Thursday, February 24, 2011

THEFT, UNEQUIVOCALLY: The Authentic/Replica Debate...

I, loosely and reservedly, consider myself a "purist" when it comes to modifying. Hardly shy in admitting it, I am far from an advocate for replica and 'knock-off' parts. The capital of replica companies thrives on the ingenuity, innovation, and design of the originator. Simply out to make a dollar, they are not in the industry showcasing their devotion and passion to the culture by experimenting with new, never-before-seen prototypes and ground-breaking designs. They are not taking risks, as the true pioneers have. They are simply taking the proven, popular designs, then copying them, and selling them for less than the authentic parts, and, consequently, putting money in their pockets.

Over the years, I have been an active party to many debates on this topic. However strong my emotions and convictions, I am not so obtuse as to believe that we will ever be rid of these parts or their manufacturers. Realizing this controversial debate will likely never reach an agreeable resolution, my opinion is no more important than that of the next enthusiast out there. I am in no position to dictate to a consumer how to spend their money. Afterall, who am I to suggest what is right and what is wrong?  Realistically, replica parts and the companies that produce them are not going anywhere. They are here to stay.

That does not mean that I cannot stress my frustration and disapproval every time I see an AIT body kit owner claiming to have Top Secret parts. Nor does it mean I cannot shake my head or roll my eyes every time I see Varstolen or Rota wheels.

Authentic Volk CE28

'Knock-off' Varrstoen

With its overwhelming success over the years, Ray's Engineering and Volk made the TE37 a timeless mainstay in the industry. The replica wheel companies go to such lengths as to attempt to deceive. Even imitating the stamping of the authentic wheels, Varrstoen had such success with the TE37 replica, that they then moved on to the CE28. I have little respect for companies who steal designs from the true innovators of the aftermarket world. 

Additionally, it is no secret that I enjoy the JDM parts and culture. Part of the aura surrounding the JDM craze is not only the appeal of the parts aesthetically, performance-wise, or their quality, but it’s also the rarity and difficulty in procuring them that makes them so captivating and contributes to the “have-to-have” mentality. That, I would argue (and as foolish as it may sound), is part of what it means to "be" JDM. That JDM novelty diminishes when you are able to get a 'knock-off' version of that "rare" part for half the price from a vendor in California, as opposed to the real thing from Japan.

Authentic Top Secret Body Kit

 'Knock-off' AIT Body Kit

I can't tell people how to modify their cars and I wouldn't try to. I modify my car the way I want and they should do the same. As I have stressed on more than once occasion, I enjoy the diversity in 'modding' tastes. That doesn't mean I am not entitled to an opinion, however foolish or ridiculous some may believe it to be. I don't feel bad saying that a G with a real Top Secret body kit and the authentic Volk wheels would garner my respect far sooner than the G with the replica parts.

As long as I am able, I will continue to support the true innovators, trendsetters, and pioneers in the industry. Afterall, without those true innovators and pioneers, where exactly would Varstolen and AIT be?

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