Exercise In Stance: The Hamana Benzes
Function leads the way

Execution is probably the single most important attribute of any build. It doesn’t matter what the aim is – if it’s related to performance, functionality should always be coupled with presentation that’s pleasing to the eye. If looks are what you’re after, then this becomes even more of a necessity – regardless of what the style may be.

If you’ve been following our adventures through Japanese car culture, you’ll know how popular over fenders are right now. But what about other approaches? What about good old fashioned blistered and pumped fenders? Have we forgotten about those?


Of course not. Japanese bodyshops dedicated to the VIP and custom scene have really been pushing the boundaries of what is achievable of late, and while shops like Bee Dragon represent one extreme, others out there have turned a pursuit for ultimate stance into an art form. And that’s where Hamana comes in.


With a history spanning back almost half a century, Hamana is one of the oldest and most respected bodyshops in the Kanto area. The company offers a wide range of regular repair services, but custom work is something they’ve always concentrated on, and what they’ve become best known for. At this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon the two cars that stood out on their booth were a couple of Mercedes-Benz models – or more specifically, the white CLA and A-Class that I’m about to show you. ‘Perfect stance’ was the inspiration. Larry also spotted this pair when he parachuted in to the Japanese leg of Vossen’s World Tour, so we made some calls and arranged a time to find out more.


Stance is a word that’s bandied around a lot these day and loosely describes a car that sits nice and low, but possesses a touch of aggression achieved through a variety of methods. Offset is always important when choosing your wheels, as is the interaction between the wheels and tyres, and the tyres and the fenders. And to top it all off, there’s the functionality aspect. In my mind, it’s the last point that’s the most important. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first one to say that a car looks crazy-cool if it’s slammed to the ground with touch of negative camber. Most cars modified in that way will  look good in a photo – but that’s pretty much it. If it scrapes all over the place and becomes a pain to drive, I’m one that fails to see the point…


Upon meeting up with the Hamana guys last week, I was glad to find out I’m not the only one with that opinion. In building their Tokyo Auto Salon demo cars, the main aim of the exercise was to create something visibly cool, yet completely and utterly functional at the same time.


That’s what I said, functional! If you can have the perfect ride height and the perfect offset, but still be able to use your car on a daily basis without having to continuously calculate alternative routes to avoid particularly bad roads or ramps you can’t tackle, then you’ve already sold me on it!


Both the A-Class and CLA cars started off as base-spec ‘180’ models with 1.6L turbocharged four cylinder engines. The idea here was to show people that you don’t necessarily need to fork out for the top-of-the-range variants in order to create something special. After all, if you build a car to be driven every day, it should be a proper daily, right? The first order of business was to tackle the fenders, and here Hamana didn’t cut any corners. They hand-sculpted the stock metal fenders to increase the wheel arch curvature before welding on metal extensions that were shaped to follow the lines of the original design. There’s also blistering that fades out on the rear doors and bumpers. The aim was to achieve an aggressive look, but in a way that the manufacturer might do it.

Directional spokes to stand out

On both cars the custom bodywork was shaped and finished around stunning 20×10.5-inch Vossen VVSCVT wheels. It was the directional design of the spokes that first drew Hamana toward this particular model and Vossen developed the wheels with offsets that allowed a radical look, but still enabled full functionality. When somebody is investing in a brand new Mercedes- Benz, they don’t want to compromise the look because a wheel size isn’t right. So Vossen have spent a lot of time considering offsets in the search for perfect fitment across the board. As an example, the fenders were carefully shaped on the inside for a little more clearance and when the desired stance was set, the wheels don’t rub – even at absolute full lock. When was the last time you heard of that?


A set of KW Variant 1 adjustable suspension takes care of the ride height while providing ample compliance so there’s no detrimental affect on handling and ride quality. High performance AMG A45/CLA45 brakes with larger calipers and slotted and drilled rotors were added at both ends too.


The new calipers presented an opportunity to add a splash of colour – in this case a custom-mixed Candy Apple Red – to an otherwise almost monochromatically-themed car. The Vossens were repainted too with a slightly darker metallic silver hue that looks very sharp. Subtle and dare I say it, almost factory? The whole package is very slick.


But the Hamana touch definitely doesn’t end there.


Seeing that both the front and rear fender mouldings had to be extended onto the bumpers, they went ahead and fitted AMG replacements front and rear. But before that could happen, there was the task of remoulding the sides with increased dimensions and a more angular fender profile compared to the stock AMG versions of the cars.


