July 31, 2013

Dark Lextasy: Lexus IS300

Debuted in 2000, the Lexus IS300 was a fresh appealing model in the luxury car segment to offer an alternative to the usual European offerings. In the past decade, there have been countless project builds of this awesome platform ranging from the slammed VIP-style better known in the Japanese show scene to high horsepower race machines stateside. This dark Lexus owned and built by Chris Kulbach of Trenton, Ontario is one which fits right in the middle of the spectrum and taking a path less traveled – in way of naturally aspirated goodness.

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It is no wonder as to why every major IS-build boasts a massive turbocharger under the hood, as it all comes down to the infamous 2JZ engine – albeit the USDM IS300 came with the 3.0-litre, inline-6, naturally aspirated version. The common first step with this car is to swap the meek engine for the one fitted into the Supra – a boosted version from factory. Kulbach did what most would consider insane and truthfully not worth it, he built his non-turbo motor. Surely the expectation with his ‘Lextasy’ was not to race it, but rather to have something that could keep up with the pack and still be unique enough to take home awards at shows across the country.

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Under the Seibon carbon fiber hood is a built 2JZGE engine boasting upgraded internals from Brian Crower (camshafts, valve springs, retainers, steel valves) and RP connecting rods matted to JE pistons. Air is forced via an AEM intake system that has been custom powered coated (along with most exposed pieces in the engine bay) while cooling is left to a Mishimoto rad for the engine and a cooler for the tranny. Letting the hot gasses out from this high compression NA engine is done through a set of custom headers that feeds out to a custom exhaust system. For added power an NX Express nitrous kit was fitted and trunk mounted. Although currently not fully tuned, the car is said to put out roughly 400 horsepower in high-revving form.

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For crucial engine vital read-outs Kulbach had created a custom 3-gauge pod where the factory passenger airbag once was and another above the center console. Fitted in these pods are Autometer Phantom series gauges for: volts, clock, oil pressure, acceleration, transmission temperature, and differential temperature. For the added show n’ shine points race, the headliner was wrapped in a graphite suede, accents painted in black and pillars wrapped in carbon fiber. For the shifter, it was an easy choice – more carbon fiber in way of a Mishimoto piece.

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On the inside of ‘Lextasy’ is all-business with a pair of Momo racing seats securing both driver and passenger during spirited drives and paired with a set of 5-point Takata harnesses. Tucked tightly in the cabin is a Cusco 6-point roll-cage adding to the race-boy feel of this build, but still functional should mayhem ever occur.

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For the rolling portion of the IS, a set of 18-inch TSW Cathridge wheels sized at 8-inches front and 9.5-inches at back set the tone wrapped in sticky Falken FK452 rubber. The stance of this beast is entrusted to a set of HSD 32-way adjustable coilovers while Cusco strut bars and braces tighten any lateral movement. For stopping power, Kulbach fitted StopTech cross drilled rotors and paired them to ceramic pads. For the time being, the factory brake calipers were powder coated Lexus gray with custom lettering on them.

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No project is complete without some in car entertainment otherwise known as ICE, especially an award winning show car such as this. Kulbach reached out to his sponsors once again for some help and they delivered. Two RE Audio amplifiers power a 12-inch subwoofer and speakers custom fitted throughout. A JVC double-din DVD head unit replaces the factory one and manages all signals and music / movie selection of choice. The trunk area has been custom built with an embossed “Lexus IS300” backing plate and trunk enclosure housing the subwoofer and aforementioned nitrous bottle.

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After nearly a year of building, Chris Kulbach’s dream of having a unique show quality Lexus IS300 has come true. There have been many ups and downs as well as variations throughout the process to get to this final reveal, but it was all worth it. Taking the road less travelled (by way of not going boosted or with an engine swap) is never an easy thing to do, but one that provides a higher sense of fulfillment. Without the support from his sponsors such as Mishimoto, Brian Crower, Nitrous Express, Cusco USA, RE Audio, and others this Lextasy would not be where it is. So what’s the moral of this story? Simple actually. Regardless of what the trends may be, always march to the beat of your own drum – even when the going gets tough – as dreams do come true, even naturally aspirated ones!

