The origin of the JDM is the fact that cars from the Japanese market are usually offered in better versions than those intended for the European and American markets. They have equipment that is completely unavailable or optional in other countries, such as rain sensors or electric air fresheners.
Japan is colorful and full of unusual solutions that cannot be found in any other country. It’s not just about home accessories, toys, or computer equipment. A similar phenomenon is also seen in the automotive market in the form of the JDM trend.
So the idea was born to achieve a similar effect abroad from the blooming cherry trees. People with a lot of time (and money) started the process of building their cars similar to their version of the Japanese market. There are many options available, because in the car you can replace almost anything – from the windows, headlights, fenders, stabilizers, exhaust manifold, to clocks, panels and steering wheel. This trend has earned a group of loyal fans.
What is JDM Mean?
JDM is the Japanese Domestic Market in English. This concept, although it looks very broad and can refer to many different fields, is mainly related to the automotive industry and is used most often in the United States.
The JDM is a Japanese version of the car model aimed at the internal market. However, contrary to what is generally believed, this is not an arbitrary modification, but rather to improve the car’s suitability for road racing or drifting. Every change has a purpose, and every element added or removed fulfills a specific task.
Best JDM Cars
JDM has several trends, the main one is to adapt the style of the car to its version of the Japanese market. Below are some of the most popular JDM cars:
- Honda Prelude
- Honda Accord
- Honda S2000
- Honda Integra
- Honda Civic
- Honda NSX
- Subaru Impreza
- Toyota Supra
- Toyota MR2
- Toyota AE86
- Nissan Fairlady Z
- Nissan Silvia
- Nissan Skyline GT-R
- Nissan GT-R R35
- Mazda MX-5
- Mazda RX-7 & RX-8
- Mitsubishi 3000 GT
- Mitsubishi Eclipse
- Mitsubishi Lancer Evo
Alright, now let’s discuss one by one about the JDM cars above.
And it’s finally time for Honda, but let’s start calmly. And such a car – quiet – is a sports coupe called the Prelude. This model has never had a truly powerful engine, which is not surprising, as power transfer to the front wheels has certain limitations. But not for JDM followers.
As we know Prelude, this is actually a model from the third generation (above) and above. The old model is completely unique. The third generation – as at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s – are very modern cars. There are engines available, which range from 2 liters to a power of 140-150 hp. In addition, the car is equipped with a four-wheel steering system. It is a car, on the one hand, comfortable and well-equipped, and on the other – it drives very well. The only drawback of this car is rear drive.
The fourth generation (taller) was not impressed with his performance, but he found a large following. The VTEC engine was introduced, thanks to which its owner can boast a power of up to 200 HP. The final fifth generation (below) looks much better. Although the mechanical changes are not revolutionary, the car looks really good even today, especially when it goes through a series of modifications.
As for the tuning, the Prelude is treated somewhat negligently by companies like Spoon or Mugen, which specialize in component construction for Honda. The smaller, sportier Integra has a much better supply of JDM goods. However the Prelude has been a major donor of engines (especially with the H22 series) and other Honda model gearboxes.
If you think that popular cars for retired doctors are not suitable for tuning, then you are probably thinking about the sixth generation of Europeans produced in Britain. The older four and the seven newer were very receptive to any change, especially since they had the perfect donor in the form of a Prelude.
The angled (top) fourth generation Accord fits best with the JDM style. The car is technically so ordinary that there’s nothing to write about, but its incredibly simple silhouette, embellished with a few details, can evoke admiration.
The next generation, the fifth generation doesn’t look any worse in this respect. Especially the coupe version (above) looks great. In that case, there’s also nothing much fun under the hood, unless someone has a 2.2 liter engine with less than 140 HP. The situation was different in the Japanese market, where a version of the SiR with a 190 HP engine was launched.
As for the rage, the sixth generation – the model that arouses the least admiration, is available in a Type-R variant with a motor of over 200 hp. However, the European version of the sixth generation is, in a sense, a “non-tunable” car – except for the coupe (above). Even the Accord Type-R’s display is difficult to upgrade. Only the seventh, and then the eighth generation brought a breath of fresh air, giving workshops like Mugen and Spoon plenty of work.
