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I've Removed Some Luxury From My Luxury Car

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author photo by William Byrd July 2017

I recently posited that the original Lexus IS300 is the perfect car. So great, in fact, that I went out and bought one I found here on Autotrader! Even better, I found a rare manual transmission IS in excellent condition. Now, you may or may not agree with the notion that it's automotive perfection (if you disagree, you're wrong). But regardless, if you're an enthusiast like myself, you'll agree that cars like this are too quiet from the factory. Wayyyy too quiet. So I had to liven things up a bit.

There are quite a few ways to make your car sound more aggressive -- and some will actually give you real power gains. For cost and simplicity's sake, I started with an axleback system. If you aren't familiar, it's like it sounds -- basically a bolt-on piece of kit that replaces the final 3 to 4 feet of the exhaust, from the axle back, complete with new muffler. It's a relatively simple upgrade that will give your car a throatier and deeper sound. it is especially simple if you have a mechanic friend with a lift and a shop full of tools.

With this normally aspirated inline-6, performance gains are likely non-existent, or at least not substantial. Once I start messing with the rest of the exhaust -- including the headers, midpipe, etc. -- that may change. But for now, I just wanted to make it a bit shoutier.

Enter HKS. A giant in the tuner industry, HKS was founded in 1973 by Hiroyuki Hasegawa and his partner Goichi Kitagawa. They ended up with some money from a company called Sigma Automotive. So it's likely that as "Hasegawa, Kitagawa & Sigma" were getting started, they realized they needed something snappier and easier to say, and HKS was born. Like many greats, they started in a shed (dairy in this case) but eventually began producing some of the first aftermarket turbocharger kits available. Fast-forward to 2017 and HKS has expanded to sell lots of go-fast parts -- including, you guessed it, exhausts.

I spent way too much time watching YouTube videos of various exhaust systems installed on the IS300. For various reasons, including cost, I was particularly sold on the the HKS Drager II axleback exhaust. HKS uses a slim-line muffler, designed for added clearance, which is pretty critical when using on a lowered car, which this is not. For now. It also has a bazooka of an exhaust tip, measuring a robust 120 millimeters, that even has room for an optional silencer insert to be used for additional exhaust noise suppression.

Why you would do that, I'm not sure.

We sourced ours from TH Motorsports for a very reasonable $355.46 shipped. But you're wondering: How does it sound? Being a 6, it's not tinny or buzzy, it has a nice deep baritone and if anything is a bit quiet. In particular, it really sings between 2500 and 4000 rotations per minute. But I'm spoiling all the good video content.

So, let's get to it shall we? Take a look at the installation video and initial review. This is the first of many mods to come on project IS300, so keep an eye on Oversteer for more. Oh, and post your suggestions for future mods in the comments below.

Lexus IS modifications

Lexus IS modifications

Lexus IS modifications

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
I've Removed Some Luxury From My Luxury Car - Autotrader