LS project: installing the trunk, updating the interior and working on the wheels

It has been such a whirlwind year that it seems like an eternity since Project LS received the installation of Air Lift Performance air suspension. To be sure, it’s also been a while since the internal re-trim and audio setup I’m about to share with you today was completed, but we’re finally here.

Since I fitted the Air Lift kit by the guys at The Lowdown Co. a few months ago, I have actually driven several miles on the Lexus. I have to say it was also a lot of fun. The LS now fares much better than it did with the stock suspension, and even with its flaky, faded paint, seen for better days, the amount of attention the car gets is amazing. And that’s before slamming it on his stomach when I park somewhere.

For this latest round of updates, I left Project LS at Autosound Gezina, where Abdul and his team would do a custom audio installation and stock interior refurbishment.

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When it came to the boot installation, I gave Abdul free rein. I knew he already had some ideas in mind and his work is second to none, so my car was definitely in good hands.

First, it was necessary to remove the original trim panels and the spare tire, then Abdul’s boys started mocking the fence.

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Subsequently, the rear parcel shelf was cut to create openings for the subwoofers to fire through. The preferred route would have been through the center console in the rear seat, but in the LS 400 this is where the fuel tank is located.

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Prior to installation, my VW Caddy had been put back in stock and sold which meant I could reuse all of its Rockford Fosgate audio equipment at Lexus. To this I added an extra subwoofer along with other small items like soundproofing and new wiring.

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As the audio installation was completed, the seats, steering wheel, gear knob and center console were removed from the car so they could be trimmed.

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We decided to use genuine leather in a similar color to the original Lexus material so that it matched as closely as possible to the rest of the interior. For a personalized touch, a diamond pattern has been added to the seat centers.

The car stayed at the Autosound Gezina for a few weeks, so when I finally got the call from Abdul saying it was all done, my arousal level was at the highest level.

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Seeing the installation for the first time, I was completely blown away. I never thought the big boot of this old tank could look so elegant.

The setup features two 10-inch Rockford Fosgate Punch P2 subwoofers on display in the rear, while the two amps that power the entire system are hidden for a clean look. The Air Lift Performance manifold became the centerpiece of the entire installation.

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Then there are also the twin Viair compressors and the 5 gallon FLO tank with some hard tailored lines. Abdul wanted to keep the design classy, ​​so opting for leather all over and some silver air vents with black accents.

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To top it off, the side panels each house an infinite mirror with the Autosound Gezina logo in a ghost effect and LED lighting.

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The sound system looks great and sounds great, and having the air suspension system on display is just the icing on the cake. I don’t regret for a second leaving the whole design process to Abdul, because he turned out much better than I could ever have imagined.

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Swiping inward, the trimmed seats are just as I hoped they would be. The color matches perfectly with all intact interior parts such as the dashboard, door panels and roof lining, and with the new padding fitted they are so comfortable.

The detailed double stitching paired with the diamond pattern really gives the interior a more contemporary look.

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I decided to keep the OEM steering wheel, but I trimmed it along with the gear knob and center console cover.

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Finally, the original head unit has been removed and replaced with a Sony double DIN unit which has much more control along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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While all of this was being completed, Zahid from The Wheelshop had the opportunity to complete some work on the 2-piece Riverside Trafficstar STR wheels that I purchased a while ago.

The 9-inch rears have been fitted to the front of the car and the previous front ones now benefit from new barrels that have increased their width to 10 inches, so they are at the rear. The fitment isn’t perfect yet, as the fronts still need some spacing and the rears could do with a bit more negative camber, but we’re definitely getting there.

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I’m not even sure if this will be the final color for the wheels, but I definitely feel them a lot more now than when I got them. The options for quality (read: not replica) new and used wheels are very limited here in South Africa, so it’s definitely a bit of a take on what you can get.

At this point I have owned Project LS for a year and I have to say that so far I have enjoyed every part of the building process. The Lexus has a lot more character now, and even with its rough looks it’s my favorite car to drive. I thought I could have it repainted by now, but as my panel hitter and I have both been very busy with the job, it didn’t happen. Whenever I talk to the people I meet, though, almost everyone says they keep the paint as it is, which I find interesting. I still think a respray is needed, but I’m eager to hear what you guys think – let me know in the comments.

My biggest irritation is that damn hitch, though – it has to go.

Stefan Kotzé
Instagram: stefankotzemedia

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