Honda couldn’t leave the Mazda MX-5 without long-standing competition. Moreover, it used to have a very good S800 roadster. It is worth returning to the market in an equally good car. The Honda S2000 was born – a classic roadster with a light body, small engine and rear wheel drive.
The car has a two-liter engine with power – trivial – 240 HP. The unit is located in front of the front axle, which makes the balance of the car perfect. A 6-speed manual gearbox has been tuned to the engine, and the interior has been simplified and “sewn” around the driver. Thanks to that, the S2000 became a classic roadster, driver’s car, and there was no need to fear competition from Mazda.
Unfortunately, Honda announced the end of production of the S2000 two years ago, which surprised fans of the brand as it was actually the manufacturer’s top model. However, the S2000 will remain immutable and the JDM-style modified copies will still move. Often equipped with turbines, they can compete with more intense competition.
There are also several variations on the S2000 at the Honda Tuning Workshop. So we could – with great luck – admire a Spoon or Mugen product (above), but the craziest project was taken up by tuner Power House Amuse, building the S2000 GT1 (below). The car, created in collaboration with game maker Gran Turismo, offers more than 600KM of power, a 7-speed sequential gearbox and a carbon fiber body with very “fertile” aerodynamics.
The Honda Integra is one of the most iconic JDM front drives. Overall, the Integra is a car with a tight track, which makes tuning enthusiasts happy. The car – practically without major modifications – is suitable for tough driving. The powerful and small 1.8 liter engine puts out up to 200 hp of power. Later two liters even up to 220 HP.
Although the first generation Integra was created in the mid-1980s, only the third generation gained the greatest popularity, which also appeared on the European market. The Acura was aimed at the American market, but it was Honda with the Typr-R badge that won the hearts of JDM fans. The European version of the Japanese version can be easily distinguished – the Japanese version has rectangular lamps, and the European version is single-round. For some, the 4-door version may be curious.
There is a long story to tell about the construction of this car. It’s true that the Integra Type-R was prepared by the manufacturer as if it had just left the rally on a steady basis. Almost all of them meet the track requirements. The engine spins up to 8,000 revolutions for maximum power. They are very durable and tunable units.
The newer fourth-generation Integra (below) is no less uncompromising. All elements have been modified to achieve better lap times. The incredible 1.8 engine with 190-200 HP was abandoned, and a 220 HP unit with a capacity of 2 liters was installed under the hood. The car was equipped as standard with a differential (as well as the previous generation) and a gearbox with a special synchronizer, allowing brutal gear changes.
The Integra is considered by many to be the best front wheel drive ever. This is an uncompromising car – unlike others of this type. Integral is considered reliable and resistant to torture. No wonder the car won the hearts of followers of JDM culture. Unfortunately production of this model was discontinued in 2006. There is no need to count on a comeback due to poor sales of the last generation.
What is this car phenomenon? It’s affordable, cheap to run, reliable and looks good. Simple. No wonder it is one of the most popular CDs in the world. Tuning companies love it too, and the owners are happy to recreate it themselves. Unfortunately, there are two sides to the coin – the fifth generation in particular has been derided and the typical “country tuner” car.
However, we will not be worried about such a car, because the popular “egg” deserves to be called the king of JDM in the hatchback class. Let’s go back a few years and think back to an equally good fourth-generation Civic, structurally very similar.
There is great potential in this simple form and low silhouette. It’s hard to resist the impression that a car is almost made for tuning. Even an awful looking sedan looks great when painted with a beautiful paint and “cared for” with drop and harden treatments.
The fifth generation is much more rounded. The hatchback, sedan, and coupe bodies look great, as long as they don’t break the lines with a terrible spoiler. Apart from that, the more powerful version has excellent performance. Today, a Civic with a B16 series engine is almost a collector’s car, and the price of its power unit alone can be a headache.
