March Feature car > Biren Maharaj’s Lexus IS300

The Car of the Month feature is back and in full swing!
We decided to start with the winner of the TTCC’s AGM & Show ‘n Shine held at Zwartkops Raceway on 26 Feb 2012 – the car as voted by all the Toyota enthusiasts who attended the event as the Car of the Year – a sleek Pearl White Lexus IS300…

Now, as most of us know, the Lexus brand is sibling to Toyota. The model range this particular vehicle is a part of, was also branded as the Toyota Altezza in many countries abroad, and has reached cult-status in tuning circles.

Owner Biren Maharaj is no stranger to the Toyota brand. His extensive shopping list of previous Toys bears reference…a Tazz 160i, a GLi Twincam Executive, a 5-Spd RXi and 6-spd RXi. He currently also owns a minter 1996 Corolla 180i GSE and a Subaru GT. The one thing that every single car has in common is that they remain neat, but get tastefully modified. His love for Toyotas started way back in the day, when his dad owned and modified an SR5. While Biren was still just a little kid, he used to always want to be around anything that was happening where the SR5 was concerned, and that’s where the modifying bug for Toyotas bit. Speaking of Biren’s dad, he actually won the “Best Import” award at last years AGM, with his stunning Lexus GS300, which sat atop a set of staggered fitment 19″ wheels. “Like father, like son…” they say, and they would be 100% correct…because apart from winning the Car of the Year award this year, Biren’s IS300 also scooped up the “Best Import” award. Looks like they’re trying to keep that award in the family…and doing a damn good job of it!

Biren bought this IS300 from one of the TTCC’s  committee members, Sershin. The car was still 100% original, with 106000kms on the clock. Really, ask those who have ever laid eyes on the car, it was in showroom condition. Biren had been looking for an IS300 for a few months, and when Sershin’s immaculate example went up for sale, Biren jumped at the opportunity. The people that knew of Sersh’s old Lex could hardly believe that the car they saw at the AGM was the same car, such was the extent of mods undertaken in such a short space of time.

The first item that may grab your attention on the list of mods would be the massive 19″ Feud wheels, by Racing Hart Concepts, and they are wrapped with 225/35/19 Nankang rubber. With the wheels painted black, they give the car a superb JDM look. To give it the correct stance and ride, a set of Tein S-Tech lowering springs was flown in, and were combined with imported KYB shortened shock absorbers.

Staying with the exterior, the changes are subtle ones…

To compliment the bigger wheels and lowered suspension, a Mugen replica Altezza lip has been added to the front bumper. At the rear, you’ll find the standard boot spoiler, and also a TRD Altezza roof wing. All of these bits were wrapped in black vinyl to compliment the JDM look.

The original grill has seen itself removed and in it’s place is now an imported Altezza badge-less grill with a VVT-i badge adorning the right side…very much like where you would find the “Twin Cam 16” badge on the Corolla or Conquest grille. Altezza wind deflectors were also sourced  for both front and rear windows, and these like many of the changes took on the darkened, smoked look. On this beautiful Pearl White canvas, adding to the black which contrasts it so well is the windows, which bear the darkest legal smash & grab film available. You will also notice some JDM decals, and even this was ordered from abroad.


Moving on to the lighting, we find the front lights have seen the park bulbs replaced with L.E.D alternatives, and the light housing themselves have been modified and fitted with angel eye rings, and finished off by wrapping the lenses with smoked Laminex. The fender indicators and rear fogs have also been smoke-Laminexed to ensure all the exterior lighting looks uniform. The driving spot lights received the Laminex treatment as well, but the smoked effect was ditched in favour of yellow, now transforming them into fog lights.

The rear lights remain standard issue, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the tail lights are the same as every other Lexus IS. Though if you look carefully, the inside surround that is usually chrome on the IS200 model is actually smoked on the IS300 models.


Getting into this car, again you are struck by the discretion of the mods undertaken. A Pioneer double-din DVD player now resides where the factory head unit used to be and to give the DVD head unit the appearance of a factory-fitted look, a special trim-plate was brought in from the USA. Now when it came to the speakers, Biren left these unchanged as the IS300 comes with a standard issue top-notch Mark Levinson setup. The midrange speakers & tweeters are driven by the matched 4-channel amplifier located behind the cubby. What has been added to complement the existing speaker setup is a Reference Audio 1000w rms competition sub-woofer mated to an Audiobank 1000w rms digital amplifier. The result is a neat and clean sounding In Car Entertainment system.



The power-plant that resides under the hood of this IS300 is a 2JZ-GE motor…the aspirated version of the infamous and highly feared Supra turbo engine. The engine itself remains stock and untouched (for now anyway…) and the only modification favouring the performance department is the exhaust system. The OEM piping and boxes were replaced by a 67mm axle-back design with Megan racing jap style back box.

Soon arriving from beyond our borders to aid in performance will be a K&N cold air induction system, HKS header, HKS exhaust,  and a piggy-back chip. This Lex will also be receiving an in-built sunroof system in the near future.

With the exception of the wheels, tyres and sound additions, all the other parts mentioned in this write-up have been brought in from the USA. That may certainly ensure that you won’t be finding many other IS300’s in South Africa that will resemble this one.

By now, you will clearly see why this car was chosen by the Toyota family as the Toyota Twin Cam Club’s Car of the Year 2012… the “One Toy to Rule them all…”

TTCC REVIEW: 2004 Lexus IS300 e-shift

Mileage: 117 000km
Chassis code: JCE10
Engine code: 2JZ-GE
Power: 157kW@5800rpm
Torque: 288Nm@3800rpm

Layout: longitudinal inline
Cylinders: 6
Aspiration: natural
Valves: DOHC 4 valves per cylinder, VVT-i
Bore x Stroke: 86.0×86.0
Capacity: 2997cc
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Ignition Type: electronic spark advance system
Exhaust: 67mm axle-back design

Configuration: automatic with sequential manual mode
Number of Gears: 5
Hybrid / Clutchless: yes
Limited Slip Differential: yes

– Modified headlights with angel eye rings, LED park globes, covered with smoked Laminex
– Fender indicators and rear fogs also covered with smoked Laminex
– Driving spotlights covered in yellow Laminex
– Altezza badgeless grill with VVT-i badge
– Mugen replica Altezza front lip spoiler wrapped in black vinyl
– TRD replica roof spoiler wrapped in black vinyl
– OEM boot spoiler wrapped in black vinyl
– Altezza wind deflectors front & rear
– JDM sticker pack

– KYB shortened shocks
– Tein S-tech lowering springs

– 19″x 8 Racing Hart Concepts Feud in gloss black
– Carbon Fibre centre caps painted black to match the wheels
– Nankang NS-2: 225/35/19

– Pioneer Double din DVD player. Trim plate brought in from states to retain the factory-fitted look.
– OEM fitment Mark Levinson 4 channel amplifier
– OEM fitment Mark Levinson midrange speakers and tweeters
– Audiobank 1000w rms Digital amplifier
– Reference Audio 1000w rms competition sub-woofer
– Smash & grab tint

– In-built sunroof
– HKS header
– HKS exhaust
– K&N induction system
– Aftermarket piggy-back chip

Owner: Biren Maharaj
Age: 27
Occupation: Key Account Manager
Next car: the forthcoming “86”

Rudie van Deventer presenting Biren Maharaj with the TTCC CoTY Trophy – “One Toy to rule them all…”

Article and images by Kimesh Naidoo