Project LS: A Boot Install, Interior Refresh & Wheel Work

It’s been such a whirlwind year that it feels like forever since Project LS received its Air Lift Performance air suspension install. Truth be told, it’s also been a while since the interior re-trim and audio install I’m about to share with you today was completed, but finally we’re here. 

Since having the Air Lift kit fitted by the guys at The Lowdown Co. a few months ago, I’ve actually put quite a few miles on the Lexus. I have to say, it’s been really enjoyable too. The LS now rides way better than it did on the stock suspension, and even with its flaky, fading, seen-better-days paintwork, the amount of attention the car gets is amazing. And that’s before I slam it on its belly when I park up anywhere.

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For this latest round of upgrades, I dropped Project LS off at Autosound Gezina, where Abdul and his team would be taking care of a custom audio install and refreshing the stock interior.

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

First up, the original trim panels and spare wheel had to be removed, then Abdul’s guys began mocking up the enclosure.

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Next, the rear parcel shelf was cut to create openings for the subwoofers to fire through. The prefered route would have been through the centre console in the rear seat, but in the LS 400 this is where the fuel tank sits.

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Prior to the install happening, my VW Caddy had been returned to stock and sold, meaning I could reuse all of its Rockford Fosgate audio equipment in Lexus. To this I added an extra subwoofer along with some other small items like sound deadening and new wiring.

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While the audio install was being finished off, the seats, steering wheel, shift knob and centre console were removed from the car so they could be re-trimmed.

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We decided to go with genuine leather in a similar colour to the original Lexus material so it would match the rest of the interior as close as possible. For a custom touch, a diamond stitch pattern was added to the seat centres.

The car stayed at Autosound Gezina for a few weeks, so when I finally got the call from Abdul saying that it was all done, my excitement levels were at an all-time high.

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Seeing the install for the first time, I was totally blown away. Never did I think this old tank’s big boot could look this sleek.

The setup features twin Rockford Fosgate Punch P2 10-inch subwoofers on show in the rear, while the two amps that power the entire system are hidden away for a clean look. The Air Lift Performance manifold has become the centrepiece of the entire install.

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Then there’s also the dual Viair compressors and FLO 5-gallon tank with some custom-made hard lines. Abdul wanted to keep the design classy, hence going for leather all over and some silver air vents with black accents.

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To finish it off, the side panels each hold an infinity mirror with the Autosound Gezina logo in a ghosted effect, and LED lighting.

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The audio system looks and sounds great, and having the air suspension system on show is just the cherry on top. I don’t for one second regret leaving the entire design process up to Abdul, because it came out so much better than I could have ever envisaged.

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Sliding over to the interior, the re-trimmed seats are just as I hoped they’d be. The colour matches all the untouched interior parts like the dash, door panels and roof lining perfectly, and with the new padding fitted they’re so comfortable.

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

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I decided to keep the OEM steering wheel, but had it re-trimmed along with the shift knob and centre console lid.

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

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While all this was being completed, Zahid at The Wheelshop had an opportunity to complete some work on the Riverside Trafficstar STR 2-piece wheels I purchased a little while back.

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

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I’m not sure if this will be the final colour for the wheels either, but I’m definitely feeling them a lot more now than when I got them though. Options for quality (read: non-replica) new and used wheels are very limited here in South Africa, so it’s definitely a bit of a take-what-you-can-get situation.

At this point I’ve owned Project LS for a year, and I have to say I’ve enjoyed every bit of the build process thus far. The Lexus has so much more character now, and even with its rough exterior it’s my favourite car to drive. I thought I might have had it resprayed by now, but as my panel beater and I have both been super-busy with work, that just hasn’t happened. Every time I mention it to people I meet though, almost all of them say to keep the paint as-is, which I find interesting. I still think a respray is needed, but I’m keen to hear what you guys think – let me know in the comments.

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

Stefan Kotzé
Instagram: stefankotzemedia
[email protected]
www.stefankotze.com