Discovering The Allure Of Stance At Lowfest
Low, Low, Low

‘Form versus function’ has to be one of the most hotly debated, controversial, and friend-ending topics in car culture today.

In this battle, there are very few that straddle the line between form and function; most side with one or the other. This being Speedhunters, we naturally lean towards functionality, but all aspects of car culture are important to us.

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And that most definitely includes form, or dare I say it, stance.

Personally, I love being able to drive around without requiring a predetermined route to ensure my car doesn’t duke it out with a hump in the road or get high-centered on an invisible speed bump.

But there is something about slamming a car to the ground that can really bring out its character, even if it wasn’t obvious in stock form.

Lowfest, which happens every year in the massive parking lot at Harbor City Mall in Soga, Chiba, is all about low car style.

The event is dedicated to USDM, VIP, vans, kei tuning, and stance.

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It also draws people in from all over Japan, and this year there were well over 500 cars in attendance – four of which I’ve already shown you in a spotlight feature.

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It got me thinking: why is stance so popular?

We all have our own ideas – and I’d love to hear yours in the comments section – but the more I attend events like Lowfest, the more I wonder about it.

Many popular western automotive subcultures can be traced back to Japan, and low cars running tight-fitting wheels with stretched tires is something that’s been going on here for a long time.

Part of the attraction is the zero f**ks given attitude of what the outside world really thinks; that’s one of the things I admire the most. It’s your car, so you should be able to do what you wish with it, right?

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As in most countries around the world, there are of course rules when it comes to what you can and can’t do, legally. In Japan, legal modifying comes with additional costs, something I only discovered when dealing with the paperwork for my own car.

If you change anything that is essential to the operation of your vehicle, when it’s time for the bi-annual shaken inspection you must go through the process of updating to a modified title. Things like engine swaps, transmission swaps, wheels, changes to the chassis, and suspension alterations require you to file incredibly detailed forms.

If you buy the upgrade part in Japan it’s likely to come with the information required by the transport department, but you still have to take it in and pay an extra fee to update the paperwork.

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You’ve probably heard the stories about people removing their aftermarket parts and reverting their vehicles to stock to pass the shaken inspection, and then switching it back again when the paperwork has been rubber stamped, saving themselves money and potentially a whole lot of hassle in the process.

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Of course, that’s not so easy to do when you have extensive modifications, so if you’re planning on going down that route and staying on the right side of the law and safety – which is very important – you need more money to burn.

The Vans & Keis Of Lowfest
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In my spotlight post from Lowfest, I took a closer look at one of my favorite vans at the event. To my delight, many of you expressed just as much interest in this subculture as I have, and fortunately there were plenty of vans to take a closer look at.

Japanese vans can be broken down into two main categories: full size vehicles such as the Nissan Elgrand and Toyota Alphard, and smaller minivan/station wagon such as the Honda Odyssey.

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With the Elgrand, Alphard and similar models considered luxury vehicles with price tags to match for late-model examples, the Odyssey is a popular entry point to the custom van world.

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Almost every Odyssey at Lowfest was running an insane amount of demon camber, or onikyan.

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It’s one thing to have a crazy amount of negative camber in the rear, but in getting everything to sit flush, many owners take the time to undertake custom and bolt-on fender work.

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Some even go above and beyond, installing sound systems that would surely shake your house to its core if the volume was turned all the way up. Let’s not forget the crazy aero, either.

The same goes for the kei cars of the show. Since these small machines are both more affordable and cheaper to insure than their higher displacement counterparts, kei vehicles are an extremely popular modifying base in Japan. Once again, the only limit is your imagination.

The Great Escape
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With the late afternoon temperature beginning to plummet, it was time for the festivities to come to an end. It wasn’t till I spotted people running towards the entrance/exit of the venue that it dawned on me that Lowfest was about to enter its final phase. Getting into the event wasn’t so much of a challenge for the slammed cars, but getting out was an entirely different proposition.

Being the seventh event hosted at the same venue, the Lowfest organizers knew this would be a problem and came adequately prepared to handle the situation. With Japanese-like attention to detail, the team began laying sheets of plywood to create a low-angle exit ramp.

With the ramp complete, the owners filed into one of two lines. The left-side line was for people who could get their vehicles out of the carpark without any assistance; the right-side line was for those who needed to use the ramp to avoid getting stuck.

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Directed by the staff, who also assisted with incoming traffic, the drivers were guided onto the makeshift ramp and were safely able to depart with their body kits, oil pans, and exhausts still intact.

If it wasn’t for the temperature drop, I think I could have stayed there all night watching the spectacle.

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As crazy as it is to have to make a ramp for this purpose, in a strange way it gives the whole stance thing a unique flavor. I mean, I’ve never been to an event where it was just as entertaining watching people leaving the venue as the actual event itself.

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Yes, it’s completely ridiculous and somewhat nonsensical. But then again, being completely different is what makes it all the more interesting. Any event like this that brings enthusiasts together to share their passion and creations will always be OK in my book.

Ron Celestine
Instagram: celestinephotography

The Cutting Room Floor
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38 comments

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1

I will take the green Charger, please and thank you!

2

I'm just wondering why vans in JApan don't have sliding doors like those in America. I thought they would be better suited to the tight and cramped roads of Japan.

