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What Is JDM? Defining the Japanese Domestic Market

If you've landed at Driving Line and are wondering, "What the heck is JDM?!" Stay awhile and learn something new! The acronym JDM stands for "Japanese Domestic Market." However, the tuning movement that is JDM is a bit more difficult to spell out.


Japanese automakers have long had a habit of keeping their tastiest creations for themselves. The Civic Type R has enjoyed a half dozen generations... we didn’t get to enjoy any stateside (until now). Ditto the Integra Type R. The Nissan Silvia was a bombastic badass in Japan with the venerable SR20DET engine as standard fare. Here we got Nissan’s NAPZ 2.4-liter truck engine and a 240SX badge.

Simply put: Cars and products made in Japan, strictly for the Japanese market, are what can be classified as "JDM." Parts manufactured by Japanese companies for distribution in the States (or other parts of the world) could be best described as "Japanese-spec" (J-spec), which is not quite JDM, but not far off, either.


In the mid-1990s, import enthusiasts took matters into their own hands. They schemed and swindled and got their hands on the parts — body panels, interior bits, and those high tech factory turbocharged engines — and transformed their USDM Civics, Integras, 240s and other makes and models.

As the tuning scene on both sides of the Pacific expanded, the JDM movement evolved to include the acquisition of aftermarket parts from Japan-based manufacturers and tuning houses. JDM wheels led the way, but getting the first Bomex body kit for a certain car ordained the owner with top-notch bragging rights; for Supra owners, Veilside parts were the Holy Grail, and anything from Mine’s, Top Fuel, Top Secret, HKS Kansai or the like scored big points.

Enthusiasts in America would keenly follow what the top tuners in Japan were doing. A majority of the trends in the States can trace their roots to the Land of the Rising Sun. The epicenter, the point where the Matrix meets the Real World has always been the Tokyo Auto Salon. Both tuning scenes have had their ebb and flow over the years, but you can always bank on the Salon to be the tip of the spear when it comes to tuning, trends and style.

Check out our Tokyo Auto Salon coverage at DRIVINGLINE.COM/TAS.


We're looking forward to seeing where the Japanese tuning scene currently stands, where it’s going and what it all means for us here in the States.

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