What JDM issue would be complete without giving props to the cars that have given our and consequently, your - eyes a proverbial boner over the years? Think of these cars as the greatest our scene has ever seen, and we just happened to be lucky enough to be there to capture the moment. Granted, there are tons of cars that are completely worthy to fill a top 100, but we had to limit this to what we could pull out of our collective archives. In no particular order actually, in chronological order, dating from the older years:
Mods: 1.6L B16B, SARD/KKK turbo, Cross transmission and LSD; Tanabe Sustec Pro coilovers, 17x7" Volk Racing Daytona Speed wheels, 4.7-inch lowered roof, custom paint by Signal Auto Show-Up, Kosquito Super Air body kit, Bride racing seat
Why We Love It: In the late 90s, Signal Auto found their way over to the US to try their hand at drag racing. Turns out they brought this rather unique Civic Type R to the game. With a chopped roof, slick graphics and having a real CTR, nobody was sure what to make of this JDM dragster. It wound up clocking some super low times and cemented Signal’s presence in the US for years to come. These days, Signal puts most of their energy into their Show-Up division in Japan, doing awesome body work and paint for their clientele.
Mods: ’98 1.6L B16B, Blitz KKK/K3T turbo, Top Fuel fuel pump, turbo manifold and blow-off valve; A’PEXi N1 coilovers, Mugen strut tower bar, ’98 Integra Type R 5-lug conversion, 17x7.5" Blitz Technospeed Z1 wheels, Buddy Club body kit, JDM CTR headlights and Championship White paint; A’PEXi Power FC and FC Commander
Why We Love It: Before JDM conversions went super hot, Sunny Lau from Sunny Styling put his cool twist on a ’96 Civic hatchback, and in effect, created his own pseudo-CTR. All original Buddy Club aero with custom carbon-fiber pieces he made himself, the car also received a B16B from a CTR and turbo goods from Top Fuel Japan to make it a real standout.
Mods: 2.2L 3S-GE, HKS GT3037S ball-bearing turbo, racing wastegate, intercooler, camshafts, forged pistons/counterweighted crankshaft, titanium coated piston rings, F-CON VPro, EVC Pro boost controller and tons of top secret HKS Mods they wouldn’t even tell us; XTrac six-speed sequential transmission, 18x11" ADVAN TCII Pro Centerlock wheels, Alcon brakes, custom carbon body panels and flares; Bride seats
Why We Love It: Back when Super Lap Battle/time attack was strictly a Japanese thing to do, HKS decided it was time (in 2001) to build a car called Track Attack, a Toyota Altezza (that’s IS300) designed to, at the cost of only $300,000 USD, break the lap record at Tsukuba Circuit and broke it, no, make that destroyed, at 55.85 seconds. One lap, one record, the HKS Track Attack Altezza never went on the track again due to chassis restrictions. For HKS thankfully, they would have others
Mods: Custom rear mounted B18C, HKS GT3240 turbo, Top Fuel pistons, connecting rods, blockguard, cams, dual turbo exhaust and stainless manifold; A’PEXi intercooler and Power FC; OS Giken clutch, HKS Hiper Damper coilovers, Endless NA-S EK9 brakes, 17x9.5" ADVAN RG wheels, Yokohama ADVAN A048 tires, Mugen front bumper, side skirts and rear bumper; Top Fuel fenders and Zero-1000 wing; Recaro SR4 seats
Why We Love It: The late 90s and early 2000s saw many attempts at a rear-engine Honda, but many of those were failures. Top Fuel Japan decided out of sheer boredom and being that crazy that it would be fun to build a successor to their CR-X dragster. Enter this del Sol, custom-fitted with a turbocharged Integra Type R motor in its trunk. This Mugen-kitted racer only required 550hp to pull off a shakedown pass of 10.8 at a 400-meter track in Japan, proving that insanity works wonders in the house of Yasuji Hirano.
Mods: 2.2L 3S-GTE; Garage Fukui crankshaft, pistons and rods; HKS cams, Trust T88-34D turbo, Type C wastegate, intercooler, oil cooler and Pro-FEC B-spec boost controller; Top Secret Pro GT300SPL exhaust manifold and Titan Pro 100 exhaust; Top Secret Racing Damper GT300SPL, 19x9.5" Top Secret Edition Volk Racing LE37T, Alcon/GREX brakes, Top Secret Super G Force body kit, rear wing and paint
Why We Love It: This is the car that catapulted Top Secret into superstardom. Swapped with a 2.2L SW20 MR2 motor, we thought they were insane for foregoing the 2JZ, but this actually helped create a 50/50 power-to-weight ratio; it didn’t hurt that it also made 720hp and 470lb-ft. Aesthetics-wise, it’s easy to see where many of today’s showcars got their design influences/cues from, like the paint, widebody styling and wheel selection.
Fumiaki Komatsu Signal Auto
Mods: S15 Strawberry Face conversion; Majiora Galaxy II paint, Target aero kit, 2.0L SR20DET, Trust TD-06-L2 turbo, Type R wastegate and intercooler; TEIN HE coilovers
Why We Love It: Street drifter defined: Fumiaki Komatsu, dubbed Drifter X was Signal Auto’s first US driver to show us a thing or two about getting a car sideways. He set the path for Signal’s US drifting career, turning many Japanese street drifters into household names.
