Tag Archives: Stepped Up

The Japanese Sedan – Chris Phillips’ 2002 Lexus IS200

Words & Photos by Henry Phull

 

Although I’ve grown somewhat accustomed to seeing Chris Phillips’ Lexus IS200, there’s still a part of me that remains in some sort of disbelief, or shock, every time I see it, for it’s one of the best sitting cars I know of. I’m sure you’ll be thinking that there’s no way he drives it this low in the UK… It must be aired out, right? Think again, it’s static. Not only that, but it’s been executed flawlessly on a jaw-dropping set of BBS split rims, a surprising choice for a Jap car, although they work incredibly well on this car. To top off the madness, Chris dailies this Japanese frame slayer day in, day out. That’s dedication. A valeter/detailer for Meridien Modena by trade, he keeps the Lexus immaculately clean, too. For a car that was originally purchased to keep stock and use as a workhorse, things seem to have got a little out of hand – once you fall in love with lowered cars, there’s no looking back. Some would say it becomes a part of you and you’ll forever carry the bug, even if you start off with a completely different sort of car.

 

 

Chris’ car history involves a couple of Corsa’s which went through the full works… limo tints, massive exhausts, neons, and lowered appropriately of course. But the Lexus came as a replacement for his Volkswagen Polo 6N, a highly modified and well known car which ended up on full air ride, CCW Classic wheels and a G40 engine-swap after several previous transformations. Being one of these people that has experienced life with both bagged and static cars, I’m sure Chris will agree that the love/hate argument over the two suspension platforms really does come down to personal preference.

 

 

Deep into Polo ownership, it was becoming evident that the project was draining Chris of money. Even though he still loved the car, it was a constant revolving battle, especially with the engine swap which led to numerous late nights and early mornings – frustration would probably best describe the situation. “It’s a car I will never forget I owned, but there comes a time where you have to cut your losses” explains Chris. With the idea of leaving car modifying behind him, he set out in search of a new motor. After hours browsing the classifieds, he was having trouble finding a car he would be happy living with.

 

 

As is often the case, it was a waiting game for something cool to pop up. Soon enough, the Onyx Black IS200 SE came up online advertised in Farnborough. “I was working in Basingstoke at the time so on my way home one night I took a detour to take a look at the car”. It seemed the ideal car for a daily motorway cruiser and general runaround, stylish yet comfortable at the same time. The deal was done and a week later Chris collected the car. It was in need of a little TLC… Having had some work at the bodyshop previously, the paint wasn’t looking great, mainly due to not being lacquered. With the bug for modifying cars still non-apparent, Chris planned to basically tidy up the car and make it presentable.

 

 

Still an avid car show attendee (mainly VW ones due to the Polo) Chris noticed that, slowly but surely, more non-VAG cars were making an appearance on the VW-dominated scene, yet he’d still not seen an IS200 in the UK circuit. “I spent many nights looking through forums and Facebook pages to see what had been done with them. Most of my results were coming back to modified IS300’s in America, proving they’re more common over there.” With this thought at the back of his mind, he still managed to go a good three or four months without being seriously urged to modify the Lexus. Of course, the bug did finally reappear… and rightly so.

 

 

It all started one evening when Chris discovered that somebody he knew had put a set of IS200 coilovers up for sale. “A couple of weeks later I had the money together and it was game on – it’s pretty much snowballed from there.” Presently, he has collected four different types of bumpers, two sets of side skirts, a couple of sets of wheels and different grills. “You could say that the itch had returned and it just had to be scratched.” he laughs. The coilovers in question are HSD Monopro’s with custom stiffer springs to allow for a better ride at the height Chris has chosen. Along with 30mm RCA spacers up front, the car was given to Coltech Classics in Poole for a few hours work which involved notching the suspension turrets to allow the upper control arms to pass through, allowing the car to go even lower. To help sort out the rear fitment, Chris installed Megan Racing adjustable rear camber and toe arms.

 

 

After running the car on several different sets of wheels, including Rays G07WT’s, WORK Meister S1’s and Enkei NT03+M’s, the car in its current state (and undeniably the best look yet) now sits on a gorgeous set of BBS RS 320/321 which have been stepped up from 17″ to 18″ with a kit supplied by VR Wheels in the US with genuine BBS assembly bolts, half height caps up front and full height ones on the rears for a staggered look. Tyre wise, Chris settled for 215/35/18 fronts and 225/40/18 rears. “As it’s my daily i didn’t want to run such a small tyre to run the risk of it becoming unseated” he explains.

