Christmas shopping inevitably yields the ‘present for myself’ when perusing the options for my nephews. This year I found this Hot Wheels version of a barely recognisable Nissan Laurel, ‘Mad Manga’. I’ve been coming across images of these sort of customisations when researching articles on Japanese cars, so it’s time for an encapsulated look at the sub-cult named ‘Bosozoku-style’.
The term ‘Bosozoku’–translated as ‘violent speed tribes’–derives from post WWII Japanese motorbike culture. Kat Callahan at Jalopnik writes a great article on them, and to quote:
‘They drive up and down the streets of both major metropolitan areas and smaller cities revving motors, honking horns, swerving in and out of traffic, swinging tubular weapons, yelling at pedestrians and motorists, damaging property, and essentially being a menace to anyone and everyone they encounter.’
One aspect of Bosozoku is a distinctive style of bike customisation which appears to have become more and more outlandish. And at some point the look started to make its way onto cars.
Bosozokustyle.com gives an overview of the various styles that broadly comprise this aesthetic; Shakotan, Yanky-style, VIP style, Kyusha-style, Grachan and culminating in Bosozoku-style–a style of itself (above). Bosozoku-style cars are not necessarily owned by affiliated gang members.
Manga/anime clearly has an influence on Bosozoku-style, as do Group 5 silhouette racers.
There appears to be no fixed set of requirements for Bosozoku-style, but these cars invariably feature long slab-like front appendages, flared wheel arches, over-length exhaust pipes thrust out at insanely-skewed angles and oversized rear spoilers. The above style of hood extension is called ‘shark-nose’.
Issues around practicality are obviously not a consideration for these vehicles. Driving this one at speed would probably result in a Mark-Webber-Le-Mans-type experience.
Bosozoku-style appears to be not just restricted to bikes and cars. I’m looking at this picture wondering just how that van can move over any surface that’s not billiard-table flat.
This is the first I’ve seen with actual damage to the custom-work, seen at the front edge. Are these things transported by trailer? Are they are road-registerable? Do the appendages and exhausts come off for storage in a garage?
Like the donk, Bosozoku-style is not to my taste. But still, it’s interesting. And as CC is about the diversity of car culture, any informed knowledge about these cars is certainly appreciated.
Wow..Never heard of this practice before..But what’s with the pipe cleaners sticking out of the bonnets??? It looks like a collection of TV Ariels!!
I’ve been into this car culture for 20+ years…. Nothing new in the classic JDM car circles. Whether it be funky body kits, crazy outfits, or just hanging the tsurikawa “subway hang ring” as a show of defiance from your rear bumper(no, it’s not there to show how low your car is).
I have the Japanese fender mirrors on my E70 Corolla, and. Hakosuka rear wing on my S12 Datsun… I had the mirrors, tsurikawa, with a demon camber on my 84 Toyota Cressida.
This style is also called garuchan, shakotan or Kyushu Kai… But more milder, more tastefully done… Without the weird appendage bodykits.
A given mod a lot of Japanese run, are the extra long “Victory” exhaust pipes.
This is a fun, way to show cars in Japan… A lot of the old farts may not get it, but not a lot of people understood lake pipes, chopped tops, or fake dummy spotlights, either back in the day. Lol
Nice one. I’ve really got so many questions about the more extreme Bosozoku-style. That pink van, how does it get out of that carpark over any curb/driveway? Where do these cars get stored; are they mainly owned by fringe suburban/rural property owners? How do even the sedans with such oversized appendages get stored in high density areas?
There were a couple of customized Hiaces around here a while ago not quite as extreme as the pink one but bad enough that I saw one trapped at a service station with the pilot and friends putting boards down to get it back to the street they must have carried the timber aboard for such emergencies funny as to watch them, have since seen that van in a backyard grass growing up around it I guess the novelty wore off.
Im not an “old fart” and I still don’t get it.
Let’s not go there and make this a PERSONAL attack… It’s just a
metaphor. Okay, YOU don’t get it, that’s fine. It’s one groups way of customizing. Nothing more.
This, from the same moto-culture that can do Rocker cafe racer/59 Club with more excruciating thread-count re-enactment accuracy than the Brits.
I’d love to go to Tokyo sometime. From what I’ve read, all the various pop-culture sub-groups that you run into on the street will leave your jaw scraping the sidewalk.
I think they’d love you in Tokyo, Syke.
