Paddy Finnegan’s VIP Toyota Aristo cares not for hot hatch hooliganism – it’s a 90s Japanese powerhouse of the finest order, rolling VIP Style.
Chances are you’ve not seen many Toyota Aristos in or VIP Style cars person. In Gran Turismo maybe, or if it’s a later Lexus GS300, but these luxury saloons are a pretty rare sight outside of Japan. The twin-turbo straight-six semi-automatic executive cruisers never really took off over here, would you believe it. But back home, crowds of Japanese modifiers have lapped them up and made good. And it’s those Japanese VIP-style mods that got Paddy Finnegan lusting after an Aristo himself. This modded Jap export was just the ticket.
“Inspiration and love for the car came for me about 10 years ago,” says Paddy. “A friend had imported a JZS147 Aristo – the older shape to mine that’s equally as cool. And I love big four-door saloons. The bigger and more spotless they are, the better!”
Luckily someone had already imported the car to Ireland, and it was a high-spec Vertex model with the most desirable 2JX-GTE engine option, as found in the Supra.
￼The coveted engine features sequential CT20 turbos, a side-mounted intercooler, variable valve timing and even has oil nozzles to cool the six pistons to prevent total meltdown. In a typically formal act of wisdom, the Japanese big wigs of the time came to a gentlemen’s agreement on power output, so this motor was restricted to just 276bhp and 333lb/ft torque.
There is, however, massive scope for improvement and Paddy has big things in mind for 2015. So here’s the idea: cruise along in sublime comfort, and when the mood strikes, plant your foot into the deep-pile carpet for a relentless surge of torque. If the guy in his 5 Series hasn’t seen an Aristo before, he’ll be in for a right treat as it leaves him standing.
“When I picked it up a couple of years ago the previous owner had already started with some Japanese- inspired modifications,” says Paddy. “He’d fitted the Kazama bodykit, Tom’s exhaust system and had the arches modified to clear the rims.” Paddy took one look at the luxury-styled beast and knew it was the one for him, after 10 very long years of dreaming.
Then, like you do, he thought of a host of new mods for his ride to turn up the volume. “Cleanliness and attention to detail is everything with this car, so I set about cleaning it up to my high standards,” Paddy says.
Cleaning it up, as in a full respray, that is, along with a refurb of those deep, wide rims. Then it was onto the ride height. The Aristo was already looking sweet, lowered on BC coilovers all round, but to make a real impact Paddy went with air bags. John at Peden Conceptz was enlisted to fit
a full system, which includes an air-ride four-way competition setup with Air Performance V2 management system with twin compressors. Now he can drop the sump to the floor at shows yet still make it over speed bumps in one piece, as it’s fully adjustable from the cabin.
From there, it’s just been a case of detailing like there’s no tomorrow. That black paintwork is notoriously revealing of any marks and swirls, not that it concerns Paddy. “I wouldn’t trust myself to work on the car, not to even wash it!” he says. “My mate Jonathan is a brilliant detailer though, so every time the
car even moves he gives it the full treatment.”
Apparently Jonathan is round at Paddy’s to give the Aristo some snow foam and wash mitt action at least once a week. He even travels to the shows, like a detailing VIP no doubt, to keep the bodywork looking fresh throughout the day!
En route from Japan is another batch of styling upgrades for the car, which Paddy is hoping to add even more of the VIP flavour. So there will be the obligatory privacy curtains, Garson D.A.D tables all round and matching neck pillows for the leather pews – very suave!
However the car progresses, it’ll continue to demand total respect at the shows. Move aside paupers – there’s a VIP in town.
￼OWNER: PADDY FINNEGAN
TECH SPEC: TOYOTA ARISTO JZS161
Full Kazama Auto Luxor bodykit; steel extended arches blended in and resprayed; Vertex rear top spoiler and three-piece boot spoiler; smoked LED rear lights; HID front lights; auto folding mirrors.
Weds Sports Kranzes LXR 9.5x19in ET-3 front; 10x19in ET-22 rear alloys; uprated Brembo drilled and grooved discs all round; EBC Green Stuff pads; Tom’s lock-out bar; Air Lift Performance V2 control system for four-way competition; air-ride setup; dual compressors.
Full black leather interior; Sony seven-in touchscreen headunit; Sony replacement speakers throughout.
276bhp Toyota 2JZ-GTE 3-litre engine; twin CT20 turbos; six-cylinder VVT-i; Blitz dual solenoid boost controller; GReedy front-mount intercooler; HKS panel filter; Tom’s full stainless steel exhaust system with decat and twin-exit tailpipes.
Keith Weldon for the body fabrication and paint; John Peden at Peden Conceptz for installing the air-ride; Collie Murray for all the mechanical maintenance; and Jonathan Corbally at JC Autocare for the detailing.
Words Stephan Colbran Photos Paddy McGrath