Stanced Cars: The Automotive's Love/Hate Relationship
What is Stance?
I once googled “stance” on the internet and UrbanDictionary.com came up with the following description:
Definition: To destroy a cars handling abilities by having it lowered an excessive amount.
"Typically, the tires are tucked way inside the vehicles fenders. But in order to have a hellaflush stance and run the required excessively wide wheels with tires that are stretched just to fit onto the wheels, the car has to have an excessive amount of negative camber. If you stand behind one of these cars don't be surprised to see the rear tires looking like "/ \". The rear tires are probably bald on the inside and the outside still looks brand new, and there's probably only an inch of contact patch with the ground. A hellaflush stance car can't even pull into a driveway without bottoming out and ripping the bumper off or cracking the vehicles oil pan. Some stanced cars are so extreme that you can’t even turn the vehicles steering wheel fully in either direction without the tires rubbing.”
That pretty much sums it up. Ok, I’m kidding… well, not really.
Most people have a love or hate relationship with “stance”. You either have a “stanced” car and love it, or you don’t own a stanced car and for the life of you can’t figure out why someone would do such a thing to their car. Enthusiasts who see a stance car for the first time are both amazed and confused at the same time. They wonder, has the car been dropped off it’s axels? Are the tires flat or broken? How is this car not scratched up? What is wrong with those wheels? But usually what comes to mind is, “How the hell did that car drive to this car show, and what does it look like when it drives away?”
Stance VS Low Riders
A “stanced” car is not the same as a car that’s simply been lowered. In motorsports, lower and wider is key on the track. A lower center of gravity paired with a wide track means better handling. This state of mind has been adopted in many sports cars for the ultimate driving experience. Lowering your vehicle and widening its footprint can improve handling and give excellent cornering feel. This has absolutely nothing to do with “stance” what-so-ever. All functionality goes out the window for appearance. It takes a much grander effort of ridiculousness to achieve stance, which has little purpose to the car’s function, and will forever impede the car’s drivability.
The basis of stance culture, besides guaranteeing that you will never be able to pull into your own driveway again, is reducing of a car’s clearance. It’s to create a clearance so low, that a pebble, leaf, or twig will leave it’s mark beneath your bumper. Road kill or a curb? Well, that will tear it clear off. In the car community, stance is, by definition, “aggressive fitment” of wheels and tires combined with lowering your car to achieve this look. Stance is basically the way a car sits.
Some stanced cars, (lets be real, all stanced cars) are lowered and modified to the point that driving them is a challenge, and they become more of a show car that turns up to car meets then a reliable, practical vehicle for everyday use. This is where the term “hard-parked” comes in. While I’m sure that the car is hard to park in situations, the label actually means that the car is mostly parked at shows rather than being used for regular or performance driving. Basically, that the car is PARKED because it’s HARD to do anything else with it including driving.
Some other Stance Vocabulary:
Poke: When your rims poke out of your tire that’s stretched so thin it barely covers the wheels.
Tuck: When your car is stanced in a way that the top of your wheel looks like it’s tucked under the fender.
Bagged: When you’ve got air ride in your stance.
Static: When you can’t afford air ride.
How to Stance a Car
Best part of stancing your car is you’ll never need to put any money into tuning it. All of that just goes out the window. Still interested? Well, here’s how you do it:
Step 1: Achieve Aggressive Fitment of Wheels and Tires
Aggressive fitment refers to the extremity of which the wheel is fit to the car and its fitting in relation to the car’s fenders. In the stance scene, the more extreme, the better. Enthusiasts lower the car as far as they can while running wide wheels with negative offsets. Stance is all about pushing the limits of fitment, so negative camber paired with stretched tires are used to fit the wheels as close to (or right up into) the car’s fender.
You achieve aggressive fitment by utilizing stretched tires, low offset, and wide wheels. In order to tuck your tires into your fender well and have your wheels sit flush with the fender line, you need to have a stretched tire. The amount of stretch you do with the tire is up to you. The terms “flush,” “hellaflush,” and “poke” are desired “aggressive look” results achieved. You can use spacers to fine tune the fitment. Wheel spacers and longer mounting hardware push your wheels out to get that nice flush look. While the wheel is mounted, you can measure from the rim lip to the fender and then grab the necessary spacers and extended wheel studs to compensate. However, spacers and longer hardware have been known to be unreliable and even cause damage to the hub if you cheap out, so open those wallets to be safe.
In some states it is illegal to have your wheel pushed past your fender, so either extend those bad boys or keep it flush.
If you think your new look deserves new wheels, do some homework first. Calculating the correct offsets and wheel widths you need are important to make sure your new purchase isn’t too wide or too offset for your setup. Shaving your calipers and bits of your suspension is not advised.
Step 2: Lowering Your Car
Step 1 only involves wheels and tires. To take it to the next level, you’ll need to do some kind of suspension tweaking so that the wheels and tires will sit flush with your fender (or out, if you choose). Basically you need to change your suspension and lower your car.
There are three ways most stance addicts do this:
The first and most cost effective is lowering springs. Lowering springs will get you to a set height, but you’re now stuck at that height, which is called static. Getting some sport dampers is a smart buy as well. Stock shocks can’t handle a lower spring they weren’t built for in the first place, and before you know it you’ll be riding on blown suspension.
