Words & Photos by Henry Phull
For a style that is hugely popular in Japan and the US, the UK scene seems to have overlooked a fascinating part of car culture, which is why it was a breath of fresh air to be able to take a closer look at the latest feature car. Now don’t mistake VIP for the usual “Very important person”, I’m referring to the modification of Japanese luxury cars, ie. slamming them onto the floor and modifying the car to sit as wide as possible, using the most outrageously deep wheels you can source. It’s about being elegant and crazy, all in one. Having previously been a Volkswagen fanatic and owning cars such as a Mk4 wagon which was static and stupidly low, and a 300bhp VR6 supercharged Mk3, Adam Wyatt was getting bored of the VW scene. He decided it was time to step up the game , and build a VIP car, especially with the affordability of Lexus’ and other Jap luxury cars these days. He wanted to do something out of the box of normality, and hopefully raise interest in the VIP scene in the UK.
Rewind to just over a year ago, and after much searching Adam found the base that he would use for the build, a 2003 Lexus GS430 fresh as it came out of the factory finished in Black Cherry Pearl paint with all the luxury mod-cons as you would expect (bar some ugly aftermarket alloys), along with a tasty sounding 4.3 litre V8 lump. It was the perfect platform for Adam to get to work and start his monster of a project.
The idea was to capture attention, and an essential modification in doing this was widening the car to give it a much meaner looking presence. Working in a body shop as a panel beater by trade, Adam is no stranger to bodywork, and attempts to do everything himself. To widen the car, he rolled all four arches and flared them, so that they would tuck his chosen 11j and 12j wheels – a set of 18″ Weds Kranze, running 235/40 tyres up front and 245/40 at the rear. The fitment is absolutely on point.
To get the car sitting this flush, Adam took the decision to install air. Having had silly-low static cars in the past, he wanted something he could now drive hassle free, but still allowing the car to sit on the floor as it should with any VIP styled vehicle. Adam took on the build himself with a few friends and installed everything in his garage at home. Suspension wise, the Lexus sits on AirREX fully damper and height adjustable air struts which is managed by an AccuAir SwitchSpeed management package. This is finished off with a 5 gallon 8-port dumpy air tank in the boot along with VIAIR twin needle gauges in the centre console.
The GS430 is an elegant car, even when standard just out of the factory. Adam wanted to complete the look by making the car as smooth and as flush as possible. This included smoothing the boot lid and removing all number plate holes and badges to fully tidy up the rear end of the car. This is completed with a Jap/US spec number plate and all red lights. Up front Adam opted for a smoothed US style front bumper along with a Greddy replica front lip and US running lights.
Even though the air install provided adequate lows, Adam still wasn’t convinced so he decided to notch the front suspension turrets which allowed the car to sit an extra 1″ lower, it’s this sort of attention to detail that really makes the car what it is.
After all these essential body modifications, the car underwent a full respray by Adam’s good friend Louis Nobbs (who’s Mk2 Jetta we recently featured). Given all the subtle mods, many would fail to notice how much time and effort has actually gone into it but the final result is rather stunning. You might’ve also noticed the super crazy dual tail pipes Adam has installed, which belong to a custom stainless straight pipe fabricated by Oli Dunnett, removing the factory cats and four silencers, to fully amplify the V8, and boy is it loud! It is by far one of the noisiest road cars I’ve ever heard, with a lairy NASCAR style note which no doubt will actually scare pedestrians.
Inside the cabin is the usual luxurious affair found in Japanese saloons of the era, and essential to any VIP car. Leather comfort heated seats all round with piano wood trim, air conditioning, memory adjustable steering column… the list is never-ending. Adam has kept most of the interior as standard, adding a full LED light upgrade and VIP style curtains to all the windows. Not forgetting the gauges and management controller for the air ride setup, positioned cleanly at the bottom of the centre console.
Adam has certainly done the VIP style justice. He’s nailed the all-essential balance of elegance and extreme insanity, with his almost OCD attention to detail on body modification and making those 11j and 12j alloys fit perfectly. As a result, the car has had a ridiculous amount of attention over the past year, and Adam has countless funny stories of scaring people with his stupidly loud straight pipes. It really is ridiculous.
Personally what I love to see is at the end of the day Adam along with his mates have done all the work on the car themselves. It’s a truly ‘home built’ car, and it’s not just been about fitting suspension and adding some expensive wheels… so much has been changed. Even if you’re not a fan of Jap or the VIP style itself, you can’t not appreciate the work that has gone into it, it is stunning. Unfortunately all things eventually come to an end, and after a fun year of ownership Adam has decided to move on and put the car up for sale. He has a new project on the horizon, which should be in the form of another Jap car. It looks like he has caught the bug now! I wish him all the best with the next car and I’ll be sad to see this go, as I’m sure he will, it’s always a fun one to see at car shows (or hear from the other side of the show ground).