The 101>>vip Style

Well, here we go. I have been thinking of what I was going to write in this post for a while now. As you have probably seen in the past, the definition of what "VIP style" is has been discussed and debated quite a bit over the past several years. In the end I decided that instead of trying to define exactly what VIP style is (which may be impossible), I will give my own perceptions on the VIP movement based on what I have experienced myself over the past few years. Of course let me say that I am not an expert on VIP stuff nor have I ever built a VIP car so I suppose this will become just another viewpoint in the "VIP debate". Hopefully it will at least have some good reasoning behind it.

First I will say that in my opinion, the whole debate over what is VIP or not is pretty unnecessary. The exact origins of the term itself are not well known and seeing the other strange terms that Japanese have come with before, I don't think one should try too hard on setting standards for what "VIP" is. Trying to put a textbook definition on what a VIP car should be is like trying to define what a "Hot Rod" is.  One the common perceptions of VIP cars is that they are driven by "VIPs". While some have said that the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) or high ranking executives use VIP style cars, I think that is primarily untrue and I have seen nothing that leads me to believe those sorts of people actually roll around in slammed Celsiors with huge wheels, aero kits and loud exhausts. Instead, most of the VIP-type cars that I see in Japan are owned by regular "non-VIP" people who simply enjoy the cars and the camaraderie that comes with them.

While I have read some things that have claimed that "real" VIP cars can only be one of a handful of different models and even can only be certain colors, I have to disagree with those "rules". I have seen all sorts of cars in Japan's VIP magazines that do not fit those standards. In my opinion many different cars can be done in "VIP" style as long as the right attention to detail is put forth.

When you are looking at the origins of the style, if you look back at the early Bosozkou/Yanky style cars, I think you can see where the VIP style comes from.

When looking at this late 70's Toyota Mark II, you can see that the aggressively sized wheels, stretched tires, negative camber, and low ride height were all carried over into what is considered today as VIP style. Throw in a little old school AMG style European influence and you have a pretty good basis for VIP. In fact I think a lot of traditional VIP cars are/were owned by people who grew up driving cars like the one seen above. When they got older and got more money they moved onto Cimas and Aristos, but still wanted to modify them. Some have also said that VIP type cars started to get popular when Osaka area street racers switched to the stealthy sedans from their high profile sports cars in order to avoid attention from the law.

The VIP roots also continued through the '80s as seen as above. The origins of mainstream Japanese luxury sedans can be seen in cars like the Toyota Crown and Nissan Cedric /Gloria.

When the groundbreaking Toyota Celsior AKA Lexus LS400 debuted in 1989 with its V8-engine and state of the art luxury features, it marked the beginning of the Japanese luxury car movement. The Celsior and other cars like the Nissan President/Infiniti Q45 would go on to become huge cars in the VIP scene. Even today these early models are still seen often at car gatherings and in VIP magazines.

A few years after the Celsior debuted, the Aristo/Lexus GS followed with similar luxury appointments but a smaller size and more sporting nature. While all VIP cars generally have aggressive wheels and low ride heights, The JZS147 Aristo pictured above represents the more extreme side of VIP style with its insanely wide wheels, widened fenders and air suspension. Speaking of air suspension, this was a big innovation for the VIP scene as it allowed for a stance that was very difficult to achieve with just standard coilovers.

Along with the Aristo, the mid '90s Nissan Gloria and Cedric would become extremely popular cars when it comes to VIP modification. Its very easy to see the European influence on VIP style when looking at cars like this.

The Y33 Nissan Cima is another popular VIP platform in Japan. In the past few years this car has also gained a following among VIP fans in the states where it was sold as the Infinti Q45. The Y33 also happens to be one of my favorites among the commonly seen VIP cars.

Despite the fact that it originally debuted ten years ago, the second generation 161 chassis Aristo/Lexus GS is still one of the most popular cars for VIP tuning. Car builders are still pushing the limits of what can be done with the 161. The Aristo should also be noted for being one of the few traditional VIP cars that also has a strong following among more the more traditional performance-focused tuners. The availability of Toyota's bulletproof 2JZGTE engine is one of the big reasons for that.

