When it comes to who gets the best Japanese-bred vehicles, or at least those with any remote aftermarket appeal, it seems those in the United States get the shaft.
The obvious deficit in the models brought stateside is in the performance, specifically the powerplants offered in U.S models as opposed to say Japanese or European versions.
Take, for example, the Honda Civic. The Civic has proven to be the most popular platform amongst import performance heads in the U.S largely due to its ardent acceptance of DOHC engine swaps. The swaps, though costly, provide immense performance gains over the factory power output of the U.S-spec Civic utilizing the SOHC motor. But for many years (13 to be exact) the Civic was factory equipped with a 1.6-liter DOHC VTEC motor in just about every country it was sold in except for here in the states. Of course, the B16A DOHC-powered Civic Si was recently introduced into the U.S. market some 11 years after the first DOHC VTEC Honda rolled off the production line in Japan.
Although the main handicap lies beneath the hood, over the years, import enthusiasts have established that engine swaps in Hondas can be as commonplace as aftermarket wheel and tire upgrades. Recently, we've seen a trend in import customization that has produced a number of ultra-clean rides that floss JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) flare in more ways than just under the hood. The majority of these vehicles appear more conservative to the untrained eye than the wild fluorescent wide-body rides than fill the show halls from coast to coast. One of the more popular JDM conversions is the Honda Civic. In its homeland, the Civic is available in a Type-R version similar to the Integra Type-R available here in the states. Generally enthusiasts purchase imported OE parts from Japan such as headlights, mirrors, lip spoilers, rear wing and in some cases even complete interiors.
Several companies in the U.S have addressed the popular demand for such components by either importing parts into their inventory or manufacturing J-spec pieces themselves. One such company is Landspeed Racing in Mesa, Ariz. Landspeed moves with the curve when it comes to import vehicle customization trends and recently introduced its own JDM-style lip spoilers for the Honda Civic into its extensive product line. The easy-to-install spoilers are made from a durable polyurethane and come in a pre-primered finish ready to paint.
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