Back in April 2021, between COVID lockdowns, we spied a grandpa-spec Toyota Lexcen wagon for sale and couldn’t help but grab it.
The Lexcen was the product of a push to rationalise Australia’s car industry in the late 80s and early ninties. So VN-VS Commodores were rebadged as Toyotas, Camrys were rebadged as Holden Apollos, Nissan Patrols were disguised as Ford Mavericks and so on.
History shows that we ended up rationalising our car industry out of existence and the badge-engineered orphans spawned in this era are historical curiosities.
Now, there is nothing cool about a standard Lexcen, we’ll agree. Toyota never released anything even close to a sport model, let alone a V8. The Lexcen was a cynical marketing ploy, astounding only for the fact that it saw a manufacturer with a stellar reputation for reliability and build quality attaching their name to V6 Commodores.
Nevertheless, it is fun to dream of what could have been. After all, Holden jagged the RB30ET out of its deal with Nissan to power the VL Commodore. So, if Toyota wanted to spice up the Lexcen, it had the 1UZ 4.0-litre V8 ready and waiting.
Here was our chance to build the Toyota-powered Lexcen that never was! With a large turbo strapped to the side, naturally.
With plenty of other projects, the Lexcen went on the backburner. It served as my daily for a while, until we killed the factory auto on Drag Challenge Weekend. It then sat until Scotty completed both the Barra-powered MX-5 and Trolvo projects – plus a fair whack of our Supermang VN as well.
And now, she’s all buttoned up. The 1UZ is essentially stock, with just a set of rings, bearings and a set of Kelford cams. An 1150hp-capable Pulsar turbo is strapped to the side, with a Proflow intercooler and throttle body. A Haltech ECU controls the whole shooting match, which is set up for flex fuel. The driveline consists of a TH400 auto, GJ Drivelines driveshaft and an RTS Borgy LSD out back.
In this vid, the Lexcen hits the dyno at Maxx Peformance for the first time in 1UZ form, giving Scotty a rather pleasant surprise at the end of the night. Enjoy!