.
For my air management I went with the obvious, Accuair. At first I honestly thought Accuair was just “hype”, but it’s really not. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that without my Accuair air management, my air setup simply wouldn’t be complete. I opted for both the e-level as well as i-level, and while I don’t use my i-level that much, the ability to control the ride height with my iPhone is just cool! E-level on the other hand is something out of this world. I could write an entire article on just that explaining to you just how convenient and smart that thing is! By then, majority of my other parts arrived and it was almost time to get the car in the paint booth. John absolutely killed it and everything I had envisioned was standing right there in front of me. I drove the car down to 5Fifteen Auto & Body to lay some paint down and couple of weeks later it was time to pick her up.
That feeling when I first saw her is truly indescribable. To see something that I picked up bone stock from an older gentleman just months ago transform into a car I had envisioned was surreal. With that said, I had my good friend Connor Surdi fly down from Seattle to snap some photos of her so let me tell you a bit more about some of the specifics on the car.
Up front, the headlights, fog lights and corner lights were all opened up and housing was painted semi-gloss black to match the wheel faces. The front bumper (Aimgain) was also customized a bit just to be somewhat different. Front bumper had a long bar going across the bottom of it which was taken out as well as a long crease on the very bottom of the bumper which was smoothed down to match the rear. Th grill is still stock but the fellas at 5Fifteen painted it the same semi-gloss black to match the wheel faces and all the light housings.
My sides are stock Aimgain while the rear bumper is actually an extended OEM bumper. It was cut right down the middle and about 3-4″ inches were added to get it to sit a bit lower and match the sides/front. Reason I chose to not run the Aimgain bumper was because it sat a lot higher then rest of the aero and to be honest with you it didn’t look much different from the OEM one besides the exhaust tips area. All the badging was taken off from the rear as well which turned out really nice in my opinion.
My wheels as I mentioned before are SSR SP3’s, sized in 18×10 & 18×12. I went with 18’s because that’s what majority of the guys in Japan run. They don’t fill up the fenders as much as 19’s and 20’s do of course but the car literally sits on the ground. Offset is -2 and -10 and my tires are Federal 225/35/18’s up front and 255/35/18’s in the rear. My camber is dialed in just under -10 at the moment and with the toe properly aligned there is barely any camber wear, for now. Big thanks to my friend Rishie at AutoRnd for that!
And that’s where I sit at the moment. Considering the fact that the car was bone stock about 7 months ago I feel that it came a long way. It is just the first of many stages. I’d like to keep things on the low for now but things like Big Brake Kit, new interior, new wheels, possibly different aero are just a few of the things to come. My goal with the car isn’t to have the best, lowest, widest or anything of that nature. I simply wanted to do something somewhat different from other LS400’s you see stateside and hopefully inspire others to create awesome cars!
To finish it of here is one of my favorite photos that Connor shot at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco, CA.