There's an easy way to own a high-profile project car-just spend boat-loads of cash. Start with an expensive platform, then install the most expensive products available for each portion of the build. Better yet, hire someone else to do the work for you. Your car might even end up on some reality TV show. With the easy way, you're pretty much guaranteed to end up with a car that everyone will like. But if you're like Lindy Melendez, you'll do things the hard way and end up with a unique whip that everyone will respect.
Of course, building a car like this SC300 without breaking the bank takes some experience. "My first project car was an S13, and in '97 I did the swap so it was one of the first ones in Tampa with an SR20. It seemed like I spent twice as much as I did on the SC just because everything was rare on that car. Whereas with this car, because everything fits on the 2JZ and the Supra, I was able to build it a lot cheaper," Melendez says. Fortunately, he got rid of the 240SX at the right time. He continues, "I sold it right when '2 Fast 2 Furious' came out, which unbelievably helped me sell that car; it went on eBay in like an hour for 15 grand!"
When the time came to find a replacement, his logic for choosing the SC seemed questionable, but looking at the completed car it's hard to argue with him. "I always liked the shape of that car. If you look at an S13 coupe, the SC almost looks like what the next one should have looked like instead of the S14. Unfortunately, at the time the SC was so expensive, but later it depreciated a lot. I bought my original one for $3,500 at an auction. I totaled that about two years ago when some lady made a U-turn right in front of me, but then I bought this shell for $900." With a fresh chassis, a parts car and a healthy amount of experience, Melendez got started on the car that you see here.
The first task was to get it looking right. His previous SC had a Bomex bodykit, but he thought it was a little too loud. So this time around he went with a more subtle kit from JIC and a lightweight carbon-fiber hood from Seibon. For a little bit of JDM subtlety, a rear window with its OEM wiper from a Toyota Soarer replaced the rear glass and Ganador mirrors went on as well. The only real exterior fabrication was the gutting of the spare tire well to make room for a custom center-exit exhaust. Of course, the crucial elements to making a first impression are the paint and wheels. The paint code was lifted from a Lamborghini Diablo and Melendez splurged on a staggered set of Volk GT-C wheels. Peeking out from the spokes are massive 8-piston HP brakes in the front and a Supra TT setup in the rear. The lowered stance is handled by Maxspeed coilovers, with Daizen camber adjusters and polyurethane bushings to keep everything in line.
With no tint on the glass, the immaculate look of the exterior flows right inside. The front seats were replaced with slightly more supportive versions from a Supra. Those were then reupholstered with new leather. While they look very nice, we normally discourage people from using four-point harnesses, especially with slippery leather seats. In a hard frontal impact the occupants tend to submarine under the lap belts and experience something similar to what my nearly empty tube of toothpaste did this morning. That's our only gripe, though, and it shouldn't discourage people from learning from the very clever modifications throughout the rest of the car.