Why are OEM Japanese parts so cool? I'm not really sure. I don't know if people buy them because they're Japan-specific, they look better or they're just rare in the U.S. I'm sure it's the same reason people buy Euro-spec parts for their BMWs, VWs or other European marques. Everyone loves taking their import back to its roots, the way the manufacturer originally designed it first. Luckily for us, different countries have different safety laws, and the cars need to change in order meet those specifications. This gives us clean, quality parts to buy. Changing lights and seatbelts for safety specifications is understandable, but Japan can be just plain selfish with its goodies. Not only do they keep the better higher performing engines to themselves, they've managed to keep their own version of bumpers, headlights and even complete front ends.
Using Japanese body parts isn't all about cosmetics. In some cases, you will save weight with lighter bumper supports or even get better visibility with better headlights. And you definitely don't need to stop at the front end. Rear ends also vary on particular cars. Hardcore enthusiasts will even go further, changing the interior to Japan-spec. Seats, gauge clusters, steering wheels and even carpet can be different. From suspension to small engine parts, tuners will even get Japanese VIN plates. How JDM are you?
JDM EF9 Conversion Install
JDM conversions are so simple, even we can do them. Here's Jonny's EF, also featured in Project Car. A quick one-two step of an EF9 conversion install:
JDM Conversion Buyer's Guide
For you JDM lovers with cars that we didn't cover, here are some of the many JDM parts available. If you have a Japanese car, chances are there's something out there for you to buy.
Nissan 240SX ('89-'94) Nissan Silvia (S13)
Over here in the U.S., the ('89-'94) Nissan 240SX coupe and hatchback came with pop-up headlights. In Japan, the coupe version (Silvia) came with fixed headlights. Whether you have a '89-'90, '91-'94, hatchback or even coupe, you can do this conversion. Even though this front end was never offered for the hatchback, it's a popular conversion for both models. The fixed headlights can make a 240SX really stand out of the pack. In Japan, a Silvia front end on the 180SX hatchback has been dubbed a "Sil-Eighty." The conversion is rather simple. Parts needed: headlights, headlight supports, hood, fenders, corner lights, front bumper, bumper lights and light wiring-and everything's bolt-on.
Acura Integra ('94-'01) Honda Integra SiR-G/Type-R (DC2)
Don't like the four-eyed look? Try turning Japanese. This conversion is a bit more complicated than most. It requires cutting off the radiator support and welding on a JDM counterpart. You'll love it for the drastic, new, sleek streamline looks. Ladies will love it because it adds a few inches to the length of your manhood... I mean car. Parts needed: headlights, hood, fenders, side markers, front bumper, bumper reinforcement, radiator support and light wiring.
Honda CRX ('88-'91) Honda CRX (EF8)
Converting the second-generation CRX to the JDM EF8 spec is a complete bolt-on affair. One of the advantages is hood clearance for B-series engine swaps. Parts needed: headlights, hood, front bumper, bumper reinforcement, corner lights, bumper lights, side markers, radiator support and light wiring.
Toyota Corolla ('84-'87) Toyota Levin/Trueno (AE86)
The '84-'87 Corolla has the most complex selection of conversion parts. In Japan there were numerous models and trims. The Sprinter Trueno had the pop-up lights, and was available in both coupe and hatchback platforms. Both versions had an early '84-'85 "Zenki" and later revised '86-'87 "Kouki" look. The Corolla Levin had fixed headlights, and again was available in both coupe and hatchback platforms. The Levins also had an early '84-'85 "Zenki" and a late '86-'87 "Kouki."
Honda civic ('96-'98) Honda Civic SiR (EK4)
Some cars don't need as much to convert to JDM-spec. The '96-'98 Civic only needs bumpers, lights and moldings for a complete EK4 SiR exterior makeover. Very subtle, yet quality OEM upgrades. Parts needed: headlights, front bumper, rear bumper, side moldings, side markers and light wiring.