With the the totally redesigned UCF30 model, the Celsior's popularity as VIP platform continued. This would also mark the last Celsior sold in Japan before the car became the Lexus LS. As the UCF30's have gotten older, more extremely modified examples have been popping up as they are now within the range of affordability for more VIP car enthusiasts.

The most recent cars to join the VIP ranks are the new Lexus models like the GS and LS. These cars no longer have Toyota equivalents in Japan as they are now sold as Lexus models in the Japanese market as well. While there have been plenty of VIP-style examples of these cars, to me there is just something about them that seems so different from the older models they replaced. Maybe its the larger bodies or the differently sized wheels these cars have, but when I picture a "VIP car" in my mind, it isn't these new models that I see.

While a lot of people consider traditional VIP cars to only be certain Japanese luxury models, there are plenty of other less traditional cars that are seen in Japanese VIP magazines and at Japanese VIP car gatherings.

Here are some of them.

European cars of various styles have always appeared alongside the traditional Japanese VIP sedans and they are modified in the same style. Both Mercedes models as well early Jaguars are some of the most commonly seen "VIP Euros". The white Benz in the photo above was shown by Wald at Tokyo Auto Salon 2008.

American cars like the Chrysler 300C and various Cadillac models have also been done up by VIP builders. The 300C above features aero from the well known Japanese company Kenstyle. While some purists might say cars like this can never be "VIP", the fact that a Chysler 300C has been seen on the cover of VIPStyle magazine in Japan is a strong counterpoint to that statement.

You will also see "lower end" Japanese sedans that have been given the full VIP treatment. While cars like the Toyota Chaser seen above may not be considered VIP in the traditional sense, I don't see how there's any way you can look at the car in photo above and say that it's any different from an Aristo built in the same way. It should also be noted that many of the "traditional" VIP cars were offered in Japan with trim levels that were less than luxurious (cloth interiors, smaller engines, etc.).

You will also see VIP cars from makers other than Toyota and Nissan. Cars like the Mazda Sentia (AKA 929) pictured above is a great example of this. Some of Honda's larger front wheel drive sedans like the Legend (AKA Acura RL) have also been done in VIP Style.

Of course you can't forget about the swarms of vans, wagons, compact cars, and kei cars that are built in VIP style. While they may not be actual "VIP cars" they are still built in nearly the exact same style. As VIP owners started families and needed more practical vehicles, there was a fleet of vans waiting to be customized. There is even a magazine in Japan called "VIP Wagon". I will save my further discussion of Japanese style vans for another upcoming post though.

Lastly, you have traditional Japanese performance cars that have been built in VIP style. These cars have been seen both in Japan and in the United States recently. Set Up Garage Realize's S15 is a perfect example of this. It combines all the VIP styling elements with the heart and soul of a performance machine.

Can cars like this be considered VIP? I don't know. Does it really matter anyways? I'll leave that debate to someone else.

Photos from Kenstyle and K-Break

-Mike Garrett



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Good article. VIP style is simple. Big Car + Low + Big Wheels = VIP. If you take a Silvia/180SX or something similar and build it similarly then it's Luxury Style/Luxo. Big ballers don't rock 2 doors.


Great write up


....big ballers don't "rock" Japanese car period.

All this scene VIP wanna-be kids with Japanese cars (lowered with air suspension, tinted windows, and that Yakuza flavor)....just wanna copy those real VIP that actually "rock'' Maserati, Mercedes, Bugatti, and the like.

The VIP term has been downgrated......sad....

Now you can buy a used Lexus (because you can't afford a new one)....slam it, put some chrome/ negative offset rims, and call it's a joke.


You're a joke!!


Alex, ur an IDIOT. The VIP is a style, not a statement. Same as JDM but for different crowds, car setups and styles. Personally i like the JDM style as im more into performance oriented stuff, but i also love VIP cars. Very Very Very few of us can afford a brand new Maserati, Mercedes and ect. Dont even include Bugatti as that is pretty much top of the line in terms of cost, availability and style.