For more demanding customers, the Integra or Prelude unit exchange remains, which is by no means unique. Thanks to such modifications, the 20-year-old Honda can surprise owners of cars like the BMW M3 or Subaru Impreza. The Honda Civic is said to be somewhat different from the same company. Maybe not without minor problems, but they all fit together. Therefore, the number of cylinder head conversions and engine replacements is unlimited.
The next generation of the Honda Civic gained no less importance. 400 KM? No one in the world of JDM is surprised. However, the real rarity wasn’t a swap unit, but the original Type-R, which Honda hadn’t brought much to the market yet. Equipped with the B16 series engine, it produces slightly less power than the Integra, and the agile driving of this car doesn’t leave much to be desired.
The coupe and sedan versions are as popular as the 3-door hatchback. Thanks to the beautifying and strengthening treatment, it looks impressive. It is worth mentioning that the hatchbacks, coupes and sedans are cars produced in Japan, while the 5-door liftback and estate cars were the first to be produced by Civiki in Great Britain – they no longer enjoy that recognition, even though the most powerful VTi version reaches 169 HP. It is also the strongest Civik available on the European market in greater numbers.
The next generation – the seventh – was ridiculed by many Civic fans, mainly for its van-like appearance. Much of it was produced in England, apart from sedans and coupes, not to conquer the hearts of tuning enthusiasts. However, the Type-R was considered the best technically to date and, like the old model, was highly praised by rally racers.
Thanks to the eighth generation, the Civic has regained its reputation as a car for young people who love the sport form. Those who disliked the “space” version of the Type-R from the European market continued to import the sedan from JDM. However, the real treat for JDM fans is the phenomenal coupe and sedan, the Mugen RR (below). These cars bring back the glory of this legendary brand in the world of JDM.
It’s hard to believe that this car – presented in 1992 – still looks so good. This is Honda’s most sporty and most iconic car. Built in collaboration with Ayrton Senna, it is the fastest Japanese car in years. It was supposed to be a Japanese Ferrari, and today, especially the Type-R variant, evokes more admiration than the horse-drawn cars.
Centrally located V6 engine by standards for the Japanese market, legally limited power of 280 HP, even today it is a very modern machine. The body is made of aluminum, which results in a very low weight. It’s not hard to guess if the NSX is impressed by its performance. This has also been demonstrated at the Nurburgring Nordschleife with a Type-R loop in less than 8 minutes.
Although the Lexus models were given to wealthy individuals who had no intention of changing anything with them, the old models found their amateurs among JDM followers. Perhaps the most characteristic car of this brand is the little-known Lexus SC series. And it’s not a new car, but a coupe from the 90’s.
It looks original and definitely fits the JDM style. The design is based on the Toyota Supra chassis and the Toyota Soarer body. The 3 liter engine is also the same as the naturally aspirated Supra. Fans of JDM do not have many problems with modifications, which does not change the fact that in US this car is very rare and exotic.
The IS model (above) is a much more exotic car than Toyota’s luxury horse stable. This Japanese BMW 3 Series is an almost perfect car for a JDM style modification. The rear-wheel drive and inline six-cylinder engine are fun to drive and leave room for further modifications. It’s a little worse with portions, but nothing difficult for those who want it. IS already looks great on the series, and in JDM style.
It’s hard to find a car that is more recognizable than the Subaru Impreza. Rally legend – thanks to the rallies that we learned about this car’s existence. Four-wheel drive and the iconic boxer engine are two things that have never changed on this model. These two “little things” influence the character of this car.
Neither its performance nor its driving properties leave Event shoppers in doubt. It’s hard to believe that the first generation came straight from the Toyota Corolla. Ironically, currently the Toyota FT-86, which will soon be produced, is based on the Subaru movement.
One of the most sought-after Impreza models is of course the version from the Japanese market, such as the STi Type-R (above) or 22B. Built on the basis of a two-door body, they are not available in the European market (except for Great Britain and some RHD units). Some say the second generation looks terrible, with its “frog eyes”. It quickly underwent a facelift, this time converting the front of the event into a Seat.
However, a real surprise awaits the followers of the Subaru cult with the presentation of the next generation event. Many say that this first stellar galaxy hatchback is similar to the Daewoo Lanos. Subaru once again had to react by launching a classic sedan.
