A long time ago I was driving around Lawrence, KS when I saw a red Nissan 240sx stroll down the street. I started geeking out over it because it was one of the few body styles I’ve seen with a Japanese spec conversion in all of Kansas.
Basically what this means is that 90% of cars in North America look different than the cars overseas even though they’re the same model. Most foreign cars before they are brought over for the North American market, are redesigned to fit specific North American requirements. In doing so, changes are made to the original body lines and build of the car. This “Kouki” 240sx was converted to the Japanese specs meaning that the American parts had to be replaced with the Japanese spec bonnet, fenders, front and rear bumpers, side skirts, tail lights, and to do that you have to do a little custom chopping to make everything fit flush.
The best part about this car is that it hides itself in absolute discreteness while also silently standing out on the loudest way. Maybe not the best car to the eye to the larger market, but any car person would enjoy the effort in changing so much.
About a year and not finding the owner I let it go and almost forgot about it completely. Then I had to do a group project with this designer, Voranouth Supadulya for class. I showed up to her apartment complex and bam, there it was just hanging out in this parking lot. The JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) 240sx of my dreams. I turned to Voranouth and asked, “Do you know who owns this car?”
Music to my ears. I grew to know Voranouth and her work and references/inspiration from this Japanese character, Totoro. After getting a better grasp of who she was, I asked to photograph her car and she was more than willing. So, naturally, before I took her car out for the shoot, I grabbed her giant stuffed Totoro and took it along for the ride. The first place we decided to go was this dark brush area with a big blossoming tree. I found it fitting as a reference the Sakura cherry blossoms in Japan. The hardest part about this shot was trying to balance out the craziness of the “half in/out” of complete darkness and insane amount of light from a street lamp casing through trees and bushes. Left me thinking really hard about how I was going to position the car because I wanted it in complete darkness to keep things even. The very last shot, I decided to roll down the window and prop up the stuffed Totoro and probably didn’t stop laughing for five minutes.
Laughing at the ridiculousness for a while, I collected myself, packed up and went off to look for another spot to shoot. I was strolling around KU’s campus and ended up driving super close to Wescoe Auditorium. I found a really interesting spot and before I knew it, I was driving on sidewalks and through tunnels. The strangest and most bazaar feeling was driving through a place built for only human traffic. Thankfully, it was pretty late, out of site, and security was extremely low.
This spot was a huuuuge challenge in that it was light enough to not even have to paint. With that being said, the lighting on the car at that particular spot was very inconsistent. So I walked around, painted it a bit, trying to squeeze through the already tight spot, but everything ended up working out.
And, as always, the GIF!
Super subtle to the common eye. Stand out car to those who know.
Friending dope designers with dope cars.