 

 

The Lexus originally had a half leather/half alcantara cream interior, which Chris swapped with a complete black interior, followed by a change of carpets, seat belts, trim panels, etc. They all had to be changed for black items which really do help to make the car look more modern and sporty. He also fitted a black leather arm rest which was sourced from a higher spec IS200. Chris’ friend Brad Comer retrimmed the handbrake and gear gaitors in black perforated alcantara to match the seat centres. Finishing off the cabin, and to make it look just that little bit special, he installed a black leather Nardi steering wheel (although after shooting the car, it’s now been changed for a Renown 130R Dark wheel).

 

 

Chris has fitted some extra goodies to make the exterior stand out over a regular IS200, including custom smoked headlights and fog lights, a Vertex front bumper along with matching Vertex side skirts, plus a TRD lip on the standard rear bumper. The boot lid has also been debadged in favour of the clean look that Chris has going on. Driving this low does have its set backs, going fast being one of them, but he isn’t fussed about speed. Performance wise, Chris opted for a Japspeed cat back exhaust system, which Coltech Classics modified whilst it was in, to get it sitting higher and more central to the cut out in the rear lip. It’s all about these small details which help set the car off.

 

 

I had to ask Chris why he puts himself through driving this low, as it would scare most people. “I have my good days and my bad days just like everyone, some days I get in the car and go for a drive and I’ve just got a smile on my face. But then other days you’ve got to plan your route making sure there aren’t any speed bumps, road works etc”. With static life, it is also impossible to keep a car in mint condition, and being a detailer this can sometimes get on Chris’ nerves. Things like messy arches due to rubbing, and wear that has taken to the bumper and side skirts, but these are the compromises that come with running a car so low. It just adds to the character, anyway. “Even with that in mind I still wouldn’t have the car any other way. It’s cool to see joe public look at the car and give you a thumbs up or a nod.” he says.

 

 

Chris lives every car guy’s dream. Monday to Friday he is surrounded by cars at work, and not just any cars… Ferrari’s and Maserati’s. He’s fortunate enough to drive some models that other people would only dream of seeing, including the Ferrari Enzo, 599 GTO, 288 GTO and even LaFerrari, “150yards but I still count it”, he chuckles. On the weekends, Chris spends his time at car shows, working on the Lexus or detailing privately. He’s become quite well known for his handiwork around these parts, taking care of several cars that we’ve already featured on Slam Sanctuary.

 

 

 

“I’ve been able to meet some great people along the way who I now feel privileged to call friends and if I was ever to attend a show on my own I can always count on someone being there that I could catch up with.”

 

 

 

It’s awesome to see that there are still people out there that thrive to drive as low as they possibly can. Seeing something like that pull up behind you is mind boggling and you just can’t achieve that level of satisfaction with a bagged car. We enjoy both air ride and coilovers here at Slam Sanctuary, but deep down there has to be some sort of extra credit due to those like Chris who take things a step further, not to mention, completely different choice of car. Every now and then he has thoughts of selling up and buying something more sensible, yet again, looking at the car and how it sits now, it’s no surprise that he can’t bring himself to do say goodbye. Besides, those questions and remarks about speed bumps and curbing wheels from joe public will never get old, right?

 

 

Spring ’15 Open Day at The Wheel Specialist Fareham

Words & Photos by Henry Phull

 

I do quite a bit of work with The Wheel Specialist in Bournemouth, seeing as they’re local and always do some incredible wheel refinishing, but today’s blog post takes us a bit further down the road to the Fareham branch, whom I’ve heard equally good things. The guys at Studio Incar mentioned to me that Olly and the rest of the crew were putting on an Open Day, and the turnout was expected to be rather good. Being just an hour away, I decided to head on down the M27 on a surprisingly pleasant Saturday morning. It seems that Summer is finally on the horizon.

 

 

I only arrived about an hour later than the event was scheduled to begin, and the whole industrial estate surrounding TWS was already taken over by modified cars. It was clearly going to be worth the trip! The first car that caught my attention had to be Olly Snow’s Mulberry Mk3 VR6 on some mint BBS RS and rocking a Vento front end.

 

 

Over the road, I spotted Ben Fisher’s awesome Golf Rallye van on a set of fully white BBS RS with gold hardware and centre caps, making them somewhat different from the norm, but suiting the car to no end.

 

 

 

A look inside the TWS headquarters, and Mike Allen’s gorgeous Chevy truck was on display along with Roy Allen’s Mk3 pickup on Image 3pc splits.

 

 

 

Sadly Mark Harbour’s Beetle decided to not start later in the day, but it was nice to get the chance to shoot his beautiful air-cooled example again.