There are a few stylistic flaws, but Subaru never fails when it comes to technology. Sustainable development forces participation in the WRC cycle. What goes into the sport is also given to customers in series cars. These events are constantly evolving, active differences are added, but there is no risk of using a semi-automatic gearbox – as on the Lancer Evo X.
Tuners and owners have access to a plethora of parts – from well-known tuning companies to Prodrive-branded Subaru rally tuners. The engine, thanks to its durability and susceptibility to modification, easily reaches 500 HP. The car is driven sensationally, according to the best fans in the world, thanks to competitive events like Time Attack.
Say what you want, but the old Supra looks way better than the previous generation. A better cut is called Celica Supra. An interesting fact is that it was the Celica model on which the first Supra was built. It’s just a variation of Celica. Only the third generation (pictured) is a separate model.
Under the hood of the Supra there is almost always a 6 liter 3 liter. There are two varieties – naturally aspirated and supercharged. Supercharging is carried out via two successive turbochargers. It is this unit that gets a large amount of extra strength when it enters the workshop. However, it is only on this last-generation model that the tuner does its magic, squeezing almost all the power from the famous 2JZ-GTE. You will know the famous Supra 1000 HP, starting from the US edition of parallel racing.
Small, light and agile Japanese sports car similar to the European Lotus. The powerful, high-spinning mid-drive engine, and of course, rear-wheel drive make the MR2 the perfect machine for fast driving. Exhibited for drifting races and competitions. Very willingly tuned.
There is great potential in the MR2 motor. They are not a unit that disparages turbines. The standard supercharged two-liter four-cylinder engine achieves more than 220 HP. Closed body coupe, for Japanese market only.
The Toyota Corolla AE86 is one of the most iconic, popular and modified cars from the Japanese market. This car can be included in the JDM definition. Liked by drifters and racers. Some of them run on a production 1,600cc 3 engine. Usually under the hood are two liter units from Nissan, Toyota or Honda. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this car.
AE86 are actually two models. The European version known as the Levin (above) and the Japanese version – the Sprinter Trueno (above) – with the characteristic retractable lamp. Both models are available in 2 or 3 door versions. Drive is carried out via the rear axle, making it the perfect car for drifting. Even caring cherishes history and admires fans. Toyota thanks you with the new FT-86, which will be in production soon.
In terms of modifications, apart from swapping power units for the AE86, you can buy almost anything. The spare parts market is huge. Almost every self-respecting tuning company produces parts and gadgets for the HachiRoku.
Nissan Fairlady Z
In Europe, Nissan Z, in Japan and England – Datsun Fairlady Z. After all, Fairlady has been a competitor to the Supra for many years. A large, comfortable coupe with a long hood has won over as many fans as Toyota’s competitors. Moreover, the Japanese manufacturer’s GT cars compete calmly with European rivals.
The previous generation, called 240 Z, had 6 cylinders in line under the hood. Later, known as the 300 ZX, was equipped with a V6 engine. This is a significant technological leap, although for loyal Nissan fans to produce the Fairlady ZR – the 6-cylinder inline version. The name describes what capacities we face. Turbocharging appeared from the 280 Z model.
Since 1989, Fairlady Z has undergone a complete modernization. The engine is pulled back into the cab. Current newer 350 and 370 Z models. A great car for the track and for fun on the track. Affordable prices and excellent handling make the Fairlady Z no less popular and preferred than other Nissan sports models.
The Silvia or SX – if you prefer – are drift car models. No less iconic than the Toyota AE86, Nissan is one of the cars with the best handling in the world. The classic driveline, durable components, and good looks, even in the old version, make Silvia one of the cars that even has to undergo modifications.
An interesting fact is that the Silvia is not one of Nismo’s favorite cars. The Nissan court has yet to make a more famous version of this car. It’s true that the 270 R model was based on the S14, but only 50 were made, which only Gran Turismo fans might know. Most often, Silvie is self-made – and it is a modification that prepares the car for drifting competitions.
