You know, I've been thinking about it. People keep asking, or mentioning "hella flush" to me. It's neat, it looks cool and it's fresh, but I've never really been on board in the spiritual sense. Last night as I drove my SR5 to it's new owners house as I prepare to move across the country, I asked myself some questions.
Since there is no radio in the Sr5 I had plenty of time to listen to myself and the hole in the muffler. I came across as fairly solid chain of logic. There is an obvious pattern to California Car culture, and to be honest, Hella Flush is a California originated trend. Not so much the modifications done to the car, but rather the categorization and recognition of these modifications.
Some of you might not like my opinion, and I suggest you stop reading right here if you are not comfortable with the suggested tone of this brief article, as per the previous small paragraphs. Seriously, stop HERE. As I'm about to dive into a series of logic that really seems correct to me, although I don't mean to offend, it's just thinking aloud.
Since I can remember, people have been adding or changing items on their cars in order to 'improve' or change the looks of their cars. The origins of these changes seem to stem for the most part from the influence of racing cars and the modifications done to them to improve their performance. Most noticeable in it's Hight of modern existence, simply because I will not dive into the difficulty of clarifying the past, is the "spo-com" style of tuning.
It's easiest to start with the addition and influx of BodyKits. Bodykits began to become popular in the early 90's. The trickle down effect of the introduction of aerodynamics to F1 in the late 70's had made it's way to other series through out the 80's, and onto the odd street car, custom fabricated, and eventually the late 80's, early 90's many kits were available to be installed to on to many common models. The problem is, much like any of the following trends, is that it began with a function, and eventually as it made it's way down, it became a fashion, loosing the function along the way. Bodykits, very much lost their purpose in excuse for visual appeal, making them near pointless.
You see, the function of the modification is what made the origin of the trend cool. It was noticeable, because it made that car, faster or, stronger, or longer lasting then those it was racing with. So it was considered better than, rather than equal too. However, people have cloudy judgement and just want the "better than" feeling without the responsibility of the "better than" effort.
Larger than stock rims followed soon after the bodykits. In racing the function was simply a lask of technology on an affordable level, in order to get better braking, the diameter of rotors needed to be larger, and in order to get stiffer sidewalls, your tires either needed to be stretched, or a shorter profile. Simple solution was to make larger diameter wheels and lower profile tires. You could then fit bigger brakes, and have less sidewall flex. However, at some point "Donk" occurred, and although, it's really fascinating the oddity that it is, I blame the Honda Accord, and the 'spo-com' for popularizing the addition of larger rims to import cars.
It was senseless really to add more rotational weight, but it was to mimic the look of an actual fast car. Ideally cars began to return to smaller diameter rims for actual racing as brake pad materials and tire technology trickled down to catch up. However, at that point, the damage had been done.
Wings were another facet of this logic, that a car sporting a wing, thus needed it. In racing, the addition of wings is a last ditch effort to maximize the rule book. It is the final addition to a race car in order to have even the slightest margin of faster cornering speed over your opponent, at the risk of losing top speed, and adding weight to the car. Wings are very large, and noticeable items as they disrupt the silhouette of the car dramatically. Trickle down occurred and people began mounting them backwards on the trunks of their 3800lb Mk3 Supras, and blasting down the highway with their hands glued to the auto shifters. Nothing like T-tops and downforce.
Stance is an accidental occurrence of a race car. The car needs to be as low and as wide as possible to optimize the lowest center of gravity possible. Cornering speeds are what make or break a car, as it's easy to produce similar power figures from the motors of you and your competitors, but then you get down to who can have the fastest exit speed from a "J" turn and things get a bit technical and hard to comprehend as a whole for the average Joe. However, stance has become the latest of the California trends. Maximizing the roll center by lowering the car as much as possible while pushing the wheels to the very edges of the fenders. Neat, but I have to ask, and there's no soft lead in to this question: Do these people track their cars? How is this functional on a daily driver? What is the point of having a good stance, if it actually makes you drive slower, to avoid pot holes, speed bumps, driveway entrances, dead birds, etc.
Are heroes really made of how good their car looks parked in a photograph? Or are heroes made from their actions and achievements? Is creditability derived from how much you spent on rolling your fenders, or is it based on how many podiums you've taken? Will many people remember you for a long time for having fit some wheels on your car, or for having almost rolled it to pass on the inside? Once you've got the perfect fitment, what do you do then?
Hella Flush trend seems to be a way of saying to the world "I have family commitments, a steady job and bills to pay" rather than "I only live to be better than my competitors."
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