While no one might be able to really trace the exact roots of the van culture in Japan, there is no denying that this craze has technically never gone out of style, from as early as the 1990s.
I remember seeing in various tuning magazines, outlandish samples of your everyday workhorses decked out in some of the most eye-catching bodykits and custom in-car entertainment systems to roll out of the land of the rising sun. Its been almost 30 years since and the custom-van tuning popularity is still going strong.
In fact, the industry has matured to such a level that there are now several sub-categories to differentiate the styles of which the vans are customised to. To top that off, the vans themselves come in a myriad of sizes, from tiny kei-class runabouts to full-on VIP-luxury behemoths that rival the Toyota Vellfires and Alphards.
One of the most popular models of vans for customisation is also a Toyota for that matter, better known to you and me as the Hiace. Though most of them are mainly used for commercial and transportation, there is a massive tuning following for these big, boxy vans with the Hiace being the poster-boy.
Now before you write-off these vans as being nothing more than just blinged-up cargo carriers, do note that Toyota in Japan sells fully-specced variations of the Hiace known as the Regius Ace Super GL that rival even luxury MPVs.
Unlike their goods carrying counterparts, these Hiaces get proper interior panelling, rear seats, privacy glass panels, rear air-conditioning vents, LED daytime running lights, fog-lamps, reverse camera, auto-fold side mirrors, Push Start/Stop ignition, auto-sliding side doors and soft-touch closure for the rear tailgate.
To top that off, the suspension has been re-calibrated for better comfort and the entire van features improved soundproofing to the point you barely hear the diesel clatter coming from the in-line 4-cylinder Turbocharged engine which produces 136hp at 3,400rpm with 300Nm of torque from 1,200-2,400rpm and is Euro5 compliant.