In my last Project LS update, I discontinued the custom stainless steel exhaust build – the first change of car. Next on the list were wheel options and getting the car off the ground, and that’s where we’ll pick things up today.

As I started to look at the LS 400s, I also began to take an internet deep dive into the changed examples. So it’s no surprise that my vision for this build comes from all the great VIP-style LS 400s and Celsiors (really the same thing) that have been touring Japan and the US.

Part of the appeal for many boys is the challenge required to drive less all the time, i.e. With a static coilover setup, but looking at the condition of our roads here in South Africa – potholes, speed bumps and fool-cornered driveways – I don’t think I will be able to deal with all those efforts or the risk of vehicle undercarriage damage. I really respect people who drive less in a static setup, but it doesn’t seem funny to me. And this is not.

The Air Ride was quite understandable, and fortunately, Speedhunters’ great partner, the Air Lift Performance Project, followed the LS and provided me with a complete system for the car.

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What’s great about airlift performance is their huge range of car-specific kits. The LS 400 has quite large followers – especially in the United States – they have an off-the-shelf system that can be fitted without any suspension changes.

First are the front and rear struts. These features include a double-bell bag, 30-level damp adjustment and threaded adjustable shock mount. The front allows you to descend 90 mm while the rear allows you to reduce the height to 125 mm.

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Airlift performance sent me a 3P manifold and everything that goes with it, including the harness and digital controller. The 3P system controls and monitors everything under pressure, which works great for the LS 400.

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Lastly, there is a lightweight FLO billet air tank, twin Viair 480C compressor for quick inflation and of course all the necessary airline.

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With part ready, it was time for installation. I handed this job over to my friends at The Loudown Co. They do some of the best work in South Africa, and I can’t wait to get into the belly of Project LS.

I stopped it for Stratten to start his magic work, but I couldn’t stick around because I had a pretty busy week. He promised a few updates along the way, but the next time I saw the car it would be the day the air ride was on.

According to Stratten, it was one of the easiest cars to have an air ride kit installed. The struts only needed to loosen a few bolts and then it was a matter of swapping them for brand new airlift performance. Unit

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Adjustable top mounts allow you to easily adjust the stiffness of the suspension, although you will need to remove the rear seat to access the rear parts. Fortunately, Stratten has set these up perfectly for me, so I haven’t felt the need to make any adjustments yet.

With the Lexus Stance and VIP being so popular in the scene, one of the first important pieces of information I found online was the need to have wire harness on both sides of the car when going down. Stratten already knew about this when I told him, so in the end my information was useless. But hey, it’s always good to be sure because a cut shoe will fail an epic.

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A few days later, Stratten gave me the call I had been waiting for – Project LS ready. I was so excited and was on my side because I had been waiting to see what this thing would look like since I picked it up.

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It may still be on the boards, but I wasn’t satisfied when I saw it spread out and pull the wheels.

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For now, the boot install is temporary. Autosound Gezina Abdul will be doing some custom work here soon and part of it will include the final display setup of Air Ride components.

I like these big cars, but Stratten likes them even more. This is his own Audi A8 project, which has seen some crazy work so far. I can’t wait to see it finished, but in between it’s great that Stratten can make other people’s dreams of less cars come true.

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Back to Project LS … When I was at The Loaddown Co., the wheels were removed a few times to allow clearance to be checked as the suspension propagated below and above, as this was still testing phase.

Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either. Quality, non-rip aftermarket wheels are hard to find in South Africa, so when I found these 19-inch Riverside Traffic Star STRs at a good price, I knew I could use them.

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Their current – weak – width is 8-inch front and 9-inch back, but after some measurements we have determined what they need to widen. For the front, I’ll actually use the 19 × 9-inch rears as they are It only allows 19 × 8-inch fronts to be used 19 × 11-inches wide at the rear. Zahid of The Wheel Shop Repairs and Customizing in Johannesburg – the man I first bought Riversides – will be rebuilding and completely rebuilding four wheels at the same time.

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I left the car with The Lowdown Co for a few more days so that Stratten could finish all the little things, calibrate the system and set the altitude for me.

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I picked up the old girl a few days later, and it was great to see her pushed out into the wild for the first time. With each step of construction, I fell in love with the car more and more.

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I’m convinced to drive as little as possible if you have a slammed car, and for this reason I knew that air would be the best way for me to fully enjoy Project LS. This is my second car on air, and for me, the look you get with it and the effectiveness of being able to drive on a speed bump without leaving half of your car behind is unbeatable.

Another thing I can’t believe is how smooth the ride is. The stock suspension of the LS 400 is like running a comfortable couch, but the airlift performance system rides better.

What I really like though is a wooden grain-finished controller to match my interior. I know they don’t exist, but I can dream, can I?

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Now that the airlift performance system is in place and working perfectly, Project LS is finally going for the paint. Looking at the bottom of the car though, I think we need to change the design of the exhaust to lift it up into the tunnel.

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The car is now without most of its interior, as Autosound Gezina has begun a full retreat. As you might expect, the seats have been in use for over 20 years and were quite worn from about 300,000 km

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In the next update I hope to see the paint options and be able to share the progress of wheel widening.


For now, it’s back to the stock wheels, which were recently renovated. I still have two thoughts on whether I should make my hub-centered spacers for them or step them up to 18-inches all-out. Either way, once you bring it down to this amount, how crazy a stock car can look is insane.

So to conclude this chapter, when I come up with the main reason for choosing air over coilovers for this build, I dig up the static look when I scrape the belly of a car, but I’m not quite ready for that level of pain. The wind was certainly the right way to follow.

Stefan Coates
Instagram: stefankotzemedia
[email protected]

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