0-300km/h: JDM Tuner wars of the 90s


JDM tuners are nothing if not enthusiastically competitive, and today, that manifests itself in the regular Super Lap time trials at Tsukuba raceway. It’s where all of the major tuning houses pit RX7s, Lancer Evolutions, Imprezas and Skyline GT-Rs against each other. Back in the day, it’s interesting to note that Option Magazine played an important part in fostering these friendly rivalries, which in turn played a big part in forcing the JDM tuning houses to raise their game to stay competitive, and in doing so, building the most professional tuner scene on the planet.

Many months ago we brought your attention to an excellent series called Legend of Option. It’s a series of magazines, which go over the good old days when the JDM tuner scene was very much in its infancy. The series goes beyond just reprinting old articles from the era, but rather it’s a freshly written retrospective.

One of the big articles in Legend of Option – Volume 1 was on the tuner battles that took place on the high speed bowl at Yatabe, in Ibaraki (about 2hrs north of Tokyo). A super high speed banked oval, in 1981 Option Magazine invited tuner workshops to bring their cars for a top speed challenge.


So while today’s JDM tuner battles are all about laptimes, in 1981, it was a straight out top speed shootout, and surprisingly, some of the tuning houses brought some American muscle along (check out the Trust Trans Am!)


Daijiro Inada, founder of Option Magazine has shed some light on this remarkable era, in an interview here.


As Dai says, soon enough cars were hitting 300kmh with sufficient frequency that Option changed the top speed tuner challenge into a 0-300km/h acceleration challenge instead. And what’s more remarkable is that from 1990 to 1999, this drove the JDM tuner houses to truly insane levels, with the fastest car doing the run in 17seconds. And each run would always be done with Dai himself behind the wheel.

To give you some perspective, the newly released 530hp Porsche does 0-300km/h in 33 seconds. Sure enough, a Veyron will do it in 14 seconds, but these are tuner cars.

Here’s a series of great Youtubes which document that insane decade of speed.

Absolutely crazy, irresponsible times. Sadly, never to happen again.

This post is filed under: Miscellaneous.

2 Responses to 0-300km/h: JDM Tuner wars of the 90s

  1. DiscoQuinn said:

    I really like the HKS Celica. I never knew HKS was such an old company. Perhaps thats a possibility for some stories: history of some of the famous tuners?

  2. Kev said:

    That’s not a bad idea….I’ll look into it.

    Nismo and Mazdaspeed date back to the very early 70s, so I’m sure the independent tuning houses like Trust and HKS go back that far also.

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