It might seem like a strange swap, but it's a car I've always wanted, and as the prices for them have come down quite a bit recently, it seemed the right time to get into one. So here she is, a totally stock 2011 model with 49,000km and I'm the third owner.
The model history of the IS-F is a little confusing. When it came out in 2008, every car magazine in the world seemed to do a comparison test against the BMW M3 and the AMG C63. And the general vibe was that it was a good car, but the German pair were preferable. Criticisms of the IS-F mainly centered around the rough ride and less polished handling compared to its rivals. And in terms of speed, it was roughly in between the Beemer and the Benz.
That was it for a while, and the IS-F wouldn't reappear in car magazines again until 2012, when it was said to have received a big update, and finally, some magazines would say that the IS-F had caught up. That tends to make the 2012 and later models the desirable ones (and the market prices reflect that) but the reality is a little more complicated.
For 2008 and 2009, the IS-F was unchanged. But in 2010, the e-diff was replaced by a torsen LSD, which Lexus said at the time, was worth a 2 second a lap improvement around Fuji Circuit. The e-diff was really a very weak clutch-type LSD...well, sort of. It was a regular open diff, but with some conical springs preloading the side gears; this had the effect of creating a little internal friction, enough to impart a very, very mild lsd effect. Most of the work was done by braking the inside wheel, which sent the torque to the outside tyre. So the 2010 model having a proper LSD is a desirable for this reason alone. It still has the very firm suspension, but if you were going to replace them with coilovers anyway, that didn't matter.
In 2011, there was quite a big update, revolving mostly around the suspension. The Tokico shocks were firmed up, the springs were softened, and the sway bars were made thicker. The front suspension scored new lower arms and uprights to change the geometry, and the rear suspension scored stiffer bushes and more negative camber. The ride was now softer and the handling more compliant. The power steering (always electric since 2008) got a new ecu that made the steering lighter. And the other change was the instrument cluster, which replaced the conventional speedo/tach combo with an LF-A esque cluster with a huge central tach and a tiny little speedo next to it.
And then in 2012, the Tokico shocks were replaced by Sachs units which promised a better low speed ride, and the BBS-made "Katana" wheels were replaced by more conventional looking BBS spoked wheels. There's a big price jump between the older models and the 2012-14 models, but if you had to choose an older one...the 2011 model seemed a good compromise to me. As luck would have it, the very first car I looked at, on the very first week of looking...was a blue MY11.
It was immaculate, and the price was right, so I didn't have any qualms about buying that first car. Now, the quirk about the 2011 models, is that quite a few of them were optioned with the Alpine White leather interior...
...not my first choice, but the car's previous owners had done a good job of keeping the seats clean. But the first thing I wanted to detail, was to get the seats as clean as possible, and then seal them. And here and there, there was a bit of ingrained dirt...
...that would have to be dealt with first.
First step is to give the seats a good scrub with Gyeon Leather Cleaner, which I spritz onto the leather and then work with a soft brush
The cleaner lathers up a little, and the foam comes off grey and dirty.
And it does work...here and there I'd miss a spot and it would be quite obvious.
After the leather's all nice and clean, the next step is to apply Gyeon Leather Coat, which repels water and dirt, so it should help keep the seats cleaner for longer.
The end result was pretty good, all the ingrained dirt was gone
And the Gyeon Coat leaves the leather with a nice matte finish.
It worked a treat on the steering wheel, which was a bit shiny from one in places.
But overall the car's in really good condition.
The kickpanels and scuff plates are all unscuffed, and still had the protective plastic sticker on them (which I've since removed)
And the body is pretty much unmarked, and not much in the way of swirls either.
And what's it like to drive? Well initially it seems a little too tame, and doesn't seem like a monster straining at the leash at all. Driving normally, it's very quiet, there's very little exterior noise that makes it into the cabin...the gearbox changes gear imperceptibly, and well...it doesn't feel all that different to my wife's IS250. A bit firmer for sure, and the steering is heavier, but it's mostly the same experience. And grunt-wise...if you were just driving normally, you'd think that it was about the same as my old GS430.
But geez...when you get into it, the character totally changes and it's got a ton of firepower. After a good drive on a winding road, it makes an interesting comparison against the FD. The FD is a lot purer, and it's easy to jump in and immediately feel comfortable in going fast. I don't get the same immediate confidence in the ISF; it feels big and heavy, and while it has stacks of mid corner grip and you can really lean on it, you just don't get the same level of feedback as you tip it into the corner. Power-wise, it's definitely more than the FD and coming out of 3rd gear corners, it often flashes the traction control light at you (when I didn't think it would step out...). So I'm not quite at the point where I feel as confident in it as I did with the RX-7.
However it does have some party tricks up its sleeve, and one of them is exiting every side street and tight intersection sideways, and just as the rears hook up and find traction the massive induction bellow kicks in and off you go. That will probably take some time before it gets old.
Now that the interior is where I want it, the next step is to go full-retard on paint correction on the outside
Did not expect to see an IS-F either - I was kind of expecting an old Jag or something for some reason haha!
How did you know it was time to part with the FD, was it a heart or head decision? Based on the Sale post in your FD thread, it was a bit of both?
I always told myself that when ISFs come down in price, I would get one. But it was very much an impulse thing when I went to Lexus a few weeks ago to pick up an IS250 for the missus.
