Can German Cars Be JDM?

Here at Garage Dreams, my job is to look after our ever-expanding “Car Facts” database.

This is where I answer your questions about cars.

Ben, the other editor of the site, gets to do all the “glamorous” work like researching and writing buyers guides … I get to do the question and answer stuff – but it is good fun.

One of the focus areas of this site is answering your questions about Japanese performance cars, particularly JDM cars. If you’re not 100% sure about what JDM means, then make sure you click that link to read our “101” guide.

Basically, what I do for Car Facts is go onto Google and check what questions people are asking about cars, particularly Japanese and/or JDM cars.

Some questions we answer are frequently asked, like whether or not JDM cars are more reliable or whether they are better than their non-JDM counterparts.

Other questions crop up far less frequently, like the subject of today’s edition of Car Facts.

In today’s article I’m going to answer the following question, which is being asked in Google:

“Can German cars be JDM”

Although it’s meant to be “best practice” to write longer form content for the web (ever wondered why there is usual a short novel before any recipe you look up online? It’s because the author knows Google is more likely to show their content if they add some additional context to it) for this article I’m going to keep the answer short and sweet.

German cars cannot be JDM, except for one particular circumstance (and even that is debatable)

JDM refers to cars built specifically for the Japanese Domestic Market, particularly uniquely JDM models like the Toyota Crown Athlete (Japanese market version of the Lexus IS350) or JDM-specific versions, e.g. comparing a new-in-Japan Toyota Supra MK4 to a USDM version.

The term is almost exclusively used to refer to cars built by Japanese manufacturers for sale/distribution in Japan’s domestic auto market.

On that basis, a German car can’t be JDM.

However, I guess you could technically argue (hence my use of the word “debatable” above) that if a German car maker such as Volkswagen were to make a version – or even a model of a car – that were specific to the Japanese domestic market, then it could be seen as a JDM car.

For example, if Volkswagen produced a version of the Golf GTI specifically for sale to Japanese customers (with different specs, trim levels, equipment, infotainment etc) then you could class that as a ‘German JDM car’.

I’ll admit that isn’t in the spirit of what most people understand JDM as being, but it’s still worth considering this point.

Maybe you know of German cars that have been specifically made for the Japanese domestic market? If so, leave a comment below as I’d love to hear from you!

To recap, can German cars be JDM?

Realistically, no (at least not in the sense of how most people would consider a car to be JDM). However, in theory if a German carmaker were to produce a specific car/version of an existing car for sale exclusively in the Japanese market, then you could argue that is JDM.

Do you agree? I’d love to hear your opinion – leave a comment below to start the discussion.


  • Sam

    Sam focuses mainly on researching and writing the growing database of Car Facts articles on Garage Dreams, as well as creating interesting list content. He is particularly enthusiastic about JDM cars, although has also owned numerous European vehicles in the past. Currently drives a 3rd generation Suzuki Swift Sport, and a Volkswagen Touareg (mainly kept for taking his border collie out to the hills to go walking)

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