Aggressive wheel fitment sure has taken the import tuning community by storm in the last couple of years. There is such a huge following among enthusiasts who are into all things “stance”-related that they’ve developed their own automotive sub-culture. Low offset wheels on cars lowered beyond possible comprehension are so popular today that there are websites and online forums strictly devoted to just that. It’s crazy to think just how quickly it’s become a mainstay in the import community. You know that a particular style has “made it” when there are an equal amount of people that absolutely hate it. There are guys now who are devoted to all-things wheel fitment-related—and there are guys who devote their time to following them around just to tell them how ridiculous it is. Websites such as HellaFlush and Canibeat have become household names based on cars that feature aggressively-sized wheels and ride height lowered to the extreme. It’s quite a phenomenon if you think about it. It’s so simple; you take wheels that hardly fit your ride, attempt to make them fit, and then adjust your ride height to minimally clear rotational mass—on paper, it’s so simple. In reality however, it’s actually quite a task. Often times cutting and reshaping of fenders are required, and with that comes more bodywork. There are even a select few who acquire wheels and then build the car around it, just to make them fit.
The “haters” if you will, cry foul at aggressive wheel fitment mainly because of safety issues related to running smaller-than-adequate tires for clearance and looks. These people just find it totally unnecessary to sacrifice safety at the expense of style. There are also the one-uppers, who recognize this particularly popular style and try to take it to the next level, often yielding preposterous results. Aggressive wheel fitment than becomes an aberration and these cars just look cartoonish and undrivable. One of the biggest criticisms of the whole “stance” movement is that it leads to people taking short cuts with their cars and only building for style over substance. The guys/gals who care only for fitment and ride height will sometimes ignore every other important aspect that comes with building a well-rounded, fully-functional vehicle. If this short-sighted behavior continues, many fear that the entire import automotive culture will be relegated to having crappy cars with nice wheels. Of course, someone will cry diplomacy and shout-out the ever popular “to each their own” statement, but people will continue to see a growing divide between those who are strictly stance-fanatics and those who care more for building complete, well-rounded vehicles.
With that said, we as enthusiasts can breathe a collective sigh of relief because there are guys like Dennis Kongvongsai; who are a part of the stance sub-culture and use aggressive wheel fitment as a central theme while also allocating their time to building the rest of the car. You don’t know Mr. Kongvongsai and that’s okay. All you need to know about him is that he is responsible for this 2005 Subaru STI. The most obvious and noticeable modification to his ride that should immediately pop out at you are the 18x9.5-inch Volk RE30s. The forged aluminum wheels stand out not only because of the Volk Racing signature “Mag Blue” colorway, but also because of their relative proximity to the outer wheel wells of the STI. The negative camber in the rear indicates that clearance is minimal and the hammered ride height leaves the rare, Japanese-produced Mature diffuser millimeters away from making contact with the pavement at any given time. It may look as if this is just your everyday run-of-the-mill “stanced-out” Subaru—but your initial indications are definitely incorrect. Kongvongsai’s STI actually hosts quite a bit of extensive modifications; he just happens to be a very big fan of the stance movement.
“I’ve always been into cars,” Dennis explains. “My homies were all into Hondas and other Japanese cars but I was a truck guy. I went to all the shows and meets back then even though I was STIll busy messing around with a couple different trucks. I picked up this Subaru about three years ago because I wanted to try something different. I’m really into cars that are slammed with some nice wheels so I set out to build with that style in mind. It’s a classic look, you know? Growing up around cars, that was the first thing we saw on a modified car rolling down the street; it was lowered on aftermarket wheels. Things have just evolved and the whole stance movement has taken off.”
