Trends may come and trends certainly go, but no matter which way you slice it or dice it, these phases we go through have influenced the way we tune our cars, make them look or how they sound. From a time when vinyl graphics and 16-inch wheels were the only ways you could up your style to Lamborghini-style doors, 20's on a Civic and engine conversions we never thought possible, you could say we've come a long way, baby. And don't laugh-you know you've done one or more of these modifications to your car at some point, and if you didn't, then consider yourself lucky (or uncool)! We'd also like your input; agree or disagree with any of these? Have a couple fads we may have missed? Send your comments to: Super Street, Attn: Top 10 Trends, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.superstreetonline.com to see some trends that just weren't hot enough to make the cut.
ICE: In-Car Electronics
They always said we'd have flying cars and develop ways to teleport ourselves from one end of the world to the other by the year 2005, but "they" lied. At least we have high end car audio systems to worry about until that problem's been solved. Starting with the pull-out and detachable face plate head units, you can now install stereos that have flip-out monitors, DVD players and an internal hard drive to store digital media. Gaming was alsoM introduced a few short years ago and now a PS2 or an Xbox is considered a must-have in today's winning show cars. Can't find your way around town? GPS units can now be used to find the nearest movie theaters or to see how long your ass is going to be stuck in traffic. Safe to say, if you can come up with a concept, any entertainment system can be installed into your ride.
Year of origin Long before your time, sonny
When it blew up 2002
Color Matched Pleather and Painted Interiors
If you were strapped for cash it was hard to come up with ideas to spice up the interior of a car, so whatever could be popped off and sanded down would ultimately be painted with a can of Krylon. Air vents, door handles, gauge cluster trim-if you were ghetto, like Jonny, you painted all of these and said, "Rad." But if you had access to a BofA account with at least $500 in it, you could have your stock seats and most easily accessible panels recovered with colored pleather-a trend started by the likes of a certain RJ DeVera and Team Kosoku. A fashion faux pas by today's standards, but anyone who went two-tone with their interior was like the kid in elementary school who had a pair of Jordans: very cool.
Year of origin 1995
When it blew up 1997
Lambo-style Door Conversions
Love it or hate it (we're still on the fence), Lambo-style door conversions took modifying to a whole new level. Catering more to the show-oriented enthusiast, one could finally make a car door go in a direction that wasn't pulled out or suicide-converted. Lambo-style doors like the ones offered by Vertical Doors are affordable, easy to install, bolt-on kits that can be switched back to stock easily, unlike custom Lambo conversions back in the late '90s that usually required a few thousand dollars and at least four months of downtime to complete.
Year of origin circa 2000
When it blew up 2005
A cost-effective alternative to bolting a turbo or blower to your engine is adding nitrous oxide, a form of forced induction. When heated, N20 splits into oxygen and nitrogen, giving your engine a lot more oxygen to combust. Add more fuel to this equation and suddenly you can create a whole lotta power. Some of the fastest drag cars rely on the funny gas to propel them into the record books and advances in nitrous technology have allowed companies to produce spray bars that release nitrous directly into an intercooler for an even colder, denser intake charge for boosted motors.
Year of origin Oldest trick in the book
When it blew up 1994
Engine conversions aren't a new science, but the options were slim for any compact performance vehicle until Honda produced the twin-cam engine for the Acura Integra, specifically the famed VTEC B18C1. Along with the JDM B16As and B18A/B LS engines, those who owned Civics could now own fast street and track-only cars with either a naturally-aspirated or boosted setup. Later, the nearly forgottenNissan 240SX became highly in demand once tuners figured out you could swap the K24 for the Japanese 2-liter, a turbocharged variant called the SR20DET. In the Toyota segment, we've seen 2JZ conversions pulled for 3S-GTEs or European exotics like the Lotus Elise with a K20 stuffed into their engine bays.
Year of origin unknown
When it blew up 1996-present
Hot on the trail of Honda's B-series engine swaps is the recent explosion of the K-conversion. i-VTEC has yet to reach its full capablities, but we expect this engine to eclipse anything we've seen in the past soon very soon. Check out the K-Swap in the Half Way MR-S on page 080.
Extreme Body Work
In a huge category that spans anything a body shop can handle (i.e., head and taillight conversions, Z3 fenders, MR2 side vents, color-matched/shaved you-name-its, and big wings), if you can think it, it's probably been done already. Supra taillights on your DC2, air scoops on roof tops, or just taking the rear emblems off the trunk of your IS 300: they're all costly yet unique ways you could separate your car from everyone else's. We've even seen Integra front ends on Civics and vice versa! 5Axis takes the cake when it comes to extreme, however. Remember their Scion xB and tC concept cars?
Year of origin 1997
When it blew up 1998 and still going
Big F'in Wheels
When it was 1987, 15s were considered unreal.In 1992, the thought of 16s made us giggle like school girls. When Dazz released an 18-inch wheel in 2000, nobody thought the Civic they were bolted onto could turn a corner without rubbing. Now there are VIP sedans running around with 20s. You figure flying cars are still some time away, so maybe someone will come up with an even bigger wheel to fit under the wheel wells of your ride. SUVs and trucks not included.
Year of origin 1987
When it blew up 2000
The next generation of stylish and race-functional wheels, like Work's latest additions to the Emotion line, will be huge in '06. Turn to page 086 in our Tokyo Auto Salon coverage for more details.
JDM (Japanese Domestic Market)
Thanks to his circle of Honda Internet friends, our resident JDM commander, Jonny Wong, was able to unleash the magic of JDM to the mainstream masses, not knowing what an impact it would have on future generations. What started out simply as a clean approach to building and racing Hondas-headlights, engine swaps, hard to find interior pieces-has now expanded to Nissans, Toyotas, and so on. Basically any car offered here by a Japanese manufacturer is bound to have some sort of Japanese counterpart. Hardcore JDMers are now using influences from sources outside of the car world, like hip hop, to create a whole new style of JDM. It's an ever-changing scene that brings fresh ideas to the table with each passing show or Honda forum topic.
Year of origin circa 1997
When it blew up 2002
JDM took years to catch on, and recently, we've been noticing an influx of old school rides on the come up. Celicas, Corollas, and Skylines built by serious afficionados are about to show the youngins what time it is.
What ultimately started out as a real custom, do-it-yourself type of deal is now a must-have, accessory for most owners of a modified vehicle. Vinyl graphics had to be cut with an exacto knife back in the day, but thanks to the wonderful world of modern electronics, a computer can now cut any logo or graphic scheme, from simple sponsor placement to a full revamp of the exterior. What's great is that this type of modification can be easily altered or removed without sacrificing an entire paycheck or two to a paint job.
Year of origin unknown
When it blew up 1996
Clear Taillights/ Euro Lights
In the beginning, there were amber colored turn signals. Then someone decided that we'd be better off clear. That's when local show guys in Los Angeles started replacing the outer lens on their taillights with clear reflective plastic from Home Depot, a highly illegal substitution for OEM lighting equipment. Then, APC created a DOT-legal clear lens that everyone could enjoy without getting busted...until the DOT actually deemed these lights illegal. Clear corner lights were another hot trend in the mid-'90s and could actually be bought for certain applications straight from Japan (yet another introduction phase to JDM). The release of Lexus' IS 300 also spanned a subculture of wannabe "Altezzas," giving many a Civic or Accord an unnecessary identity crisis.
Year of origin early '90s
When it blew up 2002