June 23, 2024

Louis I Vuitton

Savvy Car Technicians

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
[email protected]


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