2JZ Lexus IS 350 – Love At First Sight (w/video)


When Gordon Ting debuted this 2JZ -powered 2014 Lexus Reaches SEMA just last year, it was bound to stir up some controversy. An old Toyota motor in a brand new luxury sedan… Was it crazy? Were people going to get offended? yes you will find! But we had no objections for the idea; the truth is, we loved it so much we planned to put the world’s craziest 2JZ third-generation Lexus IS about the cover! And why not throw in an added bonus poster to suit your needs guys while we’re at it!

We don’t always give something with the Lexus badge this much attention. Most builds are either VIP, stance or perhaps too tame (or lame! ). But Gordon was given the opportunity to build two new Lexus IS models and create some buzz. He hit not one, but two home runs with a show-stoppin’ IS 250 AWD (see P. 30), plus this panty-droppin’ IS 350… or shall we say, IS 340 on account of thea record of building SEMA vehicles for Lexus over the last few years, Gordon explained. We have seen a lot of builds out there which claim crazy horsepower, but it’s never proven. That’s where this 2J project came in… Also as a badass performance vehicle, even though we built this car, not just as a badass show vehicle. So just after SEMA we took it to Buttonwillow Raceway and tracked it.

And just that way, Gordon shut up the skeptics. It was shocking to us because even the bigwigs at Lexus supported the project. Currently, the brand new Lexus IS is only offered with a 204hp 2.5-liter V6 and 306hp 3.5-liter V6. So getting monster power from either of the factory engines in the two-month length of time wasn’t going to be easy, and would take months of testing. So, the thought of a 2JZ-GTE swap was created. Plus, it’s a Toyota motor so that it keeps things in the family.

With time ticking and SEMA approaching, Gordon brought on the help of his good friends who happen to be also experts when it comes to turning wrenches and custom fab work-Philip Chase and Ben Schwartz. The two managed the project through its entirety, which started by merely removing the stock 3.5-liter V6. That they had placed an order for a JDM 2JZ via eBay Japan, but it hadn’t arrived in time. So the team borrowed an extra motor from a friend to get things going. Phil and Ben fabricated custom brackets using the temporary inline-six while they determined stock Supra parts may be used for engine mounts. Once their actual engine arrived, it was torn down and assembled with the help of Evasive Motorsports. A 3.4-liter stroker kit from Brian Crower came first, which included a stronger crank and beefier rods. Forged JE pistons were added while the cylinder head was considering the whole nine yards via CNC work by Mission Critical. The valvetrain also received Brian Crower cams and valves. For boost, the very first twin-turbo setup was ditched for a Garrett GTX3582R turbo mounted for an ETS manifold. fuel and Cooling upgrades weren’t forgotten either with a GReddy intercooler, 1000cc injectors, dual fuel pumps, custom surge tank and oil coolers thrown in to theWith the motor in, a custom 4 exhaust was crafted as well as a custom engine harness from Rywire. Puttin’ all of that power to the wheels is definitely an R154 tranny out of a Mk3 Supra. While it might not be the Supra Getrag tranny that costs just as much as $7,000, the five-speed manual is gets, affordable and powerful the job done. To ensure power transfer on the rear wheels, an OS Giken triple-plate clutch and limited-slip were installed.

With all the expertise of Evasive and an AEM standalone, the 2JZ beast was tuned about the dyno with a final consequence of 639whp (731hp at crank) and 596 lb-ft (685 lb-ft at crank)-it’s not wild for the 2JZ but the power is usable for road course and some street duties. With its extensive work, Phil informs us this motor setup has ended-built. Eventually, the master plan is to upgrade to a GTX4088R and make it to the 800whp-this is just likeBecause the factory steering is electric and controlled from the ECU, a manually hydraulic one was swapped in. Other upgrades to complement the additional power included Lexus IS F axles-the stock 350 ones were puny-plus a custom driveshaft. Chassis upgrades weren’t skimped on either with Brembo supplying front and rear big brakes, coilovers from KW using stiffer spring rates, custom a-arms and lightweight Advan wheels matched to some very sticky Toyo R888s.

After 60 days with a lot of sleepless nights, the 2JZ -powered IS 340 was finished and transported to Vegas for SEMA. It was easily one of our favorite cars from your convention. It baffles us that there were no major complications together with the swap so we are impressed with how quick Gordon and his awesome team finished it. It might not be competitive in a true time attack race due to how heavy a Lexus is, however it does have a powertrain and chassis that’s proven in the dyno and road course. Just how many show cars can state that?

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