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

LS project: a start-up installation, an interior refresh and work on the wheels

It’s been such a whirlwind year it feels like an eternity since Project LS received its Air Lift Performance air suspension installation. Truth be told, it’s also been a while since the interior refit and audio setup I’m about to share with you today was completed, but we’re finally there.

Since the Air Lift kit was installed by the guys at The Lowdown Co. a few months ago, I’ve gotten quite a few miles on the Lexus. I have to say it was very nice too. The LS now rides much better than on the stock suspension, and even with its flaky, faded paint and seen as better days, the amount of attention the car receives is incredible. And that’s before I smack it on the stomach when I park anywhere.

For this last round of updates, I dropped LS project off at Autosound Gezina, where Abdul and his team would take care of a custom audio installation and freshen up the stock interior.

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As for the boot install, I gave Abdul free rein. I knew he already had ideas in mind, and his work is second to none, so my car was definitely in good hands.

First the stock trim panels and spare wheel had to be removed, then the guys at Abdul started simulating the enclosure.

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Next, the rear shelf was cut out to create openings for the subwoofers to pass through. The preferred route would have been through the rear seat center console, but in the LS 400 that’s where the fuel tank is.

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Prior to installation, my VW Caddy had been restocked and sold, meaning I could reuse all of its Rockford Fosgate audio gear in Lexus. To this I added an additional subwoofer as well as other small items like soundproofing and new wiring.

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While the audio installation was completed, the seats, steering wheel, shift knob and center console were removed from the car so they could be readjusted.

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We decided to use genuine leather in a similar color to the original Lexus material to match the rest of the interior as closely as possible. For a personalized touch, a diamond stitch pattern has been added to the center of the seats.

The car sat with Autosound Gezina for a few weeks, so when I finally got the call from Abdul saying it was all over, my excitement level was at an all time high.

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Seeing the installation for the first time, I was totally blown away. I never would have thought that the big boot of this old tank could be so elegant.

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

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Then there are also the dual Viair compressors and 5-gallon FLO tank with custom hardlines. Abdul wanted to keep the design sleek, so opting for leather throughout and silver air vents with black accents.

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To finish, the side panels each contain an infinity mirror with the Autosound Gezina logo in ghost effect and LED lighting.

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The audio system looks and sounds great, and the presentation of the air suspension system is just icing on the cake. I don’t regret for a second that I left the whole design process to Abdul, because the result is much better than I could have imagined.

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Sliding in, the reupholstered seats are exactly as I hoped. The color matches perfectly with all the intact interior parts like the dashboard, door panels and roof liner, and with the new upholstery they are so comfortable.

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

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I decided to keep the original steering wheel, but had it recut 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 a lot more control 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 Riverside Trafficstar STR 2 piece wheels which I purchased a short time ago.

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

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I also don’t know if this will be the final color of the wheels, but I certainly feel them a lot more now than when I got them. Options for quality new and used (read: non-replica) 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 have to say I’ve enjoyed every step of the build process so far. The Lexus has so much more character now, and even with its rough exterior, it’s my favorite car to drive. I thought maybe I had already repainted it, but since my panel beater and I were both very busy with work, that just didn’t happen. Whenever I talk to people I meet about it, almost everyone says to keep the paint as is, which I find interesting. I still think a new paint job is needed, but I can’t wait to hear what you think – let me know in the comments.

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

Stefan Kotze
Instagram: stefankotzemedia

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