Review>>the Automotive Trends Of ’09

For my final review story of the year, I want to share some observations on the general automotive and tuning trends of 2009. The economy might be on it's way out of a giant hole, but people across the world are still finding ways to enjoy cars, and we've seen some bold new ideas popping up because of this.

So, what was big in '09?

When I think of 2009 (from a Western perspective at least), the aggressive wheel movement is the first thing that comes to mind. Of course the idea of putting low offset wheels and dropped suspension on a car isn't at all new, but it is something that has exploded this year.

In fact, I'd say that "normally" sized wheels have almost become the exception to the rule. I'm wondering if this is something that's going to stick around for the future, or if people will eventually go back to more conservative fitment? The people from Hellaflush and Stanceworks will certainly disagree with the latter idea!

This Civic Coupe we spotted on the Hellaflush show in November could be a rolling encyclopedia of 2009's trends. We have widened steel wheels, stretched tires, a roof rack with accessories, and the all-important rusted out hood.

With the overwhelming popularity of cars like Yuta's 240Z, people have shown that they love the raw look of unrestored, or unfinished cars.

So much that some will go out of their way to give their later model cars this look. To be honest though, I'm not sure how long I can see this sort of thing sticking around…

Classic Japanese cars have been the "next big thing" for a while now. While a lot of us dream about doing a retro project, the expense and headaches of operating a vintage car can be a drawback.

Then again, 1970's Japanese cars are high tech machines of the future compared to the traditional rods and customs that come out to events like the Mooneyes X-Mas party. And as you've seen, it's not old guys driving who are driving these things around!

Whether it's an increasing environmental consciousness, or just the desire for better gas mileage, hybrid tuning has exploded this year – in Japan at least. There's no doubt that Tokyo Auto Salon 2010 will be filled with hybrids. Time will tell if this catches on outside of Japan…

But given the popularity of cars like the Scion xB here in the USA, it's not a huge stretch to think that fixed up hybrids could become the next big thing, for daily drivers at least.

Modified minivans are another thing that continue to be huge in Japan, but I can't see this becoming mainstream outside of Japan. Mainly because most of the cool models aren't sold outside of their home country…

For those into performance, cars like the Z, S2000, GT-R, Evo, and STI continue to be favorites.

And a more affordable choice, the Mazda MX-5/Miata/Eunos Roadster is still one of the most popular cars among grassroots racers worldwide.

Another thing I've noticed this year, the popularity of BMW tuning. I think we are seeing a lot of former Japanese car owners "upgrading" to BMW's, but still modifying them in a familiar style.

If Porsches were more affordable, I also have a feeling we'd be seeing a lot of Rauh Welt clones running around. Who hasn't dreamed of owning a car like this?

Moving on to new cars. The Genesis Coupe was one of the most talked about cars of the year, but I've yet to see this thing really catch on. Outside of SEMA, I've only seen a couple of modified Genesis Coupes around.

Here in the USA thanks to the addition of the Chevy Camaro, the new pony car era is in full swing. It's hard not to get excited about these burly machines. We'll have to see how much of the stuff on the SEMA Camaros trickles down to the streets…

What we are all waiting for though, seems to be affordable sports cars that reignite the passion for driving. Toyota teased us with the FT-86 concept, and when this car hits production in a couple years, you can count on big things. In addition we also have cars like the Honda CR-Z and the rumored next gen Silvia to look forward to.

Those are some of my random thoughts on the automotive world of 2009.

Feel free to post your own observations or predictions on what's going to be big in twenty ten.

-Mike Garrett



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Im sorry but Camaro is impossible to see out of. I hated that car with a passion as I drove it.

2011 Mustang is the ishh in muscle cars. Cant wait til Shelby version breaks out.

FT-86 is a promising car.

And wheel fitment will stay with us for a while.


I think the whole hellaflush and offset trend will stay with us for awhile because who wants to look at "un-flush" wheels lol.


If it were easier to import cars into the US I think we would see a lot more retro-JDM cars... Canadian import laws are much easier to deal with. I do hope we see more Rauh Welt-style Porsches in the years to come; eventually I'll be able to afford one..! ;) for now though I can't wait for the FT86!


I think you guys might have not included it because its been around for a few years now, but the color white I would consider a trend


Wheel fitment will be here for awhile.

FT86 is a pos.

And all the recent 'muscle cars' are exeptional. (I've drove the 2010 Mustang, Camaro, and Challanger)


Can't wait wait for the big 2010!!! Big thoughts, big things and big changes waiting to happen. Each new year full of new surprises. I wonder what will Speedhunters have in stored for us?


And about the HONDA HSV-010 GT, here's a awesome 10mins video of track testing:


The worst part about that red civic coupe is that it's exhibiting trends which VWs have employed like for the past three years.

It was refreshing to see none of this outside of the VW world... unfortunately that bliss can be no longer.


You call the unfinished look "Raw". I call it "Lazy". Just gave people a reason not to spent money and finish cars right.


