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Rice Burner

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"With all the money that these morons dump into modification, they could have saved up and bought a real sports car in a couple of years instead of pretending like they drive one now."

Any ordinary consumer car that has had its outer body modified to give the impression that it's a high-performance vehicle. These modifications will be almost purely aesthetic and do nothing to actually improve the car's performance. The fact that the owner thinks otherwise shows you the kind of person who would drive one.

As such, these are the kinds of things they will have:

  • A spoiler on the trunk, supposedly to create downforce and bring the car closer to the road and thus reduce air resistance. The owner may have learned this from racecars doing this — except ordinary cars don't go nearly fast enough to make use of a spoiler, and as most cars are front-wheel-drive, a rear-mounted spoiler won't improve performance even if they do go fast enough for it to have an effect. What's worse is that they should be custom-built for the car in question, but most rice burners just have a hunk of plastic bolted to the trunk (the page image is admittedly an extreme case).note 
  • Big, loud exhaust pipes, or "fart cannons", which make everything sound louder and better, because powerful engines tend to be noisy, so making your car noisy will, if it doesn't make it faster, at least give people around you the impression that it is (whether or not they care about it). The owner may have heard that a wider exhaust can improve performance, but this only applies to the whole exhaust system, so attaching a loud device to the end of the exhaust isn't going to change anything.
  • Aftermarket body kits and overly cambered tires ("stanced" or "hellaflush") to bring the car lower. These can actually reduce performance by making the car heavier and more difficult to handle. Also, ordinary cars have to deal with things like speed bumps and poorly maintained roads that can ruin the extra bodywork — or even critical car components if you're not careful. Legitimate lowering jobs are often very expensive and involve hydraulic or magnetic components, rather than just trimming the springs with an angle grinder, and few (if any) good shops will stance a vehicle meant as a daily driver.
  • Imitation badges and hood scoops to make it look like a different (and "better") car.
  • Aesthetics like racing stripes and bright paint jobs to make it seem faster (and which have no effect on the car's performance). Modern examples will typically also have their social media handles displayed on the vehicle, almost always their Instagram and often their Snapchat and TikTok handles as well, and will also list their affiliation if they belong to a local car league.
  • Fire extinguishers, to give the impression that the car is so fast and awesome, it might catch fire. It might indeed catch fire, but more because badly installed engine mods and shoddy wiring can make it a fire hazard.note 
  • Extremely loud and usually bass-heavy sound systems to emulate competition-level setups, never mind that a proper competitive setup can easily carry a five-figure price tag (between component and installation costs); their shit may be loud, but cheap speakers from a department or auto parts store haphazardly wired to the center console are not even close to what you'd see in a show car and are prone to blowing out, in addition to being a fire hazard thanks to often-questionable wiring jobs.

The name derives from the perception that many of the cars so modified are Japanese, and tend to be thought of as boring, underpowered economy cars. This of course leads to Unfortunate Implications, which has led there to be alternative terms for cars from different parts of the world (e.g. "pasta rockets" for Italian cars, "wheat burners" for American cars, or "kraut burners" for German carsnote  — not that this makes anything better), and the creation of the backronym "RICE" (for "Race-Inspired Cosmetic Enhancement"). The term "rice burner" or "ricer" is a more American phenomenon; Brits would call them "chaviots" (from the derogatory term "chav", meaning Lower-Class Lout); Russians would call the process "ara-tuning" ("Armenian tuning", hinting at its popularity in the Caucasus region); Poles would use the term "agro-tuning" ("agriculture-tuning", suggesting this is a specialty of yokels from the countryside); and Japanese have "Itasha" (a rice burner with an additional embarrassing fanboy aesthetic) and "dekotora" (for "decorated truck", the same principle but applied to big rigs). The kind of people who would drive such a car have long been known as "boy racers" (or "hoons" in parts of the British Commonwealth).

A Sub-Trope of Pimped-Out Car. See also Red Ones Go Faster and Awesome, but Impractical. Hummer Dinger is usually the SUV/offroader equivalent. Thememobiles, if done right, almost always fall into this trope.


