Fresh Out Of Ideas

What the hell is going on with the tuning scene in Japan lately? I used to look forward to Exciting Car Showdown. It was kind of the more obnoxious, rural cousin of Tokyo Auto Salon. This year it looks like something from a HIN wet dream.

Japan has always set the benchmark for where the tuning world is headed; lately, I’m not so sure anymore. Tokyo Auto Salon was good this year and luckily I’m a fan of the GT-R, because that’s all that was there. But aside from the GT-R, where is Japan at? I get that the younger generation aren’t into cars anymore; they’d rather overcrowd the cities and hang out with their virtual friends. So the scene has been left in the hands of the older generation. Don’t get me wrong either, I think it’s brilliant the founding fathers, are still heavily involved in the industry, but it’s also keeping it (in many ways) from evolving.

Rather than continuing to innovate and steering things in a different direction, people have run out of ideas. Instead, they’ve resorted to building cars that are so unspeakably awful, it’s as if we’re backtracking to the late 90’s.

Lets talk about this car, which is ugly as shit on a carpet. Who likes this? Who’s trying to drive this? Yeah I heard they drove it all the way down from Tokyo, but look at those rear fenders! Christ, look at the rear tires! Besides the Hypebeast reporter standing behind the car, who’s actually digging this style?

The cars we see at shows, built by shops and privateers, serve as the scene’s inspiration. They give us a glimpse as to where things are headed. It’s like going to a tradeshow, to see what all your favorite t-shirt companies “brands” are previewing for the upcoming seasons. That way you’ll be first in line at Surpreme, for that Kate Moss drop.

The point is, I’ve been seeing a lot of these “builds” coming out of Japan lately and it’s kind of alarming.

HIN Pomona right here. Tribal vinyl, the classic Santa Ana swag.

There seemed to be a tend in cars, that had either been ruined or unfinished at Exciting Car.

No. I don’t want my 180SX to look like a Desert Storm tank. What was wrong with the car before someone attacked it with a spray can?

If the Tommy Kaira kit wasn’t enough to completely ruin you new GT-R, consider hitting up Axel Auto Corporation, for this steez.

Maybe I’m being too hard on Exciting Car Showdown? It’s not really their fault, they just plan the show. I think this is part of that bigger problem of being fresh out of ideas. Where’s that old JDM attention to detail; that endless pursuit for quality? Christ, even Ray’s can’t design a wheel that looks better than the CE28N, and those have been around since the Jurassic period. Varis’s wide body kit for the GRB STi? I can’t help but think they could’ve tried harder and made it look even better. They are Varis after all.

Outsourced manufacturing, Chinese knockoffs, a shitty Japanese economy and an ever-emerging scene in the US, are all factors as to why Japan doesn’t appear to be the benchmark lately. Over the last year, I’ve been more excited about the cars I’m seeing in the US, Australia and especially Canada.

Ultimately, this a small selection of cars I didn’t care for. Maybe you do care for these cars and that’s fine. Overall, there are still lots of good things coming out of Japan (90% of anything GT-R related, Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86, RWB, anything from Advan and Enkei, etc.) I just can’t help but be frustrated because I know they can do better. Then again, maybe I just like complaining…

Photos courtesy of Minkara.



  1. Totally agree on that terrible Celica and tank 180sx but I think the LOOKING FD looks decent; its just for show and its flashy.The colors and matching wheels are gaudy though.

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