I'll be the first to admit...when widebody conversions first started catching on from the likes of RWB, Rocket Bunny, and Liberty Walk, I wasn't the biggest fan. Coming from the departed eurotuner magazine, I had been accustomed to countless high-quality show/street builds that featured seamlessly pulled arches using metal extensions or aftermarket fenders molded onto the body, without the use of rivets or screws. For motorsport applications, I get it... the use of rivets is much more functional when it comes to replacing fenders or other body panels in the field; however, for daily drivers or trailer queen cars, it just never clicked for me. Fast-forward to today and riveted over-fenders are everywhere, from the BRZ parked in your neighbor's driveway to the Ferraris and Lamborghinis that dominate the main stage of SEMA. I've grown to appreciate its heritage and the style with time, despite it being whored out over the last few years. But a tiny part of me still prefers a smooth body, which is exactly why I opted to have the Rocket Bunny flares molded to our Scion Tuner Challenge FR-S in '14, and why James Pepion followed suit with this Lexus RC F.
James hails from the Pacific Northwest and has been an avid Japanese car enthusiast for years. Like many car builders, our dream is to build a vehicle worthy of being displayed at SEMA. But if you don't even work in the industry, it's not the easiest task, let alone being able to apply for a badge to attend. But James was persistent, did his research, and after seeing our yellow FR-S (Vol. 19, No. 5), it was clear to him what he had to do.
Using the same partner we used for our Tuner Challenge car, he shipped his Lexus coupe to LTMW in Southern California, where it was transformed from zero to hero. A parts list for a SEMA show car was ordered and installed—everything from the Air Lift suspension, big brakes, and a rollcage to Recaro Sportster CS seats, a custom carbon rear seat delete, and an extravagant stereo system.
Upgrading Lexus' 467hp 5.0L V-8 wasn't a top priority; however, that didn't stop James from getting his hands on Novel headers and exhaust imported from Japan. And speaking of Novel, James made sure to add the company's sick carbon-fiber rear diffuser as well.
At the end of the day, the bread and butter of the RC F is the exterior, and there was nothing as aggressive and recognizable as Kei Miura's Pandem widebody kit. The Pandem line is the successor to Rocket Bunny and features a slightly more bulbous and boxy design as opposed to curvy. And, of course, with the help of LTMW, you won't find any rivets, screws, or gaps. All the holes were filled and the fenders molded to the body, which resulted in the smoothest Lexus RC around.
When James' RC F broke out at SEMA '15, he scored a prime-time spot at the Zito Wheels booth. Since then, he's done small updates here and there, such as changing out the wheels to forged three-piece rollers from Rotiform, as well as adding FIGS Engineering suspension upgrades. James concluded, "The car started as a SEMA project but has since become a two-year obsession for perfection. I want everyone to know how amazing a smooth body is and that everyone should do molded instead of rivets!"