Stance. It’s possibly the most toxic word when it comes to car culture. Many drool at the sight of a car lowered to within an inch of its life, while others click ‘add a comment’ and slate the genre for all it’s worth.
I’m a little on the fence. I understand and appreciate the art of modifying a car in this unique and interesting way, but can also sympathise with the opposing cries of distaste and confusion.
However, I have a confession to make…
Strolling through the halls of a well-known indoor ‘stance’ show last year, I came to the realisation that my interest in this genre of automotive culture is fading. I was no longer experiencing the feeling I usually get from cars modified in this style.
We’ve all experienced it. Do you remember, when you were a child and you bounded down the stairs (or hallway if you lived in a bungalow like me) on Christmas morning to a fireplace obscured by a wall of brightly wrapped presents?
It’s almost like a state of panic sets in. Which one do you open first? Where do you begin?
Recently, I had the privilege of riding shotgun, on a mountain pass, in a 280hp Vauxhall red-top-powered Ford Escort Mk2. Those watching outside would have noticed the stupid grin on my face as the driver banged through the gears, rear end fishtailing wildly, 13-inch Minilites spinning at silly RPM. This is the kind of feeling I’m on about. Sheer pleasure.
So, when planning and booking events for this year, I decided against attending such indoor, static car shows. There was, however, one ‘event’ that I was not going to miss. An event that I figured might rekindle the flame: Wörthersee.The Pilgrimage
2019 would be my third pilgrimage to the town of Velden, and my second time to skip over three-quarters of the 2,086km journey from Ireland, by sitting in a cramped seat, at 30,000ft and 800km/h.
The trip began with a stroke of luck as the lovely lady behind the car rental desk in Munich airport upgraded us from a humble Ford Fiesta to a BMW 530i Touring. The perfect car for the four hours of autobahn that awaited us.
I get a little giddy when I turn off the motorway onto the winding filter road that leads into Velden. The sounds always get me. Rumbles of VR6 and crackles of DSG fill the alpine air, mixed with the odd pop and bang as a 20-valve turbocharged Mk1 Golf makes its way to ‘the world’s most famous gas station’.
It’s become something of a tradition that we sit down to a pizza in Café Moro on that first night. These brief moments, watching the cars pass through this traditional Austrian village, serve as a prelim to the week of madness that lies ahead.
Wörthersee is refreshing. It immediately hits you that the ‘stance’ scene is thriving in this part of the world. In a positive way, too. There’s no place for controversy here. No place for cars built with the goal of doubling ones Instagram follower count. No place for the thoughtless who often tarnish car culture with a bad name.
It’s refreshing to see that the worlds largest unofficial car event has stayed true to its roots. Thirty-eight years on, the reasons and the motives remain the same.
Wörthersee is unique in that it has many, smaller, sub-events that occur randomly in the weeks leading up to the main event, GTI Treffen in the town of Reifnitz.
One such gathering, held on Monday 20th May, was the fourth edition of the popular Swissbox Meet. Previously, the nice guys at Swissbox had held their meet at a multi-storey carpark on the banks of Ossiacher See, about 20 minutes drive from Velden. This year, they opted to move to the neighbouring campsite, Camping Wirt.
One of the most striking things about this place is how swiftly and easily these gatherings happen. There’s no fuss, no arguing. Cars simply file into the venue and slowly park, randomly, as if someone opened a bag of car-shaped Skittles and scattered them across the table.Let Us Unite
It was at this point I developed a frenzy of sorts and was overcome with the aforementioned feeling that only car enthusiasts know of.
It came over me like a hot rash, walking between the cars that morning. My camera was in overdrive and I couldn’t hit the shutter fast enough.
I have no doubt that this breed of car culture will continue to get a raw deal in the comments section online. However, it is a breed that, in one event alone, proved it can continue to impress.
There’s such a level of exquisite detail and attention put into the cars. It’s this almost obsessive nature that sets the ‘stance’ scene apart.
So let’s not argue and complain about why a certain modification has been made. Let’s not moan about contact patch and suspension travel. Rather, let’s agree to disagree. Let’s rejoice in the fact that cars, regardless of what we decide to do with them, bring us pleasure.
They give us that feeling.
How To join the IATS program: We have always welcomed readers to contact us with examples of their work and believe that the best Speedhunter is always the person closest to the culture itself, right there on the street or local parking lot. If you think you have what it takes and would like to share your work with us then you should apply to become part of the IAMTHESPEEDHUNTER program. Read how to get involved here.Cutting Room Floor