Three Impossibly Japanese Builds From The Street Car Nationals

With easily more than 1,000 cars in attendance, choosing three favorites to spotlight at the 2022 Mooneyes Street Car Nationals was always going to be impossible. So this time around, I decided to take a different approach to my selection.

There are no American hot rods or muscle cars in this spotlight post – I want to emphasise that Mooneyes is as much about Japanese car culture as it is Americana. In fact, as you probably saw in the main gallery post, this annual show held in Odaiba, Tokyo now celebrates everything in Japan’s custom car sphere.

So I chose the three most ‘Japanese’ of modified Japanese vehicles at the event, starting with this incredible Honda Z.


The Z is one of Honda’s greatest micro cars from the past, a ’70s machine powered by a tiny two-cylinder 360cc engine designed for fuss-free and economical commuting.


The owner of this one, however, has gone crazy on it. The modifications begin under the hood where the engine has been bored and stroked to well over 400cc and fitted with a pair of Keihin CR slide-type carburetors.


Air suspension allows the car to be aggressively dropped over its tiny custom wheels.


The same satin and drilled finish that you see on exterior details like the leaf spring mount at the rear of the car has been carried over into the interior. The fluro pink upholstery works really well against the flat gray paintwork.


Whatever little trunk space the Z had to offer in the first place has been sacrificed for the tank, compressors and control units for the air ride. This thing is definitely different to all the Zs I’ve ever come across in Japan.


We wouldn’t be accurately portraying the Japanese scene if we didn’t share the odd van, especially when it’s an older model like this oh-so-cool H50 Toyota Hiace Super Custom.


The ’80s lines and graphics are one thing…


…But the defining feature is the poke, courtesy of customized Toyota OEM rims and a lot of tire stretch.


While the wheel and tire combo surely grabbed everyone’s attention, it was the subtle details that kept them looking. From the blue-tinted glass and lace curtains to the tiny wooden Mizuno Works steering wheel and twin-barrel exhaust – it’s amazing in every way.


From big van to little van, and again, the sort of creation that you’ll probably only find in Japan.


Was this Suzuki van built with a future apocalypse in mind? It’s been treated to a pretty significant lift, and has had an H1 Hummer-inspired front face grafted on.


The middle and rear side windows have been removed and replaced by welded sheetmetal panels, while the front and rear fenders have been widened and boxed.


I wonder what tune the air horns play?


The craziest thing for me was the fact that it sat on Devil Japan Shadow Spoke wheels. I don’t think I’ve ever seen these shod in off-road rubber before, and doubt I ever will again. Actually, I probably shouldn’t say that; this is Japan after all and anything is possible.

That wraps up the Street Car Nationals for 2022, but I’m already looking forward to the Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show at the end of the year. Mooneyes gatherings always impress.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: dino_dalle_carbonare



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the kei cars, a class that every car maker must had but they opted to drop it from their lineup till we got to the point where we are losing the cars we love to some boring sh!t. I can get it for the Americans but why Europe didn't imply a similar rule since they had in the past somthing similar, like why not BMW don't remake the Isetta, MB and Audi didn't even bother, minis are not small anymore,... i think we are left with some entry level hatchs that are over shadowed by their big brothers from VW and the French guys.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I believe it comes down to crash regulations. A kei car would never pass in Europe or US for example, but they are lax here in Japan. I love little keis but imagine one of them being hit on a US highway by one of those massive pickups.


Well they made a smart car pass euro ncap, do why not a modern kei car? I think a small kei class with simulair tax advantages would do quite well in europe


That's why i excluded US from the begining but Europe might have a chance.
I bet kei are safer that a Renault Twinzy.


That Suzuki van looks like a rover p6 front end!! Loved the hiace, not mad keen on the stretch tyres but each to their own!!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah might get a tad of rubbing lol


Wow, that H50 Hiace's tyres are stretched to the point where they look like ill-fitting hubcaps

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I think glue was involved


Man that Honda Z looks so damn cool! It has that retro, futuristic, cyberpunk look it that just dope af and same with the Suzuki van too with a bit of an apocalyptic look
The Hiace is also pretty neat too it's more of a stance build which is still cool


Yeah, we need something like the key car here in the states, but being that we're seriously insecure and prone to outbursts of gun violence, they are just too practical. It just make too much sense. Looking at the car engine, the grey Kei car, some inbred hillbilly would think it's a lawnmower engine. I like the car culture over in Japan, they are more curious and interested in what's been done creatively by people there and are willing to do some crazy things just because. Iv seen some of the higher end cars they buy there and they still modify them, respect.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Everything and anything is modified in Japan and everyone respects what others do. If they don't like it they just don't say anything. Much to be learned from them


I'd bet that those horns plays "The Godfather" theme.