JDM, which means "Japanese Domestic Market," is a term that's often thrown around a lot, but what exactly does it mean? There's a lot of confusion on this topic in the car scene, so let's do some clarifying.
A true JDM would be a car that's only available for initial purchase in Japan, that's built to Japanese standards, and with Japanese parts. True JDM parts can be acquired and added to the USDM, which is the United States Domestic Market version, through which the car would then be considered to have JDM styling but still not be a true JDM. A JDM can be legally imported into the States, the most popular and cost-effective way is to wait until the car is at least 25 years old, after which all the DOT and EPA regulations are lifted.
There's also the misconception that JDM only refers to tuner cars. The fact is that that the Japanese car culture includes a huge mini-truck scene that they adopted from the West Coast of the US in addition to the adoption of many different styles umbrellaed under the Bosozuku style. Let’s take a look at 25 examples of the most outrageous JDMs.
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25 Bosozoku style
The JDM scene has many layers to it. Here we're looking at a car that was influenced by the Bosozoku style.
Bosozoku, which according to Top Gear, translates to “violent running tribe,” was first introduced to the biker world and has since been adopted by the car scene.
The Bosozoku are known for their flashy paint jobs and extensive over-the-top exhaust systems that we see on a much milder level in the U.S due to the Japanese influence.
24 Shakotan Styling
Here's another car that was heavily influenced by the Bosozuku style. The externally mounted intercooler is a common modification you'll find on Bosozuku cars.
According to Car Throttle, this car looks to be styled more like the Shakotan style, which is known for a negative camber, extreme tire flares, and stretched tires, which have become extremely popular in the U.S.
It’s funny to think that this is considered to be the mildest version of Bosozoku styling.
23 Unique RX-7
One thing that you have to give to the Japanese is they're not scared to stand out when it comes to modifying their cars. Here's an example of just that.
This RX7 is one of the most unique we've ever seen.
The owner appears to have custom fabricated the body to create a custom aero wheel design. According to Auto Trader, this is often found on hybrids (which this is not) to create better aerodynamics for the vehicle.
22 Toyota AE86
We can all agree that the AE86 was much more exciting than the watered-down Corolla that the US received.
The infamous AE86, aka as the "Hachiroku," which literally means "86" in Japanese, is a car that's still worth talking about three decades later.
According to Motor1, the GT-S was the top-of-the-line model capable of making 112 hp and 87 lb-ft of torque and only with a manual transmission while weighing less than 2,500 lbs!
21 Prius In Disguise
This Prius is trying really hard to no longer look like a Prius, and it almost fooled us. According to Autoevolution, this gem was unveiled at a Japanese auto show that showcases some of the wildest and most unique builds. This Prius fits that description perfectly, as it seems to be fitted with a custom Rocket Bunny kit that we often see on the FRS and the BRZ. This Prius is sure to turn heads on the street!
20 Nissan Silvia
The fact is that the Nissan Silvia wasn’t very fast from stock, so what was so great about the Silvia? According to Car Throttle, there were a lot of things that set the Silvia apart from the others, the first few being that it's light and rear-wheel driven, which makes it a perfect drift car. The Silvia doesn’t require a lot of work in order to make it faster, and finding parts for it is easy, which is why it’s still so sought after these days.
19 Extreme Negative Camber
Extreme negative camber, shown here, aka as “hella flush,” has recently become insanely popular in the tuner scene in the U.S, but like most trends, this one started in Japan. In some extreme cases, cars are only driving on a few inches of rubber.
According to Turnology, negative camber is traditionally used to help the car handle better when cornering in addition to reducing body roll.
But this extreme case is obviously not beneficial to anyone except the person who's selling you your tires.
18 WRX STI s207
This may appear to just be a Subaru, but it’s a bit more special that than. According to Car and Driver, this WRX STI s207 is limited to just 400 cars. Of those 400, only 200 of them have the option to add the NBR Challenge Package, which adds a carbon-fiber spoiler and a special badge. And if that isn’t exclusive enough for you, only 100 of the 200 were available in the Sunrise Yellow that's shown in the picture above.
17 VIP Styling
There's a bit of debate when it comes to whether or not the style of cars known as "Bippu" or "VIP" is classified under the Bosozoku umbrella. According to Jalopnik, VIP isn’t the type of people that drive this car but rather a style can only be applied to big-bodied, more luxurious cars in which lowered suspensions, large deep-dish wheels, and a touch of camber are added to equations to create the VIP styling.
16 Kei Trucks
If you think the JDM scene is exclusive to just cars, you're wrong. The truth is the mini-truck scene is huge in Japan. Here's an awesome example of what can be done to a Kei truck with a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears. But what even is a Kei truck? According to Auto Trader, a Kei vehicle must conform to certain size, weight, and engine output for it to qualify for a tax and insurance break.
15 Autozam Az-1
Next on the list is another Kei car, the Autozam Az-1.
What makes this little car so unique is the fact that it came standard with a set of gullwing doors, like the ones we still see on the Mercedes SLS.
According to Top Gear, the car was only sold from 1992-1994 and came sold with a three-cylinder engine making the max output of 63 hp so that it could still be considered a Kei car and reap all the benefits.
14 Too Soon, Junior
The Nissan Silvia is one of those cars that the U.S cannot wait to turn 25 so they can start importing these gems. According to Jalopnik, a Mississippi man got caught illegally importing a 2001 Nissan Silvia into the States. He could now face up to 20 years in prison and a quarter-of-a-million-dollar fine to go along with it! According to the article, the man instead got off with an $18,000 fine and three year’s probation, and of course, the car was destroyed.
