You can tell by its name that the Mooneyes Street Car Nationals is an event heavily influenced by American hot rod culture. You won’t find much, if any, of the typical stuff we crave from JDM shows. Sorry, no negative offset 14×9 barrels, ground-scraping shakotan sleds, or sky-high takeyari pipes here.
Instead, as automotive trends ping-pong across the Pacific, mods range from the clean and subtle — as in the movement of mirrors from fender to door on the Crowns above — to the, shall we say, darker side of USDM car culture. Here are some photos from our intrepid operative Satoshi.
It’s almost unthinkable to us Yanks that a Japanese person would actually spend the money and effort to acquire an American Datsun 510 that isn’t really a 510 and ship it home. But there it is, a LHD A10 Nissan Stanza, fat US-spec safety bumpers and all.
Some of you may remember seeing this tangerine metallic Mazda RX-3 a the JCCS last year. After the show, it promptly boarded a Japan-bound cargo ship to meet its new owner. Why would anyone in Japan want a LHD rotary donk with kandy paint and blinged wheels? Because you’ll never find a native Japanese Savanna modified this way.
We’re interested in the Wakaba Mark (beginner’s mark) with elderly mark colors though. Does it mean the driver is young, but old at heart?
Here’s a Yankee-style rotary whose appeal is a bit easier to understand. This tubbed Mazda Familia sedan has a decidedly American funny car drag stance, paired perfectly with the unique wheel well shape. Note the license plate, a nod to the export market name.
Even cars never sold in the US are not immune to the hot rod treatment. The retro-styled Nissan Figaro is one of the most popular gray market imports to Canada and the UK, but that doesn’t stop them from getting a nice rake and pinstriping.
Wearing a far out paint style we haven’t seen since conversion vans of the 70s, this Nissan Bluebird 810 coupe isn’t exactly a JDM otaku‘s cup of tea. However, it is a period-faithful homage to US rod culture.
Is “Bay City Patrol” some kind of movie reference? Please inform us so that we can properly understand the context of this Honda City Cabriolet. Sometimes the Japanese are better students of American culture than us actual Americans.
And yes, even a plain old Prius can be cool to the Japanese if it’s LHD. There are other subtle differences like the head and taillights, some interior trim, and other things that we do not care about, but it’s a USDM maniac’s dream machine.
Of course, all this USDM love might make more sense if we show you the full context of the Street Car Nationals. It’s primarily an event for American car fans, and we’ve only been showing you a smattering of JDM rides. Still, it’s a slice of JDM car culture not often seen in the US. Stay tuned for Part Two.