From the May 2021 issue of Car and Driver.
Natasha Adams’s day job is selling new car parts. Her hobby is breaking (and fixing) them, which she does on an unusual daily driver, a desert-running Lexus LS400.
Adams, a 25-year-old sales rep at an O’Reilly Auto Parts in Southern California, enjoys off-roading in unusual automobiles. Before the LS400, she built a lifted Volvo wagon and took it to a car show, where she first spotted a Lexus on big wheels. “I thought it looked good like that, but it could be more.” She bought her LS400 from a cousin and set to figuring out how to make it what she imagined. “It’s not like I could just buy a kit for it,” she says. “I had to try different parts until I found ones that worked.”
Growing up, Adams would watch her dad drive, copying what he was doing with an imaginary steering wheel and pedals. He saw the family Suburban as just a means to get to the campsite, but as Adams got older, he supported her interest in off-roading with a sense of bemusement. “I had to beg him to teach me how to change my tire,” Adams says. “I was like, ‘Dad, if I’m going to learn how to drive, I need to know how to fix things.’ ”
The learning never stops, as the Lexus is in constant development. After discovering that Jeep and Lexus share a bolt pattern, Adams bought Wrangler YJ wheels, which she wrapped in 31-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2s. When we spoke, she had the Lexus on a combo of mostly stock suspension and one-off spacers to give it a two-inch lift, and by the time we shot photos, it had been upgraded with custom coil-overs from Flatout Suspension.
Trying things and wrenching the car back into service is part of the fun. “There are easier ways to go off-road,” Adams says, but few get as much attention as a mud-spattered 31-year-old luxury sedan dressed in the livery of an Ivan Stewart trophy truck.