It’s been 10 years since stance, aggressive fitment, Hellaflush, stupidity – whatever you prefer to call it – began to gain mass appeal among the global automotive community.
Powered by social media, in very short order everything low and wide became all but inescapable on both the internet and the streets.
Rising like a star, detractors were quick to write the whole thing off as a passing fad, something that would fall twice as quickly as it climbed.
However, as one year stretched to two, two to three, and three to five, it became clear that the unique styling approach wasn’t going to go anywhere.
I love low vehicles, full stop. No shame, no excuses. That said, even I am somewhat in awe of not only the genre’s longevity but continued evolution.
Automotive culture moves quickly and often unpredictably, so I’d assumed something else would come along to steal the spotlight before the odometer rolled over to 10.
Name almost any popular aftermarket automotive event and somewhere on the premises there’s likely to be a car with wide wheels, polished lips, and a few under carriage battle scars. Defiantly, it continues to be an inescapable aesthetic.
So this year while I was at the Fitted Lifestyle’s 10th anniversary event, I attempted to observe exactly why this community continues to thrive where others have waned.
The forecast for the 10-year shindig was grim to say the least. Weather is the uncontrollable variable that can tarnish any event, but the popularity and anticipation of Fitted prevailed in the end and attendance was still quite good. It was another reminder of how devoted this community is.
Even vehicles that had just been completed – like this Florida-imported S124 wagon – made the trek knowing full well another entire detail would be required immediately afterward.
So again I was left wondering why – why do events like these receive the support they do?
Well, as Sara and Trevor touched on during their trip to StanceNation NorCal earlier this year, accessibility plays a large part of it. As cars become more technologically advanced, working on them beyond the superficial becomes quite the challenge for your average garage warrior. Some venture forth undeterred, others turn to classics, while many simply stay within the realm of style.
Still, I think there’s a little more to it than just simple convenience.
The organizers of events like StanceNation and Fitted have done an exceptional job of building and embracing the community around their events. They’ve created something people want to be a part of.
Operating on an approval model each year, cars need to meet a certain criteria to be accepted. This criteria is subjective and the concept might seem divisive, but it really isn’t.
Venues have a fixed amount of spaces, so obviously some – not everyone – can get premier parking. Being accepted is seen as a sort of badge of honor, a small appreciation for the effort a builder has put into their car so far.
On the flip side, those who don’t make it often take the rejection in stride, attending the event anyway to see what they have to do next year to be included.
It provides a goal to work towards as they continue to modify their car, focusing on the most minute of details while also working on the bigger picture.
This system generally keeps things ever progressing year after year. Combine approvals with everything else that makes a show great – music, R/C drifting, friends, family – and you’re left with an event many just won’t miss.
At least that’s my take. I’d love to hear yours.Taking It All In
Philosophical musings aside, Fitted’s 10th anniversary event was made up of a varied mix of vehicles.
With an event focused on wheel fitment, you’re going to end up with cars that sit on the more extreme edge of the spectrum. These are the cars that generate knee-jerk reactions and endless social media debate due to their aggressive wheel and camber specs.
Typically, the owners know the shit-storm these cars will cause and revel in it to some degree.
Where there’s yin there’s also yang, and on the other side of the spectrum there were plenty of cars that struck a more harmonious balance between wheel width, ride height and camber settings.
Aired out, this W108 Mercedes-Benz 280 SEL lives right up to its cheeky vanity plate. At ride height, things return to a much more reasonable alignment spec.
I thought the custom, owner-built split wheels were magnificent and keeping the interior as true to factory form as possible was a downright excellent choice.
Knowing when not to add anything is sometimes just as important as knowing when to add.
Playing a game of subtleties is not for everyone, however, as I would soon learn when I was lured outside of the building by the distinct sounds of a 2JZ just below limiter.
Following my ears, I noticed that neither of the two cars with crowds around them should have been making the noises they were.
SR20-powered Mercedes-Benz 190E or 2JZ-powered Hyundai Genesis – which do you think would be more fun to drive at a venue of your choice?Here’s To 10 More
Will Fitted Lifestyle and ‘stance’ in general make it another 10 more years? It’s honestly hard to say.
Not helping the cause is the fact that some municipalities are already cracking down on certain modifications through legislation. The law being at odds with modifications is nothing new of course, so time will ultimately tell, but getting your plates pulled is a bit of a logistical hassle.
As much as I wish I did, I don’t have a crystal ball, and thus no way of telling the future.
But if I were a betting man, I’d say hate it or love it, the scene is here for both a good time and a long time.