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  • DiGiorno had an ad stating their pizzas were not delivery pizzas. Their pizza sizzling in the customer's own oven was compared against a delivery pizza being thrashed about in a riced-out Honda Civic hatchback, complete with lowrider hydraulics.
  • An Australian ad for Medibank Private (a health insurance company) has one of the actors sitting in front of a car like this (with the neon lighting strips lit up) saying how he doesn't want to spend money on stuff he doesn't need.
  • A Snapple commercial had two factory workers put various toys and little lights on the Snapple bottles. With the end of the commercial being the foreman explaining to the workers that it was what's inside of Snapple that made it the best tea on earth.
  • A series of T-Mobile To Go commercials made fun of this trope, creating a Poser Mobile with a super low profile, gold/fluorescent paint, giant "hood rocket", and roof and rear spoiler.
  • Parodied in a Toyota Prius ad that had people showing off stock Priuses (Prii?) at a rally like they were modified this way.
    Guy #1: (gestures at the rims) Are those stock?
    Guy #2: Factory.
  • Volkswagen;
    • Volkswagen had an ad campaign for the VW Golf GTI that mocked the Rice Burner phenomenon, where Peter Stormare would "unpimp ze auto" in a rather destructive fashion, butchering rapper speak the whole time with a fake German accent.
    • A later commercial had a middle-aged woman drive to the store in a riced-out Honda Del Sol. The car features a garish paint job and a body kit (which is not painted the same as the rest of the car). The trunk is occupied by a large stereo system preventing the woman from putting her groceries inside. After she gets home, her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend get home in a Volkswagen Touran and he exchanges keys with the mother. As he leaves, the boyfriend asks "Why do we have to take your mom's car?"
  • Nicely sent up in an advertisement for microwaveable snacks, showing young people meeting to show off their microwaves, complete with flame jobs, spoilers, and sound systems.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Initial D. The series as a whole has examples that span the entire range between Rice Burner and Sleeper Car. Takumi Fujiwara's car is an aversion to the trope (the only cosmetic changes it undergoes are work-related; The car's also used for take-out deliveries). Later on in the series, it does get at least one modification - specifically, a carbon-fiber hood. Of course, this is after Takumi blows the original engine and his father puts in a Group A racing engine, and he joins Ryosuke Takahashi's super-team "Project D", which is comprised of the best amateur racers in Gunma Prefecture. And even then it's still pretty much a Sleeper, between the tofu shop advertisements and the general body panel damage.
  • One story arc in Over Rev deals with the "Stock Car Wolf," an aspiring auto engineer who was obsessed with his father's "perfect" designs to the point that when his car was stolen and vandalized into a rice burner, he turned into a Knight Templar who challenged owners of modded cars to race against his stock model, with the stipulation that if (when) they lost, their cars would be taken and stripped of their mods. It takes losing to a "super stock" car - one that has been "modded" with subtle improvements to the original parts (in reality, restoring the original vision of the car engineers, before the marketing department messed up the specs) - to make him see reason.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Delinquent Road Hazards in the Pixar film Cars are rice burners who bump Mack around on the road.

