The Lows of Twenty Thirteen
I blame Ben

Air. Bags. Coils. Springs. Stretch. Poke. Offset. Juice. Fitment. Dish. Low. Slammed. Stance. Flush. Tuck. Drop. Rake.

There was a time where I was blissfully unaware what most of those terms meant. During those dark years, a car was either low or not low for me. I had no in-depth understanding of ‘proper’ wheel fitment or what an HLS system was. In the back of my mind, there was always this niggling thought when looking at certain cars that something was either perfect or just not quite right. A certain je ne sais quoi if you will. Then I met Ben. Now, je sais.


Throughout 2013 we’ve been on many an adventure together; we’ve crossed continents and the high seas, and probably worked closer together than any two men should. More than anything though, working with Ben was a massive learning experience. Not just learning the little tidbits of information that only someone who has spent their life embedded in a particular scene can show you, but more so about his passion and how he embraces a different way of life. More importantly, how this way of life is expressed through his love of cars. Ben left an impression on me that will likely not wear off any time soon. He reminded me that cars are not about horsepower figures, performance levels or lap times.

They’re about having fun.


I think the term stance itself has been completely misappropriated over the last few years. Technically speaking, every car has stance. From a slammed Scirocco to a factory Fiesta. Nowadays, stance is often used (usually with negative connotations) to incorrectly describe a scene that is primarily concerned with show car looks, low ride height and aggressive wheel fitment. Stance, when used correctly, is the measure of how a car sits. My car has stance. Your car has stance. Project Nemo has stance. None of those mentioned have the same stance.

It is primarily from my experiences of developing my own car that I’ve learned a lot about my personal tastes. I don’t like stretched tyres or excessive negative camber. I would certainly agree that too much of either can be dangerous and irresponsible. But like everything, I will concede that when applied in moderation, they can add to the overall aesthetic of a build.

Lows of 2013 PMcG-4

To write off the entire VAG scene as simply slammed Dubs that are ‘broken’ (I’ve come across that in the comments on more than one occasion) is rather ignorant in my opinion. I certainly don’t judge any other scene by the worst examples that come from them. For instance, I know that the guy living down your street who owns a 1.4 SOHC Civic with a straight-through exhaust and who drives like a dick everywhere, is certainly not representative of the Honda scene as a whole. I know that the good guys in the Honda scene think exactly the same of those sort of guys that I do.

Instead I would always look at the cream of the crop to gauge my interest in any particular automotive sub-culture. Take Greg Howell’s TDI powered MkI Golf as an example. Greg built the car a few years back and has been enjoying the result of the build since. He didn’t build this as a track car with performance in mind, he built it because he wanted to. The car was also built to show off Greg’s workmanship (he’s a painter) and serves as the perfect advertisement for his business. I’ve yet to see paint as good as Greg’s on any other car, new or old. He has now parted ways with the car since we featured it, but needless to say, we’re already salivating at the thoughts of his next build.

Lows of 2013 PMcG-5

Ryan Stewart’s Golf is another example of the variety within the VAG scene. When we featured it back in February, it was running 400+hp and has since evolved into an even more potent set-up. The fact that it’s got an aggressive and low-slung stance, whilst retaining proper fitting tyres and sorted geometry, goes to show that it’s not always about poke and tyre stretch to have a car that sits well. This is a performance build with the looks to match.

Lows of 2013 PMcG-6

Then you have the out-and-out show cars, which nearly always divide opinions.

Lows of 2013 PMcG-7

I know that some of you are suppressing a little bit of inner rage at the thoughts of this. I won’t lie, because I too sometimes feel that rage. But I always take into consideration the complete build and take the time to investigate the why. Usually, it makes perfect sense and you quickly come to appreciate how much work and love went into making this ‘broken’ Volkswagen. Regularly, cars running with aggressive fitment like this are on some sort of air or hydraulic suspension. This means that whilst it fills you with rage when it’s hard parked, once it’s moving, it’s more than likely running at the same height as most other cars on the road. As the car is raised, negative camber is reduced and the vehicle’s geometry returns to acceptable figures.

