Custom Street Car Heaven In Odaiba
Custom Culture To Blow Your Mind

I hope you guys are ready, because after the madness of Wekfest, we’ve got another round of Japan’s vast and varied car culture, this time thanks to the guys and gals at Mooneyes.

Seeing as Japan is now in the midst of spring, the event can be none other than the Street Car Nationals, otherwise known as a complete and utter takeover of the Odaiba neigborhood of Tokyo.

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As I arrived at Fune-no-kagakukan Station, the view looking down into the venue was pretty captivating. I’ve been covering this event religiously for years now, and it just never seems to get old.

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One of the great things about shooting a car event at Odaiba is the very Japanese-like backdrop, dominated by the Fuji Television building, to really set the mood.

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As always with a Mooneyes gathering, half the fun is hanging around on the streets outside and checking out the late arrivals line up to either make it into the show or roll into the nearby parking areas.

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It’s here that you can start getting a nice preview of the main event.

I could bang on about the variety, or just let you appreciate it from the pictures. The contrast between cars converging on the Street Car Nationals can be pretty comical at times.

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Here’s an example that really made me laugh. A Chevy El Camino, home to a perfect example of how inefficient the combustion engine can be…

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And about 30 seconds later a Toyota Mirai. This is a fuel cell production car that runs on compressed hydrogen and makes its electricity on board; the only emission is pure water. Total side-thought here, but what was the designer of Mirai – which means future in Japanese – and those that signed it off thinking? I know there were two big hydrogen tanks that had to be factored into the design, but did they really need to create something so damn ugly?!

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Purists may cringe, but a baby blue, slammed Honda NSX soon arrived on the other side of the street to restore balance in the universe.

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While the gates to the show open up early, it takes a long time to accommodate the hundreds of cars that are signed up to be on display.

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Not to worry though, the lines of cars waiting to get into the venue make for some awesome photo opportunities.

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Sometimes the trees open up enough to include the Fuji Television building in the background. Here, Japanese futuristic architecture meets a chopped and slammed ’27 Chevy.

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And speaking of Chevys, check out this ’68 C/K10 that had been driven down from Ibaraki Prefecture.

The Japanese Lead The Way
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As fun as it is to indulge in the tangible energy that lingers outside the venue during roll-in, I soon found myself inside and beginning my journey up and down the rows of neatly arranged cars. One of the first that stood out was this red Renault 5-based van – the Express as it was known in Europe. Sitting on white Speedline wheels and proudly displaying Turbo-look bumpers and lip, it was getting a ton of attention. It’s just another example of the curious machinery that Japanese enthusiasts are interested in and love showing off.

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This wasn’t the first time I had seen one of these bosozoku electric scooter/cooler thingies, but given the line-up I had to take in some of the details.

Check out the air horns and the short handle bars – only in Japan!

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The sheer variety of cars on show at the Street Car Nationals is what makes this event so great. What began as an American custom car meet back when the Mooneyes brand first came to Japan, has grown into something so much bigger. I like to think of it as a huge celebration of many different Japanese car customizing styles, from cool neo-classic street cars like this Z31 on Work Meister M1Rs…

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To heavily customized kei trucks pulling speaker-laden trailers. Err… what? Exactly!

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This Civic Shuttle on Wing Co. turbine wheels was a nostalgic look back in the late ’80s, but it now flaunts the sort of stance that will get you kudos in this decade.

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Another car from the ’80s was this Z28 Camaro; it’s built for racing and finished off with a set of SSR rims for a JDM touch.

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Every year at this Mooneyes event there seems to be more vans – something I’m OK with. Did you know that the popularity of American vans in the late ’80s and early ’90s is what prompted the Japanese auto manufacturers to rethink their van production? It was the Chevy Astro in particular that led them to realize they needed to make Japanese vans more family-friendly. The rest is history I guess.

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Last week, while spotlighting an SVX at Wekfest, I talked about how Subaru has lost its way, and this trio only cemented the fact for me. These two generations of Legacy Wagon and the Alcyone are great examples of how Subaru was cool and a little unique. Everything it makes now is bland.

