Make no mistake, VIP car culture is huge in Japan. In a country where the masses reside in tiny apartments or cookie-cutter homes, owning an immaculately maintained VIP sedan or minivan is a great way to show the community that you are indeed a "very important person." One of the biggest names in the JDM VIP game is AIMGAIN, a brand that enticed us recently with its carbon fiber NC1 Acura NSX and Toyota 86 widebody, then wooed us with its flawless facility.
Established in May 2002, AIMGAIN has taken the world by storm via the manufacturing and selling of its own line of ultra-high-end products. Known for its aero and suspension expertise, AIMGAIN has crafted body kits for most family sedans like the Lexus LS and Toyota Crown, to opulent sports coupes and exotics over the years (like the 86 and NSX we just featured), with its products being offered on a global scale. We visited the Hiroshima-based shop and discovered AIMAGAIN might just have the sickest shop in Japan, but we also learned that they've evolved well beyond shiny wheels and window curtains.
Located right down the road from Hiroshima University, AIMGAIN's headquarters is a sprawling 32,000 square-foot, two-tone compound. Opened in December 2004, just two kilometers down the road from the original shop, this facility is nothing short of spectacular. Formerly a wheel distribution center, AIMGAIN's current location is home to seven full-time employees and a multitude of work bays, some of which were added afterward. Housed on-site is AIMGAIN's "Pro Shop Remake" division, a highly successful branch responsible for spearheading the showroom, storefront, and installation side of the business.
Officially established as its own entity in July 2005, the rear portion of Pro Shop Remake Co., Ltd. is a hive for AIMGAIN trade secrets, areas in which we were forbidden from photographing. With that in mind, we shot everything else, starting with the entrance, which connects the showroom to a duo of garage bays via a striped crosswalk. Travel past the crosswalk and the spotless glass showroom doors and you encounter a large parking lot, nestled in the center of the compound.
While discussing which area to tackle first, AIMGAIN's chief of project planning, Ito Hiroshi, emerged to welcome us. Expressive and exuberant, Ito-san proceeded to give us a tour, explaining the purpose of each bay and answering questions as they arose. As we strolled around the compound, glimpses of project vehicles being test-fitted with prototype aero components, completed customer cars, and R&D spaces greeted our gaze. Everything but mass-production is tackled in-house, so naturally, there was a lot to see but also a lot that we were unable to shoot.
Ito-san explained that apart from all of its other roles, this is also a fully functional auto shop, where vehicle servicing remains a priority. Being that this is AIMGAIN, oil spots and grease smudges were nowhere to be seen. Even the tool carts and carefully organized shop supplies were spotless, an indication of the level of care put into every aspect of their daily routine.
If there was such a thing as a spa resort for VIP automobiles, this would be it. A place where customer vehicles get pampered by padded lifts, a tire changer and balancer that covers every wheel imaginable up to 24-inches in diameter, digital alignment racks, an engine diagnostic station, and every other form of high-end shop accessory.
Triggering the automatic doors, we moved our way into AIMGAIN's showroom; a glass-encased room that is so clean that you could eat dinner off its floors. Here, in this spotless space, you can find everything from merchandise to displays loaded with both AIMGAIN branded wheels and those from other companies. Oh, and let's not forget the featured display vehicles, which go well beyond VIP sedans and Japanese vans.
But before we dig into that bag of Koala cookies, let's focus on some of the other highlights of the showroom. There's a bar/waiting area complete with entertainment center and tropical plants. Sitting beside it you'll find bespoke AIMGAIN interior products and seating areas. Everywhere you turn, black-and-white AIMGAIN floor mats are underfoot, and both walls and shelves alike are heavily laden with awards and photographs of projects and products. This isn't just the swankiest showroom you've ever encountered, it's a trophy room for one of the greatest VIP brands of all time.
As the vehicles in the showroom illustrate, AIMGAIN has developed a taste for all manner of machine. Ito-san provided some insight into the company's recent interest in sports cars, off-road vehicles and European exotics. Although VIP Japanese sedans and wild minivans are what made AIMGAIN a star in the ever-evolving aftermarket automotive arena, it has seen success with other platforms in recent years.
What began with a single Toyota 86 project way back in 2014, evolved into an entire lineup of exotics, sports cars, and most recently, off-road vehicles. AIMGAIN's extensive knowledge of design and fabrication, as well as its brand recognition have helped these parts to be well received.
While the USDM carbon fiber Acura NSX sitting in the showroom is what brought us to AIMGAIN, some other cars on the premises deserved some mention. Although the slammed VIP sedans sitting inside the front showroom and within various garage bays grabbed our attention, AIMGAIN's divergence from its comfort zone warrants discussion. Take the rugged little Suzuki Jimny "MT.8" 4x4 that AIMGAIN built, for instance. This little rascal has a full bumper and sideguard setup from the brand, as well as a stinger bar, adjustable roof rack, squid ring LED lights, trick suspension, exclusive RAYS wheels and an army of accessories. All of these mods, plus many more have helped AIMGAIN's Jimny clean-up the awards, proof that this new direction is indeed worth exploring.
Before we go, there's one more thing we'd like to mention. AIMGAIN is like the James Bond of the automotive world. Sharply styled, serious to a fault and fond of cars with clever mods—AIMGAIN is the archetype for VIP Japanese culture.