I always thought the age old debate of “form over function” is a funny one. At the end of the day, does anyone out there really need to change anything on his or her car? Do we need to upgrade turbochargers, or fit adjustable suspension along with stickier rubber. What enthusiasts gain from modifications is satisfaction – satisfaction through a variety of ways – and a lot of the time this isn’t necessarily quantifiable in performance figures.
The joy you get seeing your car look and sit just right is just as important as a boost in power, or making it corner like it was a race car. It’s just that there are some out there that like to take these things right to the limit, push the boundaries of what has been previously attempted.
And when it comes to the “aesthetics-first” approach, the VIP scene is where the rulebook continues to be rewritten…
…and new styles and ideas further explored and experimented with.
So it’s no surprise that my mind was absolutely blown at this year’s Excite King meeting in Fuji Speedway…
…a Kanto-based gathering that has been happening for a few years now, continuing to grow in popularity at pretty much the same pace the scene it promotes is doing.
Unlike a lot of the soukoukai or drift events we cover, the atmosphere at these sort of get-togethers is as laid back as it gets – all about taking it easy…
…relaxing with your friends and “team mates” and checking out the other cars that have rolled in.
And of course among all the sedans and vans in attendance there are always a few nice surprises mixed in, cars that while not exactly categorized as VIP, fully embrace the shakotan way of life.
I have compared this movement to fashion before and once again it’s hard not to touch on the similarities; styles, colors, custom work, finishes, shiny bits, fabric and leather choice – they all pay a vital part in creating these one-off creations but at the same time making sure that these projects continue to evolve…
…’cos the last thing you need is a car that looks out of date. Some prefer to stick to a few simple but extremely visible alterations…
…while others like to tinker with even the smallest of details. I still believe there is no other scene that is so accommodating as this…
…everyone’s car and every approach accepted and given credit to.
This is as Japanese as the scene itself, where respect is at the very core of everything. In any other country this just wouldn’t work, attitudes and arrogance would come into play and people’s hard work would be so easily dismissed.
It probably all spans from the simple notion that “style” is too much of a broad term to be quantified or defined, so let what appeals to you be the judge of what you like or don’t. Approached in this way it’s simply mesmerizing…
…there is so much to take in, from the more basic and simple approaches to tuning Kei-vans…
…to the very opposite.
I have a ton of stuff I want to show you so I hope this little teaser of what is to come…
…leaves you with the craving for more.
I’ll be back soon with a spotlight-o-rama of some of the cars that stood out the most to me. I hope the copious amounts of onikyan won’t offend anyone! Remember open mind, breathe in and….enjoy!
-Dino Dalle Carbonare
"This is as Japanese as the scene itself, where respect is at the very core of everything. In any other country this just wouldn’t work, attitudes and arrogance would come into play and people’s hard work would be so easily dismissed"
A great article Mr DC... and timely sentiments. I had been beginning to wonder whether the Function, Function, Über Alles brigade had staged a putsch and taken control of Speedhunters! My opinion, function-nazis are just as boring as stance-nazis: chill out guys!
Having said all that, i'm now gonna sort of contradict myself by saying that while i very much admire and respect the VIP boys for their skill and their dedication to their art, i think the style itself is in danger of disappearing up its own arse - something it has in common with the stance "movement". Impossibly tempting to say "VIP: RIP?"
Hopefully i'll be proved wrong in the next post :)
speedhunters_dino About VIP maybe disappearing UIOA? Because i increasingly see signs of self-parody and/or obsessive refinement seemingly for its own sake in the style. This tendency is the same as (give or take) what in architecture is known as "mannerism". In the history of architectural styles, when a style or movement drifts into mannerism, that has nearly always been followed in short order by the style's death and replacement by a new movement.
But like i said, i hope i'm wrong, because personally i really like the style!
tenpennyjimmy Some "schools of thought" within VIP for sure, you can only take things so far, but others - perhaps the more simple approaches - I think not. Plus let's not forget that some people do it just for fun, to have a but of fun. A great example is coming up in the first spotlight-o-rama ;)
The atmosphere comes at you seeing these photos. I'm still breathing, gettin' the sense of the event and all the cars. What's not to like on the VIP's?! Can't wait for the spotlight-o-rama :)
HOW can young japanese guys afford this? I mean a goddamn century on extremely expensive wheels?..i dont get it..all credit?
While I appreciate the artistic aspect of this. It is not my cuppa tea. The way people are so defensive of a fashion reminds me of the movie Zoolander.
As a life long car enthusiast I have come to realize a few points in life people miss when talking about form over function, or function over form. If you feel form over function is stupid then I have a question for you. How does jewelry make you a better person? By wearing diamonds and gold do you somehow become a better you? No. You buy and rock those items because that is what you want, and not what someone else told you to buy and wear (unless your in advertising and are aware that in fact an ad agency convinced you to want diamonds and gold growing up). Sure others think your jewelry is cool and they may have some variation of what you have, but at the end of the day it makes us happy to have these possessions. I love my chassis scrapping Weds wearing Phaeton for the way it looks. It makes me happy :)
First person to comment that demon camber is stupid gets a swift kick in the gentlemen's region. Top work Dino!
Bippu or full on demon camber it is all cool.
(Liked seeing the C210 also).
(More Celsiors and Cimas).
Interesting, I find myself more drawn to the kei cars in the VIP scene, but great photos regardless! :D
Perfection, want to see more on this one ----> http://www.speedhunters.com/2013/03/style-comes-first-excite-king-2013/excite-king-2013-07-hi/
Other Will It's a round handle off a Japanese train....a sort of rebellious bosozoku thing that has been done since the seventies ;)
speedhunters_dino That's awesome. Still, surely its life could be prolonged by not having it drag along the floor.