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papamilad New Reader
1/2/20 2:57 p.m.

Hello! So I am going to attempt some double dipping in this year's challenge by still being a part of Wreck Racing but also bringing my newishly acquired financial mistake: a 1994 Lexus LS400 painted big baller gold (or grandpa beige if you are a philistine) with 132k miles for only $300.

So the story behind this car is that a gentlemen from Alabama was visiting family in Virginia when the car started giving him trouble on his way back in Tucker, GA, conveniently 20 minutes from where I live. After a mechanic shop couldn't diagnose the issue, he was forced to abandon it there and make his way back home. I saw it listed on facebook marketplace with a description listing off intermittent starting issues, hesitation, and a few check engine codes. The pictures weren't the best quality but I saw some potential so I did some investigating and saw that leaky capacitors inside the ECU is a common problem with these things and can cause all of the issues the seller listed. I contacted him to set up a time to see it but he was out of state and couldn't make it over to show me the car.

The next day I get a text from him saying his girlfriend was in the area for an hour to clean out the car with a title in hand and I could go see it now. However, I was at work so I couldn't just drop everything and go check it but he offered for me to cash app money for the car and have his girlfriend leave the title with the shop. So here's redflag number 1, buying a car sight unseen by sending someone money seemed like a pretty dumb idea, plus I didn't even have cashapp. But the car was so cheap I decided to call the girlfriend and we talked on the phone for a bit and after confirming their story with the shop the car was at I decided what the heck. I used venmo to send her $300 for the car but she 'accidentally' hit the long verification so it wouldn't go to her bank account for another few days. At this point I got a story of how her kid was with her and tired and she doesn't trust venmo and doesn't want to leave the title without knowing she has the money etc etc. Ultimately, she ended up leaving with the title and said she would ship it out when the money was verified. I was going to the shop tomorrow to pick up a car that I didn't legally own and wasn't really sure existed.

So here my dumbass is thinking I either just bought a stolen car or gave away $300. Redflag #2, that night I happened to stumble on the same car relisted by the girlfriend for $1000, time stamped after we had already had our exchange. I gave her a call again where she claimed that she had posted that before we talked, but I wasn't 100% on that one. But tomorrow comes by and we swing by the shop and there actually was a Lexus LS400 sitting there with the keys inside! It even fired right up and drove around pretty nice. Call AAA to come tow it back to my garage where it would wait until I got the title. I even ran a carfax on it and it wasn't stolen and it was accident free! So two weeks later they kept true to their word and I ended up getting the title and registering the car in my name. So thats my short novel on how I ignored every single rule of buying cars and ended up with a sweet 90's landyacht.


TL;DR bought car sight unseen via venmo, did lots of burnouts


It had seemingly zero issues at first: AC and heat worked perfect, stereo was amazing for the little aux-to-cassette thing it came with, and it was nice and quiet. But those engine codes the seller mentioned were there and eventually the car wouldn't start. I tore the ECU apart and sure enough, leaking capacitors. After ruining the stock ECU with my poor attempt at replacing the capacitors (which wasn't even the right ECU), I found a rebuilt ECU of the correct model for 90$. Popped it in and it started no problem. At this point I had just bought the car to flip so I decided I wanted to beat on it a little bit and have some fun, so I entered it in an upcoming rallycross for E36 M3s and giggles. However, this might have been my worst idea yet because it definitely caused me to fall in love with this thing. A friend and I were co-driving the car and the tires were in poor shape, to be generous (there was a different kind of tire on every corner, a summer tire, a winter tire, and two different all-seasons). I wasn't expecting much of the car, let alone for it to last the whole event. But not only did this thing stand up to 18 total runs of pure abuse (put it in L and held it wide open 80% of the time), it did so with zero issues and the AC on full blast the entire time. This thing was so damn comfy the whole time too, I've never been in a car you could chuck sideways on gravel and still feel like you are riding on a cloud. I felt extra smug watching the subarus have to make cool down laps after their runs or spray down their radiators with water while I sat in ice cold AC. I felt even more smug when I got the time sheet a little while later and found out I was faster than an STI in modified AWD, and two imprezas in prepared AWD (Proof!!!: http://www.atlantascca.org/Files/results/Rallycross/2019/points-05.html).


And so I had decided to keep it. The car wasn't without issues: a leaky sunroof, warped rotors, insane powersteering leaks (which ended up killing the alternator) and a stuck open thermostat caused the car to run pretty rich, which ended up clogging the cats, and the gauge cluster was plagued with the same leaky capacitor issue as the ECU. As the car currently sits, I have fixed all those issues and it is actually a pretty fun little daily driver. Which means its time to ruin it. 

