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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 widely available car that has had its outer body modified to give the impression of a high performance vehicle.

Aesthetics such as large tailpipes, or “fart cannons,” spoilers, fake hood scoops, big rims, neon lighting strips, imitation badging, fake decals, loud exhaust systems, bright neon paint, and racing stripes ("go faster stripes") are added in an attempt to look fast and emulate professional race cars.

These modifications do not necessarily mean the car has any high performance capabilities. In fact, lowered suspensions, low-profile tires or poorly applied body kits can even add excessive weight and reduce the performance of these cars. Actual race cars have special low-weight bodies which are simply an extension of the car within, more than offseting any losses due to the excess material. Just adding the outer molding won't magically improve the engine. And since race cars don't have to deal with speedbumps or potholes, lowered suspensions and low-profile tires are just asking to be shredded on an average road.

The name may derive from the fact the cars so modified tend to be underpowered Japanese imports, especially Honda coupes. They are also called ricers, rice rockets, rice cars or rice cookers, all terms that should be used with caution because they have Unfortunate Implications, especially if the driver is Asian. The terms, however, originally refer to Japanese cars in general, just like how Italian cars are called pasta rockets for just being Italian. Similar American cars are sometimes given the appellation of wheat burner. In the UK, these cars are said to have been "chavved up," a term which should also be used with caution, as it is considered a derogatory term for a Lower Class Lout. (The drivers have been known for decades as "boy racers".) It has been claimed that the term RICE is an acronym for "Race Inspired Cosmetic Enhancement", but this is likely a backronym.

Such a vehicle contrasts sharply with a “Sleeper” or “Stealth” (known in the UK as a “Q-car” by extension from the naval “Q-ship,”) where the engine, brakes, suspension etc. have high performance modifications, but the outer appearance is of an ordinary stock model, even with body damage or rust.

A Sub-Trope of Pimped-Out Car. Many times invoked/parodied/referenced as an argument against car modification in general.

See also Itasha for the Otaku variant.

Examples of Rice Burner include:


  • 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.
  • A series of T-Mobile To Go commercials made fun of this trope, creating a Poser Mobile with a super low profile, gold/flourescent paint, giant "hood rocket," and roof and rear spoiler. The car featured was a E80 generation Toyota Corolla coupe.
  • 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 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.

Anime and Manga

  • Takumi Fujiwara's car in Initial D is an aversion to the trope (the only cosmetic changes it undergoes are work-related; the car doubles as a delivery car). The series as a whole has examples that span the entire range between Rice Burner and Sleeper Car.
    • Later on in the series, it does get at least one Rice Burner 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 - to make him see reason.


  • Although all the cars in The Fast and the Furious are high performance, they are commonly accused of responsibility for promoting this in real life.
  • The Delinquent Road Hazards in the Pixar film Cars are rice burners who bump Mack around on the road.
  • Mocked in Da Ali G Movie, when he and his posse "race" them down the mean streets, careful to stay within the speed limit at all times.
  • Inspector Clouseau's car in The Pink Panther
  • The Honda Civic in Gran Torino is a perfect example of this trope. Fear that this will happen to the title car manages to sneak into the will-reading at the end.

Live Action TV

  • MTV's Pimp My Ride is largely based on this trope.
    • The difference is, though, that those customizations are done by professionals who know how to finely tune the car's performance to make the spoilers practical.
    • However, that didn't prevent the producers from suggesting extremely inane and impractical modifications like having an in-car fishtank or a set of PSP conveyor belts in the trunk, the source of the "Yo dawg, I heard you like X" meme. This lead to West Coast Customs leaving the show.
  • Evaluated on Top Gear, when the presenters attempt to get a Renault Avantime as fast as a Mitsubishi Evo. In addition to more thoroughgoing work like adding new brakes and suspension, Richard Hammond bolts on a large spoiler (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 an 1963 Austin Healey Sprite. In keeping with the trope, the Healey won it.
      • However, the race was pretty close and 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. Needless to say, it didn't stay attached very long.

Tabletop Games

  • Subverted by Ork vehicles in Warhammer 40000: A carefully chosen paint job can really make them faster.

Video Games

  • Every Need for Speed game from Underground to Undercover. Especially when you do it without putting any actual performance upgrades into the car first.
    • Worst of all, they don't affect performance whatsover - 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.
    • Originally it was possible to create one in No Limits. Customization can be purchased with a special currency known as "visual points" and provide no impact on performance. However, after the removal of visual points, modifications can only be unlocked by staging up (and thereby enhancing the performance of) the car.
      • In the HotWheels special event, Chris ended up making a rice burner out of his Nissan 180SX. Instead of focusing on getting superior parts, Chris spent all of his efforts on installing bodykits, getting a bigger spoiler and a cooler paint job. The results are predictable: he repeatedly gets left in the dust by the player's bland yet powerful Toyota Crown Comfort.
  • 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 riced vehicles. The AI becomes more tasteful about designing their rides in Los Angeles, though.
    • 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?
  • 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 arcade The Fast and the Furious game and its sequel are Cruis'n WITH RICE!
  • Chan Jaoming seems to embody this spirit in Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars. During one mission Huang has to disabled 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 Saints Row 2, absurdly extravagant modifications are available for pimping out the most mediocre rides.

Web Original

 "If all the modifications are useless and possibly counterproductive, it's what my people call a "rice rocket." You probably have to call it something else, or else you're a racist."

Real Life

  • There was a time when Volvo thought a great way of patronizing a whole generation of buyers was by releasing versions of their cars that came prepackaged with this crap.
  • Some PC enthusiasts use "ricer" as a term referring to extravagantly pimped-out PCs where people have paid a fortune to load up on cosmetic things like LEDs, when that money could have gone towards actually improving performance.
  • In Japan, the Bosozoku gangs take this trope and run with it it. This is one of the tamer examples.
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