As my blog header notes, not only is my blog about cars, but it’s also about the culture that surrounds these cars. Trends in automotive culture come and go while loyalists to nostalgia keep these passing trends alive through various car clubs adhering to certain movements of car culture. Consider the hot rods of yesteryear commonly chopped and channeled Model A’s with flames and free flowing exhausts that hearkens back to automotive culture in the 1950’s. Today, a new trend, or obsession for some, has propagated in the name of wheel fitment and stance. However, is this trend a passing fad or an imminent staple of automotive culture in America? Love it or loathe it, this trend has stirred up quite a following and a number of websites dedicated to wheel fitment have recently popped up.
The root of this movement is difficult to identify, with the definition of the style stemming from various regions of the world and numerous car cultures within the United States. Whether this trend will persist and transpire generations, it’s too early to tell, however it does derive from a lineage of a more practical application. Within the stance and fitment world it is popular to showcase a wheel set with a low offset and broad stance with wide, deep-dish wheels. This type of fitment is consistent with many cars in motorsport, perhaps not showcasing the same radical offsets and angles as within stance culture, but none-the-less boasting a similar appeal. This having been said, stance is not solely rooted in motorsport heritage and models a number of auxiliary influences.
Japanese influence would be ignorant to overlook upon analysis of the stance culture as well. Stretching tires onto oversized rims has become synonymous with stance culture and respects conventions of Kaido, Bosozoku, and Bippu racer style. It would be ambitious to discount Japanese automotive cultures impact on stance which was notably the largest influence on the trend. This trend however, has now articulated itself as a new American fad that grips tightly to the Volkswagen populace as well as USDM advocates. In Europe, we saw wheel fitment to be popular among “dub” associated commonalities and was soon picked up by American youth stateside, namely the Volkswagen community. However, wheel fitment augmentation is expeditiously sweeping American automotive car communities and is being applied to countless domestic models annually.
Although Japanese car culture weighed heavily on the advent of stance in the United States, it is hard to credit the Japanese, or the Europeans, for solely embedding this contemporarily fashionable culture into America. The encumbrance of the popularity of this cult-like following lies on the hands of the American youth. Movies like The Fast & The Furious glorified import street racers and single-handedly initiated an import tuner phenomenon in America. Soon after the release of the film, law-enforcement agencies across the U.S. reported an increase in street racing which showcased the films impact on American car culture at the time. This served as an integral turning point for American car aficionados and invited global influence to small town America. This time in history paved the way for the fitment movement taking place in the U.S. now.
Stance, as it stands at present, can be defined as lowered cars in conjunction with, most commonly, radical wheel fitment. Proponents of wheel fitment and the stance movement often identify with one another through their lowered vehicles and forum kinships. Fitment enthusiasts often differ in opinion about what type of stance is the best and this can be accredited to the various conflicting views on fitments origins and its current pretense. The practical implications of a wider stance and lower ride height attract some fitment proponents while others strive to couple radical offsets with aggressive wheel and tire combinations that may not inherently improve handling prowess.
This automotive subculture has dubbed (pun intended) its own dialect of phrases and words to describe the stance lifestyle. Adjectives such as “flush”, “tuck”, “stretch”, “dumped”, and “static” are fitment trademarks. Along with creating a new language this youthful generation of enthusiasts has defined a contemporary American car culture and wheel fitment phenomenon. There is a growing following for this stance movement but only time will tell if this trend persists. To me, it seems this trend is here to stay and I’m okay with that. The fitment community is an inviting one, embracing different cultures and welcoming a diversity of racial and ethnic backgrounds in the name of wheel fitment.
Credits: Emmett Vick and the-lowdown.com