What makes a king a "king?" For some, they are simply born into it; for others, it comes from hard work and perseverance. Now, they may not get to be honorable leaders or sit atop a throne in a castle, but they do garner respect, and in the car world, a king can be discovered from building a neck-breaking ride. In Japan, Yuki Hamamoto is one such individual who wasn't gifted the crown but has earned the title "King of Stance" from his peers, after taking eight years and two chassis to perfect his 2002 Nissan 350Z convertible.
The road to royalty started when USDM and Hellaflush styles peaked in popularity, and influenced a lot of Yuki's design decisions for the Z. Unfortunately, his project hit a little bump when the original 350Z coupe he'd started was totaled in 2012. Fortunately, he was able to transplant most of the aftermarket parts over to his new convertible build.
The goal for his new car was simple: Dominate the show circuit by combining shakotan, perfect wheel and tire fitment, deep dish wheels, and high horsepower. Serving as a check-and-balance throughout his build meant that no modification would go too far as to negatively impact another aspect of the car.
Ride height and wheel fitment were one of the top priorities for Yuki, but he didn't want to sacrifice handling and comfort which is often the tradeoff. Thanks to a set of T-Demand coilovers and upper arms, Yuki was able to meet all of his suspension requirements.
His wheel choice, however, posed a different challenge which required a strange sacrifice. Yuki's plan included a set of step-lipped VIP Modular wheels, but they weren't available in the sizes he wanted—only the reverse-lip options. To get around this, he mounted the faces of the wheel on the other side and had the barrels polished. This created a tiny issue where the tires needed to be filled with air from the inner portion of the wheel—a sacrifice Yuki was willing to make for the look he wanted.
Next on the list were the fenders and for those not familiar with the Z33, these really standout as opposed to the factory versions (although they have been sculpted to look OEM). It's a testament to the quality of the fender modifications which pushed the fronts out an additional 1.5-inches while the rears were widened 2.5-inches. Additionally, all four fenders were lifted an inch to allow the car to be driven without worrying about rubbing, even during full-lock turns. Although pulling the fenders was the hardest part of the build, according to Yuki, he tells us it was absolutely worth it and necessary to match the vision in his head.
Yuki goes on to explain that before starting his 350Z project, he'd experienced some humiliating losses to shakotan VIP cars at car shows and swore that his Fairlady Z would never be defeated by one again. So, he addressed one thing that many big body sedans don't modify in Japan—the engine. Even though Yuki's car club, Low-n-Slow, is displayed on the windshield, it would be a huge mistake to underestimate its performance. Just a quick look at the front should tell you that it's not a normal VQ35DE under the hood, but boosted, thanks to an HKS supercharger kit. The Z now produces a stout 400hp, which is quite the increase from the stock 283hp rating. For Yuki, this meant he could feel confident that he could handle any encounter with a VIP car that would challenge him at a show or even on the streets. Let's not forget the immaculately shaved bay which took a couple of years to complete.
The careful balance between style and performance of Yuki's 350Z is now well-known in Japan and it's rare for him to leave an event emptyhanded. He's built one of the most award-winning Z's in the country and he's secured his place as one of the kings, if not THE king of stance.