In the late 80’s and early 90’s kaido racers really started to resemble what Westerners use the blanket (incorrect) term of bosozoku for. Cars sporting a plethora of fiberglass, both custom-made and “off the shelf”, to create borderline unidentifiable cars were at their peak around this time (exemplified with Chibaragi style). Now pulling inspiration from overseas custom shops, such as Koenig Specials, we see some cars taking a more foreign look. Another example of this outside of Koenig Special style kaido racers is none other than the Chevrolet C3 Corvette.

Designed to solve a similar problem for enthusiasts, the C3 Corvette and Nissan S130 have been compared as far back as 1981 in Car & Driver. Beyond this, it can be seen that the C3 Corvette was desirable in Japan as shown in Young Auto 1989 Vol. 8. This specific issue opens with 11 pages highlighting the American car team “Black Mark” of the Kanto region. These cars were modified similarly to what could have been seen in the States but with touches of Japanese styling.

Alternative to importing an American car, and in the spirit of kaido racers, taking inspiration from these cars seems much more fitting. This is where the fiberglass company Imai Kasei (今井化成) comes into play. Imai Kasei produced C3 Corvette-style fenders and hoods for the Nissan S130z. Some of the earliest examples I could find of these parts on cars are from Young Auto 1988 Vol 11 where two different S130’s feature the Imai Kasei hood which emulates a common aftermarket Corvette hood with NACA ducts and a raised cowl (see white c3 above).

In Jr. Young Auto 1990 Vol. 2 a red S130 2+2 is seen sporting the full Imai Kasei hood and fender combo, directly noted as being “Corvette” (style) parts.

Translation: “This is a Kaminari Z with impressive Corvette fenders and hood.”

The Imai Kasei fenders incorporate the silhouette of the C3 fender and vents similar to the early model (’68-’69) Corvette. When paired with a full kit of aero, the Imai Kasei front can go unnoticed but simultaneously serve as the “cherry on top”.

Since January 2024 one of the only Imai Kasei S130 parts I’ve come across on YAJ is a pair of (seemingly) unused fenders that boasted a bidding price starting at 400,000円 and a buy-it-now of 500,000円. Even with the conversion rates when writing this, this is far from an “affordable” part.

Circling back to Corvettes, the C3 was produced about 14 years (1968-1982). During this time (and even after) owners have modified their cars in many different ways. One of the products of this era was the Ecklers Daytona kit for the C3 Corvette. In my research, this kit was synonymous with cars built by Greenwood Corvettes who made this a key component in their builds. Looking at this kit I would argue there is a commonality between these C3’s and kaido racers in Japan.

A Greenwood Daytona Turbo was recently listed on Barrett Jackson which sold for $247,500.00 USD.

Considering the recent debut of the Lincoln Continental kaido racer built by @successfreestyle in Japan makes me curious to see how a platform, such as the C3, could be implemented as a kaido racer base. Perhaps even drawing inspiration from the Nissan S130 for some of the styling queues.

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