Car Culture Around the Globe

Car culture has become a part of everyday life around the world with many of us exposed to the different cultures on a daily basis. How many people really know the history or even the names of these subcultures that are at the very least a passion for a few and at most, a way of life for many people around the globe?

Most of us are very fond of our vehicles. How could we not be, given the amount of time we spend in them? But for a lot of people that interest goes way beyond the day-to-day and into the realm of fanatical.

As a car lover myself, I wanted to compile a list of some of my favourite, and in my opinion, most interesting car cultures that are active in the world today:


With roots in 1940s LA, Lowriders have become an everyday part of American culture – featuring in everything from hip-hop videos to Hollywood movies.

Lowriders can reach heights of up to 8 feet and have some impressive side-to-side acrobatic abilities.


Spinning started during the 1990s as an illegal gangster ritual in the townships of South Africa but has recently become a legal spectator sport in the country.

Spinners put their bodies on the line whilst cheating the laws of physics.  A spinner will drift their car in circles until it builds enough momentum to step out of the car and perform a series of dangerous stunts whilst the car continues to spin completely driverless.

After the performance, the stuntman will jump back into the car to regain control of the vehicle.

Boy racers

The boy racers are a phenomenon that gained extreme popularity in the UK.  They can also be found in Europe and are famous for their use of modified aftermarket body kits, audio systems and exhaust systems.

Boy racers are also known for their loud music, fast acceleration from traffic lights and revving engines.


Oni-kyan directly translates as “Demon Camber” and is a subculture based in Japan. It has its origins in the 1970s drift scene.

These vehicles have the bottom of their tyres sitting further out than the top which effectively means the vehicle is supported by a small patch of rubber that optimises drifting potential but can also make handling very tricky.


First seen in the 1950’s, the Bosozoku (literally translates as “running-out-of-control”) are an extremely loud form of rebellious expression for Japanese youth.

The aerodynamic kit for each vehicle is designed to be as big as the car can handle with the aim of making a statement and standing out in a crowd.

Kustom Kulture

Born in the USA, Kustom Kulture doesn’t apply to a certain type of vehicle as much as it is about skill and attitude. With its roots in the early 1950s, Kustom Kulture is one of the longest running subcultures in the world.

Drivers strive to create something unique that will challenge the limits of what is possible with mechanics.

Van dwellers

With roots in 1960s counter-culture, van dwelling has become a popular lifestyle choice enjoyed by many the world over.

Appealing to those who want to enjoy an escape from the stresses of modern life, van dwelling is a style of living with no fixed abode and limits physical possessions in favour of a freer lifestyle.

Hot Rods

Hot rods are classic American cars modified with large engines for linear speed and have history as far back as the 1920s.

In the early days of car modification, this kind of vehicle modification was known as a “Gow job”, but this changed in the 1950s with the introduction of the term ‘hot rod’.

Check out the full piece (including some very cool gifs of each subculture!) here:

Benjamin Mainwaring serves as the Digital Campaign Executive at GoCompare

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