When you hear someone speak of the car culture in Japan, most people instantly conjure images of Tokyo Drift, and think drift-cars, imports, and even the extremely cambered out big-bodied VIP scene that has worked its way here to the States as well. However, there is a huge counter-culture that continues to expand and grow in popularity overseas that many in Japan refer to as the “Ganstar Car Culture,” or as we know it here, Lowriders. They have quite a few of their own “Lowrider” style magazines, custom shops, car clubs, and car shows with thousands in attendance. From sushi to Locs and flannels, these guys are not playing around and the moment you step into the Fit Kustomz shop you instantly forget what country you’re standing in and you’re instantly transported back to the streets of LA once more.
Photos: Mike Alexander | Words: Jon Hansen
At Slam’d Mag we don’t feature very many traditionally styled “lowriders” simply because our audience lands more on the “custom” side of things. But Japan is continually raising the bar and now body-dropped lowriders with custom details and mods throughout seem to be on the rise. We’re not saying that simply body-dropping or channeling a lowrider will land you here in these digital pages – but it certainly helps! Stateside, most have never heard of the shop Fit-Kustomz owned by vintage wheel collector, Mr. Shirota; however in Japan they are quickly becoming known as an ultra high-quality Cholo-Americana Lowrider shop, that brings its own spin on these classic builds with the creative genius that only the Japanese can astound you with time and time again. This 1956 Chevy Bel Air built in less than one year’s time is certainly no exception to that statement. Breaking necks is definitely a language that all custom car enthusiasts are fluent in, and lets just say the entire staff of Slam’d Mag wore neck braces for a week after seeing this gorgeous green machine laying body on the shop floor on our recent visit to Japan.
Here in the US we use a saying quite often for builds like this – it takes a lot of balls to cut up a classic car, especially a body style that brings huge money when restored more on the “factory” side of things. But that’s exactly what Fit-Kustumz is all about; taking a sought after Tri-five and cutting it until the body sits flat to the floor. Repping a car club known as “The Bastards”, obviously this is not your standard Japanese RX7 or Skyline Rocket Bunny build. This ’56 Bel Air known as the Sparkle 56, earns respect from builders on every coast with its flawless attention to detail and creative combination of subtle mods.
No bolt on wide body or drift wings will be found anywhere near this car, and the fellas at Fit-Kustomz plan to keep it that way. Always wanting to advance in their craftsmanship, this build began as a way to show off their capabilities and creativeness, not only to nail down the ropes of creating an original bodied American custom, which are certainly sparse in most countries, let alone in Japan; and specifically their home, Yashio City. Ryuske Murata and his elder Takuya Sakuraba had a vision all their own for this 4-inch body-dropped and ‘bagged American big body. From the tuck and roll seats, to the Corvette LS1 motor, to the eye popping green color; Sparkle 56 is a force to be reckoned with whether in Japan, America, or planets away from here where their creative ideas must come from. Although the builders and owner don’t speak a lick of english, we were able to gather information on most of the mods so check out the Slam’d Specs below for more details and stay tuned as we continue to bring you the baddest custom rides from around the globe!
Owner: Fit Kustomz
Vehicle: 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Hardtop
Hometown: Yashio City, Saitama, Japan
Club: The Bastards
Dayton 14×7 Reverse, cross lace, 72 spokes wrapped in 520-14 Premium Sport Way Rubber
Front: Air Bags and modified control arms
Rear: Triangulated 4-link
Dual Viair 444Cs with AccuAir Management
Brakes: Front disc, rear 9-inch Ford drums
Performed By: Takuya Sakuraba and Ryuske Murata / Fit Kustomz
Stock factory appearance with restored trim
4-inch body drop
Full restored chrome, bumpers, trim and Continental package
Paint: House of Kolor Ice Pearl Green / White
Tuck and Roll style seats, headliner, and matching door panels using custom flaked material
Restored dash with Dakota Digital gauges
Hidden Vintage Air setup
Performed by club members of The Bastards
Stock LS1 from a 1998 Corvette
MSD EFI system
Slash Muflers / custom exhaust
Rearend: custom Currie Ford 9-inch
Special Thanks from Owner:
“Fit Kustomz would like to give a special thanks to Dayton Wire WHeels, AccuAir Japan, The Bastards club for the interior help, and ISZ Body Work, Slam’d Mag, and all of their customers and friends for the continued support.”