Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What is vip styling and the platform cars? (Long Read)

VIP Style or VIP car is very simple. Pronounced VIP or bippu not vee-eye-pee, like how we are used to saying it, but it is pronounced like a word. In Japan there is a large variety of luxury sedans available to purchase. VIP car starts with just that, the platform or the car. It’s not a VIP Car unless it starts with one of these cars. From Toyota, you have the Century, Celsior, Aristo, Crown, and Majesta. From Nissan you have the President, Cima, Gloria, Cedric, and the Q45. Then they take these platforms and merge on a massive body kit, larger rims that push the boundaries of offset fitment, an air suspension so that they can drive as low as they possibly can, and we can't forget about the exhausts that goes on these VIP Cars. Now, taking these aspects of a VIP Car, you then apply it to cars not accepted as a VIP Car. This in turn created a term I like to define as VIP Style Cars. There is a difference in Japan in regards to a VIP Car and lets say a K-Car or Style Wagon. All those styles bring up similar aspects of VIP Car but what makes a VIP Car “VIP” is the car itself. 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. You now see K-cars (Vitz, Scion, and other econo-box cars), vans (Oddessy and Previas) and many other vehicles (G35, IS300, 300Zs) with a heavy VIP Style influence. That also has trickled into our US market with the Scions xA and xB. European cars can fall within the “definition of a VIP car” but isn't as popular of a platform mainly because of an untold requirement. VIP Car has a sense of pride within the Japanese community on its luxury vehicles. However, I am now seeing shows like the Tokyo Special Import Car Show similar to Tokyo Auto Salon now being invaded by Junction Produce, Fabulous, and Auto Couture. When they build their car, they immense themselves in the culture of VIP Car… Noburi Flags, clothing, and getting EVERY accessory that the company made like lighters, teddy bears, fans, and other things.

Fitment of the wheels has always been the largest, most defining aspect that the US market uses for VIP Cars. This also brings the most controversy as well. The most heated debates on came from topics concerning cars and wheel fitments. We had terms like, if it ain't flush, it ain't VIP. I agree that proper fitment is the key to making a VIP Car look good, however my whole take on it… the car determines if it's a VIP car, not the wheel choice. When I had the chance to visit Japan recently, I saw VIP cars that didn't have the extreme wheel lip that we are so used to seeing here. Yes, the offsets were extremely aggressive however; they were still flat-faced wheels with no lip whatsoever. I just don't think it looks right unless the fitment was aggressive in my opinion, which is the reason I'm personally on a quest for new wheels for our GS400.

Next is the suspension, Air suspensions have become the norm. One main reason is the fact that some of these VIP cars come with a factory installed air suspension already. All that needed to be added to control this factory option was an Air controller like one from Data Systems. This gave you the chance to lower and raise your car without changing any suspension parts. This didn't bring the car down as low as we would like it to be, so then we went and looked up companies like Air Runner, Bold World, Universal Air, Canover, and many others. You had a choice of either a canister setup or the sleeve bag on a shock option. That way, you were able to just lay the frame on the car down on the ground and still be able to drive away when its time to go. Trust me, in Japan, their roads and driveways weren't pretty, how they drove these cars around on a daily basis boggles me… Coilovers are still VERY popular for the hardcore, cause they are still able to find the height that they want for driving and show purposes and costs less than half the price of air suspension set-ups. Hydraulic setups are now being touched upon by the likes of Tein to control their coilovers and be able to raise and lower the car from within the cabin. This is only available to wagons and vans from when I last looked into it, but I'm sure now, there might be more applications and companies venturing into this.

Interiors and sound systems of these cars can get very Gotti. Wood grain and screens are the first most obvious mods on the interior. You will see Wood grain trays on these cars. Screens for Navigation and of course, Video viewing is dominant. The sound systems I saw were very elaborate like the ones were see here in CES. One some cars, I saw wood grain all over the trunk to accent the subs that were stuffed in there.

Lastly, the body kits… Companies like Fabulous, Junction Produce, Wald, Veilside, Sessions, Auto Couture, Insurance, and many others offer a variety of styles to choose from. The defining factor is the size of these kits. They are never “puny” but more an elaboration of the factory lines. You can choose from the more milder, cleaner look like from Junction Produce, Admiration and Auto Couture. Then you can choose the aggressive lines like Fabulous, LA club, and Veilside. Then the EXTREME VIP Cars will come out with custom wide bodies and fender flares that will just make you take a double take more than once (even if that's not possible). Taking a cue from the wheels aspect of it, they then take the most widest wheel with the most aggressive offset possible and just bolt those onto the car with no problems.

Where does this all fit into the US market? With companies whose operations are based here are now trying to define the VIP market as Bentleys, Benzes, and other high end Euro cars, it basically leaves out the cars where it all began with for me, The Lexus GS and LS, and the Infiniti M and Q series. Yes, the US automobile market may not have the choice of Japanese luxury cars found in Japan but we make do with what we are provided. However the view of VIP Car or VIP Style Cars is being EXTREMELY skewed in the US and leaves the hardcore VIP Car enthusiast with a sour taste in its mouth. VIP Car starts with the platform first. 350Zs, G35s, Scions, Accords, and other cars are defining the VIP Style Car… VIP Style Cars was mainly a term devised to help define the difference from a VIP Car platform and a car accessorized with VIP styling.


  1. These cars are really nice and interesting, too bad they're probably really expensive. You won't see me cruising around in one of these!

  2. wow never knew that interesting!

  3. America is screwing over those with finer tastes!

  4. You actually bring up a good point Skag, I'll post another informative on that subject, you'll be quite surprised!