3

really? you might forgot about the alphard/vellfire, elgrand, stepwgn, odyssey(the current one) among others does have sliding doors

4

I believe people look at stance as art or a certain style. Style comes in many forms just like bell bottom jeans were in style in the 70's. I am opinionated because I have a car on air ride myself but I have a "functioning" vehicle as well. I take stance as getting a car to look just right in the owners eyes. Stance in itself is honestly pointless but when I look out into my driveway I cannot help but get excited by what I created. The main thing I dislike about the stance community is the negativity towards it. If your car has more than -3 degrees of camber then you're looked down upon by many. The difference to me is that when I see a low-rider, 8 second civic or lifted truck I see the time that went into those vehicles not the fact that they are not my style and make sure to give them a thumbs up. I do see a lot of kids these days provoking it too so its not just one sided and mostly they annoy me with "my cars the lowest" "my wheel specs are greater", cool I do not care. That's why I like the Japanese and how they all seem to be kosher with one another and how not everything seems childish or like a competition.

5

well said.

6

waiting for the day I can see a speedhunters article about low cars that actually talks about the cars in the photos rather than trying to apologize and rationalize it to the commenters and

7

THIS X100

If people like it, they will click on the link and read/look at the article if they don't they will read another article simple as that. I've been reading Speedhunters daily now for several years and whenever it comes to a stance article they always gotta preface it with the keep your mind open etc etc, we get it, not everyone is going to like it, just show the cars, some owners insight, some blurb about the build and thats what what makes this site work., so on to the next article. You can't please everybody so might as well let people decide if they like it or not.

8

You're absolutely right. Duly noted.

9

VF HSV GTS in Japan - not bad!

The best bit is that somebody thought it didn't already look aggressive enough and further widened the thing...

10

Sorry, talk about false advertising.
Trying to find the "allure" here, but only see one maybe three decent looking rides here. What really irks me is the Challenger up top, talk about losing your balls. No longer a sportscar along with majority of this line up. The camber is a big joke and the fact you need wood to get in or out of the area???!!! Seriously.
I normally stay off these post but this one has taken this stance thing too far. G'night.

11

Benzo wagon takes the cake

12

Omg That white R33...I just about fell off my chair!

13

Why most of the slammed cars never install air suspension?

14

Street cred. Low isn't a lifestyle if you can push a button to air up.

15

Cost

16

So the chassis maintenance cost is cheaper than air suspension in jp, good to know

17

Well it may not be overall, but I'd imagine if Japan have strict rules on what modifications can be carried out, then air may be a more expensive and time consuming option at the time of the shaken inspection. Also an Air ride system can't easily be returned to stock in time for the shaken inspection, where as a coilover swap is a lot quicker.

I'd say that's the main reasons.

18
Kelvin chanda ho

You guys should a SPEEDHUNTER app

19

yes yes yes....we need more!

20

For me it comes down (no pun) to how badass a car looks, hovering just inches off the ground, almost floating down the roadway. No, it's not the most functional, or optimum for suspension geometry, but at some point you have to let go of what's "correct" and do what feels "right"; and if that means lowering said vehicle to the earth, then so-be-it! I don't agree with the ultra-camber cars, though the camber is often a byproduct of going super low and "making it fit" - we all have our limits.

21
Rich E Wavy Kariuki

A friggin Maloo in Japan? Lol. I guess it was only a matter of time

22

"stance" is what the guys who cant drive do....

23

love the article... the GTR with the heavy chrome made me cry

24

I've always admired 'stance' cars. Mostly from an engineering standpoint. Yes there are some cars out there that are very 'questionable' in how they are assembled, but there are also the cars that have been built and redesigned underneath to get the car that low, and to run camber to the max that most people seem to overlook and want to go on hating for whatever reason.

That said, there is negativity that stems from some owners who seem to get indignant when you ask them how they did it, even when asking from genuine curiosity.

25

every car looks better slammed! good post

26

What are the wheels on that black Lexus?

27

Props to the guy that put anime girls on an audi. The Germans would love it. That aside, i completely get the stance culture. It's like painting with bold colors, you get a wild and fun result. And making a dramatic, noisy, exaggerated entrance/exit is pretty fun in itself. It also takes a ton of commitment to drive these things on the street.

28

and for those who don't what anime is that on that audi r8.....that's of course sword art online and recently the alicization arc is going to be in anime form next year

29

Can someone pleeeaase tell me what car that is in the cover photo?

30

Toyota mark x

31

VANNING!!! I would rather mod an Alphard/Vellfire, ElGrand, HiAce or even Delica over an SUV

32

THIS! I love vans, all kinds.

33

The red FC and the 2 tone Cressida wagon are straight fire.

34

If you need assistance to get out of a parking lot, then it probably shouldn't be on the road at all.

35

Stance is cool and safe but camber stance is not only ugly but it is unsafe and endangers everyone including the driver himself on the road

36

Is it me, or does that fender on the E30 not match the rest of the paint?

This stuff looks cool.........parked. Not really my thing, but some of the cars really do look cool. I just can't imagine how hard it would be to drive them around. And I'd probably have a hard time driving something like that where the only real suspension is my seat and my spine.
No stanced HiAce vans? :(

37

i my self wont stance my car but i respect those who do. after all we build our cars for our own liking and enjoyment not for others.

38

#lthscrsknw

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