The JDM Hunt At SEMA

‘So what’s your favorite car?’ This is probably the number one question you hear being thrown around on the show floor.

It’s something you could possibly answer at a smaller event, but when it comes to the SEMA Show, it’s a futile question. The sheer number of cars on display and the ultra high quality makes it near on impossible to pick a favorite. Breaking them up into sub categories makes the task a tad simpler, but it’s still mighty tough to call out a winner. So instead of trying to do that, I’m going to present to you a selection of Japanese cars that really stood out to me.


I’m going to start with Jun Imai’s Datsun 260Z, which you already would have seen this week through Larry’s rather uniquely-shot feature. Having met Jun in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year during Art of Speed and talking about the build, I was quite curious to see how it all came together. Of course, the car is defined by the Pandem kit and unique color combo.


I like really like how Jun has kept the stock L-series intact; with so many engine swaps happening these days it’s come to the point that factory engine setups stands out. That’s pretty crazy if you think about it for a second.


While the CCW Classics measure 16×10-inch at all four corners, the rear wheels have a far more aggressive offset; the massive lip just screams aggression from any angle. Now that it’s finally finished, Jun can properly enjoy it.


This S2000, owned by Jesus Reyes, was the winner of ‘Tuner Battlegrounds’ organized by Canada’s PASMAG.


While the exterior is pretty unique with the overfender kit, it’s the rather colorful engine bay that I found most interesting. In Japan it’s pretty rare to see a supercharged S2000 as most owners prefer to stay naturally aspirated, but when you need serious power out of an F-series engine, boost is your friend.


More overfenders here, this time on America’s first Rocket Bunny RX-8.


While the aero pieces continue to follow Miura’s tried and tested recipe that doesn’t ever seem to tire, I did find the design rather well suited to the lines of the SE3P – especially the way the front flare is shaped. Plus, the forged RAYS Volk Racing TE37Vs with their dish just add to the car in a clean and simple way.


I don’t think I’ve ever come across titanium-look gooseneck wing stays before.


Personally speaking, I think the rear of the car would look even better with just the simple ducktail, but this is still one of the best from Miura’s portfolio.


Not far from the RX-8 in the Toyo Tires Treadpass was this Datsun S30. Like his stunning Z build last year, Dominic Le’s latest Chasing Js creation is meticulously put together.


Larry will no doubt be nodding in agreement seeing the SR20DET swap that has replaced the stock OHC straight-six. There are a ton of nice details in the engine bay, like the titanium piping and dimple die treatment for the radiator shrouds.


The S30 sits on instantly-recognisable Work Equip 40s, a retro design that was unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon back in January.


Rear fitment is as tight as it could get, but it all just emphasizes the overall beauty of the Z’s timeless shape.


And as I stood up and turned around from my JDM photo stance position, I found Paddy and Trevor both attempting to get a picture of me in action. I managed to hunt two hunters with one shutter press, right as they themselves were hunting a hunter. That makes sense, right?


Back inside I found another amazing Nissan build, this time an S15 Silvia built by the guys at Atlantic Motorsports in Maryland.


I’ve seen my fair share of RB26-swapped S-chassis cars in Japan, but it’s almost always with drift-oriented applications which tend to be done in a more budget-conscious fashion. By contrast, no expense seems to have been spared here, and it truly shows.

The 600hp RB26, which was salvaged from a BCNR33, sits in an immaculately color-coordinated engine bay on an R33 GTS-t front subframe. Custom engine mounts were fabricated to help the engine sit as low as possible, and the titanium lobster-tail piping that connects the Garrett turbo to the ARC airbox took one whole day to weld up. The same amount of time was required to plumb the carbon/billet plenum to the intercooler.


Brightest Recaros I’ve ever seen? Definitely! I found it refreshing how the interior was kept simple and with an authentic JDM feel, right down to the bolt-in Cusco cage.


The T&E Vertex aero is mated to a pair of rear overfenders to give the whole ensemble the right sort of balance. It’s then all topped off with RAYS Volk Racing CE28Ns with custom yellow decals to match the Recaros.


The word on the SEMA Show floor is that overfenders are done. The fad is over; it’s time to move on. I’m not quite sure Miura-san got the memo as he’s obviously not stopped doing his thing, and it’s the same thing with those companies that have taken inspiration from what he does. But, if overfenders were not still a thing, I doubt the ‘Best JDM’ award would have been given to this EG Honda Civic.


