*All views not exclusively shared by SS staff. Only Jofel Tolosa.
The import scene has come a long way from what it was when it started and what it became after The Fast and Furious franchise dropped. There has been a fair share of the good, bad, and absolutely heinous trends within the tuning community. Some of us...probably most of us took part in them in some fashion. From outrageously loud fart cans, wings the size of diving boards on stock motored cars to overused underglow in and out, nostalgically looking back at these trends we find ourselves asking, "What were we thinking?"
Okay before you start sending us hate mail we agree that once upon a time a few of these trends were cool and even today, when done correctly, some of them are still acceptable or even beneficial to a build. There are even times when a dead trend makes its way back into the scene whether it be abroad or in a town near you. Lastly, we know that anything cool or uncool is completely subjective and that's why we provided examples of when it's acceptable. But for the most part these trends are gone for a good reason. Check out the 10 worst trends to hit our import community. If we missed any, leave a comment.
Originating in the early 2000s, body conversions were a big hit. Fabricating Toyota Supra taillights on Mitsubishi Eclipses or Nissan 240SX headlights on Honda CRX was a pretty common practice back in the day. We didn't think it would be possible for cars to have an identity crisis but they sure did with those that took the Frankenstein route.
Acceptable: When converting a USDM car to have a JDM appearance. Here in the U.S. we never received the better-looking 1-piece headlights for the Integra for example. Another car that never made it stateside was the Toyota Levin. If you own a Toyota Corolla AE86 and pop-up headlights isn't your thing a Levin front end conversion is probably the way to go.
Conversions when done right can even give your car an updated look. For example, if you want to get rid of the bug eye headlights on a 2000 WRX, slap on 2005 headlights. Same can be said for the DC5 Acura RSX. Then there are of course the many popular JDM conversions for the 240SX taillights and front end. Special cases exist too where a car can use a different automaker's parts such as the "Odyvia" which is a Nissan S13 fitted with Odyssey headlights.
If a loud exhaust isn't a big enough target for the police, underglow neon lights are sure to gain you unwanted attention. Possibly popularized by the O.G. Fast and Furious film back in 2001, these LED light tubes have been seen fitted underneath the perimeter of cars, behind grilles and venting and even as an interior accent. While when done properly and tastefully, the night glow look can look pretty cool but do it wrong and it'll look more like a mobile club gone wrong.
Acceptable: If you are part of the "bosozuku" culture or a member of the Japanese mafia and own a Lamborghini Countach. Only then can you rock the neon - if you choose this path, do it tastefully.
I don't mind promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, but many of the stanced out cars with roof racks have never even carried bikes, surfboards, or snowboards. What's the point? Usual suspects are Hondas and Volkswagens with Yakima or Thule roof racks.
Acceptable: On cars that are meant to go off-road such as a Subaru or if you are really about that active lifestyle and can't transport gear without the addition than by all means but otherwise it is like owning a gym membership without ever going.
Installed and Unpainted Aero
You've seen these guys around town. We understand that money can slow down or temporarily sideline a project but instead of cruising with mismatched bodywork why not wait until you have your entire aero painted before installing? Your car will be a bigger hit and you won't get laughed at when you roll through car meets.
Acceptable: If you're driving to the body shop for paint because you installed it yourself and have no other means of transporting the kit.
We don't blame you for wanting an exotic car, but Lamborghinis are from Italy and you are most likely driving a car from Japan. Based on our current salary rate, we doubt an exotic will be parked in our garage anytime soon. Quite frankly, putting Lambo doors on a Honda Civic is like shotgunning a tall boy of Natural Ice (and spilling most of it on your sleeveless shirt) at a black tie event. For reasons unknown to man, this trend is still alive. Somebody even put it on a GT86. Seriously? Come on.
We've said it many times and we'll say it again. In many cases simplicity is key. Sometimes we strive too hard to be different in the import community. These clear or Euro taillights are not the way to go. Many cars sporting these lights actually look better with OEM units.
Acceptable: This style belongs on the Lexus IS300, a few Lexus SUVs, and that's about it. We're not saying all aftermarket taillights are bad. There are some that actually look better than OEM. The taillights on a Zenki Nissan 240SX, Mitsubishi Evolution VIII, or even the Toyota GT86/Scion FR-S/ Subaru BRZ can actually benefit from aftermarket parts.
Originally, these stripes were applied to the hood of racecars to align with the driver's line of sight. In the event of a spin the contrasting colors assisted the driver in determining the direction of the car. We're sure that not all but some import cars repping racing stripes rarely ever see any track action.
Acceptable: If you own an American muscle car such as Ford Mustangs, Chevrolet Corvettes, Camaros etc. or if your car is a built track car.
A big wing is a big statement. This is one trend that is actually making a comeback. For the most part any body part you switch out should aid in aerodynamics. The wing or spoiler is designed to provide maximum downforce to improve stability at speed. It just looks wrong when a low horsepower car lacking any engine modifications but an air filter, intake and low-end pipe sports a GT wing. You don't need it! Instead, put that money into suspension modifications. You know who you are.
Acceptable: The trend is coming back. It definitely works on a car built for the track, but there are some show cars that are starting to rock it and rock it well. For example, the Scion FRS with Rocket Bunny kits. They have big wings, but more than likely under the hood is a supercharger or turbo setup. If your Evo is going to have a Voltex kit you better have more horsepower than a stock variant. My point is if you're going to have a wing make sure you have the power to back it up.
Hood Pins and Tow Hooks on Show Cars
Hood pins and tow hooks are designed to keep aftermarket hoods latched down in extreme speeds and pull a track car through the pits or out of a crash zone, respectively. Your show queen is lucky if it beats parking lot speeds so it doesn't need either.
Acceptable: If you drive your car on the track.
What do I mean by JDM trinkets? Domo, Wakaba badges, dolls, etc. The Domo character many people love isn't even car related. It's actually the official mascot to a Japanese television station. How it came to be considered JDM is beyond us. The Wakaba badges or Soshinoya badges are symbols of driver status. The most famous one, the green and yellow V-shaped mark, signifies that the driver is a beginner. Basically, it's a warning for other driver's to stay away because you are inexperienced. Avoid looking like a noob and take it off.
Acceptable: Domo is acceptable for your kids to play with. If you are really that bad at driving and want to use a Soshinoya badge, a Driver's Education refresher is in order.