Cars 101: How to live the “Low Life”

Slammed Honda Accord Coupe
Slammed Honda Accord Coupe by Dan Valanzola

Have you ever been so stoned that you wondered, “Hey, what if my car… and the ground… were the same thing?”

Evidently, someone asked that very question at some point, and the stance craze was born. Slammed cars have all but replaced ricers as the automotive fad of choice, and now everyone wants to be “Hella Flush” in their mom’s Jetta.

It is a movement based entirely around vanity, compromising practical functionality in the name of style and form. There comes with it a rebellious undertone, projecting a level of pride in deviating from the automotive norm. Most people won’t “get it”, and that is the whole point.

So how does one go about conforming to the non-conformity of the Stance Movement? There is a lot more to it than just lowering your car, although that is an inevitability that you might as well just get out of the way. As said by Stance Works, “Low is a lifestyle”, so you’ve gotta really love it to live it low, bro.

Slammed Audi S4 Avant  Slammed VW Beetle

I’ve been to many shows that feature slammed cars, and let’s just say that the culture is distinctive, but many of the people seem indistinguishable. Flat-brim hats are everywhere, the pungent smell of marijuana often permeates the air, and for some reason everyone still uses Fast and the Furious lingo to communicate, like “Yo, my boy just hooked up his GTI.” — “Oh for real? That sounds dope, bro.” — “Nah man, his jawn is mad beat. I hate it, but its still pretty sick, though.”

The custom at such shows seems to be that a group of identical looking friends will all observe a car together. One member of the group will make a positive comment about the vehicle, and then the rest of the group will respond by saying “What, are you talking about this monster truck? It’s not even low, bro.” This proves to your fellow group mate that their standards are inferior, and will often spark heated debates among group members as to what “low” in fact is.

Getting back to that dank aroma of the cannabis plant, understanding high driving offers insight into why people deal with driving cars that have no ground clearance. People tend to drive slowly when they’re stoned, and slammed cars are really all about kicking back and just cruising anyway. Slamming a car also makes slow driving much more entertaining because seemingly small inconsistencies in the road become huge obstacles that you must negotiate through. This turns the world into a labyrinth that can provide hours of entertainment, all while listening to your favorite music on the radio. In addition, having a low car gives you a valid excuse if a cop stops you for driving too slowly or swerving. Just tell him that you had to dodge a bump in the road to avoid scraping and you’ll be “all good”, as they say.

While the people of this culture seem generically bro-ish, their cars can really stand out. Frankly, the whole Stance Movement is really just an evolution of Low Rider, Hot Rod and VIP cultures, but with new segments come new things. The car becomes an art form, and many people go far past wheels and suspension in their customization.

I will say the beauty of Stance is its inclusiveness, any type of car can be a part of it. Sure, it is predominantly things like Volkswagens and Hondas, but I have seen the occasional slammed exotics, muscle cars, and classics. It is one of the few car cultures that isn’t really all that classist, you can do it in a $1000 Nissan or a $100,000 BMW. How a car is judged is based more upon the amount that the owner has put into it rather than the type of car it is. A flashy, expensive car usually gives you a nice, sophisticated design to work with, but that’s about it.

350Z with froggy stance; courtesy of Stanceworks.com

Having said all that, I personally cannot stand seeing legitimate high performance cars with ruined suspensions. And before any of you start saying, “But it lowers the center of gravity”, you need to realize that a suspension has to be able to load up properly in order to function. In the setting of the real world, with lots of bumps and dips, having no suspension travel is a massive hinderance to handling performance. So, when I see a rally style car like a Subaru STi slammed to the ground with its wheels poking out, I cringe and see red. I don’t care if the car is sponsored by Canibeat because all I’m thinking is “can-i-beat the owner over the head, please?”

The other thing I don’t get, are the people who drive around with their wheels poking way out from the side of the car. They just look like a goofy frog rolling down the road, not some cleanly modified cruiser. I’m all for taking things to the next level, but there comes a point when the line between innovation and idiocy is crossed.

With my grievances voiced, I do admit that a cleanly slammed car, with the right amount of stance and wheel gap, is one of the finer looking automobiles you’ll see. Such cars look phenomenal in photographs, and have a presence on the road that demands respect. It is those cars that hold my personal interest. Every car culture has people that do things both poorly and extremely well, but for slammed cars the gap between them seems greater to me.

Slammed BMW E30  Slammed Mk5 VW Jetta

So getting into the Stance scene is about more than just dropping your car and wearing a flat-brim-bro hat. It is really all about making a commitment to doing things well. It doesn’t really matter what you do, so long as it is of genuine quality.

Slammed cars are an art form, and they need to be treated as such to work, in my opinion. Art is often without purpose, and in a way, slamming a car strips it of its practical purpose as a vehicle. This act turns it into a blank canvas, and from there it is in the owner’s hands to turn it into something special.

Not everyone who picks up a paintbrush is an artist, and not everyone who drops their car has something worth looking at. The same is true throughout all areas of car culture. Tastes will differ between groups, of course, but in the end a car’s quality depends entirely on what people put into it. So if you’re going to slam your car, please put in the effort to do it well.

-Nick Walker

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3 thoughts on “Cars 101: How to live the “Low Life””

  1. I could not drive this kind of car, I`d rather walk than feeling all the time I pass over a pebble.I`ll probably drive the car to the garage and look at it every day 🙂

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  2. I know I’m a little late to the party, but as the driver of a lowered, “stanced” car, I appreciate the way this article is written. Your distaste for the lack of practicality is voiced and understandable, but I did enjoy that you like the look of a nicely done car. And, it really is much more about the effort put in than the type of car.

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