So while we always get that feeling that we’ve seen it all before, at the same time there is no denying it – overfenders make any car look cool.


For some reason, I get the feeling Miura tried to make this particular conversion rawer. It’s like he’s purposely not tried to follow the EG’s stock lines, instead drastically interrupting them for extra effect. It works so well, too.


This is no show car either; the Civic has been built with performance in mind starting with the stripped interior, data logger, and closed-off air vents.


Under the hood, a K24 swap takes center-stage – I bet you weren’t expecting that!


I loved the Osaka license plate in the back, possibly hinting at Miura’s association with Civics and the stuff he used to get up to at night on the Kanjo Loop.


Last year at SEMA, Chris Forsberg showcased his RB26-powered 280Z at the AEM Induction Systems booth, but this year it was the turn of a little project he’s been working on for his wife.


The Datsun 510 wagon, which he picked up for cheap on Craigslist, was completely gutted out, repaired, repainted, and fitted with pretty much the widest box-style flares we’ve seen on a car like this. There’s also a new engine setup and a full interior makeover.


Dubai’s CarbonSignal created the overfenders and even sent over a carbon fiber grille section to highlight the now bumper-less front end.


The idea behind the Mazworx SR20DET swap was to give the reliability of a more modern engine. I’m talking about easy start up, less stuff to fiddle around with, and of course a healthy dose of power. The motor is backed up by an auto transmission to turn it into a true daily driver, something that also called for the addition of air-conditioning and GPS navigation.


There’s fully adjustable suspension at each corner with SSR MKIIIs being the wheel of choice to get the look just right. The rear bumper delete really finishes off the car well.

Larry will be taking a closer look at this build with a full feature in the coming weeks, so keep a look out for that.


I had to do a double take when I saw Satsukawa-san’s A-bo-Moon R32 in the wheel and tire hall. This was possibly the most Japanese car out of all the Japanese cars at the show, if you know what I mean.


I’m going to finish things off over at the Liberty Walk booth with a build that once again proves that the great overfender revolution is far from over.


This is one car I was really interested to see after shooting Kato-san’s narrow body LB Performance NSX demo machine in Japan the other month.


Built in Canada as a collaboration with Liberty Walk, the task of taking an NSX and making it look super imposing has well and truly been achieved.


The car sits on Air Lift Performance air suspension, so the right look can be achieved at the press of a button. But I won’t go into too much detail as Larry will also be taking this car to one of his favorite locations in Las Vegas and shooting it properly for an upcoming feature.

So, out of all the cars I’ve just shown you, do you have a favorite?

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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Please do a full feature on Dominic's S30. That thing is amazing, and the details on it are impeccable!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

One for Larry or Louis to take care of!


I want to see coverage of Hert's Twerkstallion n Sh!tcar


That yellow 510 wagon! I'm a sucker for box-style fenders, looks fantastic!


That’s Chris Foresbergs car.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It sure does, a great little car. I'm sure it wasn't easy to nail all the details so well


That eg civic hatch is probably my favorite simply because my first car was/is an eg civic (biased af), but the Atlantic Motorsport's s15 takes the cake in my opinion.


The EG is Phillip Robles’ car. Been featured on SH before.


my same thoughts exactly. the hatch has a nostalgia feel for me, and that S15 is probably the best ive ever seen. that engine bay setup is perfect IMO.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah that S15 blew me away!


That s2000 roll cage looks ....uncomfortable? Haha


Unless you have a recess in your skull...

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I could never fit...


I like that RB swapped S15. I just picked up an RB26 myself.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

For what car?


I bought an RB26 for an R32 GT-R.


Well, I wouldn't say the 260Z's L-series is stock...those aren't the flat-top SU carbs that came with the 260, they're earlier 240Z round-tops, which are simply better. And the way to go if you're sticking with the SU. Still, I was totally surprised to see a pair of SU's in stock configuration on a build like this!


Favorite: EG Civic. Those over fenders look very Evo-esque. Clean!

