Here at Speedhunters we try to diversify and bring you the best the worldwide car scene has to offer. And as you have probably gathered by now it's hard to top Japanese car culture, as there is really something for everyone, and then some! I have been holding on to this feature for a while now, waiting for the right moment to post it up. A while back I got a call from Andy at Powervehicles.com, telling me he had just picked up a crazy Japanese custom van at the Tokyo car auction and that I really needed to check it out.
When I got to his shop I couldn't believe what I was seeing, it looked like something out of a Gundam anime with crazy FRP wings sprouting out from everywhere. Having lived quite a long time in the Ibaraki-ken countryside during my time here in Japan has meant I have see my fair share of the whole "Vanning" culture, but I had never had the chance to take a closer look at one of these beasts until then. Andy threw me the keys and told me to take the Nissan Homy down to the banks of the local river where I would actually have enough space to move this thing around during the shoot!
Driving this orange monstrosity is quite an experience, and you really have to adapt your drying style to take into account the massive rear wings that flap around 10 feet up in the air. I was terrified of hitting road signs and traffic lights not to mention decapitating the odd school kid or granny on a bicycle! The overhangs are massive and I really needed to take all the space I could get when making turns. It's a good thing whoever built this van fitted a rear-view camera so you can see on the LCD monitor how many tree branches you can knock down!
The coolest thing about the Homy is the truck like exhaust note. Get on the gas pedal and the twin rear drainpipes emit low-frequency offbeat pulses that are so slow you can actually count them. That's because this Nissan is powered by a 3.2 L NA diesel engine (yes, NA), which remarkably enough, has absolutely no power and even less torque meaning it has a hard time dragging the extra ton of plastic bodykit around.
Imagine seeing this thing in your rear-view mirror!
It's all about how many wings and spoilers you can get on there!
I had trouble passing the last shaken on my GT-R because my Mine's titanium exhaust was 1db too loud, because the offset of the wheels was too aggressive and get this, because I didn't have a shift pattern diagram on or around the gear lever. Now what I want to know is how the hell are these vans allowed to drive on the streets!!??
The stylish exterior looks are only half the story, what lies inside is what counts, after all where are you going to take your lovely gal after a night spent terrorizing the streets! Pop the switch and the vertical side door lifts to unveil the Homy’s vinyl clad interior…
…where purple and green are the colors of choice!
The two benches on each side provide ample seat space to accommodate additional guests.
Hello Kitty logs are embossed around the cabin…
…and as a final touch the roof is lined with mirrors.
Purple and orange was chosen for the cabin up front along with deep soft carpeting.
This van is actually considered to be pretty sedate in the Vanning scene, as I have seen far more extreme creations. Personally I like the ones that feature airbrushed faces of famous Japanese singers or actors on the rear hatch!
If I had to make a wild guess I'd say this van was originally driven by a girl…
…which would explain the Hello Kitty theme and rather "soft" interior touches.
Andy actually shipped this van to Ireland, so maybe we can expect this whole Vanning thing to take off in other countries! Or maybe not!
-Dino Dalle Carbonare