Can't wait to see the production car of the FT-86, it will be sure the most talked cars of the year


That roof rack stuff is so stupid.

Leave roof racks for SUVs, not riced out 90's crap imports.

Civic with a roof rack... LOL


And I want one of those porsches.

And VW/audi guys played with wheel fitment/roof racks/rust/unfinished look for a long time.


not a mention of the LF-A production version? and i agree with brian harte. roof racks suck.

i can't wait to see some spy shots of the upcoming rx7 and 240sx in 2010. although i'm sure they won't have the same awesome styling of the old ones.


New Camaros and Challengers rolling on DUBs are all over the place in the metro Atlanta area... I would say the things on the SEMA floor have caught on to an extent.



Build something yourself and with your own funds before you call anyone's spending of money lazy! That was probably the most rich,spoiled, short-sided comment I've heard on here to date. And there have been plenty.....


BBS wheels became a huge trend! I wish that new cars will signal the dawning of a new era in JDM tuning. In time, RB's, SR's will become classics (but not in 2010!), just like Honda's B-series engines. I wish that the potential of VQ and 3UZ engines will show this year, especially highly tuned NA ones.


I agree with utah dragon. I drive a miata, ive been having it for 5 years now and im slowly building it up, like the 240z and some of the others on here. The cars arent finished yet, dont say people are lazey because it isnt showroom quality. Like utah said lets see you build a car!


I think that fitment and riding flush will be around for a while, it was born in the VAG community, and it's been sort of adopted. As Mike said in the article, times have been hard. And it's quite a bit cheaper to buy suspension parts and wheels than a fully kitted track weapon hahaha


The white civic's rack is the way its done, the red civic's rack is too big and bulky... plus I dont think those white rims fit it very well. That generation of civic isn't blocky and VW-like to go with that look, at least that's what I think. I really hope offset stays for a few more years :D


"And a more affordable choice, the Mazda MX-5/Miata/Eunos Roadster is still one of the most popular cars among grassroots racers worldwide." And still will be, because no matter what anyone wants to think, the car kicks ass. :3 Mine's my little daily driven track monster.... (And will only get more monster-ish with time.)


I think FT-86 will be more popular in coming year. Hope it will be affordable car.

22 can you call the ft86 when its not even out yet?!? the roof rack thing/making clean newer cars look like rusted out buckets will die because its very stupid..its kinda like a rich person dressing like a bum imo....i think hella flush will stay along with old school japanese cars...and i think the bmw jdm look thing is really bad ass!


Sick article. love the pics


+1 on the rusted hood on newer cars looking retarded. It's a throw-back to rat rods but the only problem is the car isnt ratty. The whole car looks like it's been buffed and waxed, polished and cleaned....then there is a rusted hood. Stop it Honda owners......stop trying to steal rat rod and drifter style. You own a Honda, it's need for the identy crisis.


Wheel fitment will stay because wheels are a status symbol in the US. Donk, Flush, same concept in different directions. The car is made to fit the wheel in most cases. More often than not, it is done so the owner can have a paticular wheel or style, no matter what vehichle they have.

Roof racks and rusted hoods are in because its cheap and easily reversable. When the fad dies, off comes the roof rack, back goes the stock painted hood.

I think once everyone stops looking at Flush as VIP, we'll see more of it, done the right way. Proper carbon pieces, JDM parts and expensive wheels in various matte colors once only seen on drift cars. Honda guys, I'm talking to you.


There is waiting to do a car properly, and there is being lazy. Rusty cars are cars that are slowly falling apart until they are 1) restored properly or 2) fall apart. Even people with little money should understand quality over quantity. You don't even need a full build car to do it "properly", just don't be proud of being a lazyass. Same with mounting an aero kit when you don't have the money to paint it. You just made a car look like a turd. Way to go.


Nice foto's but i am not totally agree whit the "Civic Coupe" ( rusted hood is more for german cars, like Volkswagen. Honda's need 2 bee clean :D ( but thats my opinion :D )

But really good foto's :D


You nailed it pretty good Mike. Good review !

One thing I also noticed.....that is FVCKING lame, its the Ruckus and Fixed-gear hype....lots of hipsters riding around those things lately ! So much that I haven't been riding around my fixie because I don't want to be mistaken for one of those deuches....

If you don't have a Yakima rack on your import, a Bape shirt, IMO pants, and that stupid baseball hat on the side riding around the parking lot doing tricks with your fixie, apparently you're missing out.....idiots !


I personally didn't like any car trends this year. Especially the roof racks loaded with retro fixies, Napa hats, and lunch boxes filled with air. Wheel fitment has been around for a long while in the drift scene, but the whole Hellaflush movement picked up momentum and got kind of annoying with everyone all of a sudden jumping the band wagon at once. Hellawhatever if you ask me. Trends are always hit or miss with everyone. These trends that happened this year just made it look like people were just trying to hard to be unique. IMO


Hmm, JDM was really the thing last year , I beleive, and although its stuck, the hellaflush / stance movement has elevated it. Then the two ends of the spectrum are rusty 'unfinished' beaters and flash, new cars with big shiny wheels, both proving popular in 2009. So the 'Fast and Farious' huge chrome 20" wheels and vinyl flames look to be coming back in, moving away from JDM which overtook the said's 'tuner style'.