Mods: ’00 B18C5 Integra Type R long block; HKS header, Mugen valve springs, head gasket, oil pan, valve cover and ECU; Toda cam gears, Civic Type R cams, J1 transmission, KAAZ LSD, A’PEXi N1 coilovers, Spoon Sports calipers, 15x6.5" Mugen RnR wheels, Mugen side skirts, N2 steering wheel, shift knob and steering boss; JDM XSi gauge cluster, A’PEXi VAFC
Why We Love It: You won’t find a DA Integra any cleaner than this. Original paint, only the best JDM parts yep, timeless.
Mods: HKS GT30 PRO S turbo, forged pistons, Super Power Flow, R-Type intercooler, Hipermax D coilovers and Original seats; 18" Super ADVAN Racing Version 2 wheels, Endless brakes, Vertex Ridge aero kit, Yashio Factory hood and carbon doors; Esprit rear wing, Craft Square mirrors, Defend Racing Service shroud panel
Why We Love It: NOB Taniguchi’s original drift machine is a car that will live in infamy as it was always the best looking and performing vehicle at D1 events across the world. No other car came close to being as great as this S15 for No One Better.
1984 Honda Cr-X/Mugen GT-4
Mods: Mugen XA-1 USR engine, header, upgraded transmission, rollcage custom-modified by Dix Erickson/Special Project Team, CF-48 wheels, widebody kit, graphics and steering wheel
Why We Love It: The Mugen GT-4 CR-X is pure history here. In 1985, when you couldn’t get a tab unless you ordered something and Pepsis weren’t free, this tiny hatchback was a lovechild of both AHM and Mugen, with specs still shrouded in mystery to this day. It won the GT-4 National Championship and a big SCCA competition the same year, thus solidifying Mugen’s racing heritage in the US. And no, you can’t make an offer on the parts.
2001 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII RS
Mods: JUN Auto 2.2L stroker kit, cams, pistons, connecting rods and crankshaft; F-CON VPro, A’PEXi RX6 turbo, wastegate, intercooler and aluminum radiator; Power Enterprise timing belt and 1000cc injectors; Cusco MZ Type RS LSD, Garage HRS carbon-fiber driveshaft, 17x9.5" Volk Racing CE28, C-West aero kit, Sun Auto Cyber Speed GT wing, Garage HRS wide fenders, Car Station Marche FRP rear doors, Voltex carbon under-panel and canards; Recaro SP-G seat, Garage HRS dashboard
Why We Love It: You might be surprised to know this, but a Japanese dentist by the name of Masamichi Takizawa actually owns this Evo 7. But it was Sun Auto who turned the car into a beast, a car that posted a 55.801 at the Tsukuba Circuit before it came over the our Super Lap Battle where at Buttonwillow Raceway, it completed a best time of 1:48.906, breaking a record set previously by Signal Auto’s R34 Skyline.
1971 Nissan Skyline GT-X KGC10
Mods: ’78 Nissan 2.8L L6 engine with a 2.0L L6 head; triple Mikuni carbs, electronic ignition, R180 VLSD, NISMO clutch, Cusco coilovers, TBO rollbar, Nissan OEM overfenders, TBO front spoiler and rear wing; Recaro SRD seat
Why We Love It: While still rare by all means, seeing a GT-X KGC10 Skyline in the US has become a bit of a more common occurrence these days. But before importers started bringing them in for a hefty price, there were a few that made their way over via military personnel or by means better left unsaid. Marco Vargas, one of the biggest Nissan fanatics we know, has owned some of the finest models ever produced, including the S13, a R32 Skyline, a Bluebird and this fine GT-X that is on its way to being GT-R status. Sure, it’s not the real thing, but we’re not hating on it. Love, love, LOVE!
Mods: HKS 2835 turbo kit, exhaust manifold, Type S intercooler and Hi-Power exhaust; JDM DC5R valve cover, final drive and LSD; ARC spark plug cover, HKS F-CON VPro, 18x8.5" ADVAN RG II wheels, Mugen N1 front bumper, canards, racing under panel, side skirts, rear bumper, rear adjustable wing, tow hooks, rear carbon license plate filler and gas cap; Vision Type DC mirrors and carbon fiber hood; Personal 360 steering wheel, Bride Zeta III seats
Why We Love It: Because Team Fred was willing to do a complete makeover, from head to toe, just to get it onto the cover of our magazine. Now that’s dedication. Oh yeah, it was a dope car, too.
2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
Mods: Cosworth cams, JUN titanium retainers and valve springs; GReddy 1000cc injectors, Garage HRS titanium exhaust, HKS GT3037 turbo, Voltex oil cooler, TEIN SRC coilovers, 18x10.5" Volk Racing RE30 wheels, C-West front bumper, hood and side skirts; HRS/Voltex rear overfenders, Voltex rear wing, diffuser and front canards; Kel’s Garage/APR carbon splitter
Why We Love It: What started out as an online business has become a full-time operation for Evasive Motorsports. They purposely built this Evo at first to show that you didn’t need gobs of power to dominate on the track, that the right aero, suspension and driver skill was enough to prove it. Since then they’ve consistently improved their time attack game, knocking seconds off every step of the way, making key relationships with Japanese tuners/manufacturers and establishing themselves as a US powerhouse when it comes to racing against a clock.