The most iconic model is the S13, also known as 180 SX or 200 SX, with retractable lights. Later models had a similar reputation. In both drifting and racing competitions they do great. Silvie appeared with a 4-cylinder engine with capacities ranging from 1800 to 2400 cm 3. There are natural aspirated and turbocharged versions.
Nissan Skyline GT-R
I think it’s hard to find another JDM icon with a 4 × 4 drive. The Nissan Skyline – available only on the left-hand car market – has been, and will be an object of our attention. On top of that, Skyline is the favorite of Nismo – Nissan’s factory tuning company. Nissan Motorsport – as this is the full name Nismo – built several iconic Skylins to create the GT-R model after production ended.
Although the history of the Skyline dates back to the 1950s, the car only became popular with the arrival of the R32 (top left). The GT-R was nicknamed “godzilla” after its endless success in auto racing. Thanks to four-wheel drive and supercharged, the in-line “six” does not compete in Japanese GT races.
The success of the Skyline GT-R spurred the company to popularize the brand. The Model R33 (above), considered by many to be the least successful, was famous for its Nurburgring Nordschleife ride in under 8 minutes, which was quite a sensation. It is a revolutionary modern car. It was equipped, among other things, with a four-wheel steering system. The cult Nismo 400R was created (400 means power in HP).
The last Skyline – R34 – is an extension of the previous generation. Technically it is no different from its big brother, although every element is upgraded. A special version of Nismo has been created – the Z tune model. Although the older generation was not as impressed with their performance as models from the R32 and above, they were equally passionately tuned.
Nissan GT-R R35
You may or may not like it, but the GT-R has become a JDM legend and icon. Although access is no longer as difficult as the Skyline and can be purchased by driving on the left, this facility is for many Skya breeds. This car is truly revolutionary, bringing a completely different quality to the world of super cars.
Prior to its launch, Nissan warned tuners that the engine management computer was unbreakable and didn’t try to change what Nismo had created. The warning turned out to be another marketing gimmick that tuners don’t take seriously. Immediately after the start of sales, the first modified GT-Ry appeared, among others. from Top Secret. Right now, there’s nothing against tuning the GT-R, although there are some daredevils who do it in their own car.
Another brilliant car which is one of the best handling cars in the world. Although rarely used for drifting, its adoration and popularity outweigh other roadsters.
Light, agile, precise – three words that describe the Mazda MX-5. It is true that the 4-cylinder engine from the factory is not a demon power, but there are no problems with overcharging or moving other units. However, the JDM followers have especially enhanced the appearance of their MX-5, due to its flawless driving characteristics.
Mazda RX-7 & RX-8
The Mazda RX-7 and RX-8 are some of the most iconic sports cars on the Japanese market. Apart from its fantastic looks, especially the RX-7 model, there is nothing special that differentiates Mazda’s top models from other cars. However, the technique, which couldn’t be seen, was very original. It is the only car produced in series with a Wankel engine for 40 years (under the first generation).
Even though it has a capacity of only 1.3 liters, the turbocharger combined with the high rotation makes it a car that competes with other Japanese manufacturers’ vehicles. Moreover, the first two generations dominated the American IMSA GT Championship races for several years. The Wankel engine wasn’t the easiest to modify, but that didn’t prevent JDM amateurs from squeezing this tiny spinning unit several hundred horsepower more than the manufacturer offered. More demanding Nissan units were swapped, including the Skyline.
The new RX-8 models remain in line with the idea of a lightweight sports car with original motorbikes. However, the passenger space was revolutionized, even offering additional doors for rear seat passengers. While this car doesn’t look as good and timeless as the last RX-7 model, it has a huge following.
The tuning parts market is not as developed as other manufacturers. Tuners are stored with direct imports from JDM (Japanese Domestic Market).
Mitsubishi 3000 GT
A car that is no less modern than the Skyline. I would even dare to say this is the Nissan GT-R of the 90s, Mitsubishi is showing great technology in its GT. Four-wheel drive, all torque, active suspension and aerodynamics, turbocharged V6 engine with active exhaust system, it’s hard to find a car with a lot of stuff.