Poke PMcG-1

Tyre stretch on the other hand is more of a grey area. Whilst a little is fine (Porsche ran stretched slicks on their Cup cars), a line does need to be drawn somewhere. Whilst I personally wouldn’t run that much stretch, once I can’t see the barrel of the rim and the owner takes the care and precaution necessary, I’m usually okay with it. For all the cars I’ve seen and photographed, I’ve never encountered an owner who has had a tyre pop off or had any issue. This is usually because the owner is aware of the limitations of running a stretch and ensures that their tyre pressures are monitored regularly. Common sense applies.

Lows of 2013 PMcG-8

As 2013 has plodded along, it’s becoming evident that there is a shift in attitudes and tastes about how a car should be lowered.

Lows of 2013 PMcG-9

But more on that shortly…

Poke is out, tuck is in
Lows of 2013 PMcG-10

I always have a little chuckle when people talk about how they can’t wait for ‘the stance fad to end’. As I’ve already written previously, stance is the wrong word. Secondly, low cars have been around for a long, long time and it’s most certainly not a fad. They are here to stay.

Lows of 2013 PMcG-11

Forgetting the performance side of things for a second, there’s a simple reason behind that prediction and one that although is subjective, is hard to argue with.

Lows of 2013 EXTRA PMcG-2

That is, low cars look good.

Lows of 2013 PMcG-19

Now, back to where we were in the previous chapter. Wörthersee is pretty much the Mecca of the VAG scene. Every year, thousands flock from around Europe (and often even further) to meet up at a petrol station to show off their hard work and talk about cars. It sounds ludicrous but it’s just about as close to petrolhead nirvana as you’re likely to find.

Lows of 2013 PMcG-13

Unlike if something happens in Las Vegas, where it usually stays there, what happens at Wörthersee quickly trickles down and spreads itself across the globe. When we arrived at our hotel car park, Ben immediately noticed a change in trend (I didn’t because I was delirious with sleep deprivation).

Lows of 2013 PMcG-14

There was a lot of wheel tuck going on. Where 2012 and years previous were all about pushing the boundaries of poke and stretch, Wörthersee 2013 was reversing this.

Lows of 2013 PMcG-15

What was even more interesting about this development wasn’t just the large diameter wheels and low ride height (it wasn’t as if that hadn’t been done before) but it was the fact that most of these cars were running coilover suspension.

Lows of 2013 PMcG-16

That is, they were static dropped.

Lows of 2013 PMcG-17

As our week in Austria would go to show, it was a popular style. Lots of rim tuck with a low profile tyre. It was afterwards that I considered maybe this was a method of conforming to their local vehicle road-worthiness checks. Most of the guys we spoke to were running KW Ultra Lows, which are TÜV approved. This certification goes a long way to running a legal set-up in Europe. A trend influenced by legislation? An interesting thought…

Lows of 2013 PMcG-18

Of course, one of the other big talking points of Wörthersee was the Messer wheels A7. I knew immediately (I was awake at this stage) that this car would cause a bit of a stir. I always enjoy cars that force us to re-evaluate our tastes and push the boundaries for what is and what is not acceptable to the community at large. It’s amazing how wheels alone could divide so many opinions.

Lows of 2013 PMcG-20

Did what we saw at Wörthersee signal the death of this? Probably not, but I would expect it to become less and less popular over the coming months and into next season.

Lows of 2013 PMcG-21

I would expect/like to see more cars running more rubber but retaining an aggressive stance, something that a tucked wheel will allow. Only time will tell…

More rubber
Lows of 2013 PMcG-22

Body drops are another part of the scene that are reappearing with more frequency. It says everything you need to know that this Escort was originally modified in the 1980s…

Lows of 2013 PMcG-23

As are classic restorations with a low rider twist. Again, these aren’t new things but they are popping up more and more regularly.

