From a child model to struggling actor to Fast and Furious legend – Paul Walker managed to do a lot in his rather cruelly short lifespan in the world. Involved in charities and a doting father – his onscreen Brian O'Conner's persona was perhaps a lot similar to his real-life personality. He was loyal, loved his family and was an overall good guy. And of course, he was also quite the automobile aficionado, with the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) having a special place in his heart.
The JDM craze in the US was kickstarted by Paul Walker in part when he drove the Toyota Supra and the Nissan Skyline in the F&F movies – and then got some of these goodies for himself. So here are 10 things you may not have known about Paul Walker and his love for JDM…
10 Paul Walker Loved Wheels
Walker may have got the wherewithal to buy his collection of cars after becoming a star in the Fast and Furious franchise, but his interest in cars was a lifelong one. He mentioned his long list of cars in an interview with Automobile Magazine.
At the time, he owned seven of the lightweight BMW E36 M3, out of a total of 60 brought into the United States. A JDM fan, he was also on his fourth or fifth Nissan Skyline. And then there were the others: a 1967 Chevy Nova, a 1964 Impala, A 1964 Malibu and a 1964 Chevelle two-door wagon amidst others. He also had a Porsche GT3 RS.
9 Fast & Furious Got Walker Hooked to JDM
Walker was always a car guy. He may not have done all the F&F stunts himself due to insurance issues, but he revved those cars in not-so-dangerous shots all the time. He preferred to do it all himself and tried his level best to keep the street racing as authentic as he could.
The first movie, Fast & Furious introduced him to the Toyota Supra – the legendary 10-second car he then gives to Vin Diesel’s character, Dom. But the Skyline GT-R that Leon drives in the movie, called Big Bird, also got him hooked to the Skyline. From then on, JDM was a go-to for Walker.
8 Walker Doted On JDM
Brian O’Conner loves to drive Supras and Skylines in the F&F franchise, but Walker did so in real life too. He bought his first Skyline GT-R pretty soon after landing the part of O’Conner, and around the same time got himself a Supra as well.
Of course, he didn’t stop there, adding some 3-4 Nissan Skylines to the Walker garage. All of his JDMs were tuned by Matchless Crowd racing, a specialty JDM tuning garage that is known for making fast but street-legal cars. His Skyline collection also lay in the 500-600 horsepower range, not all that different from O’Conner drove in reel life.
7 He Kickstarted The JDM Craze At Home
We do what our heroes do. And Walker made for a rather easy hero to follow – his co-stars remember him as a down-to-earth guy who was polite to his fans even when he wanted a bit of peace and privacy.
Once he drove the Toyota Supra and the Nissan Skyline in his movies, and word leaked out that he bought a few for personal use as well, his fans got hooked to the JDM concept as well. Never before did such a large number of imports from Japan reach the American market, to be tuned and built-up within street legal limits, and be driven with pride.
6 But Not All JDMs Are Legal
The world has changed now, shrunk its boundaries a bit. So the JDM concept is fast flying out of the window. What were once Japan-only models are now hitting the US shores as well.
That said; there are legality differences in both the countries so a Japanese Market Supra could be a lot faster than a US market one – thus the demand for JDM. Of course, there is that 25-year wait period. This means you can import a street-legal JDM from Japan only 25 years after its original launch date. That’s a long, long wait, right? But for many, worth it.
5 The Skyline Is Mostly Illegal In US
Unless you can get your hands on a 25-year-old Skyline, they are still illegal in the United States. And the reason behind it is manifold – other than the safety and emission differences in both the countries, the Skyline may be too fast to be chased down by any cop car in America.
This is why it is considered illegal for street use – if you only plan to race it, then there are provisions for that in the 25-year-cooling period. And you can also import a shell of a Skyline, with no viable motor in it – in case you want to make your boring car look at least half-interesting.
4 Skyline’s Price Jump
It may sound a tad heartless, but someone made a neat profit from Walker’s passing away – with no mal intent per se. When Walker was alive and well, a blue Nissan Skyline GT-R34 used in the movie was sold to a fan for $350,000, along with a meet and greet with Walker himself.
Sadly, Walker passed away in a car crash some years down the line, and the same car was back in the market. This time, the price tag was a whopping $1.37 million. This was a special car driven by a special person. And fans would pay anything for a keepsake.
3 The Turbo-Charged Prelude Favored The JDM
Between the first and the second movie, comes the Turbo-Charged Prelude. In it, the storyline continues from when O’Conner gives away his 10-second car, the Toyota Supra to Dom, to help him escape. On the run himself, he is then shown getting a green Skyline from a used lot and then working at the car – giving it a paint job and adding the GT-R badge to the grill of the car.
Later, after a few random races to earn some money, he is shown at a fork in the highway, and he takes the road to Florida. Once there, he sees a Supra and a Mazda, and smiles, while sitting in his now-silver Nissan GT-R. JDM at its peak.
2 Walker’s JDM Legacy
The end of Furious 7 is a near tearjerker – with a graphically come-alive Walker shown to be racing Dom one last time, yet again in a white Toyota Supra. Once again, there’s a fork in the road and Dom and O’Conner head off in different directions with the camera panning to O’Conner’s near-heavenly ride.
The background music was Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s “See You Again” and brought fans to tears. Yet again, in a Jay Leno Garage Special, homage was paid to Paul by his brother Cody and Jay Leno – this time by driving a Supra, and discussing how Walker single-handedly built the JDM market in America.
1 The Legacy Can Be Yours
In case you want a piece of Walker for yourself, there is an opportunity coming up at Barrett-Jackson's 49th Annual Scottsdale Auction, to be held between January 11 to January 19, 2020. 21 of Walker’s cars are headed to this auction, with the highlights of the JDM being a 1989 Nissan R32 Skyline as well as a 2009 Nissan 370Z used in one of the F&F movies.
Other cars include his beloved BMW M3, seven of them to be exact, and his Chevy Novas as well. There isn’t a Toyota Supra among them though, but there will be fierce bidding for the Nissans with the JDM legacy Walker left.