I saw an ISF drive in, and the owner jumped into a GSF for a test drive. It was pretty mint, so I got to talking to the dealer guys about it, but nothing happened since the ISF guy decided to keep his car. But the seed was sown, as I'd started looking in Carsales and realised that they were now in my budget...so one thing led to another and here we are
The FD was my daily, so there was no way that another classic would replace it. Maybe an older 90s JDM supercar might have been a good replacement, but I kinda figured the FD was the best of them anyway. So the ISF makes a lot of sense.
I used to lurk on this forum frequently years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to come back and see this thread.
I was also lucky enough to purchase an ISF 09 (68,000kms) a couple of months ago as the prices have come down considerably. Sure I have heard the suspension is not as good as the updated model but it doesn't really bother me at all. I bought the car for that silky smooth v8 roar! And I didn't want an Aus/euro muscle car.
Mine is flat black and has a joe-z exhaust, really helps bring out that v8 roar. Will do headers one day for sure.
Oh and I also did a 2 stage paint correction and a ceramic coating - apparently the clear coat on the Lexus isf is great to work with according to the detailer.
Will be following this thread with a keen eye as I've seen your previous work, your attention to detail is second to none. Love it.
The ISF was in great condition when I got it; the two previous owners had really taken good care of it. But I figured my usual detailing ritual for the new car wouldn't hurt. I wanted to apply the Gyeon MOHs glass coating, so I'd have to perform a paint correction anyway. So here goes.
First step is to give the car a good wash. Then I use Iron-X to remove any iron deposits stuck to the paint. It turns out that quite a lot of the roughness of unpolished paint is due to iron particles baked on good.
So you spritz this stuff on, and there's an immediate reaction, and the car starts to stink, and any iron deposits turn purple.
Not too much on the paint (since the car was probably detailed prior to sale), but plenty on the wheels, due to the iron particles in brake dust.
Then give the car a good rinse, and wash it again to get all the purple stuff off.
Next step is to clay, so you spritz each panel with quick detailer, and glide the claybar across the paint. You'll hear it as the claybar picks up little nibs and bits stuck onto the paint.
This is after doing half the bonnet; not too bad, the paint is reasonably clean, but we did find some dirt. Then dry off the quick detailer with a microfibre, and the paint will be really smooth and silky to the touch.
At this point, the paint is clean, but we haven't really begun the paint correction yet.
There are a few spots with some light scratches...
So for these spots, I use the Menzerna Heavy Cut.
You don't use very much...so just a couple of dabs on a coarse/cut buffing pad
Dab the pad onto the panel to distribute the polish.
Then set the buffer to its slowest setting, and spread the polish across the panel, until it's a uniform haze.
Then when it's all uniform, turn up the speed to almost full, and buff the panel until the haze starts to clear.
Wipe off any residue with a microfibre, and the scratch is gone.
There were only a couple of spots that needed this treatment, so this first step of paint correction didn't take long. If the paint was really swirly and matte, then I might have had to buff the whole car with Heavy Cut, but that's not the case here.
Next step is to buff the car all over with Menzerna Medium Cut, which is applied with a medium coarse/polishing pad. Because the foam is finer, it can clog, so I brush off the excess dried up polish every few panels with a stiff brush.
First thing is to mask off the sunroof and some of the trim. I find that getting polish on the headlights, glass or taillights and badges isn't a big deal, but it does leave a white stain on rubbers and some grained black plastic trim, so I mask off those areas beforehand.
As before, you don't need much of the Medium Cut. This will do a fender, or a door.
Dab the pad all over to distribute the polish...
Lowest-speed on the buffer to spread it in a thin haze...
...then turn up the speed to almost full, and buff in slow passes until the polish starts to go clear. Then wipe with a microfibre...and I find this step of the detailing to be quite rewarding, because the medium cut removes swirls, and knocks off all the sharp edges to the paint, so it leaves it with a really mellow shine, like the paint is still wet.
After buffing the whole car with Medium Cut, it looks great, but the next step will add more gloss and shine.
We follow the same process as with the Medium Cut...and the Super Finish does noticeably add a deeper gloss.
So at this point, we have corrected the paint to remove swirls and scratches, and we've finished it with a finer polish to leave a nice gloss. But as a final step, we need to seal in the gloss.
I would at this point, embark on the 3-day long process of applying Gyeon MOHs glass coating, but the catch is that for those 3 days, you're not allowed to drive the car. So I figure I'll leave that for later, and seal the paint with a conventional wax instead. Later, all I need to do is to wipe down the paint with isopropyl alcohol, and start applhing the MOHs, since the paint correction is already done (and is permanent).
The Concours Driftwax is easy to apply...it goes on like a greasy film, and you immediately wipe it off, one panel at a time.
And we're done! All swirls and fine scratches gone
Now, if double-demerits would go away, then maybe I can go out and drive the thing
Amazing work as usual. You're so lucky the previous owners looked after it so well. Mine was covered in a layer of dust when I inspected it, being black as well, the layer of dust hid many many imperfections. After buying it, then on first wash I was mortified, had two bird poop stains etched in, massive holograms and swirls and numerous scratches. It's much better since the 2 stage paint correction, but could prob do with some more detailed work on certain areas.
Your lucky you know how to do all these things, there's no better feeling than peeling back all the layers and detailing it from scratch, and getting rid of all those annoying small blemishes. That way when your driving you don't think about it at all haha!! And you can sleep easier lol.
Good luck with demerits thing, I got done first week of ownership.