Amen, Syke you would love the vintage cafe racers around Okinawa and Nagoya. My friend Shingo has a few he brought with him to the US. He lived in the Ginza district… And worked around Tokyo.
My shakotan cars(only two shown, no wing on S12 yet, just painted). S12 Datsun has Hakosuka wing now, this is older pic.
** Sorry meant to type “kyusha kai” car for the E70 black Corolla, not shakotan(far from it, too mild, lol)…
This is an older pic… the Corolla is now slammed, with a front duckbill air dam, ducktail spoiler and rear tsurikawa… Datsun, has hako wing and working on dropping it…
Yep, both FAR from “shakotan”. lol 😉
S12 Datsun sporting the Hakosuka wing… So common on Bosozoku, garuchan, Kyushu Kai and shakotan cars.
I’m digging the Toyotas in those pictures!
Thanks, the 83 E70 Corolla in the above pic, is mine… but the 77 E30 Corolla, belonged to a nice guy from New Hampshire, who replied and bought a set of Baby Supra rims, I had for sale on Craigslist.
His car was a mint, original, unrestored 1.2 ltr 4 speed model… pretty good condition. lol
To me, as an American who is embarrassingly lacking in worldliness, I find the more extreme versions of this look so extremely odd. But then again, many people outside this country, and probably in it, find the Donk/Hi-Riser look extremely odd. Or the sixties Kustom look. Or…
It does show a massive amount of creativity, I’ll give them that. And a brash disregard for practical considerations!
When you look at the extremes people with go to with their own faces and bodies, this sort of customisation pales in comparison and comes across as harmless fun.
While usually a bit of a purist and perhaps somewhat curmudgeonly according to my wife, there is something about Bosozoku that I find completely appealing. It’s just so over the top it’s fascinating. Perhaps it’s the incongruity of seeing the Cressida as the base “canvas” on many of these, I don’t know. I first saw it at the JCCS in Long Beach a few years ago and thought it wacky then, but definitely a distinctive form of expression. I’m going to have to look for that Hot Wheels myself now.
I think there are five or so different colorways for this model, Hot Wheel released it in 2011.
Having been familiar for a while with the motorcycle side of bosozoku without ever having seen a bozosoku car, I appreciate this look at a car culture that has never made it from Japan to the U.S., unlike drifting.
The straight exhaust pipes coming out of the hood are oddly appealing as something to try. Having had one ride in a big block Corvette with side pipes, having the exhaust explosions coming from overhead instead of a few feet to the side is an experience that I would like to try at least once.
Reminds me of a story I just read about JJ Abrams and the new lightsabre. IIRC he was in contact with Marc Newson who suggested the new lightsabre be a bit more archaic and for these models the laser sort of ‘spits’, unlike the smooth powerflow of the ones we’ve seen so far. Nasty.
You guys on here are a GREAT group of people, that I am proud to be among you.
Every comment is mature and very open-minded… A lot of you do not agree with it, but have some compromise in your posts.
Some immature posters may akin this to ricer(such an overused term).. Uh, most of these cars have turboed and supercharged power plants to back those odd looks up. Also, these cars are done with RWD cars(Nissan Laurel, Cedric, Gloria, Datsun Fairlady Z, Silvia, Mazda Savanna Rx7, Luce, Toyota Soarer, Supra, Cressida, Mark II, Chaser, Cresta, Corolla Rwds, Daihatsu Charmant, etc…) It’s extremely rare to see FWD cars among these, because some of these cars are used to drift, gymkhana and time attack.
** Stupid typo… Sarcasmo, NOT Sarcasm I… Hate spell correct. Lol
Yep, I’m pretty pleased with the response. People like Syke, Jim, Robert and Chris generally come across with open minds anyway, but I must admit I was bracing myself for a bit of a hatefest.
Got more stuff coming on JDM, recently found a 1984 Nissan President that’s still used as a company car, and some good Skyline origins stuff, plus the Mazda Luce and others, just can’t seem to fit it all in.
I love JDM, also, Don… the Nissan President was the precursor or is, the Infiniti Q45(now, Q50)… it was the competitor, against the Toyota Century, Mitsubishi Debonair and Mazda Luce.
If I’m not mistaken, Don… the President, like the 1st gen Mitsubishi Debonair, had a style reminiscent of the 60’s Detroit cars. Their looks were more akin to a Ford Galaxy or Chrysler Imperial… than a typical 80’s Maxima or Cressida.