    Film — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Kamen Rider Drive, one of Drive's various car-themed powerups is a dekotora called Deco Traveller. It's not seen very often and Drive hasn't even used its powers himself, but on its own, it can generate chains to ensnare enemies. The tie-in movie also features a full-size dekotora as one of the vehicles that the villain takes control of to send after the heroes.
  • Parodied on MADtv (1995). Bobby Lee plays a character who tries to use his riced-up car to pick up women. He claims his Daewoo could bounce but it's actually his friend in the trunk.
  • Due to the rules of the show, Monster Garage was an inversion of this. For all of the modifications they did, the cars had to look stock, barring any obvious changes that were needed because of what kind of monster they were making that week.
    • One time where the "must appear to be stock" did not apply started with a Rice Burner. It was a Pontiac Firebird that was given the body of a Ferrari Testarossa. The stock rule was waived because the goal was to make a parade float. The end result? The Evil Santa Float.
    • One such monster was the Datsun Honey Bee Drift Car, one of the world's most uncool cars (Jesse liked it for that very reason), which was gutted and filled with the insides of a Nissan 350Z. At one point, they noticed the two cars had different wheelbases and the 350Z's tires would be sticking out of the Honey Bee's chassis; Jesse said the whole point of the build was to keep the Honey Bee's uncool look while giving it the heart of a beast.
  • MTV's Pimp My Ride is largely based on this trope. Those customizations were, of course, done by professionals who know how to finely tune the car's performance to make the spoilers practical. Of course, that didn't prevent the producers from suggesting extremely inane and impractical modifications like having an in-car fish tank or a set of PSP conveyor belts in the trunk, the source of the "Yo dawg, I heard you like X" meme. This led to West Coast Customs leaving the show.
  • Kryten does this to himself in the Red Dwarf episode "Krysis", getting fitted with a Ferarri red shell with a head-spoiler, flashing lights, and shoulder-mounted speakers as the mechanoid equivalent of a Mid Life Crisis Car.
  • Evaluated many times on Top Gear:
    • In Season 2 they asked for viewer submissions of such modifications. In Episode 8 they presented them with some of the most notable ones being:
      • A Citroën ZX with two oversized spoilers and a blocky body kit that looked like it was on a repair ramp and "took the ramp with it".
      • A car that had all manner of metal sheeting and other junk attached that was best described as being magnetized and driven "through a branch of Halfords."
      • A car with the interior being the inverse and having the interior filled with junk including over a dozen gauges, several fog lamps, a full home stereo deck, and a personal computer with CRT monitor.
      • A Porsche also with two vastly oversized spoilers that total a height over the roof.
      • A car with a massive spoiler made out of plywood that alone is taller than the car itself, foil on the rims, and tape trim over the tire wells, around the bumper level all around the car, on the door handles, etc.
      • A Voxel Cavalier with a General Lee paint job and Dodge Charger written on the rear trunk.
    • In one episode, the presenters attempt to get a Renault Avantime as fast as a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. In addition to more thoroughgoing work like adding new brakes and suspension, Richard Hammond bolts on a large spoiler (not just any large spoiler mind you, it's a spoiler from a Super Aguri Formula 1 car), which merely slows the car down. After failing to get the Avantime up to the Evo's speed, the presenters conclude that most of the money and effort spent on tuning cars is wasted.
    • Another challenge had a hill-climb between a pimped-out Peugeot 306 and a 1963 Austin Healey Sprite, a two-door British roadster that was built for racing. In keeping with the trope, the Healey won it, but the race was pretty close since much of the Peugeot's pimping involved giving it a massively oversized engine. Unfortunately, the car was unable to apply more than about 1/3rd of the horsepower it generated to the road. Partially this trope then, but not entirely: the changes made to the car were also functional.
    • In the "find the perfect car for a 17-year-old" challenge, Richard Hammond fitted his car with a body kit (for a different model). Needless to say, it didn't stay attached very long.
    • When the presenters went to a drag strip in the USA with a Lexus LFA, the new Aston Martin Vanquish, and an SRT Viper and saw that they were up against young people in Mitsubishis and Subarus, they assumed that their victory was a foregone conclusion based on this trope. They discovered that their supercars were useless because their opponents had put as much effort into the engine bay as they had on the bodywork.
  • Wheeler Dealers had two examples of that trope:
    • The 2002 Range Rover from S10E03 had a custom paint job and large rims, but also a broken injector and suspension compressor.
    • The 1995 Mazda RX-7 from S11E03 had visual modifications done to it, but the mechanics were kept stock and in need of repairs.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Gabriel Iglesias was heckled by some Hispanic gangbangers for driving a VW Beetle. "Ey, how you get in there, ese?!" He came back to that area after having riced it up. They still heckled him. "Check it out, ey! It's The Fat and the Furious!"
  • Mike Merryfield discusses the trend in his act. He focuses on the large spoilers (questioning how a rear spoiler is supposed to be effective on a front-wheel drive car), stereo systems with role calls (saying it gives thieves a checklist for stealing the components), and "fart cannon" mufflers (asking why ricers can get away with loud exhausts while he gets pulled over for a poorly maintained one).

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech will sometimes have customized mechs that someone has given a distinctive paint job and added extra, pointless bits to like cosmetic spikes or adding parts to the mech's head to make it look like a monster. This is often done by pirates and doesn't actually help the mech at all. Such flashy modifications are also popular on the gladiator world of Solaris VII, where having a distinctive look can aid a pilot's popularity in the Gladiator Games.
  • Subverted by Ork vehicles in Warhammer 40,000: A carefully chosen paint job can really make them faster.