If you can afford a secondhand Lexus, put on air suspensions, big rims, stereo systems, proper window tints and all the electronics, then im sure that you got some money yourself. If you knew anything about building cars (which im guessing you don't) you would learn that it's darn expensive. Epically for the age group it targets, 18-30.

Again its a style and personal choice. if you don't like it that's fine, but don't link VIP styles with being poor.


Alex, you're the number one hater on this site - you always have something negative to say. Big ballers do rock Japanese cars. I know several millionaire Japanese guys who rock Japanese cars... Aristos, Celsiors, Crowns, Presidents, even K cars because the K cars are convenient and easy to drive around in high traffic areas where it's hard to park. It all depends on where the people live and their personalities. Some rich guys think they're too cool to be seen in a K car, whereas some others think it's fine - they use them as secondary cars as a matter of convenience, when they're going somewhere where their big VIP cars or fully built drift/road racing cars are not convenient for use. Real ballers don't trip on stuff like that. They know they're rich, and don't necessarily need to flaunt it 7 days a week.

Just because someone has enough money to afford a Ferrari or Maserati doesnt mean they necessarily WANT one. I know of plenty of "baller" Maserati and MErcedes owners who just have enough money to afford the cars, but they can't spend money on anything else because all their funds go into their car payment. Is that really big baller status? Think about it. It all boils down to personal taste or style. Not everyone likes Hondas, not everyone likes Nissans, etc.

Anyways, good job on the article Mike. I'm about to get some onigiri and head back to K Style in a few minutes.


In case some of you missed it:

Again....someone, someday, woke up and decided that his "shit'' was pimp....and decided to call it VIP....

I have not much to say...

To answer your question Antonio.....real VIP don't even have to drive, because their chauffeur drives their Rolls Roys Phantom for them.....and if that's not the case, they fly to their destination.

Again, probably your understanding of VIP is different than mine, and that's fine.


Well written. I agree that there is no definite guide for which platforms can be VIP. I have a 3.5 RL myself with Anceltion coilovers and Weds Kranze wheels and it has presence.


Alex, I think you have totally missed the point of this article.


Alex you are getting caught on semantics :>


Break the connection you make between the origins of the phrase 'VIP', and 'VIP styling'.

Good article. :)


lol, I've always thought the Gloria's were awesome! Japan made to look like a jag, and basically the Gloria is a jag for a non-rich person! lol....that Estima is sexier than ever!


the abrrevation VIP here doesnt really mean Very Important Person in this context. It is just a name the Japs put onto this kinda styling for cars. In Japan, these kinda styling is called Vip, pronounced as Veeep (sometimes Bippu) style cars. Nothing to do with being big ballers or not. Although these particular styling is popular with the yakuza crowd in Japan.


another chapter of early aggressive widebody boso/VIP comes from the wide bodied race cars of the 1980's, the Hoshino S12 racecar is perfect examples. Those crazy front lips that stretched 3 feet and crazy wide bodies. Those tuners and race fans were motivated by those crazy designs, it translated into those crazy cresta's and other older toyota's etc, If you look at pictures from the early 1990's and move forward through the years, you can see that style smooth out.

Just my little take.


hahaha fukin antonio. alex's word is scripture dont you know? hahaha this guy invented cool. shit he even invented automobiles


nice write up mike!


Hm, 90% of all VIP-styled cars look ridiculous... but the rest looks f***ing badass...


Man, usually im not into the whole "VIP" thing, but man id say that with kids that have this level of artistic vision, to turn some already iconic japanese cars/vans/wagons into rolling pieces of driveable art at about half the price of a Mercedes or a Mazerati, is pretty damn sweet.


to ALEX---I love how you keep referring to the style as VIP (VEE--EYE--PEE) Its pronounced VIP as as word not each letter said individually. this shows you clearly know nothing about the style at all as this is common knowledge within the culture. So you you can stop associating the style with multi-millionaires and company CEOS. Also one thing i want to touch on is the the difference between a vip car and vip style. Yes its true that this a style of car bottom line and the style can be applied to virtually any kind of car if done properly, however to a purist there are only a few select cars that can be a true "VIP car" and not just a car that has been styled in a vip way. these cars would be the president and celsior for example. Obviously there are several more cars that fall into this category but in my opinion those are the 2 most popular platforms