That included re-styling the side skirts, getting rid of the aluminium-look (colored black on the CLA45) center trim, and extending both ends to follow the arches further downward.


Collectively, the enhancements improve the profile by making the cars seem lower than they really are. Call it an illusion, but if it works, why not use it, right? The 20in Vossen wheels seem more at home here too, it’s refreshing to see that diameter on a smaller car not seem ungainly.


Along with an AMG-option trunk spoiler, the CLA has had both its headlight and tail light lenses smoked. It’s yet another small but important detail that adds to the overall effect.


Both cars definitely look the most aggressive when viewed from the rear three-quarter angle. Seeing all the details come together – including those pumped fenders which are barely able to contain the VVSCVTs – makes all the hard work Hamana puts into these cars worthwhile.


There’s more still though… The diffuser-like section on each car’s rear bumper was completely re-imagined and an F1-style flashing LED fog light added in the centre. The A-Class was also treated to twin oval exhaust outlets where a Hamana custom stainless steel system pops its four round tail pipes out. The exhaust’s design helps the compact 1.6L four banger spool its little turbo up faster, giving a slight bump in both power and torque.


Hamana retained the square quad exhaust trims from the CLA45 on the CLA – albeit in chromed form rather than blacked-out as they are on the stock AMG model.


As Hamana’s idea was to create a couple of cool daily drivers, added performance was never really a part of the equation. But I thought a little peek under the bonnet wouldn’t hurt…

Turbo daily

I never actually noticed how the nose of these cars almost forms a 90-degree angle with the bonnet line. So many modern day cars seem to be getting this sort of treatment, perhaps due to the pedestrian safety regulations.


Just as I thought, there’s nothing too exciting under the hood. Being entry level cars, there’s only 122hp to play with, so it’s safe to say that this pair are more about returning low fuel consumption figures than super-quick 0-100km/h times…


I’m not sure about you, but I’ve always thought that the CLA looks like a CLS that’s been squashed horizontally. Bearing a resemblance to the sleek CLS is not a bad thing of course, but in factory guise it does so in an almost caricature-like way.


Not so the Hamana demo car though. Those widened fenders and that perfect fitment give it a much broader presence. In some ways, I think it makes it look a little more grown up.


Any issues with rubbing were taken care of during the first stages of the build when the fenders were being shaped. I had to see it for myself to believe it, but there’s no tire-to-fender touching whatsoever – even on the back section of the inner wheel arch. Of course, to achieve this most of the original plastic trim had to be either cut or removed completely. But you’d never know looking at it.


As the two cars sat parked on the rooftop of a supermarket in Tokorozawa, I couldn’t help but think that this is what the AMG A45 and CLA45 should have looked like from the factory.


When you think modified cars appear factory-like, it’s a sign that a lot of time, effort and talent has gone into making them look that way.


Seeing that Mercedes-Benz targeted these two cars at a younger audience, the interiors are quite sports-oriented, so Hamana saw no need to alter them in any way.


From the square-cut lower portion of the steering wheel, the simple dash layout with floating LCD navigation screen and the carbon-look trim – it’s actually a pretty nice place to be.


The only difference in the CLA – aside from the fact that it’s a lot cooler since both the front and rear doors don’t have window frames – are sportier-looking seats with the ribbed centers.


Both cars will soon sport the coveted Speedhunters #FeatureCar sticker and join an exclusive club in Japan.


Much was learned during the afternoon I spent looking at these two cars in detail. Many questions were answered about the mysteries of obtaining that perfect stance. And by perfect, I mean functional too. The truth of the matter is, you just can’t cut corners to get there. If you are the pickiest of the picky and settle for the best approach, then what Hamana has done with the help of Vossen is the standard that you should be aiming to achieve. This is stance done right.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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Photos look awesome Dino, really nice light in these!


sean klingelhoefer  Thanks Sean:)


" So fresh and so clean, clean."

Gianluca FairladyZ

I think i have to share some thought with you guys.. I think this new A-Class, and sure at all the one with the AMG badge is such a genius machine. This is just such a beautiful designed and beautiful engineered car! Looking at some tuned examples like these is just so refreshing! The whole car is refreshing and fascinating! Damn.. What's happening with my JDM heart..? Is it beginning to beat German..? I don't know...But all i know is this ride is awesome!


