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First of its kind in the PNW: VIP Style Lexus GS300

There’s no disputing the Japanese tuner car “glory days” of the early 2000’s. Import car shows were at an all time high, companies producing parts for Hondas and Nissans were still experiencing the boom from the original Fast and the Furious movie, and new motorsports series around time attack and drifting were being formed in the US. Having already owned an Acura Integra and a Nissan 240SX, Kenji Nishimura was ready for a new project car.

LExus GS300 VIP Style lowered front view

Nishimura was a big fan of the styling of the big body Lexus sedans of the era, and started seeing photos of cars with a new type of styling commonly referred to as “Bippu,” or VIP-style on the internet. At the time, none of these VIP-style vehicles had shown up at the shows in the Pacific Northwest where Nishimura lived at the time, so he was excited to help bring the trend to the region.

  Lexus GS300 on Nitto Neo Gen tires

Starting Slow

Like many car builds, Nishimura’s vehicle was initially a daily driver. The car was lowered on Tein coilovers, an intake and exhaust ware added, and Nishimura started to research some lip kits and other small styling upgrades. Eventually, Nishimura settled for the Explosion bodykit, which was one of the few full bumper replacement kits that was available at the time. When the bodykit arrived from special order, Nishimura had several customization requests for AK Autoworks in British Columbia prior to mounting the bumpers. His changes helped preserve the big-body VIP look while simplifying the lines. Later, an RMM 3-piece trunk wing, UGO roof spoiler, Toyota Aristo badges (representing the Japanese version of the vehicle we know as the Lexus GS 300 in the US), and Sonar taillights would add to the exterior look.

VIP style GS300 Aristo

The exterior has continued to evolve over the 15+ years that Nishimura has owned this car, constantly tweaking and improving the look to give car show attendees something new to discover each year. While there have been upgrades like the SRT ECU and Nitrous Express kit to improve the speed of the car, the priority was never horsepower or 0-to-60 times.

Going Low 

VIP cars are all about the visual effect, and while the body kit and exterior tweaks help to create that presence, VIP cars are really defined by their low appearance. When the Tein coilovers couldn’t achieve the full look Nishimura was hoping for, he upgraded to a full AirRunner airbag suspension setup. As with many VIP cars, the look was setup to accentuate the wheels. Just like how you’d order a Rolex watch, VIP cars push the limits with big faced wheels, often with a chrome or highly polished finish. Nishimura selected the timeless Weds Kranze Bazreia wheels in 19x9 and 19x10 sizing as the shoes of choice, with Nitto Neo Gen tires in 215/35/R19 and 245/35/R19 positioned on each corner of the car.

Nitto Neo Gen tires on Lexus GS300

To push the wheels out to the very edge of the custom-vented fenders, a set of Project Kics wheel spacers ensure the credit-card thin fitment that is desired by VIP builders all around. Of course, once you upgrade the wheel sizing, the brakes are a natural next step, and Nishimura went with a Stoptech big brake setup both front and rear, paired with stainless braided lines to help stop the massive wheels.

Comfort First 

Inside the Lexus GS300, the feeling of plush comfort was emphasized from start to finish. While many other VIP builds go with a subdued, black leather look, Nishimura chose a lighter color palette. All seating was refinished in tan leather, and chocolate brown suede was used as an accent color.

VIP style Lexus GS300 Interior

To accentuate the feeling of comfort and luxury, Nishimura had his upholsterer diamond stitch the seat inserts, door panels, and even floor mats. A slew of Junction Produce interior trim items like a fusa and tsuna, neck pillows, and others accent provide an additional layer of comfort and style, while Garson Swarovski crystal accessories like the rear view mirror, shift knob, and other small accents give a shimmer to the surfaces surrounding the driver.

VIP style Lexus GS300 interior shift knob

Layering in a few wood grain accents around the passenger cabin including the Lexus RX300 steering wheel, rear passenger seat tables, and pedals provides an additional texture to please the eye. Overall, the layout looks elevated and refined, much like you would expect in a luxury condo or high-end restaurant.

Bumps and Beats

While today’s modern luxury vehicles have elaborate info-tainment and audio systems, the early 2000’s were not as luxurious. The stock Lexus GS300 stereo system sounded only marginally better than the Toyota Camry cousin, so Nishimura replaced nearly every aspect of it in his car. Up front, a Sony in-dash DVD receiver powers the system, while passengers are treated to 7” headrest monitors.

headrest monitors in VIP Lexus GS300

Every speaker and amp in the vehicle was replaced with a Memphis Car Audio solution, with M-class multi-sync speakers in the doors and dash, a pair of M1 10-inch subwoofers in the trunk, M-class amps powering all the speakers, and the appropriate wiring and capacitors to support the system throughout the cabin. The custom trunk enclosure was then airbrushed by Easy Choppers and Tattoo artist Keahi Hooe with an eclectic Japanese-inspired design that is unique yet aesthetically pleasing.

