LOVE OF THE LOW
t’d be hard to boil it down to simply one choice, but if I had to choose my favourite aspect of car modification it would be lowering. For me, a car’s aesthetics are extremely important, and so heavily influenced by ride height that this alone can and often does make or break a build. I don’t care if it’s static, bagged, hydro or whatever, there’s not a car on the planet that won’t look better sitting a little closer to terra firma.
Exactly where this love of low came from is hard to pinpoint, but I’d have to imagine it’s linked to my early obsession with door slammers, followed closely by ’90s touring cars.
So it made sense that as soon as car ownership came into the picture, my first quest was also lowering. We were broke teens, still at school, and barely had $2 to rub together, but if we had that it was put straight into the fuel tank. A set of coilovers? Man, nobody I knew owned any, they were the kind of stuff reserved for exotic race machinery. We were like most others in the scene, our only avenues were King Springs or cutting the springs. The really brave (or dumb) took the springs out altogether.
I can vividly remember the first set of springs we cut, under the watchful eye of a mate’s dad — Steve — who for a slab of Rheineck was eager to help the boys do things as safely as our budgets would allow.
I was thankful to have someone like Steve to steer us in the right direction, something he is still doing today as head of a local hot rod club, where he helps the young guns find their feet.
What we were doing was illegal, but he knew we would do it anyway, and thought it better to show us how to do it as safely as possible, teaching us how suspension actually worked in the process. When I look back I appreciate that more now, as we never had horror-story shock blowouts, cracked strut towers or any others among the long list of common disasters. At the time our local police were cracking down with an iron fist on such modifications, but we were young, carefree, and in many respects having something low was all we cared about.
Fast forward to today, and being low still matters a lot to me, although times have changed and parts to do such work are cheap — cheap enough that even my 16-year-old self could have afforded to do it legally.
It might seem a bit rich of me to sit here and preach about doing stuff by the book, but times truly have changed for the good. What we have now, which we didn’t then, is an extremely large amount of freelyavailable knowledge about how to do things the correct way, including plenty of good stuff from the LVVTA, the guys I’d liken to the gatekeepers of the freedoms we enjoy when it comes to being able to modify factory cars. It has never been easier to do it safely — to have something slammed that still handles, and is safe.
So whichever way you’re building your car, to the letter of the law or as illegal as they come, whatever you do ensure that what you’ve conjured up in the shed is not putting you, your mates, or innocent lives at risk.