What is "VIP" style tuning?

What is "VIP" style tuning?

Have you seen our latest video where we debut the hot new trend of VID styling? If not CLICK HERE and that will all make more sense soon... or maybe not, but you'll be entertained nonetheless. For years Japanese car enthusiasts have taken large, rear-drive luxury vehicles, lowering them to a ground-scraping status, and then bolting on plus-sized wheels, to essentially make them the antithesis of a time attack or drift car. Welcome to VIP.

VIP stands for "Very Important People", but the term used to describe these cars in Japan was originally called "bippu" and was closely linked to the Yakuza - a long-standing network of organised crime groups similar in its intent to the mafia. The links to Yakuza are somewhat disputed, but the fact remains that since the 1980s people in Japan have been taking prestigious high-end vehicles and lowering them, adding aggressive wheels and bodykits, and then cruising them. And this is what we today know as "VIP style".


Toyota sedans like the Century, Celsior and Aristo are very popular bases for VIP builds, while other top-spec long-wheelbase prestige vehicles like the Nissan President, Mazda Luce, and Lexus LS-series and GS-series also make a great base for this style. Long, low and wide is the key, though there few rules when it comes to VIP or bippu car builds as there is no set of rules like in a racing class.

Interiors would often be retrimmed to display more opulence and luxury, along with as many luxury options as possible - crystal decanters sitting on timber drinks trays? Tick! Pleated leather everywhere and screens for days? Indubitably, my good sir.

A psychologist would probably tell us this style of modifying is representative of Japanese counter-culture, taking the elite's soft, exotic, cultured and rarified things, and adding the swagger of youth to them. We just think it's really cool and way more interesting than a stock luxury car.

While American and European builds prioritising a low ride height often rely on air suspension there are many VIP cars which still run static on coilovers or cut springs. Tuners always want to push trends further so companies have now developed control arms, knuckles, tie rods and more to suit the super-slammed ride height, allowing the suspension geometry to fit more aggressive wheels and roll millimetres off the ground... to a point.  

As wheel fitments got more aggressive and ride heights sank lower, regional interpretations of the VIP style have given us trends like Oni-kayan, or "demon camber". Yes, we've all seen the knock-kneed machines driving on the inside edge of their wheel and I'm sure we all have opinions about it, but this trend did loosely evolve from one branch of VIP tuning. If you're wondering what I'm babbling about check out THIS STORY HERE from StanceNation on a Oni-Kayan Toyota Celsior (CLICK HERE) 


Mechanical Stig's V12 Century is an excellent example of the traditional VIP style - plush leather interior, very low ride height, cool wheels, and a smooth, luxurious ride. It's a long way from his 8-second Barra-powered Cresta drag'n'drive machine (otherwise known as Choptimus Prime). 


You could think of VIP style as Japan's lowriders... even though Japan actually builds killer traditional lowriders, hot rods, and customs as well, but that's another post for another day. These large, imposing vehicles aren't the fastest way to fly but they make a statement wherever they go, and certainly turn heads just as much as any airbrushed Suzuki Swift. 

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