 

 

 

Jack Ashley recently added a lovely set of OZ Fittipaldi splits to his Mercedes C Class wagon, it’s great to see this project coming together.

 

 

 

Josh Hawker’s Mk4 R32 Golf was looking super mean on a set of 18″ 8.5j/10j XXRs.

 

 

The award for ‘Best Wheels’ had to go to Chris Phillips and his incredible Lexus IS 300 on stepped up BBS RS. BBS aren’t always easy to pull off on a Jap car, but this works incredibly well. This thing is static and sits crazy low, big respect!

 

 

 

BBS Mahles suited this Mk2 Golf GTI really nicely, it shows you don’t always need to spend big bucks on a set of splits for a car to come together.

 

 

 

It’s always a pleasure to catch up with Carl Levy and his super clean Mk1 Caddy, which I hadn’t seen since the Westside show last year when he was running black centres. This year the BBS RMs have been refinished in a clay brown which matches his chopper in the back, very cool.

 

 

 

 

Steven Doe debuted the car a couple of weeks ago at Ultimate Dubs, but I was so happy to finally see his BMW E21 outdoors to check it out properly. A lot of fabrication has gone into getting this sitting perfectly on the AccuAir suspension and CCW wheels. It’s already fast becoming my favourite car of the year.

 

 

 

Our friend Nick Sahota turned up in not one, but three cars.. including his Ford RS Cosworth!

 

 

Plus, his breathtaking “318” Chromie, which features an M60 manual engine swap which sounds and drives like an absolute beast. I also love all the rare parts on this car like the rear louvre and heckblende, which sets it apart from other E30s, along with a set of polished Schmidt TH-Lines.

 

 

 

 

Of course, the car everyone knows, Nick’s E30 M3 was there alongside the Chromie. If you’re still not aware, the M3 is hiding an E46 M3 “S54” lump under the bonnet, and he’s just installed a centre lock conversion in order to fit a set of BBS Motorsport Bugatti wheels.

 

 

 

Richard Wint had a bit of an unfortunate incident when leaving the event in his E36… luckily I managed to get a shot in before the aftermath.

 

 

 

 

I loved Joe Saunder’s TFSI-converted Mk3 Golf on OZ Turbo splits which was also sitting spot on.

 

 

Although still on his winter wheels, Stevie How also turned up in his Mk3. I’m looking forward to seeing what he has up his sleeve for the Summer.

 

 

 

The cool thing about smaller events like this is the variety of cars that turn up. It’s always worth a few rounds up and down the surrounding estate until you come across some gems…

 

 

Looking super shiny, Carl Shakespeare’s E39 M5. These are cars you really don’t need to touch in the cosmetic department. Along with renewing the suspension components, a subtle drop and refurbing the wheels, he’s ended up with the perfect do-it-all vehicle.

 

 

Latham’s wrapped RS4 Avant pulls off these BBS LMs and meaty tyres so well, resulting in a proper aggressive machine.

 

 

What a perfect way to spend a Saturday, catching up with mates, awesome cars and even a raffle to top things off. The Wheel Specialist Fareham certainly have a great bunch of supporters, which is no surprise seeing the quality of their work demonstrated on all their customer’s cars. These guys know how to put on an event, and I hear there may be some sort of Summer BBQ on the cards, so keep an eye on the TWS Facebook page and stay up to date. Until next time!

 

See more on The Wheel Specialist Fareham:

TWS Website
TWS on Facebook
TWS on Instagram

 

Ultimate Dubs 2015 – Part 2

Words & Photos by Henry Phull

 

In Part 1 of our coverage, we highlighted some awesome cars from outside the Telford International Centre for Ultimate Dubs. Let’s continue from where we left off, with Nick Sahota’s E30 M3. This car was one of the most talked about show cars of 2014. We often wondered.. what else could you possibly do to improve the car? Well, Nick has smashed it for this year, adding a set of BBS Motorsport Bugatti centre lock wheels, thanks to a costly conversion. They have totally transformed the car into something visually mesmerising, and far more appropriate. It also continues to be the most photogenic car, so roll on the photographs…

 

 

 

 

It’s always a pleasure to run into Dougie Flockhart’s PVW featured Mk3 VR6 Turbo on black centred BBS LMs. The attention to detail on this car is outstanding, even if it’s not to everyone’s taste!

 

 

 

Auto Finesse blow us away at every show, they put on the coolest and best quality display, hands down. Of course their Mk1 Caddy project was keeping everyone interested…

 

 

…But this year the guys have built something new to keep the Caddy company, nicknamed ‘Project 80s’, a Mk2 Golf with full BBS kit, E50s, and on Air Lift suspension. It was one our favourite cars of the show by a long mile.

