Back in the old days, the phrase ‘made in Japan’ was frowned upon by British consumers who thought all foreign goods were bound to be sub-standard. Now, however, we think differently. And nowhere is the Japanese ingenuity and sheer love of speed more pronounced than in their racing cars. Japanese imports are highly prized, particularly drifting cars and hyped cars. Anyone who is serious about adrenaline-pumping motor sports should take a tour of the Far East, taking advantage of cheap flights to Hong Kong, then travel on to the hotspots of Osaka and Tokyo.
Land of the Rising Sun
Japanese car culture has grown into a hugely influential trend and inspires people around the world. Young Japanese guys spend huge amounts of time and money customising their cars. If you can’t afford to import a vehicle, why not get some cool Japanese accessories such as illuminated gear sticks and washer nozzles, or amazing artwork on vinyl stickers.
One of the current top favourite Japanese sports car imports is the Toyota Supra 2JZ- GTE which has an awesome 3 litre, twin turbo engine and is capable of producing up to 1500HP. Another popular supercar is the Honda NSX with its sleek styling and roaring V6 engine. Two more of the most sought-after models are the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and the Subaru Impreza WRX STi.
The Drifting scene
The squeal of tyres and the smell of burning rubber is all part of the thrill of a drifting competition, where drivers deliberately over-steer, clinging on to the tarmac with precision and speed. Japan is the home of this sport and its techniques were developed by touring car drivers in the 1970s. Japan’s mountainous roads are still the perfect location to practise this dangerous sport and there have been many fatalities over the years.
The most popular Drifting cars are the Nissan Silvia S15, Mazda RX7 and the Toyota Supra. Drifting cars need to be rear wheel drive, so in fact any RWD model could be used. Races take place all over the world and the home of drifting is the Ebisu circuit. Drivers are judged on the angle and line they take, and the amount of smoke produced, scoring points for their technique.
Japanese racing culture
Racing cars along the streets has been a passionate obsession for many young Japanese in recent years. Although illegal, it is still a popular pastime racing along city streets and mountain roads. The revival of the sporadic Japanese Touring Car championships is being planned for 2012, so all those Japanese boy racers will have an outlet for their racing skills.
The hype lives on
The 1980s was the beginning of the craze for hyped up Japanese cars and the extrovert Japanese style is still strong. ‘Souping up’, accessorising and embellishing your wheels remains a big part of Japanese motor racing culture. These days most people choose to import their dream motor or buy one from a reputable dealer. But at one time it was a different case, petrol heads often had to import the cars themselves. Because of the distance, many of these pioneers used to take advantage of cheap flights to Hong Kong and extend their trips to East Asia to include the wonders of china. Once they had their fill of Hong Kong they would hop over to Japan, seal the deal and fly back to show off to their mates.