Lows of 2013 PMcG-24

For our own sake, I hope 2014 brings us lots of talking points. There’s nothing like reasoned debates (in amongst the hate-fuelled rants) that help us all to grow and mature as automotive aficionados. Variety is the spice of life.

Lows of 2013 PMcG-25

The next time you happen upon a dropped-to-the-floor automobile, remember two things… The love put into the car is the same as you would put into your own. We all like different things, and we’re all the better for it.

Embrace the different.



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awesome pix,great job


The Volvo has got to be one of, if not my favorite car featured this year. Just something about it.


IanMacdonald1 Beat me too it. If I had to choose one car from all that are shown, it has to be the Volvo.


If I see GTI RS on the doors of a Golf in the same font Porsche uses, I can't help thinking; "wannabe"..


Luka024 IanMacdonald1 I think it was a car that just that little bit of everything - retro, low, well finished, stripped & caged and a big horsepower turbo BMW engine.


peterhelm I would think 'homage' myself. It's not as if he's stuck Porsche badges on it, or a large wing. Instead he's fitted huge Porsche carbon ceramics and repainted the car in a GT3 RS hue. I think it's quite tasteful.


PaddyMcGrathYeah maybe so. As long as the owner is happy with it ;) Nice pictures this year!


peterhelm PaddyMcGrath It's not something I'd do to my own car, and I wouldn't expect everyone to like it either. I've just seen worse is all :)


PaddyMcGrathLuka024IanMacdonald1And yet still so simple. Perfect execution


i personally like a little more function in my form, but everyone's boat floats a little differently, some higher than others.


I really love your photos and coverage Paddy, not to mention the great books you've produced, but for some reason I can't let go of the perception of the entire VAG scene as "slammed dubs that are simply 'broken'". It just seems like such a lemming mindset that focuses on two aspects, wheels and ride height. It's the automotive version of paint-by-numbers. Drop car, add wheels that don't fit, go to car show. Rinse and repeat - though that can be said for most automotive scenes, the VAG scene just seems to amplify and revel in it. It's not like I can't appreciate low cars, that Volvo is still one of my favorite feature cars this year and of all time, but sometimes it just feels so repetitive.

With much respect to your words here, I'll work on my own perception of the VAG scene this next year. There is a lot of creativity, dedication and excellent fabrication that is poured into these cars that I think many of us write off in our criticisms. I may never fully 'get it', but I can definitely learn to respect it. Though you'll be hard-pressed to convince me that hanging around at a car show talking is more fun than hitting 120mph down the front straight of a racetrack before piling on the brakes and taking that left-hander just a little bit faster than you think you should...


I have always found it incredibly unfortunate that the acronym for Volkswagen Auto Group is VAG... Can't help but giggle a little bit every time I read it.

My sad immaturities aside, however, this was a great read Paddy!


So, what stretch are you running on the Style 95s? I definitely agree that tuck seems to have come back, and it most likely is because people were pushing the poke further and further, that the laws have had to step in, become stricter, to the point that I know the UK is one of the only places in the EU where poke itself is still legal, even if it is a grey area (tread within the arch and all that)


in response to what you said about austria... i can only dream of something like that happening in the US. are the roads smooth enough where the drivers aren't driving sideways or around potholes, speed bumps, and driveways??? i personally love the whole stance look but where i live it would in impractical without using bags. (and i remember clearly the debate on coil-overs vs bags). i saved every pic of the messer a7 when you featured it. job well done =)


d_rav The roads around Wörthersee were pretty damn good alright, but that's not indicative of Europe as a whole. The German autobahns can be awful in places for example. 

Living in Ireland, I can definitely relate to what you're saying. Whilst my own car isn't even close to how low others are, I'm seriously considering a change to air in the near future. Don't get me wrong, I love my KW's but Irish roads and cars on coilovers are not a good mix.


MatthewDear 225/35 on the front and 255/30 on the rear. I'll probably come up to a 265 on the rear in future, but honestly, a 255/30 is the lightest of stretches on a 10J.


