American Car Culture Around The World


The United States is globally famous amongst car enthusiasts for hot-rods and muscle cars; from their classic styling to their roaring V8, this segment of car culture was almost solely isolated to the United States. Still, much like the rise of JDM and Euro cars here in America, people love and want what they can't have. The relative modern-day ease of being able to ship cars anywhere around the world has created dozens of classic American car themed subcultures around the world. Japan has developed an obsession with all kinds of classic American cars, ranging from classic muscle cars and low riders to unique subcultures like Dajiban. Still, owning American V8s can be challenging in japan; Japanese law makes it very expensive to own vehicles with large engine displacements. The tax on Japanese road vehicles is equivalent to the size of their engines; the annual road tax is about 34,500 Yen or about 310 in U.S. dollars for a small 1.5 liter, with taxes becoming more expensive the bigger your engine is; This makes big American V8 a very costly hobby in japan. Yet, many Japanese car enthusiasts still own and drive imported muscle cars, often putting their own take on standard hot-rodding themes to create something completely unique.

Dajiban is a Japanese colloquialism used to describe a small sect of the Japanese car community that build, race, and even drift Dodge B-series vans. The United States military began using these B-series vans to transports troops and small cargo around their Japanese bases, creating a large surplus of these vans on the 2nd hand Japanese market after they were decommissioned by the United States military. They were picked up by motorcycle enthusiasts to transport their race bikes to the track. After racing at the track one day, a few of them decided to race their dodge vans around the track for fun, and just like that, Dajiban was born. The subculture has grown at an astounding rate; now, these hopped-up vans are often fully built with 318ci Mopar V8s and retrofitted with Ferrari brakes. There are now even a few shops that specialize in building and tuning these racing vans like, Chuuko Kamostu (Abe second-hand vans) that are gaining worldwide recognition for building these racing vans.


Mooneyes is a company that goes hand and hand with American hot- rodding. From their classic Moon disks to their beautiful custom steering wheels, but after founder and owner Dean Moon passed away in the late 1980s, Mooneyes was sold to their Japanese parts distributor and has since become a massive success in the Japanese automotive aftermarket. The Mooneyes street car nationals in Tokyo is one of the biggest imported American muscle car shows in Japan, exhibiting hundreds of vehicles every year for more than 30 years. a common theme are Kei cars (or keijidōsha "Light automobile") or rather Kie van with retrofitted front end swaps and often customized with highly detailed airbrushing and slotted mag wheels to look like miniature versions of old school American hot-rod vans from the 1970s.

Across the pond from the United States, in the U.K., more modern-day muscle cars being sold at dealerships than ever before. Newfound muscle car fans are wanting to own the vehicles that inspired the hellcats and GT500s of today. The European car Community has been recently obsessed with classic American muscle cars, importing classic American cars by the boatload, with over 35,000 classic cars to Europe from the U.S. in 2017. This has generated somewhat of a vintage vehicle tourism market; Some overseas buyers hire agents to look for and buy good condition vehicles in the United States, while others come to the U.S. on "buying vacations" and look for their new classic car themselves.


This is creating a new fast growing business for finding and exporting high-grade vintage cars overseas. Los Angeles remains the most significant point of departure for exporting Vintage vehicles. Still, other areas have been on the rise. Los Angeles, California, is often the first place many overseas buyers think of for finding a well preserved classic car and has recently become crowded with buyers looking for the next great deal. All the new prospective buyers are causing more experienced individuals to look elsewhere. In New York and New Jersey ports, the export market has grown at a steady rate. Los Angeles ports are still shipping more classic cars than any other U.S. port, approximately 8000 exported classic cars in 2018 was nearly a two-percent drop from 2016, according to West Coast Shipping data. New York and New Jersey ports shipped about half that number in 2018, but that was about a 49 percent jump in vintage car exports since 2016. Amidst a majority of American classics being exported to Europe, many end up finding new homes in Finland and Sweden. However, Australia, the UK, France, and New Zealand are also significant markets for classic American cars.


Dozens of American muscle car shows and motorsport events have started popping up all over Europe, with one of the most notable being Santa Pod Raceway in the U.K., where they hold numerous funny car and other drag racing events, as well as American classic car shows. Still, you may be surprised to see some people in Sweden waving around American flags and driving through town in crazy modified classic muscle cars. It's all part of a unique little subculture in Sweden, called Raggare; Raggare, loosely translated means greaser. Raggare has actually been around since the 1960s and gained considerable popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, mirroring the rise of greaser culture that occurred here in America during the 1950s. Raggare favors big body classic muscle cars with huge V8s, modified to resemble American Ratroding culture, with one of the most popular choices being the Pontiac Bonneville from the early 1960s. Sweden's Big Power Meet is one of the largest classic car shows in the world and exclusively caters to classic American cars. The show has seen upwards of 22,000 classic cars and 200,000 people at a single event; this has led some even to say there are more restored classic 1950s era cars in Sweden than in the whole United States.

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