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Ricer Cars: Meaning, Common Signs & History

Ricer cars started becoming popular in the early 2000s and are strongly inspired by the Fast and Furious movies. However, the word ricer is odd, and it doesn’t come from saying ‘racer’ with a weird accent. So, what is a ricer car?

Ricer cars have been cosmetically modified to appear as high-performance vehicles. The acronym RICE stands for Race-Inspired Cosmetic Modification. Unfortunately, the modifications on ricer cars are often not professionally done, and the vehicle is usually more bark than bite.

Since many ricer cars are made in Asia, the term ‘ricer’ can seem derogatory since rice is a staple food for many Asians.

However, any type of car from any country can ‘go under the knife’ to be classified as a ricer – from slow Asian hatchbacks to Italian Lamborghinis. It boils down to a matter of personal taste.

What Makes A Car A Ricer Car?

A ricer car is a vehicle that has been cosmetically modified to look and sound like it is a high-performance car and get some attention.

However, the modifications do not make the car faster – just flashier and louder. The changes can be outrageous and sometimes make the vehicle quite unsafe.

Ricer cars are also known as rice rockets or rice burners. RICE is an acronym for Race-Inspired Cosmetic Enhancements. However, some folks use the acronym to describe the drivers as Ridiculously Immature (or Insane) Car Enthusiasts.

There are plenty of modified and customized cars; sometimes, the line dividing modified performance (tuner) and ricer cars can be a little blurry. So let’s look at some tell-tale signs of a ricer car.

8 Tell-Tale Signs Of A Ricer Car

If a car has been modified with some after-market parts, it doesn’t automatically make it a ricer car.

The body kits on ricer cars are usually on the excessive side. They do little to nothing to improve the performance of the vehicle.

Here are 8 tell-tale signs of a ricer car.

1. The Exhaust System Is Loud And Big

For most petrol heads, the sound of high-performance cars is pretty fine when you hear them pushing up those revs.

To imitate this, ricer cars have adapted exhaust systems to sound loud and look intimidating. However, according to this video, the exhaust of a ricer car sounds more like a cheap Weed Wacker.

2. There Are Lots Of Vents And Scoops – Even Fake Ones

Fast cars need lots of cool air to keep their engines from overheating and to maximize combustion. Ricer cars often have fake vents and scoops attached to various parts just to look cool.

Some have real air scoops (meaning a hole in the hood) or no hood!

3. Spoilers Or Racing Wings For Extra…Drag

Racing wings or spoilers are best designed by engineers who have studied aerodynamics. The purpose of spoilers is to reduce drag and promote downforce on speeding cars.

However, many ricer cars have homemade spoilers that could fit on a plane. Moreover, they are often not correctly aligned and can cause more of a safety hazard and increase drag.

4. Fake Badges And Excessive Stickers

A popular misdemeanor is adding an M on a non-M-series BMW or AMG on a non-AMG Merc. Some ricers will mix and match body parts and badges so much that you will only know what the car is (was) if you open the hood.

Ricer cars are usually embellished with excessive stickers to look like they have sponsors (motor oil etc.) or that the driver buys expensive brands. Alternatively, some car panels will be so covered in stickers that it looks like they may be keeping the car together.

5. The Rims And Wheels Are OTT

The rims and wheels of ricer cars are often over the top. For example, the wheels might have spacers to make them stick out beyond the fenders to look more aggressive.

But generally, ricer cars aren’t fitted with expensive tires because they’re not meant for high-performance driving.

The rims or mags may appear expensive, but that is often not the case. Instead, they might sheer apart at the slightest provocation, aka a speedbump. They may also be ‘custom’ in that they are colorful, patterned, or blingy.

6. Chicken Wire Body Kit For Lower Suspension

Faster cars are lower to the ground to be more aerodynamic. So, if a ricer car hasn’t already got lowered suspension, it may very well have a body kit that gives the appearance of lower suspension. And yes, chicken wire mesh is used for aesthetic and fiberglass construction purposes in ricer cars.

7. Lights Fit For A Carnival

Stock-standard lights are so pre-ricer car. If you’re driving a ricer, you want to be noticed. Seen and heard. Ricer cars often have LED lights instead of standard headlights.

These LED lights are not limited to the front of the vehicle, either. For extra visibility, ricer cars may also don some under-glow lights and some clear taillights and flickers to wow the crowds.

8. A Remodeled Race-Car Interior

Race cars need to be as lightweight as possible for enhanced performance. So, despite all the extra weight from the body kits added to ricer cars, some are stripped of ‘unnecessary’ interior objects like consoles or passenger seats.

This is to make the ricer look more like a race car inside, but that’s the sum unless bucket seats are installed, and the interior has been spraypainted.

The Difference Between A Ricer Car And A Tuner

Tuner cars are similar to ricer cars because they have cosmetic modifications. However, the alterations to tuners are more functional than for the sake of appearances. The cosmetic changes to tuner cars make them perform better and get the most out of their engines.

The after-market products used on tuner cars are usually more expensive and of better quality than those on ricer cars because of the functions, they need to perform.

For example, tuner cars will have better quality tires, rims, and real scoops and vents. In addition, the stickers or branding on tuner cars are more likely to be legitimate.

Are All Ricer Cars JDMs?

JDM cars are Japanese Domestic Market cars. JDMs are specifically designed for the Japanese market to fit into the laws they have surrounding vehicle longevity and emissions, amongst other things.

On the other hand, cars exported from Japan are usually made according to the specs of their destination. So, in theory, they are not Japanese Domestic Market vehicles or JDMs.

A common misconception is that all ricer cars are imported Asian-made, but that is not the case. While many Hondas, Subarus, or Mitsubishis are riced, there are domestic cars that get this type of cosmetic surgery too.

These predominantly include Chevrolet Cavaliers, Ford Focuses, and Dodge Neons, while BMWs and Mercedes also get riced.


Ricer cars have cosmetic modifications that are race-inspired. Sometimes ricer cars are the laughingstock of car meets with their outlandish and impractical modifications.

The mods can be subtle or obvious and will usually not improve the car’s performance.

However, despite being impractical, the drivers of these cars seem to enjoy the attention they draw, which is the purpose.