You mentioned that overfenders are dead, when discussing the Civic. The civic's overfenders are well executed. On the other hand, the NSX that Liberty Walk butchered just looks God awful. Those are the types of overfenders that I wish would become a thing of the past.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

While I agree with you on the design side of thing, I'd say both types are here to stay. I always do wonder what the next "big" styling thing is, but I don't honestly think there could possibly be one. At least not as big and popular as the overfender craze

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

There really isn't much lines on the EG body for the Pandem kit to follow. It certainly is one of Miura-san's best works.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

And maybe that's just why it works. Total contrast to what's underneath.


That LB NSX, is from VANCOUVER, Canada. And I'm being specific because the owner is a local Vancouver man who has impeccable taste in his tuner cars. I am super stoked for Doczilla and his NSX, and I cannot wait to see it with my own two eyes!!!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

JJ is the man!


I hope that one of you will do a spot light on that car Dino, it would be killer to see it in detail on Speedhunters!!


Only 2 real JDM cars in the article? Should the title of the article be “the JDM inspired hunt at SEMA”?
Awesome article nonetheless!!
Great photos

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Elaborate please...


Just that JDM stands for Japanese domestic market and I only see 2 right hand drive vehicles the rest are left Hand drive so they are no longer cars for the Japanese domestic market. The left hand drive cars are inspired by the tuning companies that build aftermarket parts for the JDM


i'm hoping this trend with overfenders goes the way of the huge ass spoilers, coffee can mufflers, motegi mr7's...they look terrible!


Thank christ I'm not the only one. If you want to make it look wide, fabricate it such that it looks like it came that way from the factory. Bolt on overfenders look cheap and nasty on all but a small handful of period cars imo.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Agree on the spoilers.


Forsberg's engine bay looks so good.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Truly well done.


One question: How'd that Silvia S15 make it there? I thought they weren't allowed in the US yet!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Every single time I've been to SEMA since my first time in 2006 I've seen S15s so there is definitely a way


It's unbelievable how that S2000 won anything with those Pathetic NRG seats. That S2000 is littered with every thing that is wrong in the so called "import scene" SMH all day at it


Agree! The details on it are terrible and it's a very lacking build. Perhaps the award was more about mechanical than aesthetics?


Came here to say this. Cheap knock-off NRG seats and the "cage" hits the top of the seats! It's running a stock radiator with a missing aftermarket radiator stay? Hard to believe that wins any kind of award. People need to take note on Phil Robles' EG that's photographed in this article.


When will the Rocket Bunny crap die? stop chopping up nice cars :(


Huge number of amazing cars but only one of them is Satsukawa's R32. It doesn't matter what you do, you can't beat a car that's got over 20 years worth of Japanese style and history on it.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It oozes it that's for sure. Surprised to see it there.


I've heard he's been in a few drift events in the US lately. Japanese street style is pretty big right now so I guess they invited him over and shipped his car there.


I actually think that Civic is the coolest car of the selections. And I'm generally not a Honda guy.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Some people in here don't like it as it's got knock off seats


phils civic has zero knock off parts on it. were you maybe referring to the s2000?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Ah yeah my bad


i think i'm sick of overfenders at this point, the last two(maybe three) SEMAs have been filled with overfendered cars painted in ugly colors and chrome yet it still all looks so tryhard
satsukawa's car is the only good looking car in the whole show, second only to the Civic

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It was overfenders everywhere this year too. The Civic is one of them so does that mean you like them?


yeah because for once they look good


Where are the Rotas ?


Despite the fact over fenders are well and truly getting old, the Civic is fantastic looking circuit car. But for me that 510 wagon is the best of the lot, can't wait to see it in more detail, just something better about wagons!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Wagons rock that's why! :D


Modern day NSX is not a real JDM


That's Phil Robles' Civic! He was featured on here a couple of times before!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yes he was. Got to meet him, awesome guy!


Have to go with the civic.


Pandem EG is soooo sick. Wish they made that kit for sedans, i reckon that would look nice with a ducktail spoiler

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I'll have to ask Miura-san next time I see him!


How is it possible that the S2000 won something? It has a rollcage that is not functional. What was considered to qualify? The roll cage and NRG seats are not functional. The engine looks very good, but those details are not what you expect from a car that is exhibited at SEMA.


Won a contest put on by PASMag. Voted in by friends and followers.


Widebody hatches look sooo good!


Did anyone get coverage of Kyle Mohan's FD?

Miles Hayler-MacMillan

Is it just me, or are there a few cars running tyres the wrong way round?


The red S30 or the wagon.