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When it comes to unique though, nothing touches a Fiat Multipla – especially one dumped on small-diameter mesh wheels. Trust the Japanese to make a model that’s both as hated and loved as this six-seater people carrier actually look pretty good. I particularly like the blue tint on the ridiculously tall glass. What do you guys think of this thing?

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Photographing a Willys right after the Multipa weirdly had me seeing some similarities.

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If there’s one wheel design that seems to be coming back into fashion it’s the four-spoke. Last year, Barramundi debuted the Sunder model and then Work dropped its new Equip 40, but how could we possibly forget the BREs, as fitted to this Datsun 510 truck.

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I really couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give this P10 Nissan Primera on BBS LMs a bit of love. With all the weird stuff Nissan makes these days, I miss the old days when it was producing sporty, fun-to-drive sedans that also had motorsport pedigree.

Can’t Forget The American Iron
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Given this was a Mooneyes show, there’s no way I could overlook the American iron.

Muscle cars are always very well represented at the show, as are wild custom creations.

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And what would a gathering like this be without a few pink Cadillacs?!

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On the other side of the spectrum, and parked right in front of the Mooneyes booth, was this Plymouth Belvedere built for the quarter mile.

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But I guess you might have already figured that out by the purposeful stance and Hoosier drag rubber. Those monster rear tires must properly hook-up off the line.

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Also built for drag racing was this Bug from the guys at FLAT4, a shop I recently stopped at during my cycle ride down Meguro-Dori in Tokyo.

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Remember the 2-stroke Mazda Porter kei truck I spotlighted at this show last year? Well, the owner of that car has been busy over the last year putting the finishing touches to a whole new project, one he built for his young daughter. It might not be self-propelled, but this slammed Radio Flyer rat rod oozes style.

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If there’s one type of car that has always fascinated me it’s massive American coupes from the ’70s. These things are so against everything I ever learned about cars growing up; they’re unnecessarily huge, impossibly heavy, and so removed from offering anything near a thrilling drive. That said, custom examples like these Lincoln Continentals are stupidly cool and must be rather fun to cruise in.

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I can’t get over the overhang these cars had.

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The entire V8 fit behind the front axle line, which theoretically would make it rather nice steer, but I don’t think steering finesse and feedback was the forte here. Still, they’re damn cool cars in their own right.

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FLEX is another shop I stopped by on Meguro Street, and it was present with a few customized Land Cruisers, all of which were for sale.

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I’m not really sure what to make of an R33 sedan being used for stance duty. I’ve seen so many of these being abused around drift tracks, that this one almost seemed far removed from its natural habitat.

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The overfender movement continues, and the next victim is the Toyota Hiace. Truth be told, I think this looks pretty damn cool. I mean, why not, right?

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Right behind the Hiace was this Y30 Gloria V-30 Brougham VIP scraping a copious amount of plastic on the ground. I’m sure it’s not to everyone’s taste, but this style is an in-between of VIP and grachan.

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Our buddies from N-Style never miss a meeting, and after seeing Taku abusing his TE71 at Black Mark Day last month, the change of pace for this weekend must have been nice for him. His AE85 Levin remains one of my favorites.

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I featured this car before it went under the knife to be made all pretty.

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We’ve also seen Taku throw his drift-spec N2 AE86 around Nikko some years back, and if you recall that feature you will remember he likes his 4A-Gs to run carbs, hence why this one’s on FCRs. Just look at that engine bay!

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Manabu was also in Odaiba with his ever-evolving AE70.

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I’ll end this first post from the 2017 Mooneyes Street Car Nationals with the same C211 Skyline we saw at Wekfest the other week.

As always, I’ve kept the coolest stuff for some standalone spotlights, which I’ll start to work on right away. I think you guys will love what I’ve got coming up, so make sure you check back throughout the week for updates!

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino
dino@speedhunters.com

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57 comments

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1

I love the Multipla! I just got back from a month in Turin, Italy. I opted for the Multipla as a taxi. For sure the ugliest fish in the sea but it caries so much personality and poses as purely function. Would love to take one cross-country!

Author2
Dino Dalle Carbonare

They still had the old ones?

3

What Z cars are in the title pic? Are they all 280z? 280zx?

4
Patrick Peebles

All three are 280zx's.

