California's loss. 49 other states' gain.
It was back in the year 2000 when Lexus finally made one of its first sincere attempts to take on the benchmark BMW 3 Series. The first-generation Lexus IS has since become a fairly sought after sports sedan by a few collectors and enthusiasts. Unlike its successors, the original IS was quite compact. Tall rear seat passengers were uncomfortable. Fortunately, other models, such as the Lexus ES and Lexus LS, were better suited for comfort. The IS, instead, was aimed at proving the brand's ability to produce something with an edge. It should also be noted that in Japan this Lexus IS was sold as the Toyota Altezza.
When it arrived in America two years after its Japanese market debut, it came powered by a 3.0-liter inline-six rated at 217 horsepower and 218 lb-ft of torque. Power was routed to the rear wheels through either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic.
Enthusiasts immediately understood the car's potential. Compact dimensions. Powerful inline-six mated to a manual, and standard RWD. What's not to like? In 2001, a total of 22,486 examples were sold in the US, a record high for the first-gen model. Unfortunately, numbers dipped to below the 10,000-unit mark only a few years later.
The second-generation Lexus IS arrived for 2005, but it was the IS F that has since become legendary, and for good reason: its naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 with 416 hp and 371 lb-ft. Sadly, today's third-gen IS has yet to spawn a fully-fledged F variant. At this point, it very likely won't. We'll have to make due instead with the less powerful IS F Sport. But if you're unable to find a second-gen IS F or simply can't handle the price tag, then we have found the perfect alternative.
This 2009 Lexus IS 300, currently up for auction on Bring A Trailer, is powered by a supercharged 2JC VVTi inline-six. Exact power figures were not provided, but a decent guess would be somewhere around 300 hp. The engine was rebuilt several years ago following a missed shift, but the owner didn't let a crisis go to waste. That's when the engine was completely rebuilt and, not long after, a Vortech supercharger was added, along with a Unichip tuning module and an aftermarket exhaust system. The engine has just 48,000 miles on it.
From the outside, the car looks pretty much stock, which is a good thing. There are a few paint chips and dents throughout the body, but it's never been in any accidents.
The interior also appears to be in relatively solid condition. The original factory stereo is still in place but an aftermarket shifter knob was added. Are there any serious downsides? Well, perhaps one, but it depends whether you live in California or not. The car is not compliant with California's strict emissions standards, meaning it can't be sold to in-state private buyers. If you live in any of the other 49 states, then you're in luck.
As of this writing, the highest bid was only $1,950 but there's still nearly a week left until the auction ends.