Wednesday, February 20, 2013


More often than occasionally we see a reputable wheel manufacturer post up a warning message for prospective buyers cautioning them to buy authentic wheels. I embrace those messages. I agree profoundly with those messages on two levels: one being the quality/structural integrity/strength/durability front, the other being the intellectual property front (IE: theft of design). These wheel companies, rightfully so, take umbrage to companies stealing their designs, and they find it necessary to warn potential customers of the phonies and counterfeits permeating the marketplace. As stated above, I embrace these caveat emptor bulletins. They serve a purpose and they help not only to educate those consumers who may not fully conceive the harsh reality that there are actually immoral, parasitic companies stealing designs to make a dollar, but to preserve the tuning culture, as, yes, knock-offs, counterfeits, and replicas do harm the industry.

The aspect of this I find a bit ironic and, bluntly, hypocritical, is that some of these legitimate wheel companies have no problem featuring vehicles that are sporting their wheels, but are clad in replica aero. We see it all the time. Their brochures are printed with these cars, their websites are full of them, and their fan pages broadcast them daily. Frankly, I don’t get it. Is there no kinship between pioneering companies? Is there no fraternity? No alliance or partnership? No common support for originality and authenticity? I have written about this before (JDMphasis: Authentic Alliance?) and some surely label me obtuse or na├»ve, but is business that cutthroat that companies have the gall to denounce only the replica companies that steal their designs, and not those other hack companies cashing in on the fruit of other legitimate companies’ labor? Not only do they not denounce them, they feature them! They reward them. Where is the defense of authenticity? Where is the love and loyalty to the culture from which they were born? Is that not from where everything in the aftermarket scene stems? Would these companies have success if it weren’t for enthusiasts like you and me? Have they forgotten what this is all about?

I noticed a post on Nissan USA’s (Yes, Nissan) Facebook page yesterday where they showcased the Formula Drift Z33 you see above. Billboarded across the front bumper is a decal for a replica company. That front bumper is a design perfected and made popular by Power House Amuse. The design is one that has fallen victim to quite a few replica companies. Why? Because it is good. It is proven. It is desired. Now, not to digress too much, but I understand the argument for this particular car will be, “It’s a drift car. It is inevitable that the bumper will suffer some damage. Why spend money on the expensive authentic? In this case, replica parts are okay.”

I take issue with this defense of replicas for a couple reasons. The first being, with the immense aftermarket support of the Z33, there are many other options out there. Why choose this one? Why choose to support a company that did absolutely nothing by way of R&D or prototyping to come up with this design? Why support (and, thus, reward) a company that did zero work on their way to hurting the original pioneer? Secondly, If one can use the "inevitable damage" excuse for rocking a replica, then I might suggest: What difference does it make what it looks like? Why must you choose something that looks identical to the design of a legitimate Japanese company? In doing so, you are not only perpetuating the notion that it is okay to fake the funk, you are sending the message that supporting replica companies is okay and accepted. And, Nissan, by showcasing this car, with its replica banner across the bumper, on their Facebook page is doing the exact same thing. Nissan has almost 1.3M followers on Facebook. That particular picture has been shared over 900 times as of this moment. Think about it…

Let me put it another way… Nissan is showcasing a car tattooed with a replica company’s logo on a fake Amuse front bumper. We are all aware that Nismo is the performance division of Nissan. Like many other parts from many other JDM companies, many of the Nismo aero parts designs have been stolen and replicated. Thus, Nismo has suffered at the hand of replica companies. That said, do we think Nissan would be willing to showcase a Z33 on their Facebook page that wears a big decal advertising a replica company on a bumper that looks identical to the popular Nismo V2 front bumper? Perhaps the same company whose name is resting comfortably on that fake Amuse front bumper on the Z they just broadcasted to over 1,000,000 people on Facebook? This same replica company has profited from the theft of quite a few Nismo aero designs. Just visit their website and you’ll see for yourself. Is this not an overwhelmingly transparent and ironic conflict of interest?

Why? Am I missing something?

Nothing surprises me anymore…

The Facebook page of JDMphasis does not have 1/1,300th of the followers of Nissan. Our reach does not extend to the lengths of many other bloggers and online publications, let alone Nissan USA, but that does not mean that we are not going to express our sincere disappointment with the type of conduct that ultimately hurts the backbone and true talented innovators of the industry.

JDMphasis... Innovation over Imitation

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