Can anything really be any more Japanese than this? We have all heard stories of these curious creations roaming the streets of Japan at night, outrageously modified old diesel vans made to look like something out of a manga or anime. Over the years I have stumbled upon the odd one cruising down deserted countryside roads, but they have been getting pretty rare over the years.
Or so I thought!
Last night at around 2 am I get a call from Miguel Varella-Cid, the man behind Newera Imports and Newera Parts. Miguel is as car crazy as they get and actually lives literally 5 minutes away from Fuji Speedway. After returning from a blast up in the mountains with his Knight Sports tuned FD3S he noticed a line of crazy tuned vans heading up towards the circuit.
He decided to follow them and this is what he discovered outside the main entrance of track. Turns out a big vanning meet was materializing with a lot of people turning up late at night and sleeping in their vans ready for today's gathering.
Miguel shot down to his house to pick up his camera and tripod and returned up to Fuji Speedway to grab these pictures. It looks like the party started early with all vans showing off their full illumination and owners chatting until the wee hours.
Size obviously doesn't matter!
Not only did the owner of this Kei-van put it through a very interesting aesthetic custom transformation, but also went full out in outfitting the interior to create very comfy sleeping quarters. In-car entertainment is offered by the built-in slot machine!
These vans are of course all about big spoilers and wings…
…combined with crazy overhangs!
The vans kept arriving but at one point Miguel called it a night and headed home to get some sleep. He was up again very early, ready to go back up to Fuji Speedway to take another look…
…at what had gathered over the night. Around 250 vans had showed up in what has to be the biggest vanning meeting of this type in Japan.
This was by far my favorite out all the ones Miguel shot. Gotta love the Police-car look!
Most of these vans have "800 class" registration, which is a designation for camping and oversized vehicles. The "800" appears on the plates next to the prefectural Shaken office name which releases the license tags.
Miguel had a chat to some of the owners who told him that apparently it's not too hard to pass the shaken (motor-vehicle inspection) with these vans.
The only requirement is that mechanical parts are a minimum of 9 cm from the ground while bodykits and overhang sizes don't really matter. The kind of people that drive these vans are known as "Yankees," who are usually rebellious and individualistic types that strive to be uniquely different from the masses.
How about this for the next Batmobile? Batman seems to approve!
The bat-theme really does extend over every single inch of this van…
…with those being some of the wildest wings I've ever seen on these vans.
I'm sure the owner has to calculate alternative routes to some of his destinations as there is no way those wings can clear small Japanese bridges and underpasses!
He even had a scale replica made!
If this van ever gets into a front crash there is a lot of crumple-zone to protect occupants!
Scooters and motorbikes are not forgotten in this crazy stylistic movement. The helmet is very cool!
Toyota Hiaces and Nissan Caravans are popular bases for these transformations…
…and there are a few tuning companies dedicated to creating the massive FRP wings and bumpers, with the rest of the work being fully customized.
It is Haulers & Sedans month at the moment so Miguel didn't forget to get a few shots of cool VIP rides like this Celsior…
…which was given a very smooth widening and lowering.
Here we have a very aquatic feel…
…and a unique set of taillights!
That is Tsuri Kichi Sampei airbrushed on the back and sides of this purple van. I used to watch that anime in Italy as a kid!
The majority of these vans sport intricate airbrushed drawings of either anime and manga characters or…
…famous Japanese singers and actors.
This particular Hiace went for a sportier feel with an integrated wide-body conversion and small low spoiler. It can almost be considered a drag look LOL!
Not much to do with this particular scene but this TT was sporting a wide-body conversion made by the guys at Takero's who do a lot of work on vans and station wagons.
Of course massive, loud exhausts are a big part of these crazy vans, there to add to the whole antisocial feel of these custom creations.
A big thanks goes out to Miguel for supplying us with these images. I have to make sure I don't miss this meeting next year!
Pix: Courtesy of Miguel Varella-Cid
-Dino Dalle Carbonare