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TRD, Nismo, Mugen, etc.: Get to know Japanese In-House Tuners

TRD, Nismo, Mugen are certainly familiar. The name of the in-house tuner is often a decoration shaped stickers attached to cars on the streets. Some others can be found in the form of a logo badge attached to the body of the car.

The name or brand of the in-house tuner is synonymous with racing and modification. More precisely racing or Japanese modification or JDM style . That is why people attach the stickers or badges, which make the car look more sporty or like a racing car.

But, not a few people are mistaken.

Many people incorrectly install it not in accordance with the brand of the car. Even though each in-house tuner has its own brand designation. Yes, although they already know that TRD, Nismo, Mugen and the like are for Japanese cars. It seems that there are rarely non-Japanese cars, such as German cars that erroneously attribute this attribute.

Uh- but there are indeed non-Japanese cars that I sometimes see attaching Japanese in-house tuner stickers or emblems .

Korean cars aka Hyudai or KIA, hehe.

Then what is an in-house tuner?

In-house tuner is the official modifier or official of a car brand. The form can be a division of the company or a subsidiary.

The main purpose of the In-house tuner is to make a performance model of a type of car. Production cars will be modified to increase the specs, both in the form of increased engine performance, braking, aero, features, to the exterior. The target is consumers who really like performance cars or want cars that are specs above normal production cars.

The advantages of in-house tuners are of course because they are official modifiers of having the ‘originality’ of the official brand and professional quality. In addition, the in-house tuner also has a warranty and customer service like an official factory car.

In addition, some in-house tuners also become divisions or support for company needs in the competition or car racing championship.

Now, in the Japanese car, we mentioned several in-house tuners like TRD, Nismo, and Mugen. Of course there are others according to their respective car brands which we will discuss in this review.

Let’s just start. Prepare the coffee.

Toyota – TRD

Toyota is the first Japanese car manufacturer to participate in the arena of the world motorsport championship . They have started participating in car racing championships since 1957 through their racing division called Tosco. In 1973, Toyota began to be interested in developing new markets, namely performance cars. Tosco also changed to Toyota Racing Development (TRD). The purpose of this division also increased. Besides continuing to participate in the race, they also began to develop and sell performance products.

At present TRD is still active in racing events such as the IMSA GT, NASCAR, Formula Drift and other championships. They also continue to develop and sell a variety of performance products such as superchargers, suspensions, brake kits, exhausts, air-intakes, and alloy wheels.

Here and there, this TRD even manufactures and sells non-performance products. Yes as more popular, the name is also a business, hehe. The products are in the form of accessories or styling, for example car rugs, oil caps or shift knobs. They also sell clothes, hats, sweaters, stickers, to doll decorations!

Maybe we’ve also seen the name TOM’S. Unlike TRD, TOM’S is a company that is not Toyota. TOM’s is a tuning workshop that since 1974 has been Toyota’s partner in developing performance cars or motorsport championship cars.


Nissan – Nismo

His name is widely known, especially through Nissan’s flagship sports car, The Godzilla, GT-R . From this Japanese monster car the name Nismo began to be known to the wider community.

Initially there was a workshop and car manufacturer named Prince Motor Company. In 1964, they realized that sales could be increased through participating in racing championship events. They then began to develop Nissan cars, modify them and then participate in car racing championships.

Two years later, in 1966, Nissan bought Prince. Nissan saw the same opportunity to increase sales through participation in various car racing championships. Prince Motor Company was changed into 2 performance divisions. One division served as a factory, and another division handled assembly according to customer requests.

The two divisions are named Oppama Works and Omori Works.

In September 1984, Nissan decided to unite the two performance divisions into one subsidiary. Thus was born Nissan Motorsport International Co. Ltd., abbreviated as Nismo.

If we look at the letter ‘o’ on Nismo has a red color that is different from other letters. I think this red ‘o’ symbolizes Oppama Works and Omori Works.

In addition to modifying performance specs such as the Nissan GT-R, 370Z, Sentra and Juke, Nismo also develops and sells various performance parts. Call it like aero, alloy wheels, suspension, engine parts, foot parts, sway bars, exhaust systems, and others. Nismo also sells a variety of accessories and apparels to the mobile stand!

Besides producing performance products, of course, Nismo also participated in various car racing championships. They also have a driving academy that was once crowded when schooling top gamer Gran Turismo to become a real racer. Nissan also ordered Nismo to make the Nismo Heritage Program. Nismo will develop and reproduce old engine parts to keep alive its great heritage as in the RB26DETT engine .


Honda – Mugen

Unlike other in-house tuning, Mugen is not a division of Honda. Nor are they a subsidiary of Honda. Mugen is a company that stands alone and is not related to Honda. Then why did they become in-house tuning from Honda?

Mugen has a special affinity with Honda. Its founder is Hirotoshi Honda, son of Honda founder, Soichiro Honda.