5
Jack Robinson

Dino you God! <3

Author6
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Grazie. Amen. hahaha

7

Oh man an express! Those old farmer car are so rare now even in france

Author8
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Don't think I've seen one since growing up in the UK

9

There's still a handfull of them here and there... I like how this one has the front bumper/grills/headlight of the "Supercinq" as we call the 2nd generation Renault 5 over here. Also picking parts coming from the GT Turbo version is great!

10
chris whats his name

Amazzzing!!! This event really does capture the "essence" of Japanese car culture.

Author11
Dino Dalle Carbonare

It's a big big must if you are visiting Japan during this time of the year :)

12
Ryan Senensky

Those "Legacy wagons" are actually a second generation Legacy and an EA82 Subaru Leone/L-series which predates the Legacy. It also sports an EA82 engine (confusing that the engine and chassis are the same name) which was Subarus earlier boxer design.

13

You completely right! Lovely leone, my first car and I still owned it. Pity that they now completely forgotten and very rare object for tuning.

14

Those three Z's though bro! Any more info on those 3 drag Spec Zs?

Author15
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Spotlight of one coming up this week, so hang on for it :)

16
Ryan Senensky

Great coverage by the way!

Author17
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thank you :)

18

Sweet jeebus, that Z31! Pure goals, right there. Even looks to be a 2+2!

19
Martin Mikula

Nooooooo!!!...of all colors for an NSX..."baby blue", what the hell???. As for the Mirai - well that's a chapter on it's own, trully a disgusting car though.

20

I think the NSX is nice!
Is the driver on the left side of the car?

Author21
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah but does it need to be? If they had penned an attractive body people would actually like it and maybe give fuel cell cars a nicer image. I reckon they made it ugly to keep sales down, production is so small they could never handle big orders lol

22

I can't knock the design of the Toyota. It's as unsafe a design as the bmw i3, and I personally love the design language of both. Cars look too boring today. No shapes, just big, hulking, vehicles with body panels seemingly draped over their fat asses.

23

Cases in point: that absurd mercedes suv thing, any kia being produced right now, new subaru impreza, honda civic type r (yeah, it's fat and ugly lol), etc.

24

great article...but how could you possibly gloss over a porsche 550 spyder and spend more time talking about a fiat multipla!
The porsche is an iconic sports car that is worth millions (from what i can tell its an original)

25

It is a replica. A nice one, but a fiberglass replica. You can tell by looking at the front wheel moulding. The body goes down to the rocker panel and then the body curves inward, leaving an open space behind and above the wheel. This is how you can tell that the front was molded from a single piece of fiberglass, with a separate firewall added in (either of steel or aluminum, probably bolted. Originals have no such space, instead the entire inner wheel arch is a solid piece of aluminum. The originals are solid aluminum for strength and to add additional cockpit space. The fiberglass cars today are slightly longer in the cockpit dimensions (about 2 inches) and thus have additional cockpit space built in, it also reduces the amount of material needed to make the molds (keeping cost down).

The interior is also fully upholstered, none of the originals had fully upholstered interiors. Also the wheels are wrong, the original cars have 5-lug wheels with huge bolt-patterns (205mm spacing) that mount to the drums (as opposed to a hub, necessitating a larger bolt circle) and did not have hubcaps. This car is running smaller-spaced, hub-mounted wheels that are probably VW Beetle hubs.

Finally, all original 550s were silver (potentially with painted tails). But none of them were white. If you see a 550 in any color other than silver, it is almost assuredly a replica. In fact the default response would be to assume (like with Cobras) that most of them are replicas and not real.

26

dude, you are by far my favourite person.
Your knowledge is incredible with 550s.
have you or are you building one? or are you just (significantly) more of a porsche nut than me?

Author27
Dino Dalle Carbonare

lol there you go, it is indeed a replica despite being a very good one. Mind you there is a real 550 in Tokyo that I've been meaning to feature....

28

love you long time if you do.
infact fly me over, and i'll do it for you :D

Author29
Dino Dalle Carbonare

lol

30

Favorites have to be the boso scooter/cooler thingies, the Datsun 510 Truck, the P10 Primera, the black Continental, the R33 sedan, Y30 Gloria, and the N-Style cars

Author31
Dino Dalle Carbonare

lots then

32

'69 Charger with a '68 grille and Cragar SSs.

