David Huang takes his IS 300 where no Lexus has gone before.
Editor’s note: They’re some of the most passionate Lexus owners out there—the aftermarket tuner crowd that just can’t leave their vehicles alone, eventually transforming their Lexus models into epic feats of personal aesthetics and mechanical performance. This issue, we celebrate this special breed of Lexus driver by introducing you to David Huang, whose $100,000 in enhancements helped his IS take the gold in Lexus’s recent Facebook photo contest.
TALK TO DAVID HUANG for five minutes, and you’ll quickly learn two things: 1) David treats his IS 300 with the same tenderness a Jersey Shore character bestows on a bottle of hair gel, and 2) his passion makes you realize what tuning means to those who spend their lives doing it right.
Lexus: Be real with us, David. What's the real reason you dropped so much time and money on your car?
Huang: Maybe it’s my stubbornness and my competitive personality, but I believe in what they say in the movie The Transporter: A man is what he drives, and the way he treats his car is the way he treats himself. It carries over. I think it’s not too cocky to say that I’m just loyal when it comes to my car, my profession, my friends, my peers, and my family.
Okay, what’s the secret sauce behind the 1,000 horsepower?
The secret is a can of soda, a banana skin, and a fusion flux capacitor. No, wait, that goes in a DeLorean. In my Lexus, it takes C16 race gas, 30 psi in the tires, and a cold night to make 840 whp, which is equivalent to 1,000 hp.
Okay, we have to askwhy a Lexus IS?
Basically, the car’s styling was pleasing to my eye. I also like it because its handling can actually get my adrenaline pumping; it’s easy for the driver to be one with the car.
When did you start making this car a center of your life?
It all started when I almost killed myself during a reckless canyon run in 2002. I was inches away from flying over a cliff, and only a retainer wall stopped me from going over. Instead of labeling the IS bad luck, I began appreciating the car even more because, as far as I was concerned, it saved me from killing myself. The car had major frame damage, so instead of making it a track weapon, I tackled the car-show scene with the goal of making it the best Lexus IS in the Lexus-owner community.
Okay, but $100,000? It must go back further. What happened to you as a kid that makes you put all your hobby cash into a car?
My father had a lot of influence in my passion for cars. He wasn’t at home a lot due to his work, but whenever he had the time to hang out with me, he would be flipping through car magazines and teaching me the basics between makes and models. I wanted to be a car designer growing up but that didn’t pan out. My passion for cars lived on as I found alternatives.
The other person who influenced me would probably be my friend Daniel Lim. He taught me a lot about the engine and introduced me to Option and Young Version magazines. We also played a ton of video games like Gran Turismo and Tokyo Highway Battle. The combination of Daniel, the magazines, and Gran Turismo were the main sources that inspired my style.
Deadly influences, all of them. How long did it take to build?
The car has gone through stages of complete makeovers. I’ve gone through three different aero kits, six sets of wheels, three sets of big brake kits, three sets of seats, four different exterior colors, and most importantly, the power-plant setup has gone from a stock 2JZ-GE NA to a 2JZ-GE Supercharged to a built 2JZ-GE Supercharged to a built 2JZ-GE single turbo to what you see today, a built Aristo 2JZ-GTE with a single turbo.
Sounds like you’ve changed this thing more times than a model at a fashion show. Any problems?
I’ve been through the same problems everyone has gone through—and then some. The one problem that still haunts me today was trying to locate a set of fender flares that I really wanted. It took me years, even a trip to Japan, only to find out that the manufacturer wasn’t allowed to sell them to the public.
Yeah, cry me a river Mr. Lexus SEMA showcase winner. What’s next for the IS?
After replacing the transmission, which doesn’t shift right, and the monitors inside the car, I think maybe it’ll be a good time for another set of wheels!
Vehicle shown is a special project car, modified with non-Genuine Lexus parts and accessories. Modification with these non-Genuine Lexus parts or accessories will void the Lexus warranty, may negatively impact vehicle performance and safety, and may not be street legal.