About VIP and Vipstyling
The VIP car style had its beginnings, oddly enough, in the poorer sections of Japan about 15 years ago. Originally, VIP cars were the creation of a group of enthusiasts called Black Cockroach in Wakayama Prefecture of Japan. The Black Cockroach team consisted of a black Cima (Infiniti Q45), Cedric (currently Infiniti M45), Celsior (Lexus LS) and Crown (no US equivalent), which were uniquely styled and exemplified the owner's personalities. Many of the VIP cars had deep ties to the Japanese underground group, better known as the Yakuza, or Japanese mafia. Keeping with the mystic and underground origins of the scene, most of the cars were colored black. In the years afterwards, a team named VIP Company was established by Takahiro Taketomi, the eventual owner of Junction Produce, a leader in VIP styling in Japan.
In the early years of the VIP movement, there was a Japanese magazine called Young Auto, which exhibited modified cars predominantly owned by Japanese motorcycle gang members. The magazine editors selected these cars to attract readers and exemplify this type of automotive modification. Before the naming of VIP cars, the cars modified in this style were called a Haiso car (high society saloon cars). As time went on, the name VIP CLUB became synonymous with the remodeling of high end luxury cars. This was the birth of the phrase VIP. VIP CLUB eventually became the very popular Japanese magazine, VIP Car Magazine. VIP Car Magazine demonstrated the artistry and quality of luxury cars modified in the VIP style and was instrumental in bringing this style of automotive customization to the public. With the help of Young Auto magazine and VIP Car Magazine, the popularity of VIP cars soon spread from Osaka, to Sendai city in Miyagi prefecture, and eventually across all of Japan.
Tradition VIP car definition is very simple. Usually pronounced V-I-P (vee-eye-pee) and meaning Very Important Person, the true pronunciation is VIP, or bippu, where it's pronounced like a word.
Cars that fit into the VIP category are predominantly rear wheel drive Japanese luxury platforms such as the Celsior, CIMA, Cedric/Gloria, and Crown, just to name a few. These cars are usually the more expensive models and are usually purchased by the more affluent car owners. It's not a VIP Car unless it starts with one of these platforms. Many VIP purists will not consider any other platforms as VIP, even though other cars can take the styling cues from the larger VIP sedans. This is commonly known as VIP Styling which will be covered later.
VIP cars can loosely be translated to “Low and Wide”. Some general characteristics of traditional VIP Style (but not limited to) are:
• Large/wide multi-piece wheels (with large lips and low offsets) that are flush to the fender
• Stretched tires in order to tuck the wheels under the fenders
• Low stance via adjustable suspension or air ride
• Substantial body kits to achieve the “Wide” look
• Custom body work to accentuate the “Wide” look
• Custom video and audio components and installations
• Wood grain interiors with additional trays and extensions on the dash
• Custom seats and mats
• Additional and upgraded internal and external lighting
• Louder exhausts with larger tips
• Engine/performance work (though not as popular)
When VIP car enthusiasts in Japan build their car, they immerse themselves in the culture of VIP Car. Accessories like Noburi Flags, clothing, lighters, teddy bears, fans, and every accessory that a company makes are purchased and proudly displayed. Some items normally only found in wealthy homes are found, right at home, inside their cars. Many automotive events and gatherings in Japan are steeped in the tradition of the VIP culture. Simple gatherings of enthusiasts can turn into major events. As usual in the Japanese culture, the cars are the stars, but socializing and even food are main attractions. VIP Car has a sense of pride within the Japanese community on its luxury vehicles. It all follows the fascination for those who uphold the code of living in the lap of luxury.
VIP styling is taking the aspects that was started in Japan with the VIP Cars and merging them onto cars that aren't really considered VIP car platforms. Some platforms that are gaining popularity are the K-cars (Vitz, Scion, and other econo-box cars), vans (Odyssey and Previas) and many other vehicles (G35, IS300, 300Zs) that have been heavily influenced by the VIP Style. That also has trickled into our US domestic market with the larger cars like the Chrysler 300C and Dodge Magnum.
Where does this all fit into the US market? If you ask a VIP purist, it starts with the platform. A Lexus GS, LS or an Infiniti M or Q will always be considered VIP platforms. Unfortunately, many of the VIP platforms in Japan have not made it to the US market. Traditional VIP platforms like the Crown, Cedric, and President, never made it to our shores. As a result, the market has been narrowed which is why the VIP style has been applied to US spec cars like the G35, IS3, 350Z, as well as European marques too.