Words & Photos: Giancarlo Pawelec

The Specs

Chris Kulbach
Trenton, Ontario, Canada
2001 Lexus IS300
400 hp (Estimated)
Club / Team Affiliation: NINE-O-FIVE Rides and Team AMF


– Seibon Carbon Fiber Hood
– Extreme Dimensions Vertex Body Kit
– Hood Inserts (Powder Coated Anodized Blue)
– Carbon Fiber Roof and Hatched Wrapped
– Spyder Head Lights with Halos
– Aftermarket LED Tail Lights
– Blacked Lexus Emblem
– 8,000K HIDS Low Beams
– 10,000K HIDS High Beams
– Smoked Out Fog Lights
– 2-Tone Custom Paint Job
– Grills Painted Black
– APR GT3 Mirrors


– Takata 5 Point Harnesses
– Momo Racing Seats
– Mid Custom Roll Cage (Arms Powder Coated Anodized Blue)
– Painted Grey Interior Pieces
– Mishimoto Carbon Fiber Shifter
– Custom 3 Center Gauge Pod
– Custom 3 Airbag Gauge Pod
– Cusco 6 point Safety 21 Roll Cage
– Cusco Carbon Fiber Support Bars
– 2 Autometer Single Gauge Pods
– Autometer Phantom Clock Gauge
– Autometer Phantom Volts
– Autometer Phantom Oil Pressure Gauge
– Autometer Phantom Acceleration Gauge
– Autometer Phantom Transmission Temperature Gauge
– Autometer Phantom Differential Temperature Gauge
– AEM Wideband Air/Fuel Digital Gauge
– A & C Pillars Carbon Fiber Wrap
– B Pillar Wraped In Black Vinyl
– Roof Wrapped in Graphite Suede
– Roof Accent Pieces Painted Black

In Car Entertainment

– RE Audio DTS 500.2 Amp
– RE Audio DTS 500.4 Amp
– RE Audio REX 12″ Subwoofer
– RE Audio REX 6″ x 9″ Speakers
– Two (2) RE Audio 5.25″ Speakers
– Tsunami 0 Gauge Wiring Kit
– Tsunami Capacitor
– JVC Doubled In DVD Player
– NX Express Purge Kit
– NX Express 10 lbs Bottle
– Trunk Pieces wrapped in Black Vinyl
– Trunk Pieces wrapped in Blue Suede
– Custom Trunk Backing Plate With Lexus IS300 & Emblem
– Custom Trunk Encloser

Wheels | Tires | Brakes | Suspension

– (F) 18″ x 8″ TSW Cathridge Rims
– (R) 18″ x 9.5″ TSW Cathridge Rims

– (F) 215/40ZR18 Falken FK452
– (R) 235/40ZR18 Falken FK452

– Stoptech Cross Drilled Rotors (Powder Coated Anodized Blue)
– Ceramic Brake Pads
– (F) Calipers (Lexus Lettering and Emblems)
– (R) Calipers (Powder Coated Lexus Grey)

– HSD 32-way Adjustable Coilovers
– Front & Rear Strut Bars (Powder Coated Anodized Blue)
– Front Strut Bar Braces (Powder Coated Mercedes-Benz Black)
– Front Lower Support Bars (Powdercoated Anodiezed Blue)
– Figs Mega Rear Control Arms
– Sway Bar (Powder Coated Anodized Blue)


– Lexus 2JZGE Engine
– Supra TT Head Gasket Kit
– ARP Headstud Kit
– AmsOil Filters & Synthetic Fluid (Oil & Tranny)
– AmsOil Air Filter
– Mishimoto Rad Hoses
– Mishimoto Clamps
– Mishimoto Aftermarket Rad
– Two (2) Mishimoto Fans
– Brian Crower BC0301 Camshafts
– Brian Crower BC0300 Spring & Retainer Kit
– Brian Crower Cam Gears
– Brian Crower BC3300 Intake 33.6mm Steel Valves
– Brian Crower BC3301 Exhaust 29.0mm Steel Valves
– RP BC6309  Connecting Rods
– JE Pistons JE252059
– AEM Intake (Powder Coated Anodized Blue)
– Valve Covers (Powder Coated Anodized Blue)
– Fuel Rail (Powder Coated Anodized Blue)
– Intake Manifold from Head (Powder Coated Mercedes Black)
– Engine Hook (Powder Coated Mercedes Black)
– Throttle Body Line Bracket (Powder Coated Mercedes Black)
– Aftermarket Transmission Cooler
– Custom Headers
– Alternator & AC Aluminum Polished Pulleys
– Brackets & Braces (Powder Coated Anodized Blue)

Special Thanks

– All my sponsors who have been helping and working with me throughout this year and how long this build had taken before it came out to unveil, some great new companies I will be working with and great people. Also to the sponsors who have been helping me towards next year and the big plans that are being put into action as we speak. Special thanks to my mom, this build is in memory of you! Also to my girlfriend and my little guy who enjoy letting me do what I love to do.