Reading this article makes me a little sad my Dad decided to get a C-Class wagon rather than an A-Class, although he'd never have given it this treatment anyway :(


As a European I gotta ask if Mercedes is also so damn expensive to buy and maintain for you guys as it is here for us. The style is nice but you'll burn so much money on it that there are much better options to have a stylish car.


twice the show, half the go. They look good tho.


not too fond of the whole stance thing but these two just made me change my mind.  the lines, the rims, everything just worked for me.


Superb find Dino, both are very very nice cars plus it's functional. Heard u r coming down to Malaysia this month, will definitely approach u to say hi.




They really capitalized on the CLS styling queues and it looks amazing! Better than the CLS I think as it's aggressive and sleek but without going into bonkers money for a daily driver. The small AMG touches complete the look perfectly, and thank you Hamana for showing a kit in white!

Great Shots Dino, perfect setting for these cars!


T Brian  No it's more expensive :) It's the Americans that get the nice and cool cheap sticker prices!


nugundam93  It's all in the execution ;)


nikizuan6  Hi Nik! Thanks, but will be there in early June :)


shiftyXTI  Thank you Sir:)


Big fan of both the A-Class and CLA, having driven several examples of each. And have to totally agree here Dino - Hamana has absolutely nailed the look of both of these. Great photos too, obviously!
Even in AMG trim each car can look a bit dumpy standard, the A-Class too squat and the CLA has too much metal out the back. But the wider fenders and bigger wheels fix that completely to my eyes. That they don't rub is even more remarkable - I'm not sure how long that'd ring true on the UK's terrible roads but it's still an achievement given the look.
Incidentally, those engines aren't too bad on the road. Hardly fire-breathing obviously, but more than enough around town. And obviously, not like the same look couldn't be applied to the 250, or the 220 CDI, or even the AMGs.


Such clean work on these! I snickered a little at the owners driving them in tight circles on top of a parking structure to show off that they don't rub, but on second thought I love that. It shows their enthusiasm and pride for for building their cars the right way. Stance + Function = Win


KeithCharvonia  It was more to do with the gridlocked roads in Saitama than anything actually. It was either roof top driving shots of parked up in traffic shots lol


antonyingram  Yep it's always amazing how a little extra meat in the fender area does so much for any car!


I've been looking for some high-res photos of these cars ever since I saw some IG shots from TAS a few months ago. Thanks Dino for taking some incredibly beautiful shots!
I never noticed before that these cars are not as slammed as they appear. It seems the chassis still has a lot of ground clearance as well. Perfect execution to achieve an amazing and such an aggressive look. I see the standard version of both the A and CLA on a daily basis, but I would have never guessed the exact same models were used as a base for this project. I always assumed they started off from the AMG versions.
Big thumbs up to Hamana!


i love these cars. so sad its really expensive from where i live :(


Dear Ms Wallace, I really don't like to moan, but i couldn't resist: it looks as though that italics everywhere thing is catching… now Mr D C has started doing it. It's very annoying. 

P E A C E :)


i love the a class in factory form, but that one is absolutely stunning! they both are, but the a-class has to be my favourite by far. fantastic work dino, the shots are amazing! think i may have found a new wallpaper!


speedhunters_dino T Brian  Wow thats interesting to know that America get the cheap sticker prices. I guess because we get dumb down versions of the cars


Dominique_v  Thanks glad you like the shots :)


tenpennyjimmy  It wasn't me :D


scottb28  Thanks, so happy everyone likes this sort of style. Was so fun shooting too:)


DaGuy I do remember reading an article about how you guys in the USA got the dumbed down version of our cars. It really sucks. But in Europe we do get probably the smallest selection of cars anyways, especially when it comes to JDM because on the mainland we drive on the right side of the road and manufacturers from the left-side driving countries can't be bothered to release many car models for us. So yeah, we do get better versions of some cars but in the end our selection sucks anyways.
On a side note I really love how some local guys import really lame versions of the american cars like a Mustang with only 4 cylinders, then drive around looking real tough but sounding like my Škoda :)


Beautiful cars, but All that special work, wheels and the OEM AMG bumpers would count as forking out though;)


I really like the fact that these two cars have like no negative camber, which I think looks way better than those with a lot of camber. I am one of these guys for whom perfect tuning is the mixture of function and style, and these two cars seem to perfectly hit my requirements.

Thanks for the shots, they looks awesome!


the cars are amazing !!!! I would like to know how to offset the wheel of the Mercedes class aw 176