Story: Evan “Evo” Yates
Photography: Jordan Donnelly
It could be argued that, across all automotive genres, a vehicle’s stance is the most important attribute. True, indeed; paint, interior and drivetrain are vital components that should never be taken lightly, but if it ain’t sittin’ right on the right rims with the right fitment, that other stuff doesn’t matter. As Mike Forsythe from Vossen Wheels says, “Stance is like a tailored suit; that precision and attention to detail is undoubtedly appreciated by enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike!”
The term “stance” means different things to different people. To a muscle-car enthusiast, the traditional rake is the only option, with its nose slammed to the pavement, ass end sticking up, extra-wide rubber out back. To the big-rimmed old-school contingent, the proper stance is the opposite, with the ass slammed and the nose up, projecting the laid-back flow that mirrors the swagger of the genre perfectly. And to the import crowd, stance is a bit more complicated, but in basic terms: The car needs to be as low as possible on all four corners, with the wheels sitting as flush with the fenders as possible.
While no true definition can be made, RIDES went out in search of the common ground and asked people who live, eat and breathe the scene what stance means to them.
Although there are varying opinions on how and when the import Stance scene began, it’s thriving. And as all the experts agree, it’s due to the Internet spreading the stance gospel like wildfire. Elvis Skender, founder of the popular Stance:Nation website, explains, “Aggressive fitment has been around for decades. The Euro crowd will tell you that it all started back in Germany, while the import crowd will praise Japan. Hell, even the domestics were running somewhat stretched tires and aggressive wheel fitment decades ago on their hot rods. It’s nothing new, really. The only difference between today and 30-plus years ago is the power of the Internet, and how easy it is for a photo to travel from one side of the country to the other.”
As to what constitutes the “perfect stance,” the enthusiasts concur it depends on numerous factors, but it’s primarily the vehicle’s limitations and personal preference. “Perfect stance to me means zero wheel gap and slightly stretched tires, so the rim can be flush with the outer fender line,” explains owner of Slammered-Inc, Danny Colavecchio.
“My perfect stance is relative to how low my car can go, and how much of the rim I can fit under the fender,” says Jordan Donnelly, Slammered photographer and V2Lab.com contributor. Achieving this stance is more of an art form, which makes the stance/aggressive fitment movement that much more interesting, as there’s clearly more involved than just cutting your coils, adding fender flares and slapping wide wheels on. “Fitment is an art,” says Slammered’s Donnelly. “I prefer my Air Lift Performance air suspension over coilovers or springs mainly for the practicality, as my car is a daily driver, but also for the fact that it can lower my car significantly more than coilovers.”
As Danny from Slammered explains, it’s not magic, it’s science. “It starts off with a good suspension—usually coilovers or bags. With the suspension in place, you can adjust it to get the height just right.” Danny continues, “Most people think it’s black magic, but it’s not; it’s just some basic measurements. Most people try to fit the widest wheel with the biggest lip possible under the fender. The tire is usually a result of what space is left.” Elvis contends that although air may look better parked, coilovers are best for those epic rolling shots you see all over the ’Net. “The majority of the cars in our community tend to run coilovers, though there are plenty who choose to go air,” Elvis says. “You can obviously achieve a better stance with air suspension, but in most cases, cars with coilovers look better when rolling, since you can’t drive as low with bags.”
The most common bond for all brothers of stance, no matter the genre, is that they all subscribe to the “form is greater than function” mantra in achieving the perfect stance; drivability and performance must suffer to some extent. “The majority of us in this aggressive fitment/stance scene couldn’t care less about function,” explains Stance:Nation’s Elvis. “Most of us don’t track our cars and couldn’t care less about not having the ‘full-contact patch’ on our tires. We do it for looks and attention, and we do it because we can.”
Vossen’s Mike Forsythe also adds that, in milder applications, you can find a happy medium. “A lot of stanced cars are very drivable,” says Mike. “It’s not like the stance crowd is towing their cars to meets and shows!” And as with any major modifications, there are downfalls, which most in the community accept as part of the culture. “Rubbing, scraping, camber wear on the tires, hitting subframe, smashing oil pans—it’s all part of the lifestyle,” says Slammered’s Donnelly. “You obviously try to avoid all of these things, but when you want to run a stance like that, it is inevitable.”
Stance is a fairly new concept for the big-rim game due to its age. The early 2000s were the era of simply fitting the largest rim possible, no matter the lift, nip or tuck necessary. Now that the game has evolved, people are not only incorporating the larger wheels but having them tucked under their rides via skinny tires and other methods. The generally accepted stance (at least in the South, where the scene thrives) is known as “squatting,” with the rear end slammed as low as possible and the nose peeking up a bit, chin up, snarling, if you will. The ATL king of “Squattage,” John “JT” Thompson, explains, “The perfect stance on an old-school is when the front of the car is lifted just enough to clear the turning radius that you need for the front wheels, and the lower you can get the back of the car without messing up the tires, the better.” He continues, “My rule of thumb is if you have a car with skirts, like a Donk, then your skirt should cover at least 50 percent of your rim, right above the center caps. If you have a Box or any other old-school without skirts, your goal needs to be to at least cover the top of the back wheel.”
The owner of Infamous Customs in Miami, Jose Vargas, likes to think of stance as a subtle yet extremely important characteristic. “The stance is what you always notice without really noticing it,” Jose proclaims. “The perfect stance follows the line and style of the car.” The methods by which those achieve this stance vary considerably, ranging from something you can do in your garage in a weekend to a major overhaul, mostly depending on the wheel diameter, width and how low you strive to squat. In some cases, simply a shorter spring in the rear and mild trimming inside will suffice, or you can take it to the next level by mini-tubbing the rear, swapping out the suspension or even bagging it. The signature squatted stance has become so popular, there is even a loose faction coined “Squat Nation”—sound familiar?
Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, slant-back old-schools and stretch-and-poke tuners actually have more in common than you would think, as they both subscribe to the same aesthetic-based mentality, and they both catch much hate from their performance-only counterparts.