In addition, the 3000 GT is a luxurious and comfortable gran turismo. Performance was better than good at the time, but all under control. The car did not win over as many JDM fans as the Evo model, mainly because of its high price.
Strange, the car has become so popular. Not only are most cars equipped with front-wheel drive, but the performance of this quite heavy car is also quite satisfying. Yes, the power is on par with Silvia, but at least Nissan has rear-wheel drive.
One of the reasons for its popularity is of course its good looks. However, the real boom for Eclipse occurred after the release of The Fast and the Furious. There are absolutely no problems with setup, as many spare parts are compatible with other Mitsubishi models. It’s a shame a lot of the reworked Eclipse looks more like a Christmas tree than the benchmark JDM.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo
A car that should write a separate article, because the history of the model dates back to the early 1990s and the concept has not changed at all to this day. The Lancer Evo is a typical car built with rally approval in mind. Its design, subject to World Rally Championship regulations and group A requirements, earned the car a huge following. The powerful 2-liter turbo engine and power provided by four-wheel drive gave the Evo above-average performance.
Of the ten Lancer evolutions, perhaps the fourth (higher) evolution is considered the most beautiful and most desirable. This model has a different appearance from the previous version and looks more like a Lancer than a Galant. Moreover, the GSR version is equipped with an AYC system in the rear differential. So in terms of performance, the Evo IV is a big leap forward.
Another big change was observed in the Evo VII model. Almost everything has been modified. The car was gaining weight and gaining weight. He is given an active center differential. Unfortunately, fans were disappointed with the performance. Evo VII is not as aggressive as previous evolutions. Its appearance has been slightly improved on the Evo VIII and IX.
A complete novelty came in 2008, when the completely transformed Evo X entered the market. Its appearance alone shows that Mitsubishi paid attention to customer complaints about the previous Lancers. Some say it’s the best-looking model, others point out the advantages of electronics and the damage to the first semi-automatic gearbox used. Anyway, after setting up the Evo X looks great.
The market for tuning parts is huge, especially since these are cars designed for motor sports. Apart from that, the engine is so durable that no one should be surprised by its power of up to 500 hp. So JDM fans have plenty to choose from – from tuning companies, like GReddy or HKS, and ending with rally tuners like Ralliart.
JDM Cars Modifications
In JDM cars you can rarely find tinted windows, expensive car audio systems and other accessories that are not needed during races. In addition, they add weight to the vehicle, which is quite the opposite.
So the modifications mainly concerned installing lighter rims and replacing many of the body elements with carbon fiber elements, which lowered the suspension. The engine must be adjusted to high rotation, sometimes also enriched with a turbocharger. In contrast, a high-carbon spoiler only appears on cars that are ready to drift.
The hallmark and hallmark of this style is the direction indicator with an orange lens that lights up when the parking lights are turned on. Another similar thing is to insert a two-filament light bulb in place of the fog lamp and create an additional stop light and position inside. Japanese cars often require smaller number plates.
On the basis of this modification, many companies have appeared, producing suitable accessories. The most famous ones are: Mugen, Nismo, Greddy, A’pexi, Tein, RSR, HKS, Blitz, Skunk2, Injen, Espelir, Bride, Takata, TRD and Spoon. This allows you to buy parts and build JDM cars outside of Japan, which many automotive enthusiasts do.
The cars that experience the most frequent changes in JDM include Mazda RX-7, Toyota (Celica, Supra, Corolla, Starlet Glanza), Nissan (Skyline, 350Z, Silvia, 300ZX, 200SX), Honda (Prelude, Civic, CRX, Integra, S2000 ), Mitsubishi (FTO, Eclipse) or Lexus IS200.
Sometimes small changes are enough, such as the red interior finish of the Japan-specific Honda Civic Type R EK9, which translates to the Honda Civic EK4 offered for the European market. Sometimes half the car is replaced. It all depends on the car owner’s fantasies, needs and wealth.
JDM is not only a style of tuning, for many it is also a culture, and even a lifestyle, that is worth remembering when looking at photos of cars modified in this way. Each of these means many hours of work, a lot of passion and heart put into the final effect.