Lexus Custom Build
by Steven Chupnick
Carmakers love showing off their latest concept cars at auto shows. And most concept cars come out of specialty shops in southern California. Well we found one on the east coast, in Pennsylvania, that was charged with putting a custom spin on a new Lexus CT200h Hybrid headed for the New York auto show. So we sent our over the edge guy Stephen Chupnick to see what it takes to go from stock to show.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: Lexus knew exactly what they wanted to do with their latest hybrid. They turned to Fox marketing to give them a boost.
BRIAN FOX: I said man, it looks really good, but it should definitely be faster. It's great. It's got 43 miles to the gallon, but to me it's too slow.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: Back in November 2010, Brian and Lexus discussed his ideas for customizing their new gas electric hybrid. They agreed to add an eton supercharger to the stock 1.8 liter 4 cylinder to boost total hybrid output from 134 to over 300 serious horsepower.
BRIAN FOX: If you get great gas mileage and you know you can take it to the track.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: Then they dropped a bombshell on him. Lexus told Brian they wanted the car for the New York International Auto Show. A welcomed challenge for Brian and his team.
BRIAN FOX: It's an honor, number one, to even be at a level to be able to even build a car. You know I'm an enthusiast. I'm just like everyone else. I'm just living a dream every day.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: Other engine mods are a climax intake manifold and a Yanaka air to water intercooler. The exterior got a custom overhaul as well. I4's concove insight 20 inch wheels and Toya T1R tires.
BRIAN FOX: Let's try and push the element of it. Let's push performance, and the aftermarket's very important to a lot of enthusiast out there.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: Brian put in L.E.D. Lexus logos in the interior door panels as well as Yonako ronin black leather racing seats. But the CT200 hybrid was designed to be an environmentally friendly sport luxury car. Throughout the build process, Brian wanted to keep that aspect up.
BRIAN FOX: A lot of the materials I am trying to use in this new CT project are recycled materials. You know, the wheels, you know, stuff like that. Materials, metals, whatever I could get my hands on.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: That thinking also came into play with the paint. Brian chose the charisma cinnamon quartz pearl and black color from BASF's water born line.
ROGER SIPE: That color is made up of about eight, seven or eight, different toners. It's like a recipe. When you go to make a pie or a cake, there's a recipe you follow to make the end result. Such is the same with color.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: And so we headed up to the paint shop, R Miller Auto Body, to check out some of the final touches being put on this custom car.
RYAN MILLER: A lot of times when we spray these colors, it's pretty much once and done. I mean, rarely that you get to do the same color twice. You usually pick a variant or an alternate of that color to keep every job literally one off and customs.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: Some seven layers of primer and paint are sprayed on each part of the car to get that perfect look. Brian was brave enough to let me get in the booth and have my hand at the spray. Even though he gave me a very stern warning before going in.
BRIAN FOX: Hopefully you're not making a mistake on my car. I wouldn't like that because if it shows up in New York and then the door jams don't match the rest of my color, I'm blaming you. Ok?
STEVEN CHUPNICK: So we've just got the base coats on, it's time to get that sweet candy red going. Ryan, what do you think?
RYAN MILLER: I'm ready to go, are you?
STEVEN CHUPNICK: I'm certainly ready. So how does this thing work?
RYAN MILLER: Well pretty simple. First of all, let's start by putting our masks on.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: Ok.
RYAN MILLER: Pretty much 6 to 8 inches away. Point and Pull. I'll try to help guide you here.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: Ok, maybe I shouldn't count on customizing as being a second career. And fortunately for me, the CT200 shined at the Lexus booth. So average joe Brian Fox turned a hobby into his career. And boy did it pay off to show off.