Meet the Funky Stance Garden Car That Is a 2009 Toyota Probox
If stretched tires, camber and pointless modifications make you go into a blinding rage, beware. If you are the type that appreciates cars used as a medium for personal expression, you've come to the right place.
The first time we saw images of this car on the internet, we knew we needed to see it in person. Not knowing exactly what we were getting ourselves into, we headed off to meet the owner at the local shopping center. Upon meeting Ki-mi, our idea of what makes a car cool was flipped upside down in an instant.
As most of us are accustomed to the mindset that planning a project car will get you the result you want, Ki-mi's unorthodox approach was a bit difficult to swallow. Not plan, then collect parts, then assemble said parts, but instead, if he found something he thought was cool, he would find a way to incorporate it. The method to his madness is something he likes to call “Funky Stance.”
Ki-mi’s project started with a non-descript Toyota Probox. We have seen many a Probox, and they are not a popular platform for modification; there's not much that is noteworthy about these vehicles. The Probox is classified as a five-door van consisting of four standard outward swinging doors and a rear hatch used primarily by handymen. The closest thing you could compare it to in the U.S. would probably be the second generation Scion Xb, but with a lot less style.
The first thing one might notice about Ki-mi’s Probox depends on the angle one approaches it from. The sides looks like a cartoon version of a military vehicle: the passenger’s side is covered with a large shark mouth motif, while the driver’s side has a large Japanese sun-mark. All of this is achieve with rattle cans, masking tape, paint brushes and vinyl graphics.
The shark mouth theme progresses to the front bumper, but a bit more bloody-mouthed and broken-toothed, leading to the most bizarre modification accessory we have ever seen: a wheelbarrow affixed to the top of the Thule rack. A mini-version of the Probox featuring a hand-painted version of shark mouth, the wheelbarrow definitely had us thinking, “what the...”
The “Stance” part of Funky Stance comes from Ki-mi’s wheel and suspension combination. A large movement in the U.S., where the stance scene involves a lot of one-upmanship as to who can fit the widest and lowest-offset wheel, Ki-mi's motivations are pure. He does it simply because it looks cool. Featuring a set of 15x8 ESB CLS TC01 Techhin wheels that remind us more of trailer wheels than something you would find on a stanced car, they do work with the overall theme. The passenger’s side set is covered in a sticker bomb, making the ESBs the perfect canvas.
The Probox uses a rear beam axle, so Ki-mi utilizes a KM Auto Garage replacement rear beam with eight degrees of negative camber. Combined with a set of Largus coilovers fitted with 326 Power Charabane springs, Ki-mi was able to get the look he was seeking.
Additional exterior features include a driver’s side front fender made from a collection of various U.S. license plates, adding a bit of a hot-rod feel to the Probox. Several stickers of internet memes can be found in seemingly random spots, but what really caught our attention were the numerous Mooneyes stickers and goods. Ki-mi explained that he likes Mooneye's unique, flashy designs when we asked him about what draws him to the brand. He says the retro look matches his style really well, and we totally agree. It’s great to see the brand started by Dean Moon in the 1950s appreciated by a young automotive enthusiast in Japan.
(Interested? Check out our coverage of Mooneye's Open House from this year.)
We spotted one of those Mooneyes goods through one of the windows: a cup. When Ki-mi to let us check out the interior, what we saw left us open-mouthed and speechless. It took us several minutes to register what we were looking at; it was a sensory overload in there.
First of all, no surface is untouched, from the speckle and crackle painted dash to the water-faucet knobs to the leafed headliner. Several panels are covered in traditional Okinawan patterns, sticker bombs and marker graffiti. The carpet has been replaced with synthetic grass and the headliner dressed in green leaves, accomplishing what most interior designers strive for when they want to bring the outdoors inside.
At this point, Ki-mi’s Probox finally started to make sense. This is a garden car – a Funky Stance garden car. That explains the wheelbarrow, the leaves, the grass and now the oddest accessory we have ever seen in car, beating out the previously mentioned wheelbarrow: a working hose. Who needs a hose in a car? Obviously a gardener, albeit Ki-mi is no gardner.
Additional features like the train handle, elephant watering can and Rat Fink goods make you keep exploring and trying to find all of the small details hidden throughout the build. In the back is a subwoofer box and amp setup so Ki-mi can enjoy some tunes as he cruises in his Probox. If there is ever a tire puncture or a steep incline, he has a set of low ramps and a jack. Of course, the jack has been sticker-bombed as well.
When one builds a car the way Ki-mi has, it gives the builder infinite possibilities. Although initially appearing as a mad mashup of stuff, a consistent theme always emerges. At the time of the shoot, Ki-mi had the Probox for only six months. Buying most of the parts and goods off the internet, he has also spent a lot of time at the local home and DIY centers looking for things that catch his eye.
We need more people like Ki-mi who customize to suit their own personality rather than try to outdo the next person. Ki-mi's "experiment, try things you like and change constantly" mindset is a great approach to a lot of things in life, really. We know he has added and changed his Probox build since we last saw him, so we expect nothing less than to see something completely different the next time we meet.
2009 Toyota Probox
- OWNER: Ki-mi
- LOCATION: Miyako Island, Okinawa, Japan
- ENGINE: Stock 103 HP
- WHEELS: CLS ESB TC01 Tecchin 15x8 -10, 15x8 +20
- SUSPENSION: KM Auto Garage rear beam, Largus coilovers, 326 Power Charabane springs
- EXTERIOR: Wheelbarrow, zerosen, shark mouth
- INTERIOR: Grass, leaves, water hose