The current build plan: swap in a manual transmission from a z32, make it dirt nasty low, cool livery and drive it down and have a good time and then hopefully drive it back up. will update with pictures as I progress on with the build.


Bonus exhaust clip because the 1UZ sounds amazing:


Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
1/2/20 3:02 p.m.

So, ever get a title? 

DjGreggieP Reader
1/2/20 5:11 p.m.

In the LH community (Intrepid's, Concorde's etc) we affectionately called that colour OMA or 'Old Man Almond'. Essentially invisible to most law enforcement officers. 

Looks like a fun project. In for updates! 

Justjim75 Dork
1/2/20 7:42 p.m.

Im in Montgomery and saw that car.  Texted about it too.  Glad it went to one of us 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
1/2/20 8:08 p.m.
Dusterbd13-michael said:

So, ever get a title? 

If you read the whole novel he got it and registered it and I think maybe used it to pick up chicks? Ok, so I got lost in there too. Sweet ride. 

spacecadet SuperDork
1/2/20 8:42 p.m.

Congrats on the purchase! 

sometimes.. these really good deals involve a little blind faith for them to happen. 


Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
1/2/20 8:47 p.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:
Dusterbd13-michael said:

So, ever get a title? 

If you read the whole novel he got it and registered it and I think maybe used it to pick up chicks? Ok, so I got lost in there too. Sweet ride. 

On the third  re-reading i finally saw the title! Awesome. And glad it worked out. 


Appleseed MegaDork
1/2/20 9:12 p.m.

Full Bosozuku?

mr2s2000elise Dork
1/2/20 9:16 p.m.


I have a set of ssr vienna from my LS and Megan coilovers 

Sonic UltraDork
1/2/20 9:20 p.m.

What's the plan for mating the 1uz to a z32 trans? 

papamilad New Reader
1/2/20 11:33 p.m.
mr2s2000elise said:


I have a set of ssr vienna from my LS and Megan coilovers 

I may be interested in the coils

papamilad New Reader
1/2/20 11:34 p.m.
Sonic said:

What's the plan for mating the 1uz to a z32 trans? 

Colin's makes an adapter plate but I might try to fab something up because 2000$

engiekev Reader
1/3/20 7:25 a.m.

VIP track build??

A fast as berkeley VIP sounds like a blast, something along the lines of the Toyota President's Century but GRM style:


ebelements Reader
1/3/20 4:06 p.m.

Damn dude, that's a steal. Mine is of similar vintage and mileage but I paid about a grand more. Was going to just drive it around stock and then get rid of it but kind of fell into the same boat as you. These first gen LS400s are easy to fall for.

Definitely on board for manual swap shenanigans! It's the one thing I haven't done to mine, might even get me to keep it for more than a few years.... 

papamilad New Reader
1/4/20 8:17 p.m.

Some gofast bits were acquired today

More trannys, more fun!


dculberson MegaDork
1/4/20 8:46 p.m.

I love me some LS400!

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy Dork
1/4/20 8:50 p.m.


Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
1/4/20 9:21 p.m.
papamilad said:

(or grandpa beige if you are a philistine)

A Philistine like Goliath?

maschinenbau SuperDork
1/5/20 4:46 p.m.

If you're already going to need a new driveshaft for the swap, you might as well shorten the whole chassis into a full-size 2 door coupe. You know, for weight savings. Because Challenge. I'll help.

papamilad New Reader
1/9/20 11:32 a.m.

In reply to maschinenbau :

Get your hair-brained, grinder-dust fueled ideas away from my beautiful land yacht


In other news, we are now dirty nasty low. Maxpeedingrods coilovers ride like the shocks are blown with damping set to full soft, looks sweet though

Andy Neuman
Andy Neuman SuperDork
1/9/20 11:49 a.m.


^My 2015 Challenge car.. for inspiration. Mustang wheels fit well 

Cooter UltraDork
1/9/20 11:53 a.m.
maschinenbau said:

If you're already going to need a new driveshaft for the swap, you might as well shorten the whole chassis into a full-size 2 door coupe. You know, for weight savings. Because Challenge. I'll help.

I'll send a pack of sawzall blades.*

*Sawsall not included  Image may not be representative of blades received.  Blades may or may not be used.   Blades probably will not be bent (very much)

papamilad New Reader
1/31/20 7:09 a.m.

Little teaser for the wheel setup

Had to max the coilovers to get that ride height lol. Plus the PO of these wheels had somead stretch on the wheels with a 3 inch smaller diameter than stock LS wheels. Exhaust literally sits on the ground.

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
1/31/20 8:03 a.m.

I love c4 sawblades pretty sure theres nothing they don't look good on.

1/31/20 8:34 a.m.

For the low price you got it at, you could still get a set of cams and stay within challenge budget...

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