In the American car market, the “Fast and the Furious” days appear to be long gone. It seems that strict smog laws and being environmentally conscious have changed automotive style and car culture trends.
There has always been car subcultures in which “low and slow” was the way to go. The Lowrider lifestyle from the early 80′s , which for the longest time was considered a gangster thing only, kept a lot of things out of the mainstream. Putting a car on hydraulics was the way to go. However, hydraulics gave the car a harsh ride and poor handling characteristics. The small 14inch and 15inch wheels of the day didn’t help either.
Old school American muscle hot rods were becoming expensive and hard to get and by the late eighties, most of the cars being produced from Detroit were terrible. The imported cars from Japan gained a lot of traction in the market and were affordable and thanks to the Japanese Market were easy to modify.
Bring in the nineties, and race inspired coilover suspensions became accessible and the dangerous technique of cutting springs in order to lower a car faded. Thanks to the Japanese car enthusiast, a lot of trends that were only seen in Europe and Japan spilled over into the American European car market. It was a hot thing to see lowered E30 Bmw all done up in Ac Schnitzer, or a Mercedes tricked out with mesh BBS wheels and polished lips, or and Audi setup with in rally style body panels and small wheels with fat tires. The fiberglass body panel industry went over board with all the crazy ground effects kits and aggressive vents (some were comical) started by the Ferrari Testarossa.
Move forward to 1997 when OBD II emissions laws were introduced and complex fuel injection systems and it wasn’t hard to see that things were gonna change. At the turn of the century, it was getting painful to get horsepower to match the tight suspension. The roads are terrible and every time you hit a pothole it was almost guarunteed that you would have to drop fat cash for new wheels. Putting DUBS and other large diameter wheels on your car is the thing, but the stiff lowered spring suspensions put your investment at risk on public roads. Scraping your car on speed bumps and driveways also sucked.
Fast forward to today and airbag suspensions give you the best of both worlds, style and a nice riding vehicle. Airbags were once scorned by low riders for not being fast acting and they were unreliable. High-end automobile manufacturers such as Cadillac, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi brought them to the market for their luxury cars and SUV ‘s. Now you can ride in style and with a flick of a switch, you can elevate your car to a normal height to get around obstacles. The new systems like, AccuAir, are computer controlled, and have done away with the problems from the old days.
Specialists like James Osborn of Sprint Autoworks ( #becausebags) have really grabbed hold of the trend and are taking it to the next level. We, at RennWerks, applaud the effort and welcome the trend. We have always appreciated the look of a slammed ride and have always desired a car that rides comfortably when not at the race track.