Michael Balasko likes to refer to his 1997 Lexus SC300 as a "poor man's Supra" but given the $45,000 he's put into the car it doesn't seem so poor anymore.
The idea for Michael's weekend warrior came about back in early 2002 when he moved into a new house and saw that his neighbor had a wicked silver Supra parked out front. That car belonged to none other than Nils Leufven and it pushed out a whopping 671 hp. Nils was nice enough to give Michael a ride and it was from that point that he was blown away by the power of a TO4R-equipped Supra. He knew he had to have one.
Michael, a long time Turbo reader, isn't new to owning vehicles pricier than pieces of art. His previous car was a 1995 VW GTI VR6 that appeared on the covers of both European Car and Max Power UK (yes, the magazine with the topless girls and no, we aren't allowed to show boobies here.) After selling his GTI, he was in the market for a new project vehicle.
Michael began to set the wheels in motion by researching everything he could about Supras and the potential of the 2JZ-GTE engine. Unfortunately, thanks to a certain movie with cars that have neon lights and blue flames shooting out of their "Motec" exhausts, Supras crept out of Michael's price range.
A year went by when Michael came across Clint Pohler's Lexus SC300 videos on the Internet. He was immediately hooked and began to research what it took to drop a GTE motor into an SC. At this time he also read about Turbo's very own Project SCerious. He says that was the last sign he needed.
Suitably inspired he searched long and hard to find a worthy SC300 of his own. Being that Lexus' hold such high resale value it is very difficult to secure a clean-titled SC for a decent price. That being a feat in and of itself, you can imagine how long it took for Michael to find the '97 Royal Sapphire Pearl five-speed you see before you. That search took him to Colorado, buying the car without inspection and having it shipped to the city of Lost Wages on a leap of faith. (It safely arrived in March 2004.)
While Michael was on his search to acquire the actual vehicle, he was already purchasing the parts he envisioned for his SC300. We can all relate to this phenomenon; buying that perfect performance product for a dream car you don't even own yet.
In November, 2003 Michael began what became his daily routine for four months. He scoured eBay and Supra forums for parts every few hours, trying to get what he needed before anyone else could scoop them up. After rounding up the ECU, cams and tranny, Michael sensed "that I probably needed a motor and a car to put it on."
Knowing that the guys at Virtual Works Racing (VWR) of Las Vegas, Nevada are famous for their high-horsepower Supras, Michael had no problem leaving his baby in their hands. Having acquired all the parts by the time his SC had arrived from the slopes of Colorado, all that was left to do was to assemble it like an Erector Set.
Building a good foundation is the most important part of generating four-digit horsepower and a solid bottom end is crucial. Accurate Machine, also of Las Vegas, was responsible for boring and honing the 2JZ block to accept the 8.9:1 low-compression Arias pistons. Once all the machining was performed, Adam Dahl, of West Coast Racing Engines, Las Vegas once again, was put in charge of assembling the bottom end. Swinging on the stock crankshaft are Crower connecting rods with custom Arias pistons attached to the ends. With a bottom end built to handle over 1,000 horsepower it was important to have the engine properly lubed. Virtual Works modified the factory oil system for increased flow and pressure.