Coil-overs are the next step up and cost a little more, but most stancers feel that it’s worth it. You get the damper and spring in one, but you’re not limited to just one height. You are still static, but only until you can jack up your car and adjust the height to whatever craziness you desire. This is the most popular choice amongst the stance crowd and not a ton more expensive. It’s worth the wait. The look of being flush or hellaflush and achieving some kind of “poke” is harder to achieve with this option. You will earn more street credit in the community by going this route, but it’s definitely harder to achieve. A down side to coilovers is that they limit where you can drive your vehicle. Speed bumps become a problem, as well as your own driveway, a pothole, a street crack, a ramp, any sort of incline what-so-ever.
The final option – for all you ballers out there – is an air suspension system. Your springs and shocks are replaced with air bags that are fed the appropriate amount of air pressure needed for your desired height, courtesy of an air management system mounted in the rear of your car. Most air systems are programmable, meaning you can preset ride heights for different scenarios and change them on the fly. Be the envy of all your friends by being able to go over speed bumps and get back into your driveway without using a pair of 2x4s. You can also achieve a better level of flush because you can lower your car more this way than with coil overs.
If you need to go lower, you can decide to camber. Negative camber will move the tops of your wheels inward, allowing them to be tucked inside the fenders. Excessive camber can cause abnormal tire wear and even suspension problems, so make sure you check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Are Stanced Cars Dangerous?
While a stanced car can look pretty cool at times there are major issues. Cars that are sold to regular consumers are not race cars. To make the car handle at its best, engineers lower and widen the race car’s stance and reinforce the hubs and bearings, while completely redesigning the geometry of the suspension to compensate. Maxing out your coil-overs and over-cambering is upsetting the factory suspension geometry that the manufacturer feels will provide the best steering response. Messing with the factory setup to such an extreme degree can leave you with less responsive and less stable steering, while at the same time increasing body roll. While your deep-dish wheels with polished lips might look sweet, you have to worry about all that rubbing without any of that clearance. Depending on the size of the bump or hole you just drove over, your wheels and tires are more susceptible to damage. Damage to your rim, fender and tire sidewall all become causes for concern. Plus your stretched tires mean you can say hello to an increased chance of de-beading, or even, I don’t know, blowing your tires? To top it off, rocking the camber look leads to decreased contact your tires have with the road which means less traction.
We won’t even talk about the damage that will happen to your car while driving on every day roads. That being said, how dangerous is it really? Well, limiting your ability to drive on roads, go over bumps, up driveways or even turn, with the possibility at all times of ripping off your bumper or blowing a tire… honestly no more dangerous than amping up a car’s performance and recklessly street racing it. In fact, you’re more likely to have a fatal death in a race car then a stanced car you don’t really, (because you can’t) drive anywhere.
Stance enthusiasts have learned to drive lower and slower to express their creativity and individuality in tuning. Not many stanced cars are attacking corners or clipping apexes; instead they’re cruising to meets. To them, stance is all about standing out and getting reactions and expressing their individuality.
A Stance on Stance
Stance is a confusing thing for some people while others follow it blindly like the second coming of Christ. While searching the internet to understand this phenomenon better I found some interesting “stances” on stanced vehicles that gave me more tolerance to the ridiculous movement.
“So over people hating on “stanced” cars. Get over it! It’s how cars are meant to look if our roads were perfectly smooth!”
Ehh….. no. Not buying this one.
"Girls wear heels that hurt. Guys drive cars that scrape. Beauty over pain, form over function.”
Ok, so some of our female staff members can relate to this one.
"It doesn't have to make sense man, that's exactly the point here. I like scraping. I like slamming. I like feeling like I drive a rolling expression of the vision I have in mind. It's an art to me (us). That's all it comes down to. You want to build a motor and go fast, I want to lay frame, bagged or static. You throw rods through blocks and blow turbos, I destroy subframes and annihilate oil pans. You wear through tires doing burnouts because they're fun and make people stop and look, I run negative camber and do the same thing. It's all perspective. It’s a wear and tear hobby on either end, it’s all subjective to personal taste and where you feel it's worth spending money again and again."
"I don't think its really about function, its about creativity, standing out. Not very often do you find 2 of the same vehicles.. With options like exhaust, rims, offset, height, style, color, tint, kits, skirts, and spoilers. Why join the crowd when you could turn a car many have, Into your own... Its originality, creativity, and personally I love it.”
Alright… we finally get it. As ridiculous as it is functionality-wise, rendering your vehicle useless in many real-life scenarios, it’s an art to it’s following. A form of creativity and individuality. A hobby and a source of personal expression… and there’s a place for it in the automotive community, despite the haters. Not everyone will love them, or understand them, but we do ask you to respect them and the hard work and modifications that do go into these vehicles, (not race cars, not hot rods, not rally cars, not 3 second cars, not dragsters) they’re works of art and personal expression in the automotive community. Appreciate them for their style, creativity and craftsmanship over function, and you’re still free to continue to tune up and mod out your ricer up to it’s 4.1 second max. And for you haters who are simply confused - don’t be intimidated by their aggressive stance, you’ll never lose a race to one.