Very odd, but also nostalgia-cool, at the same time.
** 1) 1984 Nissan President:
2) 1984 Mitsubishi Debonair:
1st gen President is very 60s AMC, but Paul points to some its styling origins here.
The Debonair I’m not so hot on; pretty awkward styling from a GM guy called Hans Bretzner.
Where about can I look for a front bumper of a 1984 Nissan President?
It’s not the first time we’ve done Bosozoku here: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog/bosozoku-style-fart-cannons-bazooka-size/
D’oh. Failed to use the top corner google search again…
I didn’t think it would be, Paul. 😉
Awesome pic, in the article of the cars in a parade type of cruising mode. lol
I think that shark-nose looks pretty cool – in an aggressive sort of way.
Some kid in WA state made one of those shark noses in his own garage, and even posted a tutorial… He put it on an 83 Cressida. Lol
Mild Bosozuku or Shakotan…
More too… If you look in the background, you can see those EXTRA high Victory pipes. Lol
I’ve never understood how the stretch/poke look doesn’t constantly ruin tires. Doesn’t seem like they’re designed to be stressed in that direction. Then again, running that much negative camber would guarantee a short lifespan anyway!
Pokemon got run over by a reindeer,
walking around late one Saturday night.
Now you might not believe in Santa,
but as for me and Grandpa-san we believe.
This is so weird and silly.
But still not so bad as “donking” classic American sedans – because I hate to see American classics being disfigured, while I really couldn’t care less what happens to Asian cars, I dislike them anyway.
Outrageous! In a good way. That van…. add vacuum pump and it would corner like nothing else out there…
Ive seen a couple of japanese junkers with hi rise exhausts including one being ticketed for them, our roading engineers prevent most of the other mods from appearing the ground effects stuff wont work if its dragging on the ground at every bump, the stretched tyres to remove as much traction as possible I see fairly often, why bother is a frequent question performance mods I can agree with but mods to the detriment of performance I dont see the point in.
Very nice article Don – I’m intimately familiar with these cars since I’ve lived for over 30 years, on and off, in Japan – and have currently resided here in Tokyo for the past 11 years.
While it’s a minor point, we refer to the folks who ride the loud, two-cycle motorbikes as the “chimpira”, or “delinquents” – they tend to cruise the neighborhoods making noise, but are otherwise harmless.
And I’d probably disagree with your statement that the bozosoku do anything as dangerous as swinging weapons, yelling at pedestrians or damaging property – the Japanese Police wouldn’t tolerate anything like that – and more to the point, the senior organized crime leaders like to keep their operations low key – any real bozosoku member doing anything like this would quickly find themselves thrown out of the group.
The bozosoku are the “strong arms” of the various organized crime groups. They’re not the type of folks you want to cross paths with, though as is typical in Japan, they rely on violence much less then their counterparts in other countries.
And your quite correct, the bozosoku style has emerged beyond the organized crime types to regular folks who just like the style, though when you drive up next to one, you tend to avert your gaze and not stare, just in case…….
Thanks Lincolnman. The Kat Callahan article seems to take a similar tack, her overriding theme is their decline in visibility since the 80s. I did, however, notice when researching this that some commenters on various blogs had a real hate for the way bosozoku have behaved, or still behave, in a similar fashion to Kat’s description. Maybe these are the acts of wannabes or rogue elements. Like any ecology, things become more sophisticated and multi-faceted as they evolve.
Yes, you may have saw a recent article that rated the top 50 metropolitan cities in the world in terms of safety, Tokyo was 1 and Osaka 3 (Singapore 2), and as the culture stresses societal cohesion and conformity, any of these folks that tend to “stand out”, are looked down on in Japanese society and are considered to be at the margins.
But as you’ve noted, they contribute to the overall fascinating JDM vehicle scene.
Which, I’m sure you know, is not regulated to just cars and vans………
Dekotora. More fun.
I just hope he doesn’t have to go off-road with that.
Wow… I never knew, you currently are in Japan, Lincolnman.
Awesome, so you must see a lot of Kei cars and trucks and must know the CRAZY style of “Demon Camber”.
Please, post some goodies for us, from around the Land of the Rising Sun. 🙂
The Yakuza style of VIP…
I’m still having dry heaves after looking at those abominations