If you've been following some of the car shows I attend, you'll notice a recurring trend: cars so low, with so much wheel and so much camber and so little ground clearance, posing as race cars. I'm not sure if this has caught on in every area of the world, but here in the 'States the "stance" movement is huge. I personally am more about functionality than form - I would go nuts if my car scraped constantly - but even I'll admit that it's a great look.
Still, I wanted to wrap my head around this stance thing a bit better, so a feature was in order. Thankfully I've got a friend who's well versed in the "low life," David Whitley. His '03 350Z has about 1.5" of clearance between the side skirts and the ground, and the fenders are stuffed full with wheels. Let's figure out what the deal is with this Stance thing.
CarThrottle: So, tell us what you drive.
David: It's a 2003 Nissan 350Z Enthusiast Package.
I notice it’s really unbelievably low. What’s up with that?
I just like the style, it’s Hellaflush. It’s height friendly for my girlfriend, too. It's about as low as it can possibly go without becoming one with the earth. Low 'n slow! That's how I roll.
Why a stanced car?
I dunno. I’ve had fast cars in the past, and I think it was just time to do something different. And I love the way it looks.
Do you daily drive this thing? It’s like 3cm off the ground.
Yes, actually it’s an inch and a half off the ground from the sideskirt and I daily drive it like a boss. The exhaust is actually lower, but I can’t measure it because I can’t fit my arm under there. (laughs.)
What’s the best thing about having a stanced car?
The funny looks you get from people. Especially old people. An old man that’s an engineer came up to me at work and asked me "how my car physically moves at all." He said “You can’t drive that; it’s just broken.” I get lots of rubberneckers. Little kids love it, too – my mom’s a fifth grade teacher, and she has one student who loved it because she was actually taller than the car!
What’s the worst thing about daily driving a stanced car?
Road reflectors. They suck. That and bridge transitions are terrible. Sometimes people tell me my car’s on fire from the sparks it throws. Also, denting in your gas tank on a speed bump so you can’t fill it all the way up. And having to fix the exhaust constantly.
Any special accommodations you have to make to drive it?
Well it depends, sometimes I take longer routes to avoid speedbumps. If not, I just scrape. You get used to it.
Give me some details on the suspension, alignment, offset etc – there’s just so much wheel in such a small car, it makes my brain hurt.
The suspension is Fortune Auto Series 500 coilovers, which actually ride really well, even this low. It's set at -3.5° camber front, -4.6° back. The wheels are Varrstoen 2.2.1's, sized 18x10.5” with zero offset. The rear end has hub-mounted 20mm spacers - not the bolt-through kind that people have so many issues with. The tires are 225/40/18 Kumho AST, which I run because the sidewalls stretch especially well. And the fenders are rolled and pulled to clear the sidewalls, it hardly ever chews 'em up.
I’m sure this is the high point of your ownership of the car, being featured here on CarThrottle, but out of curiosity has your Z been featured elsewhere as well?
Oh, man. I think the previous owner had it featured on Hellaflush, but that’s about it – it is on Varrstoen’s website too. It's popped up in show coverage elsewhere (It's actually in the coverage from ISO at Jordan Lake -James) but never a dedicated feature before! So yes.
What’s next in your plans for the 350Z?
In the short term, it's getting a new bumper, new headlights, and a lip spoiler on the trunk. The current headlights are terrible - the housings aren't sealed well and they trap moisture, drives me nuts. Further down the road, I want a big brake kit, because the stock brakes are dookie. I want to go with a height-adjustable air ride setup when I've got the money - they ride better than static, and you could lift it up some when you're just driving around. I'm always thinking about boost, of course.
What kind of cars have you had before this?
My first car was an (S13) 240SX. After that, I had a turbo DA Integra, Turbo EG Civic hatch, AP1 S2000, Neon SRT-4, Evo8, and now the 350Z.
Damn, how old are you again?
What do you want to have next?
Another 240 would be fun, like a 240 drift car. Maybe a Civic drag car? I’d love to have a GT-R. But I’ll probably get one when I’m 50, when they’re finally cheap enough for me to afford!
Any advice you want to offer for other people thinking about daily driving a stanced car?
Know your roads! And when haters get on your case, just remember to not give a f(*&. Realize you’re going to scrape. Embrace the scrape. Love the scrape.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I'd like to thank Insane Stance & Offset for their support of the car! They're great guys.
Engine (external): Jim Wolf Pop charger, custom Vibrant exhaust
Engine (internal): none
Brakes/tires/wheels: 18x10.5” zero offset Varrstoen 2.2.1, Kumho AST 225/40/18, 20mm spacer in rear
Suspension: Fortune Auto Series 500 Coilovers with custom spring rates (12k front, 10k rear) Energy Suspension bushings in front
Body: Rolled and pulled fenders, 250 extra horsepower worth of stickers
Interior: NRG quick-release hub, Nardi Deep Corn 350mm suede wheel, Heineken Beer Tap Shifter, LED interior lights, hardwood trunk floor
ICE: JBL 600 watt amp, 2x Kicker 10” L7 subwoofers, Pioneer AVIC-D3 head unit
Thanks to David Whitley for doing the interview and being patient with two picture-taking sessions!