Jordan_Burgess Glad you got a laugh and enjoyed it too :)


Great read! In our side of the world, though we probably have some of the worst road conditions and driveways that are incosiderate to lowered cars, many still embrace the stance look and the low life. It's only recently that bags became big here, but static has always been the name of the game. You'll see how extreme some of the cars can go here:

So as they say, low is a lifestyle, and you just have to live with the consequences if you really have to. It's a choice that people take.


FunctionFirst Great response! 

From what I've slowly been learning about the VAG scene over the last few years is for all the perceived show, there's usually tonnes of little details that 99% of people will never notice. Take Greg's Golf MKI (the green one at the start) for example: he filled and smoothed every single hole in the frame of the bonnet. It took him an eternity to do and do it right yet only other Golf MKI owners would notice it. 

I used to drive a Caddy 2K with dual sliding doors when I first started with Speedhunters. A friend of mine bought it, removed both sliding doors by using alternate quarter panels from LHD & RHD models and put over 600 hours into the bodywork alone since. He's not even close to where he wants to be with it, but the love and dedication he's put into the van to make it his own is staggering. 

It's all those little pieces of fabrication that I find hugely fascinating and how there's often so much more to a car than meets the eye. I've learned rather quickly never to write a car off on first look. 

Some people like going fast, some people like looking good. Nobody said you can only pick one :)


@Mike I think the organisers of 'Titanic Dubs' could be onto you to paraphrase that as their new slogan!


PaddyMcGrath haha well pass it on, they are more than welcome to take and modify as necessary.


My problem with stance is as follows:

Stance ruins cars. Now, some people put bags on their cars and drive around at a reasonable height. Fine. It looks like crap, but I really don't care. The issue is the people that do "static" drops. It totally and utterly ruins your suspension geometry, causes extreme wear and tear to the underside of your vehicle, and puts a lot of stress on a lot of different components that weren't intended to handle that much stress. Then, you have the people that mutilate their fenders to get wheels to fit. Pulling your fenders to these extremes can easily crack your paint and expose the metal. Once that happens, it's only a matter of time before rust sets in. Then, there's the prerequisite stretched tires. I'm aware that there isn't that much of a danger in a very mild tire stretch, but the extremes that some of these people take it to is ridiculous. Tire companies tell you not do that for a reason. Once a car has been the victim of a static drop, it is essentially scarred for life. It can never be resold, at least to the general public, and at a reasonable price. If you simply give a car a tacky paintjob or something, that's no big deal. It's easy to reverse. A stanced car, when the owner is through with it, will have sheared-off bolts on the underside, likely exhaust issues, worn-out balljoints and tie rods, and will likely have a badly damaged subframe. This is what elevates stance beyond a mere style to me. It's no longer just a matter of not liking something, it's become a matter of safety. For proof of what I'm saying, have a look at this MotoIQ article:


Paddy my good man, i just read your article with great interest as always and bravo to you for writing so creatively while educating at the same time. We need more people like yourself in the vast car scene of today, and you guys there at speedhunters certainly bring us all the glorious sites and shows of a global car community daily. I personally can confirm that i have welcomed all the other new scenes presented in my crazy car loving mind. I was never aware growing up that any of these other scenes existed and i can now honestly say since sites like yours have become part of my daily read my LOVE for cars have just grown exponentioly with the same passion and enthusiasm, only now its for many different scenes and cultures on a global scale. I certainly am greatful that i have become a better man since i have been touched by so many cultures who are all creative car loving people expressing and creating car evolution in there own unique way. Paddy I salute you and all the other like minded individuals who share this Love for all cars!!


@Jake Laird It's almost like you don't even read the posts...


PaddyMcGrath How does that relate to what I said? This is a post about stance, and the various forms it can take. I was giving my opinion on stance, specifically a static setup, which is something you touched on in the article.


@Jake Laird the thing with car culture is everybody buys there car based
upon what they wanna do, whether it be destroy it or preserve it either
way, who are you to judge with 1 opinion of how you think it looks im
sure whoever goes static or bags is well aware of what there doing to
the car, and if thats what makes them happy, how could you knock it...
btw the post wasnt just about stance, static or bags its about the
evolution of a culture in general dude.. read in between the lines..


