EVENTS: 2014 SEMA, Part 02 — Bosozoku style comes to America

4690_Nissan kenmeri Skyline C110 Liberty Walk

If there was one thing we learned from SEMA this year, it is that you must widebody all the things. From Beetles to Benzes, everything is being massively flared, often with bolt-on over-fenders, ducktail spoilers and turaichi shakotan stances. Bosozoku style has finally come to America. 

Note that we’re not talking about all bosozoku style here. Ankle slicing deppa chin spoilers, mile-high takeyari exhaust pipes and massive Group 5 box fenders clearly aren’t part of this new — to the west, at least — trend, and may forever be too extreme to cross over (but hey, anything’s possible!). Others, like nekome (tilted “cat eye” headlights) are simply not possible with modern automotive design. And of course, traditional bosozoku elements have been appearing at shows like JCCS for years.

We are a bit surprised, however, at how widespread and mainstream this new template has become, starting with enormous fenders, often bolted on with exposed fasteners. Add to that a massive a GT-style wing or a slim ducktail (that sometimes appears as if bolted on as well). Lastly, these cars must have an ultra tight fitment between tire and body that the Japanese call “turaichi shakotan.” “Shakotan” simply means lowered, dumped, slammed, whatever you like to call it, while “turaichi” is translated as “one-face,” because the fender, tire (usually stretched) and lip of the wheel are so closely fitted that they appear to follow a single plane or curve. Kids today call it “hellaflush.”

Yes, we’re sure some wise-ass can dig up an old photo that shows riveted fenders, point to it, and call us a bunch of morons. What we’re talking about is this current onslaught of widebody kits that began appearing circa 2012 and has now spread to the point of infiltrating seemingly every make, model and country of origin.

The rise of this particular wave very clearly started with Japanese tuners like Rauh Welt BegriffRocket Bunny and Liberty Walk. These guys got their inspiration from decades Japanese tuning culture, and it’s a known fact that Liberty’s Kato-san has a stash of bosozoku style cars himself.

RWB was the first to modify Porsches in this manner, Rocket Bunny did Silvias, and Liberty Walk sliced up Italian exotics in ways that gave Lambo-philes and Ferraristi il aneurisma. Their aesthetic spread like wildfire across the internet, making Akira Nakai, Kei Miura and Wataru Kato insta-famous tuning gods.

Now there’s a slew of parts makers from outside of Japan adopting this style too, some probably unaware of its true origins. The irony is, on every automotive forum’s off-topic section there is inevitably a thread about Japan’s most extreme bosozoku cars, and how ridiculous and stupid it all is. But now, it seems the bosozoku have the last laugh. Regardless, there seems to be no end in sight to this craze.

This post is filed under: events and
tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

21 Responses to EVENTS: 2014 SEMA, Part 02 — Bosozoku style comes to America

  1. Glenn says:

    Wouldn’t it be prudent to say elements of bosozoku style as well as extreme examples of elements found in various forms of auto-racing and the aftermarket customizing scene?

    • Ben Hsu says:

      You’re correct, Glenn, that if you go back far enough bosozoku styling was inspired by Group 5 and touring car racing.

      But the specific elements in this current trend on exotics (which then filtered down to even Fits and SN95 Mustangs) was inspired by trying to make the cars look extreme bosozoku style, specifically, the competition between the three tuning houses mentioned above.

  2. Nigel says:

    As a JNC’er all I can say to North America is, we saw this coming.
    (On the pages of G – Works/Auto Works, Option and Young Version).

  3. JHMAB2 says:

    I’m loving these new Fits, seriously. All Honda needs to do is throw an AWD drive train and a turbo and we’re good to go.

    As for this style? I dunno, it’s cool but I was over RWB in a week. The connection that was made turned me off to the cars.

  4. Chris says:

    It doesn’t matter how many type of cars they make look like that, I still don’t care for it. To each their own.

  5. I am just like level 9000 done with Liberty Walk anything, Wataru Kato is a cool dude and stuff but I don’t understand why Ferraris and Lambos are on Super Street covers, I didn’t know they lumped SS in with Top Gear Magazine and Evo Mag. Aren’t they different publishers?

  6. cesariojpn says:

    So, we’re like, 10 years behind the Japanese in tuning trends, huh?

  7. Jun says:

    Missed you up there Ben. How’d you like the oil cooler we threw down on our old Stang? Hah!

    The LB Kenmeri was awesome to see in person. Seeing that and driving Roy’s hako through the back roads of Vegas were my SEMA highlights.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      Hey Jun, Sorry I didn’t get to see you there. I had a feeling the oil cooler on the “Stang was your doing 🙂

      Man, I should’ve skipped out on the show to photograph you guys driving.

  8. steve says:

    “…Regardless, there seems to be no end in sight to this craze….”

    That’s what I thought about those “skateboard mini-trucks” of the 80s but fortunately that fad died after a few years.

    Although, after 30+ years (in Japan) of this “bosozoku style”, I wouldn’t call it a fad…

  9. JDMSeikoNeko says:

    Just a quick question, will you guys be going to Pacifico tomorrow?

  10. Aaron Cake says:

    Every time I read the word “Bosozoku” I can only think of one thing (which may date me a little): bozo the clown. In that these vehicles look like jokes, made fun of by everyone but a small minority who’s tastes are twisted enough so that their hideous abortions of automotive style failures look good. It’s a shame that many rare vehicles are ruined by this “tuning” trend and that now it is leaking out into North America. Sorry though, because it’s not tuning. Tuning improves a vehicle in many ways: performance, handling, feel. Whacking out the suspension to insane angles and sticking an old rotary oil cooler (please stop wasting our ever increasingly valuable early rotary oil coolers!) on the front with exposed hydraulic lines does not by any means improve the vehicle. With the rice trend over a few years ago, I guess we now look forward to another automotive catastrophe in the form of “bosozoku”. At last that one is hard enough to pronounce it may dissuade some from following it. Recently the Quebec government has begun cracking down on something called “hellaflush” which appears to be Bosozoku for wusses. Hopefully this is going to make this style very hard to achieve in my area as other provinces follow suit. That might nip it in the bud.

  11. Aaron says:

    Man, that’s a clean 458 😉

  12. Randy says:

    I wouldn’t drop the car into the weeds for something I’d actually drive, but I gotta say – I actually like the 2 Fits. The widebody is an interesting color, too.

    I think the Lexus looks good – would make for a cool factory-issued special edition.

  13. Darryl Cavanaugh says:

    Extreme ‘looks’ are one thing, and I understand why they exist, but as far as I’m concerned, If I can’t drive it on the road, and not be afraid of hitting a pothole or bump, ‘looks’ don’t matter. Correctly set up AND functional is where it’s at. Otherwise it’s just making a car unusable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *