Off the Beaten Path: Funky JDM at the Mooneyes Street Car Nationals
In our first story from the 32nd Annual Mooneyes Street Car Nationals in Tokyo, we noted that the event is one of the most colorful and diverse car shows held anywhere in Japan.
The Street Car Nationals are also known for having some of the most unique custom builds around - be it cars, trucks, vans, or vehicles that fall somewhere in between. And with that in mind we thought we'd dedicate a story to some the unusual JDM machines found at this year's show.
So let's go ahead and start with this clean little Mk.2 Volkswagen Golf. Wait, that's not a Golf or a VW at all. It's a K10 chassis Nissan March dropped down and looking quite nice on a set of Enkei 92 mesh wheels that really add to the Euro look.
Despite being pretty rare on the streets of Japan, we found several examples of the 1980s era Nissan Sunny at the Street Car Nationals, including a few doing their best impression of the Nissan Sentra, the Sunny's North American counterpart.
Some of the Sunny fanatics preferred to go with the sedan model, such as this example proudly sporting its black unpainted bumpers and a front bra for an undeniable USDM look.
The coolest part of the car though has to be the rare Renoma multi-piece wheels which perfectly add to the 1980s custom look.
On the other hand, there were also a few really cool Sunny wagons, like this example lowered over a set of Turbofan-inspired wheels.
Here's a car that should look familiar to those in the US. It's a Nissan EXA, which was sold in the states as the Pulsar NX and could use removable body panels to turn itself from a coupe into a hatchback. Today it's a rare find on either side of the Pacific, especially one as clean as this.
Sticking with the "obscure '80s Nissans" theme, we have a very clean and mildly customized example of the Nissan Prairie minivan, which was known in the US as the Nissan Axxess. The compact family van would of course go on to become a massively popular segment in Japan.
What do we have here? It's a Nissan Cefiro (sold in the US as the Infiniti I30 & I35) but done in a Bellflower 1960s custom style complete with Cragar wheels, whitewall tires and shiny chrome tailpipes out back.
It was just one of the many Japanese domestic models modified in a distinct American style - and for many this is a more affordable method than importing and maintaining an actual American classic in Japan.
Moving in a much different direction now, we have an equally rare base car - in this case a B15 chassis Nissan Sunny sedan - but modified in a completely different way.
Rather than an American custom look, this one was inspired by touring car racing and is sporting a roll bar, single wiper conversion and a choice set of white Volk Racing TE37 wheels among other subtle mods.
Don't worry, we didn't forget about the other Japanese brands. Representing Mitsubishi we have this incredible Minica Toppo wagon built by Body Shop Kimura.
Funky enough in stock form, this high-roofed kei car has been taken to another level with porthole windows and an air suspension setup to put it on the ground.
The interior has also been completely redone to match with lots of diamond plate and aircraft style seats.
Moving into the Toyotas now, we have a few funky finds including this cool pickup based on the Liteace van. Extra points for the vintage slot mag wheels to complete the mild custom look.
Maybe we are just geeks for old Toyota vans? Because we also loved this example that's been slammed to the ground using Accuair suspension parts.
And it's tough to think of a better or more period correct wheel choice than a set of classic Work Equip 03s sitting below the factory body work.
Remember the Geo Prizm? The rebadged Toyota Corolla that was sold by GM's short-lived spinoff brand during the early '90s? Here's a JDM variant restyled to look like one and slammed on a set of BBS wheels.
When you think of a Toyota Crown you probably first think of a taxi cab or typically Japanese luxury sedan, but this late '70s coupe model could easily be mistaken for any number of American cars from the same era.
Last but not least we have a Suzuki key van that absolutely won our hearts when we saw it. Maybe it's the radically low stance? Maybe it's the matte blue paint? Or maybe it's the wonderful little Hayashi Racing wheels.
The cool little van also happens to serve as a little appetizer for our next post from the 2018 Mooneyes Street Car Nationals where we'll take a deeper dive into Japan's incredible vanning scene. Stay tuned!