2001 Lexus IS300 – Natural Selection


The story of how this IS300 came into existence may be one that many of us can relate. Charls Monasterio was only 16 yrs old when he purchased his first car, a Honda CRX. The year was 1998, and import drag racing was at the height of its popularity. Charls and his friends quickly immersed themselves into the world of B-Series swaps and quarter-mile passes at Sacramento Raceway. This exciting lifestyle was not without its risks, however, which became painfully apparent one morning as Charls stepped outside his house for an empty driveway. After considering every other possible scenario–did he visit a party the night time before by leaving the car with a friend’s house, or perhaps this became some sort of prank–he faced the cold, hard truth. His car had been stolen. Due to necessity, Charls bought another car–an Integra this time, swapped in a Type R head and went back to the dragstrip. The CRX was never recovered.

As time passed, his tight-knit group of friends slowly grew apart; careers and families took precedence over 60-foot trap and times speeds. Trips to car meets, the ‘strip, and general car-guy stuff became rare occasions and eventually nonexistent. Charls found himself listing his Integra up for sale in hopes which he could find something a bit more reasonable to daily drive. In the case reasonable came by means of a ’01 IS300. The IS300 was a car that Charls admired for some time, an ideal blend of sporty and luxury in his eyes. A clean car was located locally in San Jose, and Charls met the seller halfway in the east Bay Area. The car examineda vehicle is something which is not easily forgotten. With performance low on his list of priorities, Charls managed to concentrate on the appearance of his car. It was not long after purchasing the car that a set of coilovers was ordered. The smooth ride just slightly more aggressive than what the stock valving and spring rates provided sealed the sale, although tein Basics suit you perfectly perfectly–a changeable ride height may have been the key reason for this modification. Keeping with the casual nature of this build, driveability was always considered when making purchases. With that in mind, a pair of wheels slightly wider than stock as well as a Wald lip kit were ordered and installed. The car was complete, a light yet stylish mode of personal transportation that was reliable, easy to drive, and required no more upkeep than some other IS300.

The low stress lifestyle of driving such a car can be a breath of fresh air to some, and Charls was no exception. He was, for the most part, content. He was able to focus much more about his job as a wireless consultant, take more time to take pleasure from his other hobbies and enjoy the Bay Area nightlife. All of that changed when he ran right into a familiar face, Lloyd Morales. Morales was an old friend from Charls’ drag racing days; that they had been in exactly the same car club, and their friendship was quickly rekindled. Morales had also stayed an automobile enthusiast and was still active in the scene, though he had made the transition from racing to showing his car. Charls and Morales fell back into their old groove, spending more time collectively and other car enthusiasts. Through Morales, Charls made new friends, started attending car meets again, and became acquainted withthe vehicle that he had put as well as a focus on simplicity started looking a bit lackluster; the convenience of driving it anywhere became boring and uneventful. Charls began to see his IS300 in a new light, being a blank canvas once again. The first parts to be replaced were the wheels. Although the current set was really a considerable improvement over stock, they lacked the character and individuality that a more aggressive set will bring to the car. Charls decided on a set of 18×9.10 and 5.5 Work Meister S1Rs in a bronze finish, the aggressive sizing did have to have the fenders to get rolled and slightly pulled but, through the help of TNT Autobody, proved to be a straightforward task. To higher suit the wider stance of the car, an order was placed for a full Vertex body kit. When the full bumper replacement kit arrived in Sacramento it was immediately installed. Instead of paint his new bumpers and side skirts to match the car, Charls opted for a full color change. Sunset Bronze Mica from the Toyota Venza was chosen to keep it in the Toyota family, so to speak.

Charls has spent the last several years enjoying his car whenever you can. When it were developed for speed, while you won’t view it on the track or the ‘strip, it is plain to see it brings just as much joy on the owner as. Successfully adapting a passion to suit one’s changing lifestyle is a skill that many attempt and few accomplish. If we stop going out of our way to keep this passion alive, it’s all too simple to forget exactly how much something as simple as enjoying cars could mean to an individual, especially. Luckily for Charls, his friends and perhaps some chance allowed him to reconnect with the side of himself that created such beautiful and unique machines. Charls shared with us that seeing that he has a 2nd car (another IS-this time a 250) he plans on replacing the aging 2JZ; he just hasn’t visit a final decision. He is tossing around the notion of a 2JZ-GTE or even an LS1 swap. Either way, he or she is set on the manual transmission. Perhaps some things never change after all.