Selecting a car to do a dedicated shoot on at the recent VIP meeting in Osaka proved to be one a hell of a tough decision. I knew it would have to combine the variety of styles that make up the modern day bippu scene but at the same time stay true to what defines such unmistakably JDM-tuned sedans. Pushing the boundaries is always important, but pushing them in a way that people take notice and respect what you have done is another thing all together. This is precisely what Mizuno-san, the owner of this UF20 Celsior achieved…
…over a period of a few years in his own garage. The end result has taken a ton of dedication and countless sleepless nights but it is one of the most talked about cars in VIP circles, having graced the cover of VIP Car magazine and having been featured in VIP Style magazine, the two leading publications specialized in covering this scene.
The obvious thing that makes this car so unique is the Toyota Century front-end conversion which has drastically changed the usual lines of the Celsior. The grafting of the trademark grille and lights was all done by Mizuno-san himself and at the same time throwing in a ton of K-Break aero goodies in the mix. Since seeing this car the first time earlier this year on the Bee Dragon stand at TAS, Mizuno-san has done away with his old black/silver K-Break Hybeed Fivesta wheels and fitted a polished version of the same model. The wheels measure 9.5Jx18" fore and 11.5Jx18" aft, running Yokohama rubber, 215/35R18 up front and 255/35R18 at the rear.
Mizuno-san likes to enjoy his car as much as possible so on top of coming up with looks and a stance that allows him to drive the car hassle free on the street, has gone nothing short of crazy in the interior.
There isn't a single piece of trim that isn't either covered in fiery red alcantara or beige leather, including the headliner. Even the seatbelts have been swapped out for red ones!
The attention to detail is mind blowing. This is the custom center console, which houses some of the McIntosh based audio system as well as the air suspension controller, a Voltmeter and a Bulgari analog clock.
The bezel around the Panasonic LCD screen has been given a red marble finish in order to fit in with the surrounding stitched alcantara dashboard.
The shifter is upholstered in authentic Louis Vuitton material and leather.
The front passenger side gets its own LCD screen.
A defining factor of any authentic bippu ride are of course curtains, something that not only helps protect from the harsh rays of the sun but conceal your identity in case someone in the opposite lane dares look at you!
Hanging from the rearview mirror is a decorative fusa (or tassel) something commonly found in VIP cars. The little red omamori (amulet), on the wiper stalk is there to protect Mizuno-san when driving, a sort of lucky charm that can be purchased for ¥500 at Shinto shrines.
Under the hood sits the 1UZ 4L V8 in stock configuration. To enhance the distinctive V8 burble Mizuno has fitted a custom exhaust system…
…which, when the air suspension is lowered to its lowest setting, rests right on the ground. Mizuno explains that to help obtain such a slammed look he had to cut the floor out and reposition it a few centimeters higher so that there would be no obstacles in the way, something that surprised me as I had no idea that amount of work went into creating a complete car like this.
More metal work and fabrication followed in the fender area to create what Mizuno-san refers to as "semi-blistered fenders," only gently widened to help obtain that tsuraichi or flush look with the rims.
On the inside of the fuel filler cover Mizuno had an airbrush artist recreate a picture of Ayumi Hamaski, his favorite Japanese pop singer. This seems to be the latest fashion in the VIP sedan world!
K-Break Platinum aero has been used up front with a lower bumper section…
…as well as on the sides and rear.
The stock air suspension allows the car to be lowered right on the ground thanks to the compressor controller that Mizuno has fitted, but he has to lift the car up in order to drive around.
This is currently one of the most well known VIP cars in Japan and probably the most unique as it combines, on top of the front-end conversions, tons of custom touches.
It's uniqueness that gets you noticed in this scene, standing out with fresh new ideas but at the same time sticking to the fundamentals that make a VIP car what it is.
-Dino Dalle Carbonare