Well that's my opinion and I'll be interested to see what 2010 brings.


You're clearly missing the point, which is fine, because more car fanboys only understand SuperStreet lingo anyway and wanna be "Hella tight". A car doesn't need to be superclean to be done well, but people who praise cars that are "rusty" are just being lazy-asses and are just throwing parts on a turd. Rusty cars are just cars that are slowly dying, either waiting for a proper restoration or waiting to just fall a part. So this "trend" gives people the excuse to pick up shit cars, and then throw "parts" on them, so then they can be "tight and unique", instead hunting for a good model (waiting), or doing the actual quality work to restore a car. It's like people who run super camber, because they don't want to take the time to get a good alignment.

Regardless, 2009 had a bunch of showy trends that I hope go away, or at least go back to VW land where they can be peacefully ignored.


i heard that the genesis coupe will be coming to the uk next year so maybe we'll see some modified here. also @ Rustsucks it may just be a trend (i agree with that) but if you don't have anything good 2 say, don't bother commenting plz


I'm pleased you have noticed the trend in the Vintage JDM scene! I'm currently enjoying learning about and building an 83 series 2 Rx7 with the 12a. The car isn't as fast as my other ones, but it's a joy to drive. Next thing for it is 0 offset, 8 inch wide wheels with 240z fenders. :) Love the site.


"Conscious" Tuning is the trend of 2009. People these days pour their whole personality into tuning their cars, and its a very good change from what tuning use to be especially in the US. Gone are the days of 30 fucking tv's in a honda civic with gull wing doors, and now each mod on these cars seems like a little personal touch that makes each car individual. Dare I say, this recession has been the best thing to happen to auto tuning in a long time. It seems like each part purchased has a specific purpose to the overall look of the car, and we have the grassroots tuning world to thank for that. Guys with 1/3rd the budget of big tuning companies are really showing their true colors in their cars, while most of the big budget cars featured at SEMA did little to peak interest. In terms of the most popular new trend, I'd have to say the stance movement. There's something about a scrapingly low car that just screams bad-ass.


genesis builds will pick up as they come down in price.


Great article, you really nailed it with all trends of 09'


Honestly, Hellaflush is Hella-overhyped. I mean, it was cool before it was popular. Now all the tools who think "JDM" is anything but a descriptive adjective are into it, and it's annoyingly overused.

I do love the Shakotan look that's been catching on, especially with Yuta's 240Z. Not everything beautiful is within the usual definition of the word, and cars like Yuta's make that perfectly clear.

I'm also becoming a fan of the hybrid tuners. I think it's cool that not everyone sees the hybrid as a boring little econobox that gets 55+ mpg. Hell, the UTI over here in Cali built a 440hp Altima Hybrid tuner, and it looks amazing. I hope to see the trend, along with the vans, pick up more, this side of the Pacific.

The rise of the Camaro and Genesis. I love both cars, especially the Camaro, seeing as how I'm mainly a GM man (despite my screen name; I do love the AE86, regardless). I think they're both amazing in their respective departments, and I hope we see more of them in the coming years.

Bimmers and Porches also have my respect as brilliantly engineered German automobiles. I like what people have done with them in recent times, and I do hope this trend doesn't die or become overhyped like Hellaflush. Either way would be a terrible way for the trend to go.


definately nailed the trends of '09 spot on.. i think the flush movement will be here to stay. it moved from the euro's and their insane bbs's to the imports and maybe it will influence the domestics? some flush camaros might be nice..

i think 2010 will be the year of the hybrids. check out the top secret parts for the insight and prius..


The top half of this article really has put into perspective how bizarre 2009's trends have been.


I believe all these trends have been around for a few years..but just began to break out this year, it seams all the trends stem from the euro scene...Shakotan...and the civic was straight euro trash..2 years old. But when civic guys get a hold of something, you know its a trend.."rust hood, roof rack, widened steelies" all grassroot euro. my 2 cents


Let's see :


Genesis - FAIL

Civics w/ roofracks (okay, Civics in general) - FAIL

"Eco"-tuning - omg EPIC FAIL

Minivan tuning - FAIL

Steelies - FAIL


What a


Another trend is the exterior body parts covered in stickers and manufacturer decals like bumpers, hoods etc. Another trend I think is starting up is plaid hoods.


Sooo glad the oldschool scene is catching on. My firstgen rx-7s have more than doubled in value in the past couple years


what rims are on the red civic? they look like cragar soft8's but the cragers dont come in a 4 lug.


F_K Hella Flush and the whole fitment bullshit