With the whole stance scene, I thought it might be worthwhile to weigh in on the trend from a track/functional guy's viewpoint. For those not in the know, “stance” involves lowering a car as close to the ground as possible. An owner will use the widest possible wheels on stretched tires. The style can vary slightly from car to car with different wheel sizes, how flush the wheel sits with the body, and how low the chassis is to the ground. The overall look can range from fairly conservative to completely over the top. This style has been around for a while now, and it has really become popular within the show car community. It's here to stay and most likely won't be fading out any time soon. Your local car show might have one that looks something like this...
Now if you know me, I’m not really a show car person. I’m more of a die-hard function-over- form track guy. I race several cars which I've built from the shell up. When this style first came about, I didn’t really understand the purpose of it. I thought that value was to be found purely in the function of a car. With the stance style, nothing was really functional and it all looked a bit ridiculous. I thought it sacrificed the joy of driving fast on a winding road or track solely for looks. To this day I still don’t quite understand it, but I’m willing to be open- minded.
With the import scene, it would appear that most cars fall into one of two categories. On one hand, we have the stance style and on the other we have the more track-inspired look. From what I can tell, cars only meant for show really don’t have to be functional at all. It’s a contest to see which cars can stand out the most. If I’m completely honest, most of the stance cars really do stand out because they’re so different. Most of the owners who prefer function over form may not understand the style either, but if we really think about it, the functional cars are at the car show for the same purpose as the stance cars. Both owners are attempting to perfect a specific look in their entries. From the exhibition perspective alone, I can understand the point of creating a stance car. It’s creative, different, and is atypical from what a normal car should look like. This is assuming these stance cars are only for show.
However, I do have a problem with the stance scene in regards to the static versus air bag debate. Currently, the norm for a car in the stance community will most likely be static. This means that the car will always be at the height you see at the car show. While it may be impressive to see the lengths, or should I say heights, at which one person is willing to go for a specific look, this is where the stance community as a whole stops making sense to me.
I'm sure you've seen time and time again where someone will brag about being the lowest or having the most camber running on coilovers, instantly posting on social media to prove that they’ve accomplished something amazing. Typically, they will be very cheap coilovers, ranging from Racelands, Function/Form, Yonaka, and so on. Their only claim to fame is how low did they go. I've also noticed that most of the people who take the coilover idea to the extreme are not necessarily using them in very nice cars either. A large majority of them I see pics of are Acura/Hondas, Mazdas, or Volkswagens, often in very poor condition.
I have no problem whatsoever with these entries in a show car setting. It makes little difference if they’re on coilovers or air bags while sitting still. They’re simply judged according to what they look like and not how functional they are to drive. They're enjoyable to look at for the pure spectacle of it. However, what admiration the stance car enjoys at the Saturday morning car show does not always translate into respect on the street.
Some in the stance scene expect to be applauded simply for lowering their car to the ground on coilovers. They may believe their car is the lowest car in the world. Maybe it has 45 degrees of negative camber and there's nothing else like it. However, the seemingly exotic stance car does not translate well as a mode of transportation to get you from point A to point B. It has succeeded very well at being a show car, but fails in every possible way at being a drivable vehicle. The static lowered crowd enjoy their esthetic and demand respect for it, and not just when the car is sitting still.
This is my real issue with the stance perspective. Demanding respect for doing something destructive and a bit stupid such as scraping your chassis on the ground everywhere you go is a bit like walking barefoot on 100 degree pavement. There might be some head shaking at the poor guy who doesn't have enough sense to wear shoes, but to an observer, the actual solution is very simple. In the same way, it's hard to be impressed by a stance car because people can not only see, but will hear the scrapes due to the height of the car. It’s not going to be a pretty sight when viewed underneath, in the same way as scorched feet might make us wince.
The design of each stance car is unique; some can get away with more than others, but there is always a limit. Physics cannot be denied. The car will scrape. This is why many functional track car guys don’t like the stance scene. It’s not that the look is unappealing, but rather that the very same people who profess great pride in their cars belittle that fact by abusing their cars on the road.
Many people in the stance crowd claim that static is the pure way to go and that air bags are somehow a cop out. I would have to disagree as I think doing hardly any fab work and slamming the car to the ground is far more of a shortcut. There is no work involved and nothing clever going on in that route. I would have far more respect for someone who did work to relocate brake lines or fuel lines, possibly raising the engine and transmission linkage, or perhaps fabricating a new subframe or control arms to achieve the desired look. Overhauls like this would actually be clever because there would be a hidden functionality to a car which might appear from the surface to be only ornamental. These changes costs time and money. The far cheaper route is to slam the car and try to get what respect one can from the look of the lowered car.
Multi-purpose and clever builds are impressive to me, but I've always maintained that form should follow function and not precede it. I might be admiring your stance car at the curb, but shaking my head at your folly on the road. This is my conundrum.
Photos taken locally by Max Lo - https://www.facebook.com/maxloautophotography/