Rebuilding and Modding JDM cars

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JDM is a subculture of the automobile industry that has been slowly taking over the car scene around the world. JDM stands for Japanese Domestic Market which doesn’t sound like much but means a lot to automobile enthusiasts around the world. Here is everything you need to know about it.

What is JDM?

The natural thought that would come to mind is that it is the name given to Japanese car manufacturers like Nissan and Toyota but you would only be partially right. Every Japanese manufacturer usually releases two specs of each car they produce. One for their home market in Japan and the other for the rest of the world. The difference arises due to the customer expectations in the Japanese market and in the worldwide market. The Japanese do not mind spending a little bit more if it means that they can enjoy a car equipped with the latest technology. That is why every major innovation made by a manufacturer is first sold in Japan as part of the JDM and it hits the international market only a few years later.

From the very outset, it is very necessary to understand that any Japanese car doesn’t become a JDM car. Many people with this misguided information go buy a used Japanese car and put decals and stickers on it to pass it off as an icon of the JDM culture.

The true cars that come under the JDM umbrella are those manufactured specifically for Japan’s local populace. These are then imported to a foreign country and modded to become a part of this JDM culture. In short, a US spec car doesn’t make a JDM car no matter how loud it is or how many different colored panels are on it. These aren’t very difficult to find as the Japanese government makes owning a car that is more than 15 years old quite expensive and the Japanese are very willing to sell these priceless relics.


Rebuilding and modding a JDM car:

Simply having a JDM car isn’t enough. It has to be rebuilt and modified both to make it conform to the JDM culture as well as making it street legal. It will also need some sort of restoration as these cars from the 90s would probably have a few signs of wear and tear. To make a car truly JDM, you have to approach it in two parts – rebuilding and modding.



Often these cars are in bad shape when they are imported from Japan. Usually, they would have been sitting in some corner for years gathering dust and rust. Many of its parts might not work the way it might have been intended to and certain parts like the mirrors or headlights might be missing completely.

Rebuilding is the process in which the car is made whole again. This cannot be done at just about any auto shop. You need the help of a specialist. This is absolutely necessary because special contacts and sources are needed to get all the parts that would make these cars whole again so that they can be restored to their former glory. While most mechanics will be able to put something in place, it will never be the real thing. This will make the car seem like a cheap JDM knockoff even if it is the real deal.

A specialist will be able to figure out exactly what is missing and will be able to source those parts to make the car whole again in an authentic manner. This sets it up as a strong base to be modded perfectly according to the ethos of the JDM culture. By now, you might have guessed that what makes a car a true JDM car is modding and let us find out what modding is all about.


Modding is what makes JDM cars so fun to drive and even more astonishing to look at. This is achieved by going bonkers when it comes to the modding. It is much more than the aesthetics. As we mentioned earlier, JDM modding isn’t about putting a few stickers or painting the car in cool shades. It has to be something that gives the car an uncharacteristic look or feel.

The modding can be further subdivided into two.

The first involves keeping the appearance of the car as stock while modding the heck out of its engine like adding monstrous turbochargers. This will make the car drive like something possessed by the devil but in reality it is just the engine producing and obscene amount of power an torque.

The second involves aesthetic modding that includes massive exhausts, huge spoilers, ridiculous splitters, highly cambered wheels, oversized inter-coolers, gull-wing and scissor doors, extremely wide bodies and so on. The basic point is to make the car look as outrageous as possible while still making some sense out of all the mania. It is this high-risk and wild approach that has made JDM so popular.