– Mishimoto
– Brian Crower
– Nitrous Express
– Cusco USA
– RE Audio
– Bullet Autographics
– TCM Graphics

Future Modifications

– Greddy E-Manage Ultimate System
– HT Racing Tuning
– Boomslang Adapter Kit
– 3-Bar Map Sensors
– Header Heat Wrapped
– QTP 3″ Dump
– 3″ Custom Exhaust
– ARP Head Studs
– NX Nitrous Express Front Mount Purge Kit for Intercooler
– Intercooler Piping Custom Fitted and Welded Solid
– Greddy Timing Belt
– Greddy Turbo Timer
– AN Fittings and Stainless Steel Lines
– Turbo Oil Feed + Drain Line Stainless Steel
– Full Custom Turbo Kit
– Precison Ball Bearing Turbo
– Tial BOV
– 46mm Tial Wastegate
– 800cc Injectors
– Mishimoto Intercooler
– Mishimoto Power Steering Resivor
– Mishimoto Oil Catch Can
– Mishimoto Front Rad Cover
– Brian Crower Intake 34.6mm Steel Valves
– Brian Crower Exhaust 30.0mm Steel Valves
– Brian Crower Spring & Retainer Kit
– Brian Crower Camshafts
– ARP Fasteners
– ARP Connection Rods
– JE Pistons
– Relocate Battery
– Upgraded Valves for Transmission

June 17, 2013

Niagara Tuner & Truck Expo 2013

Niagara Tuner & Truck Expo 2013
Fireman’s Park
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
June 16th, 2013

Bright and early with signs of rain is what started off the drive to Niagara Falls for the 3rd annual Niagara Tuner & Truck Expo presented by NINE-O-FIVE Rides. With a venue change this year to Fireman’s Park, cars began rolling in at 9am despite the gloomy and wet conditions. The show unlike others in the Canadian scene (or that of North America) truly encompassed everything automotive with open gates to all makes and models – from tuners, slammed trucks, rat rods, lifted trucks, some classics, and a few high-dollar sports cars thrown in the mix. Throughout the day there would be various competitions not commonly found at car events ranging from a “loudest blow-off valve” to a “vehicle limbo”.

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Even though the sky was grey with on and off showers, that didn’t keep even the lowest of low vehicles from parking up at the show ‘n shine. Trucks might not be a common theme for us at AMF, but a new found appreciation for them was surely had.

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Even these two lifted brutes parked up for everyone’s amazement. It’s not everyday you get to see a monster-truck like these pair of Dodge Rams.

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By noon the Fish & Chips truck was starting to get packed and the gloomy sky went away along with the rain – thank you car gods!

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As if it were a recipe for success, the sun came out and with it everyone’s spirits were lifted. The TNT Expo crew were all smiles and struck a pose with their feature model Miss Tiffany (of SabreUp).

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One of the coolest competitions I’ve ever witnessed was a “loudest exhaust” battle. Surely most of all the cars at the show had modified engines and exhausts, but which one could shake people’s bones? The usual 4-cylinder tuners did their best, but it was the big American V8 engines that produced the rumble which made the difference. Worthy to note that a beige rat rod running straight pipes is what made people bow down in respect… that thing was loud!

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Over at the show ‘n shine competition, there was a huge mix of cars from the mild to the wild and even completely insane. This matte army green paint E36 BMW might not have had a big supercharged engine under the hood or rocking concave wheels, but the simplicity of it is what caught everyone’s attention – true originality.

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For the Ford fans, there was an exhibitor who showcased two BOSS 302 Mustangs… both of which are for sale. This black with red specimen was a fan favorite and who could argue that?

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Completely out-of-the-box is what best describes this Pontiac Sunfire. Sure it might not be the poster-car for gear heads, but the concept behind all things comic heros was pretty cool. So you have a sticker bombed front lip? Ya, this guy trumped you.

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A competition that few have ever witnessed, but somehow should be at ever event was the “loudest blow-off valve” battle. A slew of cars rolled up to show off their engine whistle ranging from a Dodge SRT4, a supercharged BMW M3, and an SR20-powered 240SX. Surprisingly, the 240SX took the win with its HKS SSQV blow-off valve making the other competitors shy away.