HKS CT230R 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII
Mods: 2.3L HKS 63L (4G63) engine, HKS Valcon System, GT3037S turbo, GTII wastegate, camshafts, prototype pistons, crankshaft, connecting rods, 1.2mm metal head gasket, SUS SPL manifold, GD-Pro SPL clutch, SPL suspension, HKS Racing aero bumpers, overfenders, rear wing and Stinger Red paint; Ralliart dog-type transmission, 18x10" ADVAN RG II wheels
Why We Love It: The best of HKS’ famous racing mobiles is the CT230R Evo, piloted by none other than NOB Taniguchi (who else would you expect?). The CT230R is HKS’ revision of the former TRB-02 racecar, a quick record-setter at Tsukuba that the CT230R eventually beats, and is then brought over to the US to compete in our Super Lap Battle series in 2008. At that time, the Sun Auto Cyber Evo held the record unscathed, that is, until Taniguchi tears Buttonwillow Raceway a new one with an ultra-fast 1:43.523, a record that would go untouched for quite sometime. This may be one of the last great racecars that HKS ever builds, but we wouldn’t mind seeing another one in the future. And we must graciously request that NOB be at the helm.
2008 Honda Civic Type R/Mugen RR
Mods: Mugen camshafts, valve springs, intake, 4-2-1 header, catalytic converter, exhaust, carbon intake manifold cover, 5-level adjustable coilovers, slotted rotors, 18" wheels, aluminum hood, carbon front bumper, side skirts, carbon adjustable rear wing, rear under spoiler with air diffuser, Mugen-edition Recaro seats, shifter, shift knob, tachometer and meter gauges
Why We Love It: For $50K USD, you would’ve been one of the lucky 300 to call the Mugen RR your very own. This ultra limited-edition version of the Civic Type R came straight from the house of Mugen, built up with tons of performance parts and aero you can only get with the RR. Super-duper sickness.
Mods: GReddy Power Extreme titanium exhaust, Tan-ei-sya RATSEL S18 wheels, GREddy graphics
Why We Love It: The R35 GT-R was so fresh and new when we shot GReddy’s after the 2008 TAS that we didn’t mind it didn’t have much in the way of aftermarket parts. Not that it really needs it. Nowadays, GReddy has helped turn out several 9-second GT-Rs, all but for a reasonable price tag.
Mods: K20 engine swap, Hondata K-Pro, AEM EMS (track use), tons of JDM gear, Spoon Sports ITR calipers, 15x7" Enkei ES-Tarmac wheels, R Crew K-series header, Mugen oil pan, Taco Lita antenna ball
Why We Love It: Let’s put it this way: without Katman, we wouldn’t be anywhere near as cool as we are today. And most of you wouldn’t be saying holy shit, JDM is cool. So give props where props are due.
Mods: Longitudinally-mounted 3.2L C32B engine, custom Mugen RR carbon-fiber intake plenum with roof scoop, spark plug covers, radiator cap, headers, dual exhaust, custom gearbox, custom RR coilovers, 18" Mugen GP wheels, RR Spec forged brake calipers with rotors, RR Concept aero kit, RR Recaro seats and RR navigation display
Why We Love It: It’s the sexiest Mugen concept car of all time the NSX RR is what every Honda and Mugen fanatic should be fapping to every single night. Just like we do.
Motohiro Taniguchi/Spirit REI
1991 Nissa Silvia S13 Odyvia
Mods: Honda Odyvia front end conversion by Spirit Rei; HKS GT-RS turbo, 18x10"/18x10.5' Work VS-KF wheels, Bride Gias II and Stradia II seats; Nardi steering wheel
Why We Love It: It’s almost a throwback to the days when enthusiasts used to graph all sorts of weird lights and body parts from cars that weren’t their own. Spirit Rei found a clean way to graph bits of a Honda Odyssey onto the front end of this S13 coupe, effectively creating the Odyvia. They’ve converted other S-chassis cars to accept this styling also, thus creating a special niche for Spirit Rei fans.
1971 Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R KPGC10
Mods Done: Original 2.0L S20 engine, Solex side-draft carbs with velocity stacks and heatshield; Kameari radiator cap, Biko Works coilovers, Brembo calipers, Project Mu pads, 15x8.5"/15x10" RS Watanabe R-Type wheels, Protec front lip, front fender flares and headlight covers; Nissan genuine rear wing, NISMO bucket seat
Why We Love It: This is a true 2000GT-R kids, as brought to you by the old school masters themselves, Biko Works. The shop actually restores and resells older, classic vehicles, like the 2000GT-R, as well as several other makes. But the key here is that you get an all-original GT-R; nothing converted. Good luck getting one shipped out of Japan to you, however.
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