13 Honda NSX
The infamous Honda NSX, known as the "Acura NSX" in North America, is one of those great cars that still get people excited about almost thirty years after it made its debut. According to Top Speed, the NSX made its debut to the world in 1989 at the Chicago Autoshow with its first model being the 1990 model. The NSX came standard with a naturally aspirated V6 that could churn out a respectable 270 hp, making it capable of getting to sixty in just 5.7 seconds.
12 Veilside RX-7
Veilside is one of Japan's most famously known aftermarket parts manufacturers and is responsible for this ridiculous RX-7. According to Top Speed, the supped-up RX-7 was capable of making 306 hp at 6,650 rpm and 256 lb-ft of torque at 5,950 rpm, making the RX-7 capable of running a quarter mile in just over 14 seconds and getting to sixty in just 6. The car was so impressive that it was picked to be featured in the Fast and The Furious movie in addition to being crowned with the Grand Prix award.
11 Toyota Celsior
Here's another example of the Bipu or VIP styling. The car featured is a Toyota Celsior, which we'll cover elsewhere on in the list.
The Celsior was a big-body luxury sedan that was only available in Japan and is often seen in the VIP scene.
It’s funny to think that these cars were built to seem more inconspicuous to cops but compared to how over the topmost Japanese styling is, it actually makes sense.
10 Subaru Impreza 22B STI
The Subaru Impreza 22B STI was released two decades ago in 1998 and is still considered one of the best cars ever built by Subaru. According to Motor1, the 22B was built to celebrate Subaru’s 40th birthday and winning the World Rally Championship for the third year in the row. Only 424 22B produced came stock with a 2.2-liter that made an impressive 280 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque, making it capable of getting to sixty in just 4.5 seconds.
9 Nissan Pulsar GTI-R
The Nissan Pulsar GTI-R is one of those cars that make you think about why they ever stopped making these. According to Road and Track, the GTI-R may not have looked all that special, but it was. Unfortunately, only 5,000 of these all-wheel-drive gems were produced.
Under the hood, it packed a turbocharged 2.0-liter that was good for 227 hp, which was all more impressive almost three decades ago, making it old enough to import into the US.
At least one has been confirmed to be imported already.
8 Toyota Century
The Century is a full-sized luxury sedan that, at first glance, could be mistaken as a Rolls-Royce but will cost a fraction of the cost with a bargain price of $180,000. According to Cnet, the Century comes standard with a hybrid 5.0-liter V8 engine that's good for 425 hp and is much more fuel efficient than the V12 that was in the previous generation.
7 Mazda Cosmo
Back in 1968, the Mazda Cosmo made its debut to the world as Mazda’s very first sports car. According to Road and Track, the Cosmo was the very first production vehicle that came with a rotary engine, more specifically, a 982 cc twin-rotor engine that was good for 110 hp at 7,000 rpm.
One in mint condition recently popped up in the US for sale with roughly 21k original miles on it!
The car even came with the original owner’s manual—now that’s awesome!
6 Toyota Soarer
The Japanese like to keep certain cars just for themselves, which is true for the next car on the list: the Toyota Soarer GT. According to Carfolio, the rear-wheel-drive Soarer came stock with a twin-turbocharged 2.5-liter that was really something special. It was capable of making 276 hp at 6,200 rpm and 268 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. The early models are already eligible for import to the States, and a few have popped up for sale already.
5 Toyota Celsior
The Toyota Celsior was way ahead of its game when it made its debut to the world almost three decades ago.
The Toyota Celsior is the Japanese version of the United States Lexus LS400, a large luxury sedan.
According to Autospeed, the rear-wheel-drive Celsior came stock with a 4.0-liter V8, which was capable of making an impressive 250 hp.
4 Nissan Hakosuka
GT-R, which stands for "Grand Turismo racer," has been around for longer than most would think. According to Top Speed, the GT-R badging on its first skyline came out in 1968, after which it was then offered as a sedan. According to Bloomberg, just over 2,000 Hakosukas were made, the sedans being the rarer of the bunch with only 832 of them produced. One was on display at the NY Autoshow back in 2016 to celebrate the unveiling of the new GTR.
3 Nissan Kenmeri
The second generation to follow the Hakosuka was the second-generation GT-R, known as the "Kenmeri." The same year the Kenmeri made its debut, the oil crisis hit, making it very short lived and the reason why it's so rare today! According to Bloomberg, only 197 Kenmeris were ever produced, so if you’re lucky enough to come across one for sale, expect to pay a small fortune for it, as one sold in 2014 for almost a quarter million dollars!
2 Celica GT4
The Celica GT4 is another one of those Japanese cars that enthusiasts in the US can only dream of.
But as it approaches its 25th birthday, you can expect to see some in the States as soon as they’re eligible for import next year.
According to Road and Track, the GT4 came as an all-wheel drive with upgrades all around to its suspension and with a 2.0-liter engine that was good for a still impressive 250 hp.
1 Mitsubishi FTO
The Mitsubishi FTO was another one of those cars that the US didn’t have the pleasure of experiencing—until now. The inaugural year is now eligible for import as it turned 25 this year. According to Car Buzz, the best of the FTO models was the LSD, which came powered by a 2.0-liter V6 that was good for 200 hp and came standard with a limited-slip differential, hence the name. Fingers crossed that you'll see one in person soon!