To put it frankly, Dennis’ STI is no high-horsepower, all-wheel-drive monster. While many Subaru heads build for power and often times have grandiose dreams of creating a time attack track machine, Dennis has built with pure style in mind. The only tarmac that this Subaru will ever attack is of the street-variety so aesthetics are a key focus of his build. OEM white paint remains intact but carbon fiber components from Seibon and VIS are added to provide visual contrast. The Seibon carbon front lip has been paint-matched however, for a more streamlined look and to direct more awareness to the dual-vented ARC carbon hood scoop. The cockpit of Kongvongsai’s sedan follows with a similar two-toned scheme. Garish red Bride material drapes the rear seats and all four door panels of the STI, offset with the stock black fabric, to match the red Bride Cuga front seats.
Being that the central theme of this STI is based on all things stance-related; the underside of this GD-chassis sees the most significant amount of mods. Stance GR+Pro coilovers give Dennis the ability to get his Subaru as low as humanly possible while fender braces have been installed for better structural rigidity. Larger-diameter swaybars from Whiteline and Kartboy endlinks replace the original unit’s front and back. In the three years that he’s had his Subaru, the native San Diegan has gone through an assortment of different wheels before finally settling on his Volks. Luckily for Dennis, he can switch up to another set of wheels if he chooses and always has a fresh set of BF Goodrich rubber, courtesy of his sponsorship through Team Hybrid.
Hate it or love it, there’s no denying that the stance era is here to stay. It may be scaled down to a lesser degree in the coming years, but enthusiasts will always be into wheels and ride height—some are just more into the overall look and care little for function. Luckily we have guys like Dennis Kongvongsai who provide a great example of how to build a nice vehicle that incorporates stance as an essential modifcation and doesn’t just use it as a deterrent to cheap-out on the rest of their build.
2005 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
Owner Dennis Kongvongsai
Hometown San Diego, CA
Occupation insurance salesman
Engine 2005 Subaru 2.0L EJ20; port/polished OEM turbo manifold; Tumble Generator valve delete; Grimmspeed electronic boost control solenoid; NGK spark plugs; Walbro 255LPH fuel pump; Injen Stealth Series front-mount intercooler kit, short ram intake; TiTek Catted Bellmouth downpipe; HKS Carbon TI catback exhaust system; ARC oil cap, radiator shroud, alternator cover; Mizu aluminum radiator, radiator cap; Samco Sport radiator hoses, turbo inlet hose; Cusco turbo heatshield; Tein hood damper; Odyssey racing-spec battery
Footwork & Chassis Stance GR+Pro SS-D coilovers; Kartboy front/rear endlinks; Whiteline 27mm front swaybar, 24mm rear sway bar, roll center adjustment kit, anti-lift kit; Carbing front/rear strut bars; Paranoid Fabrications fender braces; Ingalls camber bolts
Brakes OEM STI Brembo brakes; DBA slotted front/rear brake rotors; TechnaFit stainless steel braided brake lines; Hawk HPS front brake pads
Wheels & Tires 18x9.5" Volk Racing RE30 (+22 offset); 245/35-18 BFG G-Force T/A KDW; Project KICS R40 Neo Chro lug nuts
Exterior Seibon GD front lip, carbon-fiber roof; Mature carbon fiber rear diffuser; VIS Demon carbon fiber trunk; EGR sideskirts; ARC carbon fiber dual-vent hood scoop; JDM Subaru rain guards, power folding mirrors, taillights; pillar-less grille modification; Hella Super Tone horns; custom stain black headlights
Interior Bride Cuga seats, custom matching Bride rear seats/door panels, shift boot, seat brackets, seat sliders; Takata safety harnesses; JDM STI titanium shift knob, hazard button; full black interior conversion; Honda CR-X c-pillar bar; Defi Control Link II, boost, EGT, oil temperature gauges; ATI gauge pod; HKS Type 0 turbo timer; Autospeed billet aluminum dead pedal
Props James Lin of Team Hybrid and Hybrid Hunnyz; Wrong Fitment Crew; Mizu Cooling Solutions; VIP Tint & Glass; NOS Energy Drinks; K4RT3OY; BF Goodrich; Meguiars; Chemical Guys Detailing
WWW bfgoodrichtires.com; mymizu.com; teamhybridforums.com; wrongfitmentcrew.com