    Video Games 
  • The Japan-only racing game series Bakusou Dekotora Densetsu is about racing riced-up trucks. Oddly enough, the bosses mostly drive stock trucks with better performance.
  • The customisation tool in BeamNG allows you to lower certain types of suspension and swap parts between all variants of a car. Using this tool, you can "rice out" most cars by taking the ordinary base model of a vehicle, "stancing" it, and bolting on body kits, shiny new rims, and other aesthetic features taken from the race or sport variants of that car, while leaving out all of the performance-enhancing components.
  • The arcade The Fast and the Furious game and its sequel are Cruis'n WITH RICE!
  • Forza Motorsport has a paint editor that lets you rice up cars. Quite a few people spent more time putting Lucky Star characters on their cars and selling them in in-game auctions than they did actually racing them. Along with that, many of the less exotic cars have a number of body kit and spoiler options, though most are lighter than the stock body parts on the car. The paint and vinyl editors are completely optional, while body modifications can affect the car's performance.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • Chan Jaoming seems to embody this spirit in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. During one mission Huang has to disable other cars in a street race so that Chan's flashy-but-terrible car can win.
    • Customizing was one of the new features made available in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - though some cars are much better suited to it (hint: an actual sports car can take more modifications and already goes fast anyway). In keeping with the trope, most of these will make no difference whatsoever to the car's performance. The only exception is the Nitro Boost. Unfortunately, there is no point except for two story missions - one of which was lowrider only - that allow you to race with your customized cars.
    • Grand Theft Auto IV didn't have car tuning, but Brucie owns a tuning shop that performs modifications of this kind. One of his radio ads plays this for all it's worth, talking about how you should take your expensive sports car, designed and built by some of the world's best automotive engineers, and let some guy down by the docks have his way with it and give it all manner of useless "upgrades" that will only reduce its value.
    • It makes a return in Grand Theft Auto V, with some cars having more extravagant options than others; as in San Andreas, the visual mods do nothing to the cars' performance. Both Online and Story Mode allow you to bring your own car to races depending on the race type, as for the Story mode, only Franklin has access to night-time street races. It also comes up once in Story Mode: after Michael reconciles with his family, he gets his old, conservative luxury sedan back, only to find that his son Jimmy had it extensively modified while it was in his care, complete with garish dollar-sign rims and a "La Cucaracha" horn. Michael is not amused. To Jimmy's credit, though, he also had some performance upgrades installed as well.
      • Grand Theft Auto Online adds a handful of cars in its more recent updates that play the Ricer aesthetic completely straight. These include the Cheburek (a stand-in for the VAZ-2101), which has several tuning parts which are literally made of cardboard, and the Asbo (a stand-in for the Vauxhall Corsa C) which comes with a wide array of ludicrous cambered wheels, body kits, extended bumpers and oversized sound systems that would make it right at home in the ricing scene of the UK's more run-down housing estates.
  • The Midnight Club series has a few of these in the first two games, but the trope really starts to become prevalent in DUB Edition, where you'll find legions of AI racers with downright garish vehicles. Downplayed with the AI vehicles in Los Angeles.
    • And that's not even getting into the cars players can create in DUB Edition and Los Angeles. Giant spinners and underglow on a Lamborghini Murcielago, anyone?
  • Mon Bazou: If you only focus on upgrading the aesthetics of your bazou without upgrading the engine or tires, you'll end up with this.
  • Every Need for Speed game from Underground to Nitro. Especially when you make the mistake of doing it without putting any actual performance upgrades into the car first, which can make the game unwinnable. Worst of all, they don't affect performance whatsoever - positive or negative, with the exception of ProStreet, in which they add drag, downforce, and weight.
    • The two Underground games enforced it with the "star rating": the more expensive your body work or your paint job was, the more stars you had. The first game used the star rating as a multiplier for your in-game score; the second game, meanwhile, enforced a minimum star rating in order to advance to the next stage of the storyline. And the star rating is what the game thinks it is cool, so you will have to install many parts that look very tacky.
    • In Most Wanted and Carbon, visual modification are made semi-optional; however, visual modifications will reduce the "heat" meter, as it makes your car harder to recognize by the police. It's not necessary to make extensive modifications, though, and a few mods like roof scoops and hood details barely make a difference. Usually a change in paint job works well enough.
    • The 2015 game offers reputation bonuses based on visual modification, as well as success in other areas (such as speed, style, and outrunning the police).
    • Payback, Heat and Unbound made body modifications completely optional, as for the latter, unlike the Most Wanted example above, the cop "heat" meter (which starts at 0 and rising, only at nights) are always reset to zero after you enter the garage out of the police sights at night.
  • In Saints Row 2 through Saints Row IV, absurdly extravagant modifications are available for pimping out the most mediocre rides. It's most prominent with the Sweeper from Saints Row: The Third, which can be decked out with post-apocalyptic spikes, blades, and boarded-up windows that look badass but don't stop it from being a street sweeper with some of the worst stats in the game. Unfortunately, you cannot bring your customized cars to races, although in Saints Row's case, it's because there are no racing side activities, with the exception of Saints Row 2, where bringing a souped-up vehicle would grant a significant advantage.
  • The Bandai Namco Entertainment game Truck Kyosokyoku has you racing a dekotora against time to get to your destination, while occasionally tossing a rival which you must knock to destroy Chase H.Q. style. True to other Namco-Bandai racers, the game has a memorable EDM soundtrack.
  • Because Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune has separate upgrade systems for tuning and Dress-Up parts, it is possible to go grinding for Dress-Up parts in Ghost Battle mode without touching Story Mode once, resulting in a flashy-looking car that's still stock under the hood (as low as 64 HP if you're using the Subaru R2).
  • Sega, not to be outdone by Namco-Bandai, also released 18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker at around the same time, which also features dekotoras despite being set in America.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Carl's car from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, "2 Wycked", is an old Dodge Stealth ES with a trashy paint job, though to Carl's credit, he does have a supercharger installed. However, it's rare we actually see it be driven; it often ends up being the collateral damage in whatever weirdness the ATHF are facing/causing/dealing with that episode.