Nice.

33
Flavien Vidal

The blue Subaru is a Leone, which is, I'm fairly sure, the same that I saw here at the Nagoya Classic Car show, in Toyota (with the Subaru potato bags on the seats lol). It's actually a USDM car modifed into RHD.

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34
Flavien Vidal

The blue Subaru is a Leone, not a Legacy. I'm fairly sure it's the same one I saw at the Nagoya Classic Car Show in Toyota. It has the same Subaru "potato bags" on the seats. I talked with the owner back then and the car is actually a USDM vehicle, converted into RHD. It's in absolute perfect condition!

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35
Flavien Vidal
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36
Flavien Vidal
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Author37
Dino Dalle Carbonare

That's the one.

38

Amazing cars. Great coverage Dino. Mmm that P10, looks like it has big brakes as well.

39

The overfendered Hiace is pretty damn cool.

40

This. I love vans, and I think the Hiace looks awesome too.

41
turboboxer6spd

What kind of trunk spoiler is on the AE Levin Dino?

42

Oddly diggin' the crv lol.

Author43
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah was wondering if anyone would spot that. Looked strangely good...

44

- Love the light blue tint also.
- NSX has a speedhunters tow strap.
- Subaru is more bland than that hydrogen powered Toyota is ugly.
- Screw Nissan. Can't make a fun car anymore, but can release a convertible 2-door SUV.... How is that a good idea?

Author45
Dino Dalle Carbonare

#becausenissan is a tag we'll no doubt start seeing soon

46
Mike Donnelly

I said it in your last post and I'll say it again, damn i need a bosozoku cooler in my life!

Author47
Dino Dalle Carbonare

LOL get one already. Looks cool and keeps your beverages chilled!

48

I must say, I love every car in this post! The Japanese really know how to perfect a wide range of styles and add their own take in some instances too. Take that 27 Chevy roadster pick up. I've seen hundred of hot rods in my time, and that one really stands out. How often do you see a rod of that vintage sitting with the ass end down like that? Almost a low-rider "California rake" stance to it. Looks tough, and, most importantly unique and individual whilst still staying true to 'traditional' roots and styling cues. It must have one huge notch in the back to be able to sit that low with those fat white wall poly cheater slicks. Even if the rear is bagged, they are at least hidden. The front remains a solid axle with a single leaf no doubt which I great! I hare seeing visible or exposed air bags on that era/period of car.

Author49
Dino Dalle Carbonare

You are so right. Not only do they know what they are doing, but they are so legit they push styles, no matter which ones

50

Car does look awesome, as do so many in the feature. Did anyone notice the label on the back of the tailgate of the '27? whats with that? (and the censorship?)

51

whats with the ford sticker on the back of it?

52
A Great Hunter

This is so amazing, thank you for being Speedhunters! I kinda need you to do an article with a full glossary of terms and the correct pronunciation for all the many Japanese styles.

Author53
Dino Dalle Carbonare

I've thought about that actually. It would make so much sense, and then we could just assume everyone knew what the terms are or link them to the original post :)

54
Chris Colouryum

Wow. What an eclectic mix of cars! This is heaven.

55

Looks like I´m LTTP, but can you Dino or anyone else tell me what car that is in the shot of the R33 ? The one with the snorkel. Looks very intresting.

56

It's all in the mix! The japanese car-scene is just gorgeous and your articel is as funky as the subject it deals with. Weather it's the Subarus which are great, or the FLAT4 Bug which is preatty mean. The Civic Shuttle is a car I didn't dig back in the 80's - now I wish I had one as a dayly driver..., the Renault R5 Rapid (as it was called in Germany) makes my heart beat faster and is a wonderful example that a lot of "ordinary cars" deserve big love too and can be transformed into something special/unique with some subtle touches of style and taste. Well and the Fiat Multipla with its "ridiculously tall glas" to me looks like some "Pappa-Mobil of Cool"!

57

I want to know what's up with the japanese trend of mounting us licence plate frames on japanese plates. Do they drill them? or do they use a special bracket for mad usdm points? It seems like it would be risky since it covers up numbers and region names. Keep up the good work Dino!

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