Like Father, like son. Hirotoshi also likes automotive and mechanical. The difference is he is happy with performance and racing. When he was in college he had started building his own racing car in his father’s workshop. Not long after, veteran racer who worked as Honda’s R&D, Masao Kimura helped him. Hirotoshi then founded Mugen, which means “without limits / unlimited”. Mugen often put Power behind his name, so that it becomes Mugen Power which means unlimited power.

Honda’s gait in motorsport is channeled through Mugen. This company has participated in various types of championships such as Formula One, Formula Two, Super Formula, World Touring Car Championshop, Super GT, and others. In Formula One Mugen has long been known as an engine supplier. Even the legendary MP4 / 4 car driven by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost is living proof of Mugen’s greatness. This car is the most dominating car in F1 history!

Mugen produces various performance parts for Honda cars. Starting from the brake kit, aero, engine parts, legs, exhaust, alloy wheels, interior even to the bolt, oil cap and engine oil. They also develop and sell various performance parts for Honda motorcycles.

In 2003, Hirotoshi got caught up in a tax avoidance case, which made the company undergo an overhaul. In 2004 Mugen changed its company name to M-TEC Co., Ltd.


Subaru – STI (Subaru Tecnica International)

Remember Subaru, remember the rally . Maybe not a few who do not know that Subaru was once a company that makes aircraft parts. Even now they still have a division that specializes in handling aircraft.

In-house tuning from Subaru is certainly familiar, STI, which stands for Subaru Tecnica International. This division was formed in 1988 with a mission to participate in racing events and also the development and sale of performance parts for Subaru.

It’s only been formed a year this performance division immediately shows off. They broke the record for high speed endurance. The first generation Subaru Legacy managed to cover 100,000 km in 447 hours with an average speed of 223 km / hour!

For racing events, there is no doubt about that. The name STI has long shone in the world rally championship. The climax was when Colin McRae with Impreza 555 won the WRC in succession in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

Similar to Nismo, TDR, Mugen and other in-house tuning, STI also sells various performance parts to complete car, of course. What is unique is STI (and Subaru) sells a variety of apparel and non car related products. What’s unique about it? They sell not only watches, hats and other clothes, but even baby clothes, glasses and even spoons!


Mazda – Mazdaspeed

Mazda’s subsidiary was originally a racing division under the name Mazda Sports Corner. One of his employees who is also a racer named Takayoshi Ohashi saw the potential of developing Mazda towards motorsport. He also put forward the idea and then approved to make the Mazda Sports Corner in 1967.

As the name implies, Mazda Sports Corner is really the main focus on motorsport racing. Although at first they did not carve too many brilliant achievements but they are very persistent and consistent to continue to develop their performance and achievements.

Until 1983, Mazda decided to take part in the prestigious world championship, Le Mans. For this seriousness Mazda called Mazda Sports Corner to join one building, aka one base with them. Not only that, they decided to also change their name to Mazdaspeed.

Their persistence for more than 20 years finally sweet fruit. The legendary car that is very well known for its ‘melodious’ voice, the Mazdaspeed 787B won the Le Mans in 1991. A very amazing achievement considering this is the first time a Japanese manufacturer won this full prestige championship. This achievement continues to last until 27 years later Toyota can finally win Le Mans in 2018.

Mazda just started developing Mazdaspeed for the commercial market for the first time in 2003. Unfortunately their products are not very popular, or are not selling well in the market. Mazdaspeed Protege, then Mazdaspeed MX-5 and then Mazdaspeed 6 only lasted shortly until production was finally stopped.

Mazdaspeed 3 then sales somewhat better but even then only lasted 2 generations until finally Mazda decided to stop production. Looks like this Mazda target or positioning market is not in the direction of performance variants.

Unlike TRD or Mugen, for example, people don’t seem to be mistakenly installing Mazdaspeed stickers or emblems on cars instead of Mazda hehe.

MAZDASPEED STORE (Independent retailer)

Mitsubishi – Ralliart

Ralliart as the meaning of the name The Art of Rallying, originated from the rally. Mitsubishi, like its compatriot rival Subaru, was indeed raised on the world rally scene. Ralliart’s founder was Andrew Cowan, a British Mitsubishi racer who in the early era of Mitsubishi joining the championship had contributed greatly to international scale victories.

In 1983, Mitsubishi asked Andrew Cowan to establish a racing division as the center of Mitsubishi’s racing activities in Europe. He also founded Cowan Motorsports (ACMS) which later developed into a company called, Mitsubishi Ralliart Europe. Shortly thereafter, his team-mates received a license and opened the Ralliart Australia branch.

Unlike other in-house tuners such as TRD or Nismo, which are involved in developing performance versions for commercial cars. Ralliart’s main focus is on motorsport be it rally, touring or dakkar. Indeed there are some versions of the Ralliart car but the number is very limited, call it like the Lancer Ralliart. And that’s not really made a performance version, because the Lancer Ralliart spec is made not to match or outperform the Lancer Evo as the main performance version of the Lancer.

Talking about Mitsubishi did in the end end with sadness.

