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10 of the Ugliest Import Trends in History

Aug 20, 2015
Photographer: Super Street Archives

Have you ever looked back at old photos and wondered why we've worn certain clothes or had certain hairstyles growing up? The same goes for some of the parts we've installed on a few of our first project cars. With this 18th anniversary issue, we've decided to rewind time and look back at the scene a couple decades ago to highlight some of the worst tuner trends that have taken place in the industry. Of course, what's mentioned is purely subjective, but we think most of you will agree with our list.

Ugliest import trends underglow neon Photo 2/10   |   Ugliest Import Trends Underglow Neon

Underglow Neon

I'm sure many of you remember the first time you saw it on the big screen-Toretto, his squad, and a few black Honda Civics equipped with green underglow neon hijacking semi-trucks. If you still insist on rockin' these, we hear Disneyland can use some more neon lights for its night parade.

Acceptable: Extra lights are acceptable when it comes from the factory. Car makes such as Mercedes and Audi have daytime running lights and the Subaru BRZ has illumination footwell LEDs. A few VIP car builders also use lights, but if you do, do it tastefully.

Ugliest import trends body conversion Photo 3/10   |   Ugliest Import Trends Body Conversion

Body Conversions

While we appreciate the DIY factor of this trend, we're glad to see it go. Things like Kouki Nissan 240SX headlights on a Honda Accord or Toyota Supra taillights on a Mitsubishi Eclipse aren't meant to mix and match. Identity crisis, much?

Acceptable: Time and time again, we are reminded that Japan gets the good stuff while we are stuck with the watered-down variants. This is especially true when it comes to aero and lighting. It's OK to do a conversion if it resembles its JDM counterpart such as a Levin conversion on an AE86 Corolla GT-S, one-piece headlights for the Integra, or Silvia headlights to replace the pop-ups on a 240SX.

Ugliest import trends vertical doors Photo 4/10   |   Ugliest Import Trends Vertical Doors

Vertical Doors

We can all agree that vertical doors are best reserved for exotic cars like the Lamborghini or McLaren. We understand you want to be different and stand out, but this is most certainly not the way.

Acceptable: Vertical doors are only acceptable if the car came with it from the factory. All aftermarket vertical door kits need to go away.

Altezza Taillights

This trend originated, you guessed it, from the Toyota Altezza. Enthusiasts loved this car so much that, just like the vertical doors, they demanded taillights for their own cars. Everything from Honda Civics to SUVs were equipped with these hideous aftermarket lights.

Acceptable: This style light only looked proper on a Lexus IS300 or newer Lexus SUV. Not to say that we don't like aftermarket taillights-Zenki Nissan 240SXs, Mitsubishi Evolution VIIIs, and the Scion FR-S can use a little bit of help.

Ugliest import trends in car entertainment Photo 5/10   |   Ugliest Import Trends In Car Entertainment


At its peak, the In Car Entertainment (ICE) of a car looked like a Best Buy television showroom floor, complete with the latest gaming console, neon lights, multiple subwoofers, you name it...

Acceptable: Some people are just into car audio. This would make sense in an SUV, luxury cars, or DUB-style vehicles, if you're into that kind of stuff.

Ugliest import trends domo Photo 6/10   |   Ugliest Import Trends Domo
Ugliest import trends wakaba badges Photo 7/10   |   Ugliest Import Trends Wakaba Badges

Wannabe JDM Accessories

Nothing gets us more riled up than these ridiculous "JDM" accessories. Let's get it clear: Domo Kun, Wakaba badges, and I heart JDM stickers do not make your car look cool. The famous Domo character is an official mascot of a Japanese television station and the Wakaba badge symbolizes driver experience. The common green and yellow V-shaped symbol represents that you're a beginner driver and essentially warns other drivers to stay away from you. Do us a favor and remove these accessories.

Acceptable: A Domo doll is acceptable for your kids to play with. In the case of Wakaba badges, it's only acceptable for new drivers in Japan. In fact, new drivers must display it on their cars for one year.

Ugliest import trends unpainted body kit Photo 8/10   |   Ugliest Import Trends Unpainted Body Kit

Unpainted Body Kits

We understand money is tight and projects can slow down. But if you're in that situation, you don't necessarily have to install the body kit. You and your car will have a bigger impact when everything is properly fitted and painted.

Acceptable: The only time this is acceptable is when you're on your way to the body shop. Otherwise, don't be the laughing stock of the car community.

Ugliest import trends racing stripes Photo 9/10   |   Ugliest Import Trends Racing Stripes
Ugliest import trends racing stripes Photo 10/10   |   Ugliest Import Trends Racing Stripes

Racing Stripes

The racing stripes you normally see on muscle cars were simply to align the driver's line of sight in the event of a spinout. For reasons unknown to man, racing stripes were applied on show cars.

Acceptable: This trend is still around and only works for muscle cars or built track cars.

Cotton Balls

We all wish our cars could have both show and go, but the cotton balls used to mimic a burnout look absurd. Some say they also use them to hide any blemishes on wheels. Leave the cotton at home, people.

Acceptable: A proper way to display your car can include proper signage such as spec sheets or built photos. Also, if the show's venue is wack and you want to go all out, perhaps add some lighting to highlight your car.

Painted Interiors

We all want an interior so Gucci it can steal the crowd's attention. However, painting the interior of your car not only makes it look outdated, but super cheap.

Acceptable: If you want to change out the boring plastics in your car, try switching to Alcantara or maybe looking for a carbon-fiber replacement.

Jofel Tolosa
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