One Question: A Look Back with Jonathan Wong

Here at Front Street, we’re in the unique position of having direct access to many of the automotive aftermarket’s most prominent shops, manufacturers, and innovators. As such, we’ve decided to tap into this vast network for a new monthly feature, entitled One Question, where we’ll ask an expert one relevant question about a topic which falls into their area of expertise.

When I initially thought of the One Question article idea, I had one person in mind who I thought would be an excellent subject, if only I could convince him to participate in the concept. Someone whose vision and ideas were partly responsible for brainwashing my adolescent mind into my career choice: Jonathan Wong, the former Editor-In-Chief of the illustrious Super Street Magazine. To my delight, he enthusiastically said yes.

Jonathan is a lifelong Honda-faithful enthusiast and lover of all things Japanese automotive-related; a man whose legacy in our industry will never be forgotten, considering he popularized the term “JDM”, which we all use so frequently now. Because he resides in sunny Los Angeles, California, he’s been on the front line of the growth of import car culture in America, and has been instrumental in shaping its direction.

During his tenure at SS, he also took many trips to Japan, which not only further impacted Japanese tuning culture in America, but allowed him to become close with Kei Miura, who had formed a custom body kit for his personal EF9 Civic, back before Miura had even created the TRA Kyoto/Rocket Bunny/Pandem business. Wong, who owns an amazingly well-built EF-chassis Civic himself, was shipped the sacred, highly sought-after kit from Miura-san in 2016.

Just think about that: before the creator of Rocket Bunny had started designing body panels for a living, he made his own personal kit. There is only one in existence—the precursor for the entire generation of widebody panel modification—and who else on the planet is worthy of such a kit but Jonathan? That’d be like having Henry Ford’s first handmade car before he started producing them under the Ford name. Talk about being the owner of priceless treasure! But, without further ado… here’s Jonathan’s one question.

There’s no question he’s had a large hand in shaping the culture which has influenced so many sport compact enthusiasts like myself.

Did you have any inkling that what you were writing and publishing would carry so much weight for future generations?

Jonathan Wong: At the time I didn’t realize that what we were covering would have had the kind of effect it did (and still carries to this day), although the culture has shifted in so many ways since then.

I just liked what I was into, what I learned from immersing myself into forums and meeting with like-minded enthusiasts who owned the cars that resonated with my style. I’m glad my bosses trusted in me enough to feature these lesser-known (but highly deserving) cars in Super Street.

It’s kind of crazy to think how long it took to get the public’s perception to change from looking at us as the “ricer” or “show only” type of magazine to becoming one of the top respected outlets covering all types of modified vehicles. That, I think, had a lot to do with us getting out there and continuously searching to highlight what we thought would catch on versus just what’s only hot at the moment. And that was tough to do without social media. Imagine waiting three months to see any updates to a car or see yours in event coverage; you’re lucky it happens within seconds now!

Stay tuned in the coming months for more One Question segments, and if you have someone you’d like to hear from, drop us a line with suggestions!