 

 

Over on the Fueled Society stand, Matthew Richardson’s bagged Edition30 Mk5 Golf was sitting beautifully on a set of stepped up BBS RS with gold hardware and finished with red caps to match the car.

 

 

 

Another car that did it for us was Thomas Flanagan’s Mercedes W201 190 on custom wheels rebuilt from single to 3 piece, along with a stunning air install by Novak & Boden. A modern touch on a classic – an outstanding piece of work.

 

 

 

Also on the Fueled Society stand was Jack Bodenham’s Golf on an amazing set of gold Advan 3 spokes. We love these and don’t see them often, a nice choice.

 

 

Across the hall, Hayley Brzezinski’s static Dragon Green Mk3 Golf was looking good on a set of Corvette salad shooters over on the UKMK3s stand.

 

 

We also caught a peek of Owen Burnell’s bagged Mk3 wagon that we recently featured – click here to check out the feature!

 

 

You’ve probably already realised that Ultimate Dubs has now become about more than just VWs. Some people seem to have a problem with this. Our opinion is… there’s more to car culture than just Volkswagens, plus the show would be boring if most of these non-VAGs weren’t here.

 

 

Our friend Matt Clifford (yeah that video guy with the E31 8 series we featured) just had his new wheels delivered from Rotiform just in time for the show. Here it is in all it’s glory on the Obsessive Detail stand. The 19″ 9.5j and 10.5j LHR’s have certainly transformed an already incredible car.

 

 

Only Charged Dubs, a company we’ve recently been keeping a close eye on, were out in force with a huge stand to display some of their VAG air ride installs. Check out Josh Hall’s Mk6 Golf below on a colour coded set of Autostrada Modena splits.

 

 

Danny Mellor’s Audi A4 B8 has been through a bit of a change up since we last saw it at Ultimate Stance last year. 2015 brings a set of Vossen VLE-1s which really look the part against this car’s extraordinary paintwork.

 

 

Opposite we were drawn in by a badass Audi A5 owned by Mark Gunning, which sits on a huge set of VIP Modular VX210 wheels with SPF centres and chrome flat lips.

 

 

Moving on to the WORK Wheels UK stand, we bumped into Alex Flanagan’s E36 on Work Meisters and overfenders. It’s static, too. This is one intimidating car!

 

 

 

Alongside Alex’s E36, the Driftworks E90 M3 was on display, this sits on HSD coilovers and 19″ 10j & 11.5j Work Meisters in a black finish to complete the ‘Murdered out’ look.

 

 

 

Over the winter months, there are some cars in particular you keep seeing on Instagram and Facebook. One of those cars was Tom Heap’s Mercedes 300CE over on the SlammedUK stand. Rocking a Zender bodykit and 17×9/17×12 Impul R5s, it may remind you of the previous Merc he built about two years ago. Alas, there’s a colour and wheel change on the horizon soon!

 

 

 

Paige Walton’s (S6 Wraps) static BMW E91 Touring was certainly drawing in the crowds with a striking gold wrap, along with RH Crossline wheels in black with gold hardware to match.

 

 

Georgie Marlow’s Mk1 Golf was looking even shinier than usual, thanks to some recently ceramic polished BBS RMs – a fine job by the guys at Felgen Werkes.

 

 

Over to the LikeHell and RollHard stand, our friend Jamie Hitchcock was unveiling his BMW Z4’s new look, some gorgeous 18×9.5/18×10 Work Meisters. Oh, this is also static. Yeah…

 

 

One of our favourites back from Ultimate Stance last year was Jordan Fielding’s bagged Audi 100L on Gottis, so it was awesome to see this again.

 

 

Dale Buckley’s Audi TT alongside was spectacular with a fresh new colour and huge BBS RS’s, unsurprisingly this came in the Top 25.

 

 

One of our all time favourite Beetles, nicknamed ‘Macy’ and owned by Matt Rudd was on display over on the FittedUK stand. Not bad for a ’63!

 

 

 

 

We saw Vick Nagi’s bagged A4 Avant a few weeks ago at the Car Audio & Security ‘Caffeine and Cars’ event, when it was on the Audi Rotors which looked perfect. We didn’t actually think he’d be able to top that, but here it was, on Rotiform CENTRELOCKS. Well played, Vick!

 

 

 

That wraps it up for Part 2 of Ultimate Dubs 2015. As you can see, the quality of cars has continued to improve, so check back very soon for the final part of our weekend in Telford where we’ll be looking inside the final two show halls.