‘VIP Style’ Cars: Explained

VIP style is taking large luxury sedans and making them cool and low.

byChris Rosales|
Cars 101 photo
Victoria Scott


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Normally, I’m a function over anything fundamentalist. I don’t even regularly wash my cars. But there is one style and car culture that is so stone-cold and so sick that I would change my ways to adhere to it. That is VIP style. This is a modder's take on luxury cars, and it's a distinctive look you'll recognize immediately once you've read through our guide.

Quick Rundown: What’s a VIP-Style Car?

VIP is a style that takes big-body sedans, slams them on specific sets of wheels, and dresses them up in a way that favors luxury and form over performance. Any sedan qualifies as long as it has the right mods and vibe. A Lexus LS400 or a Mercedes S-Class are perfect examples, while something like a Toyota Camry can be made VIP as well.

Where Did VIP Style Come From?

Like so many great car phenomena, the VIP look has its origins in Japan. Legend says that gangsters used low luxury cars as transport and street racers mirroring the imposing style of the big-body sedans. It might have started around discretion, but I think it’s unlikely. The cars have a visual impact no matter how you slice it, so I think it’s a style that organically become cool, thus people replicated it for their own cars. Whether the gangster/street racer story is true is unlikely, but there is no doubting how dope the style is.

The VIP vibe is that of a corporate lackey who hit a gym, got yoked, and got a sleeve of tattoos. It takes the most mundane sedans and gives them street presence or just outright in-your-face shock value. The style ranges widely; from relatively sedate luxury sedans lowered on large three-piece wheels to creations with custom LED lighting, flagpoles, reupholstered interiors, and body kits. VIP, known as bippu in Romanised Japanese, has a few key indicators.

What Cars Are Usually VIP’d?

It always starts with a prestigious luxury sedan. For us stateside folks, a Lexus LS, GS or early Infiniti Q45 would be the prime candidate. In Japan the options were much more varied with every manufacturer making some kind of stately sedan. Over there, you’ll see more Nissan Cedrics, Glorias, and Laurels alongside Toyota Crowns and Aristos. There are even some left-field stuff from Mitsubishi and Mazda that get built, but Nissan and Toyota have the most popularity.

What Modifications Make a Car VIP?

You always, always start with lowering the car on hideously expensive and rare wheels. This is the absolute minimum mods required to be a VIP build. It can be coilovers or airbags, but there must be lowness to the car. Then there is the agonizing business of choosing the right wheel.

Japan has made hundreds of wheels styles that are all iconic and all have a place in any culture. Some of them are as iconic as the Nike Air Force 1, but for car culture. In VIP land, everything starts and ends with Weds wheels, Work wheels, and SSR. Popular options include the Weds Kranze Bazreia, Weds LXZ, Weds Leon Hardiritt Waffe, Work Euroline DH and SSR Vienna Dish, the Lowenhart LVD, and more recently the BMW Style 95s. Some of the more drift-style crossover wheels that you see on VIPs are the Work VS-KF and Weds Cerberus. 

You can choose any wheel, as long as it’s sick and preferably three-piece. A three-piece wheel is (you guessed it) made of three distinct pieces, as opposed to a more common single-piece cast or forged wheel. It’s arguably the most important part of the entire car and folks often have multiple sets of wheels much like we have several pairs of shoes. After that, it’s all details. Things like front corner antennas, headlight eyelids, roof spoilers, and aero can all set a car off nicely. 

More extreme examples go widebody with insane camber—not my style, but respect. I personally enjoy the custom LED matrix taillights that can do patterns and the retrofitted headlights. I get deep joy when esoteric and rare headlight projectors are fitted to older headlights, my favorites being the Q45 Gatling gun projectors and LS600hL projector retrofits.

Interior mods are also a key identifier of a VIP car. Neck pillows and ornate, often custom and incredibly personalized tray tables are the most common mods, some folks go all out and reupholster interiors. I often see interior lighting treatments and in-car entertainment, but that's a bit rarer stateside. Oh, and don’t forget curtains of some kind. Most of this stuff you can find from companies like Junction Produce that make enough parts for a complete VIP starter kit.

All of that makes for a VIP car. I hanker for one nearly constantly, thanks to my old 1998 Lexus LS400 which was probably the most excellent car I ever owned. If only I could have slammed it on some Weds LXZs, I might have become a different person. I probably would have liked good cars instead of these damn Volkswagens. But with this info, you can go out and do it yourself.

Just remember: big-body sedan, wheels, and low. That’s all you need.

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