Because there's a tasteful way to mod your car and its none of these.
The world of aftermarket tuning can be an incredible one. When manufacturers stop at a certain point to achieve a fine balance between cost and performance, tuning allows you to access more potential – be it in outright pace, handling ability, and even noise. Styling can also be tweaked to personal tastes, and better yet, form to follow function – like racecars engineered to go fast with styling that benefits that. Even small tuning tweaks can be awesome, like a change of wheels to give your ride a personalized touch.
But some tuning cultures exist that don’t have a place in the automotive world – tuning cultures that take things too far and ultimately go against the purpose of motor vehicles. We’re talking crazy vinyl and underglow neon kind of bad – thankfully that died after the Fast and Furious franchise reached its fifth installment. We’ve selected five more car cultures we think need to go quietly into the night.
If you don’t know of the Japanese Bosozoku culture, consider yourself lucky. The name literally translates to “running-out-of-control tribe” and is a Japanese youth subculture associated with both cars and bikes. It began with biker gangs in the 1950s, but its popularity grew in the 80s and 90s, and is still found today in Japan.
The culture’s hallmark styling is cartoonish in its extravagance – with over-the-top, mile-high spoilers, cartoonishly huge lips and diffusers, tall handlebars on bikes, and flashy exhaust setups standing tall and often in garish shapes. The cars are usually accompanied by brightly colored bodywork and contrasting extremities, and while the notion of youthful rebellion might seem innocent enough, the fact that everything from Kei cars to supercars get hit with the ugly brush, the culture seems more criminal than innocently expressive.
The Japanese call it Oni-kyan, but most of the world knows the culture as ‘stance’. What is stance? Well, it’s primarily the modification of a vehicle’s suspension to create something ‘slammed’ as low to the ground as possible. Terms like ‘hellaflush’ and ‘what wheel gap?’ characterize stance car meets and the culture is also commonly associated with insane wheel camber that defies logic and sound engineering.
Any and every type of car can fall victim, which is what makes the culture almost criminal. When you take something engineered and built to be incredible to drive – a performance icon such as a Subaru WRX STI or Ferrari, intended to provide a pure, athletic experience – and reduce it to a scraping piece of junk incapable of crossing a speed hump, that’s not a culture – it’s stupid. What’s worse is that some stancers take shortcuts and make their cars dangerous, as the lowered suspensions are incapable of handling evasive maneuvers, and are often – but not always – the byproduct of dangerous modifications such as cutting suspension springs.
There is a slight disclaimer or two here. One – functional stance is perfectly OK, lowering a car for the purpose of aiding performance, on street and particularly on track, is perfectly acceptable, even if it does compromise usability a little. Two – air suspension, I’ll begrudgingly accept, as it can be adjusted at the push of a button to usable heights and afford plenty of practicality and even comfort. But, why would you want to ruin a fine performance handling setup with air anyway?
I’m going to catch some flak for this, but the lowrider culture has reached the point where it needs to stop. Lowriders were originally classified as vehicles modified to run lower than their stock suspension, but the culture quickly developed to the point of using hydraulic suspension to make cars that could almost dance, lowering and raising corners of their body independently, and even being able to bounce if the setup was done right. It still bugs me a little that cars are modified to the extent that they defeat their original purpose, but the hydraulic nature of these adjustable suspension setups still makes them somewhat practical.
Truth be told I don’t actually have anything against lowriders, but really the style has had its day and it’s getting old now. Maybe in another 50 years’ time it’ll cycle around again, but it’s enough now.
Where lowriders are primarily about getting a car lower than stock, Hi-Risers are the opposite. The culture evolved in America, and traditionally makes use of American full-size sedans, preferably rear-wheel drive, with significantly raised ground clearance due in part to massive – we’re talking HUGE – wheels, generally chromed out or decked in some other flashy, attention-seeking garb. Often bodywork will be modified to accommodate the larger wheels. The culture has grown to include what is known as Donk or Dub, which adds on to the traditional Hi-Riser culture with massive speakers and incredibly loud sound systems. It’s showing off, but it reeks of overcompensation. Most of all, you’re endowing a half-capable street car with all the downsides of an SUV, and none of the benefits – where’s the logic in that?
Rice might well be dying, but it still keeps rearing another ugly head just like a hydra when you think you’ve chopped off the last one. Though rice doesn’t have a strict definition, it’s been said to stand for Race Inspired Cosmetic Extras and is usually characterized by young idiots equipping their street cars with all manner of racing aesthetics despite not even knowing which direction the nearest track or dragstrip is in.
These extras include big spoilers, extra air vents, flared arches, tuner stickers, body kits, tow-straps and tow-loops, and anything else usually reserved for race cars. The Fast and The Furious was partly to blame, but the culture still lives on, usually when people want to get creative with their rides without actually investing in their cars properly. There are tasteful ways of modifying your car, and ricing it out isn’t one of them.