The disparaging e-mail response I recently received from JIC-Magic started me down the path of contemplation as to the future of JDM culture in the United States.
Where is it heading?
As much as I would like to believe the idyllic notion that true tuning enthusiasm is at the core of all involved in this industry, I would be naïve to suggest that the almighty dollar is not the primary motivation of some. Enter the knock-off and replica companies. In Speedhunters' The State of Tuning, 2011, Editor of Modified Peter Tarach touches upon the negative effect knock-offs and replicas have had on the tuning industry. I think his response is worthy of re-post.
No matter which side you take, the truth is knock offs and counterfeits have hurt this industry in a big way. Less and less companies want to innovate in this market because of fear of having their products being copied and if you look at the track record of consumers these days, they are willing to buy whatever is cheapest despite the lackluster quality or fitment issues associated with knock off parts. Sadly, I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. The best way to fight the problem is with awareness. As a consumer, think long and hard before buying a knock off product. What you may be saving initially will more than likely cost you in the future. It’s no secret that cheap parts don’t last as long, or that they need to be modified to work or fit (which costs money). Plus, think of the company that spent the time and money to actually design the product. That should count for something.
One of my early posts posed the question Why Do We Modify? The query was focused more toward those who quite simply do not "get" the interest or understand the passion and the addiction of those devoted to the tuning culture. As of late, my question seems to be focused more on those who modify. And why.
- Is it the easily attainable e-praise that drives people to modify? And, consequently, to cut corners? ("Features" don't demand too much in the way of quality, craftsmanship, and/or originality these days. Perpetuating the notion that it is okay to sport fake parts because you'll earn a feature anyway does not do much to support the true innovators of the tuning world. Sadly, this can be seen quite clearly on Speedhunters' own site: CAR SPOTLIGHT>>JB-TUNING NISSAN SILVIA)
- Is "modding" a cyberspace phenomena? Has the Internet given rise and power to the replica/knock-off trends? ("Sick ride, bro! That's not a Top Secret body kit? Can you PM me the specs on those Varrstoen wheels and let me know where I can get that kit?")
- Do people modify for any other reason than to satisfy themselves? Is it actually possible to proudly adorn one's car with a fake or knock-off part; one whose design is stolen? Does the praise from strangers outweigh one's own knowledge that a corner was cut?
I know this topic is widely discussed as of late, but I am not "in" with all the personalities of the tuning world. I am not known. I do not socialize with industry insiders. As I wrote in my very first post of this blog, I consider myself, simply, a rather sincerely devoted enthusiast. Thus, I refuse to take short-cuts. In basic terms, I love this stuff. I love it for the right reasons. I love the parts - the quality, the craftsmanship, the attention to detail, the rarity. I love the process. The build. I love the feeling of content satisfaction with every successful execution of new modification, but I also love the insatiate feeling of desiring more.
I have made some good friends and established some great relationships - with both people involved in the industry and fellow enthusiasts; relationships for which I am grateful. At the end of the day, however, I am building my car for my enjoyment. I am not building my car for the purpose of attaining acclaim or renown. I am not building my car for forum members whom I have never met. I am not building my car for the compliments I receive at shows or meets. I am not building my car to please anyone. I am not building my car to impress anyone. I am building my car for me. Yesterday I put over two hundred and fifty miles on the car. Driving with no particular destination. Driving to drive. Driving to experience the car into which I have devoted so much time and effort. Driving simply because I felt like it...
This is why I modify.