PaddyMcGrath i think he misread the entire post


FunctionFirst pretty much, like the whole scene is to impress peeps on a internet i dont want to post a ae86 person its just hard to understand in any capacity


FunctionFirst pretty much, like the whole scene is to impress peeps on a internet i dont want to post a ae86 person its just hard to understand in any capacity


@turbo BEAMS ae86 FunctionFirst 

it is never about peeps on the internet, ive been in the Vw scene for years. and an active poster on the tex. most of these projects come about through a general love of the car, that and spending time in the garage with your buds. sure they take pictures and they go to car shows, but it the end its more about spending time with your buds working on all of your cars together. 

i have never owned a slammed car nor will i ever, as i stated in my comment below i like a little more function in my form. but that didn't stop me from posting pics to the internet or rolling to car shows with my buds. its about the camaraderie that all car guys share with their local friends that make the difference, not the current trend.

specifically with the VW scene people should understand that they went to form rather quickly as a few countries in Europe have emissions standards so stringent that even a CAI is not allowed. in an atmosphere like that how does one enjoy their automotive work of art in any other way than modifying the aesthetics. from there the trend spread else where as in the end it is much cheaper to modify a car to look good over playing chicken with the wall of cash vs 1/10ths of a second off a lap time.

and for the record, neither of you posted hate in the sense, you both posted well articulated musings, thoughts and opinions. im just replying with a different view of the scene that may help illuminate why some things are the way they are. hope it helps

Seeking Perfection

DerrickSmith1 PaddyMcGrath He did not even read it. He does that on every single post with a stanced car where he mentions the exact same thoughts again and again.

Embrace the different, Jake.

Seeking Perfection

Stephan Mathee  The collaboration between Paddy and Ben was exceptional. In fact, their trip to Worthesse was one of my favourite posts of 2013. Maybe the 2nd favourite after Larry's and Jonathan's coverage.


@Seeking Perfection Stephan Mathee Wow, thank you both very much for the compliments. I certainly want to go back to Worthersee again next year because I think we can do even better the next time.


@Seeking Perfection Stephan Mathee Wow, thank you both very much for the compliments. I certainly want to go back to Worthersee again next year because I think we can do even better the next time.


@Seeking Perfection DerrickSmith1 PaddyMcGrath Stance isn't "different", it's blatant stupidity, and trolling people with the use of an automobile. I have read this Godforsaken article 15 times now, and I keep getting the same thing out of it. Its main focus is on stance. It's hardly as deep and profound as the author believes it to be. 

Also, you can't tell me that somebody who drives around in a car that scrapes on level ground, and comes complete with mutilated fenders is a true car enthusiast. True car enthusiasts care about their cars, and try and take care of them to the best of their ability. Stance enthusiasts are trend enthusiasts, pure and simple. But please, do go on thinking that the guy who meticulously restores his 300SL in his garage over the course of his life and shows it at Pebble Beach is equivalent to the 19 year old who slams his Mk4 Golf on $200 coilovers and then proceeds to cover the entire thing in stickers, and brags about how many oil pans he's destroyed. They are not.


You really are completely missing the point.
For arguments sake, I'm seriously not a fan of the whole poke/stretch look. Not my style.
The author specifically stated any car has a stance; whether it's slammed on it's ass, ready to hit the tracks in race-spec or if it just rolled off the production line.
What you are blatantly doing is tarring everyone with the same brush whilst simultaneously missing the whole idea of 'fun'.
From the Pebble Beach crowd to track focused racers or out and out show cars, they all have one thing in common and that's their love of the automobile. Whether that is form, function or a mixture of both - you can't denounce one scene from another just because of a bad apple or a taste which is not your own.
Accept and appreciate variety.