VIP (VEE--EYE--PEE) is how I've only heard the style referred to as in the US scene... oddly. Never heard anyone say "Vip" before only Bippu.


i guess honestly it really doesnt matter how the word is pronounced honestly since anyone involved in any kind of car culture would know what youre talking about but from what ive been taught and read on many forums the "correct way is "VIP" as a word. The word BIPPU however is subject for debate nobody can seem to agree on how its pronounced or if it even exists haha. in my opinion from what ive read and what seems to make the most since to me is...when spoken by most people in japan saying the word VIP would come out as "BIP" now as for the extra "PU" im guessing the word "BIP" was somehow written and when written it was written as "BIPPU" im not really sure to be honest i use the term BIPPU to describe my celsior but thats cuz i like the way it sounds haha but when you go on the forums it seems alot of people are "so called experts" on how the word came to be or how it should be used and some argue thats its not even a word at all....etc regardless most of these experts opinions differ greatly on the subject of that word so i've just taken what made the most sense to me and made my own opinion. Go to and you can read a ton o f stuff on the origin of the style


Bippu is what the style is called. I'm sure if the Japanese, would create another style, and named it Jankee, for high end model cars like the Ferrari's, Lambo's, Porsche's, etc, how many copy cats would be rocking the Jankee style? Alot of real ballers , foolio! Bunch of haters out there that don't even know what the auto culture is. So step it up, if you can create a new style that the whole world can appreciate, or else just keep stayin down. There should be a new generation of haters out there labeled properly, like the Generation X'ers, except they should be named , generation "have nots", for being dumb, uneducated, thieves, low-lifes, and broke as set of Rotas, fakes.


Can't beleive I'm saying this; but that Chrysler 300C looks elegant! Love the Mazda 929 too, crazy stance!


"ballers dont sport japanese cars period". that is the most ignorant thing i have ever heard. you want to see ballin? go to dubai. btw, folks in dubai sport japanese cars. i know cause ive been there.


well....VIP rock man...tats just ur own pleasure.....Nt cause u r poor,so alex u can say tat...


I think that VIP style is exactly that, a style. It can be applied to any make/model as long as its done with taste. If someone want to do a silvia/180sx up VIP style, as long as is looks decent, should be considered VIP style. And to those who say big ballers don't sport 2 doors, may need to watch an episode or two of MTV Cribs. Watch how many "big ballers" sport ferraris/lambos. VIP style is about elegance and class, not 2 door/4 door, grey/white/black paint, etc.


lol real "ballers" lol, all agents of capitalism. true elite are shadows, unseen, not talked about, but they control everything from media, culture, economy, education and virtually everything around us. warren buffet drives a cadillac.. what a joke, i know a billionaire that use to drive all these fancy cars.. and now he drives a prius.. LOL people with wealth are low key. new money try to flaunt. thats all, understand what economy really is... absolute power corrupts absolutely.

oh and i have a "vip" ucf20 on weds kranze cerberus II on wald coilovers and i'm beginning to feel like im begging too much attention already.


Look, there's a difference between VIP Cars and VIP "sytled" cars.... Some don't have the money to blow on friggin' Maserati's and Benzes so you do ur own thing and soup up your Japanese cars.... If you don't like it, get another hobby!


nice write up. my favorite part: "Car builders are still pushing the limits of what can be done with the 161" because i have a gs400 and trying to push the limits here in the states and seeing how people react. some pics on the site attached.


It's been around for about 20 years ... it's just new to us. Just how drifting was around also for years we just found out about it yesterday.

As always there will be ignorant people who just don't get it therefore it's not worth arguing with them.


Hey who knows what performance work you can do on an LS400


A few months back, the owner of this Aristo, Justin Wallace was faced with a bit of a dilemma. A Vancouver