Making a statement on the street is harder than ever in Puerto Rico. Boulevard bruisers are at every turn and any sedate sedan can be a sleeper to the Nth degree. Tony Garcia and his shop, Tony Performance, works on lots of Toyota Supras, Nissan 350Zs, Infiniti G35s and wanted something that stood out from the pack: "So we decided to do the Lexus that we got at a fairly good price, $8,000, because it would make a pretty unexpected performance car," Garcia says.
"The car needed lots of body work and that's when I met Jose Diaz and Sammy, the mastermind painters from Extreme Auto Body," Garcia says. "We decided to join forces and work together on the project. So I dropped off the shell and it was my turn to make the combination for the engine and drivetrain."
Tony Performance set off to build a familiar Toyota 2JZ-GTE. The block was fitted with Ross custom pistons and forged Carillo rods and topped with a head infested with Ferrea valvetrain components. HKS 272-degree cams and GReddy adjustable cam gears command the stock-sized Ferrea valves.
Induction comes courtesy of an off-the-shelf GReddy T88-H SPL turbo kit. The 2JZ kit was developed for serious strip action. The SPL portion of the kit refers to its many upgraded components compared to other GReddy T88-based kits. The SPL package includes a stainless steel turbo header with larger runners, a 94mm downpipe that's bigger than the standard 80mm pipe and a Type-C wastegate instead of the normal Type-R unit. Tony Performance elected to run a 60mm TiAL Sports wastegate and a TiAL Sports blow-off valve on its 2JZ. A GReddy FMIC chills the charge air.
One of the critical pieces to make big power in the 2JZ is the Veilside large-plenum intake, which includes a hearty 100mm throttle body. The discontinued manifold or something of the same magnitude are pretty much must-haves for anyone looking at 900 whp or more.
The combination is tuned, via an Electromotive TEC-II, for 22 psi on the street and 30 psi for more intense situations at the strip, which this SC300 sees a lot of. The "TEC" in Electromotive TEC-II stands for Total Engine Control and that's what the unit provides with fully programmable fuel and ignition curves. It also includes its own coil pack and CDI ignition.
A tried-and-proven driveline has been conjured to put the 2JZ's substantial power to the pavement. A GM Turbo-Hydramatic 400 automatic tweaked for battle by North Caribbean Transmission puts the twist on The Driveshaft Shop axles and a TRD LSD. Cushioning is provided by Tein Flex coilovers, while Supra calipers enhance the luxury coupe's stopping power.
The car's split personality is most evident when you pop open the door. Here you're greeted by high-performance Sparco EVO 2 bucket seats, an O'Neil Race Cars rollcage wrapped in leather by Specialty Leather Interior and an old-school ratchet-style shifter.
Garcia points to the GReddy T88 SPL kit as his top mod. "Everybody thinks this turbo is small compared to other turbos people use on the 2JZ, but this turbo has a big heart and we have not yet gotten all it has to give," he says. He's also proud of the Veilside intake setup. "That intake manifold looks awesome and it works great." The third item on Tony's list of favorites is connected to that outlandish looking pistol-grip shifter. "The transmission setup really makes the car streetable because it is totally easy to drive on the street, which can be tough especially when you have great power. Yet it's ready to throw down at the track."
"I have driven lots of great cars, Supras, Porsches and Nissans, but the Lexus is totally different because you don't even hear the road thanks to all the padding for noise reduction," Garcia says. "You can't even feel the speed. You can blast past 100 mph and think you're doing 50."