This company is indeed relatively small compared to for example Toyota, Nissan and Honda. They began to be overwhelmed financially and began to turn a blind eye to variants of car performance. Mitsubishi decided to move closer to the version of the car that is more ‘friendly’ to the general public and environmentally friendly. Ralliart has long been officially closed in 2010. Then the Lancer Evo was declared stopped and reportedly will change into another car model, whether it’s an SUV or whatever it is said is also said to have diesel or hybrid / EV engines .

Even though Ralliart has been closed, Mitsubishi still holds ownership of the Ralliart brand. So yes they could have used the name Ralliart for other things in the future.


Suzuki – Suzuki Sport Racing

If Subaru, which was originally an aircraft parts factory, then started making cars, it still has a little connection. Just like Yamaha, which was originally a piano maker, this Suzuki used to be a loom maker. It’s called the Suzuki Loom Works, which was founded in 1909.

Success with the weaving machine, they were tempted to try a new business that began to spread, the car. But unfortunately, after the Second World War their production was stopped by the current government policy. Again, they made another weaving machine.

Back in the exam, in 1951 the fabric market crashed and their business was disrupted. Suzuki decided to return to automotive. This time in the form of a motorcycle. This time the business was quite lasting and successful. From there, they also ventured into car production.

Suzuki is the same as Mitsubishi, they are a company that is not as big as their fellow countrymen. Their focus is on city cars, small cars (supermini) and 4×4 SUVs . Compared to his attention to the motorcycle, for cars, Suzuki is not too ambitious in matters of performance variants. Back, because of the capacity and positioning of their company earlier.

For in-house tuning, Suzuki has a division called Suzuki Sport Racing. However, this division has a primary focus on motorsport rather than making parts or performance variants of the Suzuki commercial model. For performance parts, Suzuki Sport works closely with Monster Sport.

Monster Sport is a performance brand originating from a company called Tajima Motor Corporation. The company was founded by a former racer and Suzuki team manager named Nobuhiro Tajima who has the nickname Monster (Monsuta Tajima).


Daihatsu – D Sport

Remember Daihatsu, remember Xenia. When we recall the other Daihatsu cars such as Hijet, Gran Max, Luxio, we will feel that this manufacturer’s position is more like a commercial car that supports people’s daily activities and needs. They even have a “Friendship Series” model which is special family cars for the elderly or disabled.

The Daihatsu car lineup is indeed a small car, SUV, MPV, van, minibus and truck. Performance car? There is no. Daihatsu Copen? That is not a performance car.

So I sometimes like to be amused when I see Xenia modif2 resing . What is Daihatsu doing? ha ha

But make no mistake. Daihatsu has an in-house tuning named D Sport. The division, which has a black and yellow identity, produces modified parts for Daihatsu cars. But yes, for now most of the parts are not related to performance, especially the engine sector. So only about accessories and visuals (aero / exterior). New performance parts include sway bars, exhaust, suspension and brake parts. And even then only for a few car models.

Daihatsu, who is a Toyota subsidiary, is again the main focus of daily commercial car manufacturers. And it seems like the future will not change much.


Lexus – Lexus F (F Sport)

As we know, Lexus is a division of Toyota for luxury cars, aka premium class. As with Acura from Honda or Infiniti from Nissan. How about Scion? Scion is also a division of Toyota for sporty and stylish cars but the target is mainly for young people. Scion also only has US and Canada markets and was officially closed in 2016.

Well, compared to Acura and Infiniti, this Lexus has very good sales. Lexus is listed as the largest Japanese premium car manufacturer. They also have a great interest in car racing and developing car performance. Since 1999, Lexus has participated in various kinds of world professional racing championships.

Lexus’s in-house tuning is called Lexus F which is a specialist division of performance development. This F comes from ” Fuji Speedway “, a circuit nicknamed “Temple of Speed” which has long been the center of motorsport in Japan.

Lexus F develops performance variants from commercial Lexus models. Not infrequently this F code is also interpreted as “flagship”. Call it like the Lexus IS F, Lexus GS F and Lexus RC F. They also certainly handle the manufacture of the famous Lexus supercar with its iconic V10 sound, the Lexus LFA.

Lexus F also develops and sells performance parts for other Lexus models. Performance parts named F Sport include exhaust, air filter, cold air intake , brake kit, suspension, sway bar, bushings and others. For some other parts Lexus also collaborates with Toyota’s in-house tuning, TRD.


Thus the review this time.

TRD, Nismo, Mugen, STI, Mazdaspeed, Ralliart, Suzuki Sport, D Sport, Lexus F. It seems that all of the in-house tuning from Japanese manufacturers has been discussed. Isuzu? Hino? It looks like both of them don’t exist and there will never be in-house tuning hehe.

In the future, I will also think about making in-house tuning for American and European car manufacturers. Just wait!

Hopefully this review, in addition to adding to our automotive insights, can also reduce the number of incorrectly installed stickers / emblems. KIA cars should not be installed TRD, or Honda installed Ralliart.

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