Japan’s Custom Dodge Racing Vans Are Pure Coolness

Rear-wheel-drive plus V-8 equals track-day fun. Who cares if it has room for 12 people?

dodge van the drive japan hero dajiban
YouTube / noriyaro

Japan has carved out more than its fair share of unique automotive niches, but this one might just take the cake. As it turns out, there’s a subculture of Japanese tuners who spend their time building full-size Dodge vans that kick ass on the track.

According to the YouTube channel noriyaro, which chronicles Japanese car culture, these “dajibans”—a name that makes a bit more sense when you say it aloud—have developed something of a cult following in the nation. The dajiban culture reportedly got its start when motorcycle racers began racing the big vans they use to cart their bikes and gear to and from the track. The big Dodge vans may not be ideal race machines by most measures, but considering most of them have rear-wheel-drive and V-8 engines, they managed to conduct themselves rather well around a course. Indeed, seeing these big Mopar vans hustling around a circuit at speed is giving us an odd hankering to call one in and try to hoon it around the nearest autocross track. 

As you would expect, the video is chock full of action shots of vans hauling around a race course—including some cool in-van footage—but it also provides a interesting primer on what makes these dajibans special, from the wheels they use to the paint they apply and the accessories they use. Fun fact: Did you know that Japanese van racers apparently have a fondness for American-made car air fresheners? Because neither did we.

And yes, as you might have guessed given their drivetrains, these dajibans drift rather nicely.