@Jake LairdPost a photo of your car and the mods done to it. Let us be critical of your choices, as I bet there's plenty of people that won't like or agree with some of your mods, but really, who cares, it's your car! There are millions of unsafe cars out there that are completely standard and unmodified, left by there non-car enthusiast owners to deteriorate to almost nothing. If you want to be 100% safe from road accidents, then stay off them, but don't make out that "stanced" cars are taking lives on a hourly basis.


Ultralow profile is undoubtedly more correct from pure geometrical, pure design point of view.
Yet just as high-end design furniture has purity of lines but ultimately leaves you cold and lacks the 
homely properties that a home needs to have so as to be "livable" and cozy, it is exactly in the same 
manner that ultra-low tyred cars just scream "sculpture" instead of "driver".

At the end of the day, the lack of emotional, "drive me" builds lately, will (is!) striking back in the 
form of a return of the meaty / more rubber / battlestance trend that is bouncing back currently.

Give me any day a usable car with a track-focused stance, as opposed to a real-estate-spirit sculptures
that the recent absurdity of the low scene has evolved into.

But luckily, rubber is back.

For good.


that fucking volvo!


This article would have been an excellent opportunity to point out that "stance" is not a verb, adverb, or adjective, unless you're a Shiba Inu meme. It's a noun. As "professional writers" you have the chance to show people "how to English" properly.


I think the term stance itself has been completely misappropriated over the last few years. Technically speaking, every car has stance. From a slammed Scirocco to a factory Fiesta. Nowadays, stance is often used (usually with negative connotations) to incorrectly describe a scene that is primarily concerned with show car looks, low ride height and aggressive wheel fitment. Stance, when used correctly, is the measure of how a car sits. My car has stance. Your car has stance. Project Nemo has stance. None of those mentioned have the same stance.
This right here is perfect. I've tried to say this to people several times over and have never been able to word it so effectively.


PaddyMcGrath d_rav  softer springs and more ride height if the cars too stiff and will save some money


I love the tucked look indeed! Can't wait to do that to my Supra! Love the photos as always Paddy! :) Always inspiring! :)


DaveT <<<<This guy knows whats up!


@Jake LairdDerrickSmith1PaddyMcGrath
Really? maybe I misunderstand you but I challenge you to front up to a 50's-ish lead sled owner/builder after laying frame and proclaim there not an enthusiast..........
Although its inevitable there are those who take it to the extremes without any concern to apply even basic engineering,unfortunately this group will always exist.
Im pretty sure someone wise or powerful and probably fictional said:

" A little knowledge is a dangerous thing............ "


I am looking around for new wheels right now, that's exactly the post I needed to get even more confused.  :)


@thefirelizard They're professional photographers who also write. Not professional writers.


@Jake Laird "Go on thinking that the guy who meticulously restores his 300SL in his garage over the course of his life and shows it at Pebble Beach is equivalent to the 19 year old who slams his Mk4 Golf on $200 coilovers and then proceeds to cover the entire thing in stickers, and brags about how many oil pans he's destroyed. They are not"

Good point. But on the flipside, that 19-year-old my one day, hopefully, grow up and eventually become like that 300SL owner. If he/she doesn't and gets bored with cars and moves on then you know the truth of their motivations.


@Jake Laird A project car is a tool for having fun, if you dont want to wreck it or need it to get to work every  day, silly, yes. Most of these cars are toys!!!


@Jake Laird DerrickSmith1 PaddyMcGrath What do you drive? A mid 90s NOTHING im guessing!!!!!


@Jake Laird 
"True car enthusiasts..."
Sorry, but when you use the True Scotsman( logical line, your argument is destined to crash and burn like a half-assed restoration job.


That paragraph on stance was 100% on point... so is the rest of the article actually, great read and some folks commenting need to lighten up. Many thanks Paddy, top bloke.


DaveT I've also spent many an hour trying to put it that point to people, surprisingly hard to word for us normal guys isn't it haha :)


The lows cars or "slammed" are very sexys xD... The look is just... perfect (in my opinion) it´s clean and simple... love it


The lows cars or "slammed" are very sexys xD... The look is just... perfect (in my opinion) it´s clean and simple... love it