VIP Style GS300 trunk sound system

The trunk install, incorporating the audio setup as well as the nitrous and air ride tanks, is clean yet functional. Nishimura has a clear consideration for the functionality of the car over the years despite all the modifications he has made.

Awards and Honors

Nishimura and his GS300 have been a mainstay in the Pacific Northwest car show circuit for nearly two decades. Despite the near-guarantee that his car will place in the awards, Nishimura continues to attend car shows for a very different reason. “I enjoy going to the shows to just spend time and represent with my team” says Nishimura. Alongside his fellow Team Menace teammates, Nishimura’s GS300 is one of the most award-winning and recognizable vehicles on the show circuit.

Rear view of VIP Style Lexus GS300

“I walk around and other VIP builders often ask for opinions or recommendations on their cars, and it's fun to give my input and see them take their vehicles to the next level.” Nishimura notes that many of the builders of the VIP cars he’s competing against now often comment about how his car inspired them to get into the VIP style. Being that motivator to see the VIP scene grow from a sole competitor back in the mid-2000’s to the VIP classes that have more than 20 vehicles at some of the shows Nishimura attends these days has been a fun evolution to watch. 

Spec Sheet: Kenji Nishimura’s VIP-style Lexus GS300

Engine:

Toyota 2JZGE 3.0L Inline 6;

SRT intake, SRT Race ECU, TRD Oil cap, HKS Cam Gears, Cusco oil catch can, Nitrous Express nitrous oxide kit, Tanabe Super Hyper Medallion Touring exhaust, Mishimoto Radiator & cap, Mishimoto electric fans, Mishimoto transmission cooler, HKS Circle Earth grounding kit, colormatched 2005 engine cover, Hose Techniques silicone hoses, custom chrome plating and colormatching throughout the engine bay

Suspension:

Full AirRunner air suspension setup, Dakota digital pressure gauge, Intec Racing lower control arms, Intec Racing lower tie rods, Tein upper strut bar

Brakes:

Stoptech 6-pot front / 4-pot rear big brake calipers, Stoptech 14” slotted rotors, Stoptech stainless steel braided brake lines, Axxis Ultimate brake pads

Exterior

Explosion custom body kit, RMM 3-piece spoiler, UGO roof spoiler, Custom vented fenders, Black painted roof, Junction Produce billet grille, Junction Produce chrome washer nozzles, Junction Produce chrome door handles, Junction Produce chrome trunk bar, Carbon fiber license plate garnish, Custom Infiniti Q45 headlight retrofit, Hella Optilux 2500 fog lights, VIP LED turn mirrors, LED driving lights, VIP puddle lights, Sonar taillights, Toyota Aristo rear badge, Toyota Aristo rear carbon fiber pillars, 15% window tint, TRD tinted window visors

Wheels/Tires:

Weds Kranze Bazreia wheels – 19x9 (f), 19x10 (r), Nitto NEO GEN tires – 215/35 R19 (f), 245/35 R19 (r), , Project Kics wheel spacers, Garson Dad Swarovski crystal air filler caps

Interior

Custom Tan leather interior upholstery with chocolate brown diamond stitched inserts, door panels, and floor mats, Anceltion VIP side tables, custom VIP rear pillows, Junction Produce fusa, Junction Produce tsuna, Junction Produce curtains, Junction Produce neck pillows, Junction Produce tissue box cover, Junction Produce seat pillows, Toyota Aristo doorsills, Toyota Aristo circle emblem, Garson Dad Swarovski crystal mirror, Garson Dad Swarovski glitter shift knob, Garson Dad Swarovski interior accents, Garson Dad Swarovski mink chain, Garson leather shift boot, Wood grain interior pieces, Lexus RX300 wood grain steering wheel, 5ZIGEN wood pedals, Jaguar retrofitted rear wood grain tables.

Electronics / ICE:

Sony in-dash DVD receiver, 7-inch headrest monitors, Memphis Car Audio M1 10-inch subwoofers (2), Memphis Car Audio M-Class multi-sync speakers, Memphis Car Audio M-Class 4-channel amplifier, Memphis Car Audio M-Class 2-channel amplifier, Memphis Car Audio wiring, Memphis Car Audio capacitors, Compustar Pro Alarm system, Optima Yellowtop battery, Fiberglass trunk enclosure custom airbrushed by Keahi Hooe

 

 

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