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Our lovely AMF models were taking pics all day long with fans. On the left is our feature model Miss Melissa Danielle and on the right is a fresh face, Miss Kiana. No sexy Subaru GC8s were harmed in the photo – thanks Dan!

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Apparently having a “vehicle limbo” is common in the truck world, but a first for me. Just like a normal limbo, trucks would line up and attempt to pass under the bar which gets lowered with each round until the term “how low can you go” meets its mark.

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This little blue Mazda truck was by far the lowest of the bunch, practically crawling on the grass with each and every pass. Who would have thought that an air ride-fitted truck could get this low?

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Next up were the cars to show what they can do. This MR2 was low and stanced in all the right ways, but compared to the competition it was a tough battle to be had.

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Even this Miata had a hard time getting through the last few rounds and having people weighing down the car didn’t seem to do much near the end, but was worth a good laugh for everyone. Hooning – yup, these guys were all about it.

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Back at the show ‘n shine, we spotted this CSCS winner from the Season Opener. The supercharged E46 M3 running some wild BMW Art Car racing livery. We hope to feature this beast in the coming weeks, so be sure to stay tuned!

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One of the cleanest and nicest Mazda3 hatches at the event rocking some gold wheels on that fresh red paint that popped once the sun came out.

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This Porsche GT3 popped in during the end of the day and naturally, everyone had their jaw on the floor. Who doesn’t love a die-hard supercar like this?

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Nearing the end of the day, it was time for some lovely ladies to suit up in bikinis for a stage show that somehow always makes fans into photographers… LOL! Bikini contest – who doesn’t love it?

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The awards ceremony was fast approaching as the judges tallied up the results. Trophies would be given to the various classes ranging from the SPL competition to show ‘n shine for trucks, cars, and all else.

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On stage handing out each and every award were the beautiful models from AMF – Melissa Danielle – and TNT Expo – Tiffany. Such lovely ladies and such lovely smiles!

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Congratulations to all the winners this year including notable mentions to the Nokturnal car club for biggest representation!

With what started off to be a shaky day due to rainy weather soon turned to a sun-filled day full of good people, good times, and great competitions throughout the day. We are delighted to be the official media partner for this event and look forward to watching it grow for years to come! A big shout out to NINE-O-FIVE Rides for putting together a great event, all the sponsors for their support, and lastly the enthusiasts for making it what it is – without you, there is no show. Be sure to check out the gallery complete with nearly 500 photos covering every part of the event.

For more information, please visit Niagara Tuner & Truck Expo

Words & Photos: Giancarlo Pawelec


August 22, 2012

TORQUE Modified 2012

TORQUE Modified 2012
Canlan Ice Sports
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
August 19th, 2012

The first ever TORQUE Modified Custom Car & Truck Show kicked off on a very sunny and humid Sunday bringing hundreds from across Ontario to a quaint lakeside location in Oshawa, Ontario. As expected there were an assortment of unique rides, onsite vendors, a live DJ, and lots of food!

By far the best part of the show was the awards display. Surely no show would be complete without the typical trophy display, but TORQUE did things different creating custom one-off creations using real automotive related items welded and powder coated together. A unique and truly successful concept – one of which everyone enjoyed not only for not checking it out, but taking home!

The always pleasing JDM-goodness from the OptionJDM crew in way of a Mugen RR Honda Civic. Gotta love the AMF representation on the headlight! Kudos!

A different take on customization with this older gen Civic hatch. Tons of airbrush work, clear-out headlights, chrome rims, and air ride suspension. This style might not be for everyone, but it is surely unique in its own right.

The slammed and meanest looking Toyota Celica quite possibly in all of Canada from Tom Wilga of NINE-O-FIVE Rides. See that TRD supercharger? Ya, this beast is boosted!

An awesome looking BMW 3-series rocking some custom orange paint, carbon fiber bits, and air ride suspension from the Dark Angels crew.

For the Euro fans, there were a handful of vintage Volkswagen Beetles scattered about. This yellow and one two-tone looked beautiful with its chrome touches and fresh paint.

John Wakely of Team AMF and his unique green STi were rocking it out representing NEO Motorsport. This is by far one of the hottest cars in the Canadian tuner scene and will soon be hitting the pages of leading tuner mags – so be sure to check it out.

For those looking to get some frustration out, Standard Auto Wreckers had some “Fresh Road Kill” ready for anyone willing to muster up the courage for a smashy-smashy experience. Pay the small fee, grab a sledgehammer, and go to town on this beater!