    Real Life 
  • Volvo at one point released cars that came pre-packaged with "rice burner" parts.
  • Scion's entire brand identity was based customization. The car itself cost a set, flat price, and the only factory option was whether to get manual or automatic. Then you would customize whatever you wanted to attach to it and place the order online. Or just pick one up from a dealer if you don't want any.
  • Gentoo Linux users were criticized for being "ricers" since Gentoo requires manually compiling all packages but the compile options were configurable. This led to many users trying to use experimental options that ran the risk of reducing stability.
  • Likewise, regular PC users since the Windows XP era are putting stuff like Rainmeter and Wallpaper Engine to put on, respectively, customized UI and interactive wallpapers including looping and playing videos. Unsurprisingly this can strain performance, although in case of Rainmeter and depending on the scripting, possibly less so.
  • On the outlier, some PC users are known to spend more for RGB-lit keyboard, mouse, and case rather than actual performance hardware.
  • In Japan, the Bosozoku gangs take this trope and run with their Thememobiles. This is one of the tamer examples.
  • And as if ricing cars wasn't enough, Japan also has Dekotora, ricing out semi-trucks. All the flash of the Las Vegas strip on 18 wheels.
  • The Rat Rod culture is an inversion of this trope. They take the framework of any 1920s-1960s era car scavenged from the various junkyards they can get to and install only a high-performance engine and other goodies into the hood (sometimes without it), revamping the upholstery, suspension system, and tires while leaving the rusty bodywork untouched to give off a pretty unflattering and homely take of The Aesthetics of Technology, as well as parodying the Hot Rod culture. Most of the time, the rusted frames they use have little to no restoration value, meaning they would otherwise have gone to scrap or simply rotted away. Sometimes, a skilled driver will even put effort into protecting what little is left of the chassis, before going back over it with artificial weathering to give it an appearance that belies its actual performance on the track. Suffice to say, however, many of these cars are by no means road-legal and are only allowed to run on the track.
  • "Rolling coal" is a variation, originally intended to make a pickup truck seem stronger, inspired by power- and smoke-increasing modifications in tractor pulling vehicles. Nowadays, it is often justified as a way of irritating hippies and anyone else who cares about air quality, and especially (as "Prius repellent") for use against the Toyota Prius and other hybrid and electric vehicles. Such modifications almost invariably void the manufacturer's warranty and can cause engine damage. It is also highly illegal, and many jurisdictions will subject anyone who is caught with coal-rolling mods in their truck to massive fines.
  • Opel made a concept car based on their Corsa (link in German) that was apparently supposed to be a moon buggy but ended up looking like somebody replacing the wheels of a city car into monster truck wheels instead. Given that the Corsa, whether manufactured by Opel in Europe or under the Vauxhall badge in the United Kingdom, is already well-known for being a target of rice burner modifications, one can only argue that Opel managed to rice their own car!
  • The 2020s have seen the birth of the "crossover" car; essentially a standard small hatchback but with a "ruggedised" exterior and a small amount of extra ride height, giving the cosmetic appearance of being an SUV or a rally car, but in reality being just a standard hatchback which is either only marginally more suited to going offroad or rallycross events than the standard model, or not at all. Examples include the Honda Jazz/Fit Crosstar (essentially just a slightly ruggedised Honda Jazz hybrid, albeit a top spec one) and the Ford Fiesta Active (a slightly ruggedised Ford Fiesta).

Alternative Title(s): Chaviot, Ricer, Kraut Burner, Wheat Burner