One of our goals here at Speedhunters is to show car culture on a global scale, and the popularity of USDM and Spocom style in Japan is a great example of this. While JDM fanatics in the United States and elsewhere try to replicate car styling seen in Japan, a lot of Japanese enthusiasts are doing the opposite and converting their standard JDM vehicles into something that looks like it came straight out of Southern California. Last month, I went to the Mooneyes Street Car Nationals in Tokyo and the event gave me good chance see some different types of USDM-inspired car builds. As an American, I was highly impressed with the authenticity of the cars even if the style may not have been my cup of tea.
The USDM movement in Japan has a number of different subcultures, so let's take a quick look at some them. Of course, genuine imported American cars also have a strong following in Japan, but for this post we will just be dealing with Japanese-branded cars modified with a heavy American influence.
American-inspired JDM rides are not limited strictly to late model cars. Here we see a classic Mitsubishi Debonair sedan done in a traditional early '60s kustom style. The fender skirts, pinstriping, and paint work give this car an authentic vibe. It also helps that the original car's styling borrows a lot from its American counterparts. Mooneyes makes a number of parts and accessories that allow Japanese car owners to add some old school California-style flavor to their cars.
Other USDM fans like to build the cars to look like typical daily drivers you might see in the states. Popular modifications for this group include unpainted black bumpers and US-market corner lights and emblems. Front car bras are also a popular addition to these cars, though I don't recall seeing too many of these back in the states. Due to it's tremendous popularity and the United States, the Honda Civic is the most popular platform for this style. In Japan, older models like the EF Civic pictured above are a rare sight and this makes them stand out in the USDM scene.
The spocom cars are probably the best known USDM subculture. Japanese like to shorten foreign words, and the word "spocom" is a shortened version of the term "sport compact". This style has been around for a while and was originally inspired by the tuner show cars seen in the United States. These cars are often over the top and heavy on cosmetic work while being mechanically stock. The Civic on the right side of this photo is classic spocom style. Recently, as the wild tuner style cars have lost popularity in the states, some Japanese USDM enthusiasts have evolved their style as well. The newest trend is "USJDM" style. It's hard to explain, but it's basically Japanese copying the so-called "JDM look" that is now popular in the US. That make any sense? Probably not.
Japanese mini trucks are are very popular in the United States, but they are actually quite rare to see in Japan. For general use in Japan, tiny kei trucks and vans are much more popular than the standard small pickup truck. The people that do have mini trucks in Japan really love them, and there is a large custom mini truck scene here. Just like in the states, Japanese mini trucks feature air suspension and body drops, massive wheels, and wild paint. I noticed that a number of them are also sporting engine swaps like the Toyota 3SGE or Nissan SR20DET.
This Honda Inspire and Fit are of a subculture inspired by the urban style seen in Dub Magazine and others. Large chrome wheels and massive stereo systems are key features of these cars. There are a number of Japanese magazines for followers of this style.
Here is the ultimate in JDM and USDM fusion. A Honda Odyssey minivan with wide whitewalls, flames, and a tuck 'n roll interior. I love the fake sidepipes! This style has also been seen on cars like the Toyota bB and Nissan Cube. I think it would be cool to see Americans start borrowing from this look. At that point, the sharing of style between the Americans and the Japanese will have come full circle.