The lot of cars were a mixed bag from OEM+ styling to widebody creations like this orange Mazda gem.

Even the lowdown truck crowd showed up with their suicide-style door Chevy pickup trucks sitting low.

Pink Civic or blue RSX – tough choice. Regardless of one’s pick, TORQUE brought out all kinds of tuners from the clean JDM-style to the more radical stateside creations.

Needing some parts for your ride? The assortment of vendors at the show were impressive. You could essentially pick up tons of parts for your car, get it vinyl wrapped, and anything else all at the show.

Pumping out the tunes throughout the hot day was DJ Lady Coleco… be sure to check out her at upcoming events!

The raffle table was packed full of goodies from various sponsors like Shining Monkey, NGK, FAST wheels, and many others.

For an inaugural show, TORQUE Modified set the standard high with hundreds of cars and participants coming out to show their support from across Ontario – even as far away as Niagara Falls, a 2+ hour drive! We can only imagine how much bigger next year’s event will be and for that, a new venue will have to be secured… but that’s a good thing! Be sure to check them out online and register for next year as it will once again be a huge success. Congratulations to all the winners including those that won the custom one-off TORQUE trophies – lucky folks!

For more information, please visit TORQUE Modified

Words & Photos: Giancarlo Pawelec


September 21, 2011

Nine-O-Five Rides

Throughout the 2011 car show and track season, there has been a bunch of crazy guys that I’ve bumped into time and time again with not only a diverse field of vehicles, but also the most upbeat spirit that I’ve ever met. Although mostly known in the Southern region of Ontario, Canada, the Nine-O-Five Rides crew has been hitting it big this season attending every possible show and meet in the province of Ontario – ya, no joke. It is with much pleasure that I present to you this car club feature on Nine-O-Five Rides.

Car Club / Team Name: NINE-O-FIVE RIDES
Year Established:
Social Media Sites:
Nine-O-Five Rides Facebook | Nine-O-Five Rides Twitter
Locations / Chapters: Niagara Region, Greater Toronto Area, and USA
Number of Members:
President / Founder:
Tom Wilga
Sponsors: Auto Styling Niagara, RTM Racing, The Card Man, DC Auto Spa, Tire Discounter Auto Center, Advantage Paintless Dent Repair

Club / Team’s History: In the beginning, we had no idea that Nine-O-Five Rides would quickly become one of the scenes leading car clubs. With a starting member base of about 10, we expected to have a lower member count. Once members started to come onboard, the club started to branch out to other ‘chapters’ like Hamilton, GTA, Barrie and even Buffalo. Being in our 4th year, our club has been able to secure a strong member base, compete in some of Canada’s biggest shows as a team, host a VERY successful show and we’ve managed to stir up a new hype for the car scene in the Niagara Region.

Club / Team’s Focus: We base our club on respect. Respecting members, other clubs, and of course each others rides.

Awards & Accomplishments: In the past 3 years since the club has been in the scene, we’ve achieved over 75 awards including 1st-3rd place ‘in-class’ awards, specialty awards, Largest Club and Best of Show.

Media Coverage: A number of our rides have been featured in Performance Auto and Sound; Stance is Everything; and other popular publications.

Shows Attended: CSCS, Tuner’s Against Street Racing, IMPORTFEST, Import Expo, Tuner Trial Series, Voice Coil Meltdown, Battle at the Border, Other local shows

Organized Meet Location: Part Source 6812 Lundy’s Lane, Niagara Falls, Ontario – EVERY SUNDAY NIGHT @ 8:00pm

Membership / Modeling Details: Free to join. Premium membership available!  If you’re interested in becoming a NOFR Girl, send an email to modelscout@nine-o-fiverides.com

Club / Team Vehicles: We welcome any make or model of vehicle, including street bikes.

Club / Team’s Future: Niagara Tuner & Truck Expo 2012!

Unlike other car clubs / teams that boast uniformity be it with all members owning JDM vehicles or all vehicles being of the same colour, the Nine-O-Five Rides crew does not discriminate in any way. Take this “show team” sample from their crew, vehicles range from a slammed S2000 to a Euro-tuned BMW to a modified Pontiac Grand-Am. Whether you’re into the show or go, the Nine-O-Five Rides appreciates all things automotive and for this reason (among many others), I give them big KUDOS!

For more information, please visit www.nine-o-fiverides.com

Words & Photos: Giancarlo Pawelec