Over the past few years, the import tuning scene has undergone a transformation. With the slow disappearance of the big shows that once defined the movement, a new underground scene has emerged.
Interestingly, it seems to be almost the opposite of what the “Hot Imports Nights” scene was about, and we’d like to think it owes more than a nod to our own European tuning scene.
It goes under several names, but what all the cars have in common is their stance. Known as Stance or Hellaflush in some circles, it’s about getting the wheels flush to the body and the car as low as possible. Deep-dish wheels are obviously a bonus.
In short, they’re re-inventing what the Euro scene has done forever. The tires are being stretched to produce lots of poke, and the bodies are being shaved. Even the stickers have gone!
It’s interesting to note that events like Hot Import Nights effectively shaped the import scene for many years. In order to succeed at such events, you had to score well on the judge’s checklist. You got points for stickers, color change, wheels, suspension, interior, stereo, forced induction, etc. As a result, all the cars were over the top and uniformly outlandish.
The new Stance scene is moving away from that. We saw more cars with dents than vinyl. They’re practically adopting the European Rat-look that was popular about eight years ago.
However, it’s a breath of fresh air for the import scene. And it’s coinciding with the air-ride movement that’s so popular in the Euro scene right now.
Interestingly, there are two camps in Hellaflush: static and air – basically, it’s those who prefer coilovers and those who have air suspension: different ways to skin a cat, so to speak, but mirroring our scene nicely.
In a tree-hugging hippy way, we welcome the Stance movement because it’s moving the imports to our way of thinking. Low cars with cool wheels, monotone paintwork, clean bodies – it’s everything we’ve been doing for years. And whereas a Jetta looked slightly foolish at HIN, for example, it can now rule the roost at a Stance event.
The import and Euro fans finally have common ground to enjoy their love of cars.
Of course, there are haters. Our scene has people who don’t like air, don’t understand poke and won’t lower their cars excessively. This is generally for commonsense, practical reasons because a car that’s too low stops being functional.
Those people are going to hate Hellaflush for the same reasons… In fact, the import crowd is going lower and adding more camber than the Euro scene has generally entertained. Most of our cars can still drive, and performance remains a crucial element of any build. However, we saw some imports leaving the recent Hellaflush LA event with tires that would barely turn.
This was the third annual Hellaflush Los Angeles meet, which took place in a large parking lot on Venice Beach, CA. More than 900 cars showed up throughout the day, causing an overflow, with the police temporarily closing one lot to avoid traffic backing up.
With the lots full of JDM regulars, plus a healthy does of old and new school Euros, the Stance movement is blurring the lines between Euro and JDM in a positive way.
We saw stanced-out Subarus with a static set-up parked next to a Mk5 Jetta on air, yet both owners appreciated each other’s work. Its great to see the car scene coming full circle to what we all enjoy: good-looking cars and a great setting for enthusiasts.
Now we just need the JDM crowd to admit they copied us before we get them to admit the VIP scene was a re-hash of what AMG was doing to Mercedes back in the ’80s! Good times.
Don’t forget to check out the video at eurotuner.com and youtube.com/eurotuner to get a feel for the scene and this event.