At the end of each year I’ve always found it fitting to look back on a few of the trends, both on-line and otherwise, that took the car community documented here on by storm the last three hundred and sixty five days.
If nothing else posts like these are always amusing to look back on the following years to assist in separating the trends from the fads.
At least one or two of the things mentioned today lay right on the trend/fad border so if you see the need to call a spade a spade, feel free to do so in the comments below.
If collectively the last six months of ’09 and the first six months of 2010 were the year of the automotive blog boom, and 2011 the year of the automotive Facebook page explosion, then the social media trend of 2013 was the Instagram account.
With less initial investment time than both a blog and a fan page, new Instagram accounts are born hourly with some ‘clever’ combination of one of stance, quality, classic, daily, import, drift, lowered, japan, camper, fitted, dumped, illest, or steezy as an account name.
Sadly many of these accounts are simply re-churning the the same images we’ve all seen before, or worse like the one above “re-editing” photos and calling them their own, in order to build a “brand” and eventually sell some sort of merchandise then cut and run when it all dries up.
The saving grace to all this is that eventually people will catch on and these accounts full of hollow likes, and a fickle fan base, will shrivel and die or get deleted allowing the more to continue their rise to the top.
Going hand and hand with influx of Instagram pages has been the rise of the automotive meme. The groundwork set by the “” in 2011 paved the way for the ‘automeme’ to reach what could now be considered critical mass.
Today’s meme’s run the gamut from , all the way to down right offensive and I honestly wouldn’t be mad if a few of them got buried in 2014, even if it means the old memes are buried by new memes.
Big In Japan
The Japanese tuning scene has always been a big point of interest for enthusiasts around the world, with people constantly looking towards the land of the rising sun for inspiration and content.
In previous years RAUH-Welt Begriff was the brand under the microscope while this year thing seemed to shift to fellow over fender obsessed tuners Liberty Walk and TRA Kyoto (Rocket Bunny) who both had several web features a piece when SEMA rolled around.
On the merchandise design side of things I don’t think that the ‘traditional Japanese car club’ sticker has ever been more popular as I noticed a number of designs similar to the one below hitting e-stores all across the internet.
In my opinion the constant influx of Japanese content is a bit of a double edged sword because, at times there is a definite over saturation of certain brands and certain content which dates things and incredibly rapid pace.
Another downside to the increased media attention on Japan is that those (the entire culture not just the flavour of the month vehicles and shops) get drowned out by those who are feigning interest because it is the current “it” thing.
That being said I still hold hopeful that the intensified media eye on Japan will help expose their thriving lowrider, minitruck, and hot rod scenes.
Stance/Aggressive Fitment Hate
Those who called aggressive fitment, and the stance genre as a whole, a horrible fad in 2011 grew visibly frustrated in 2012 when it continued to gain popularity, and hopping mad in 2013 when it became abundantly clear it wasn’t going away any time soon.
Despite the fact that he built a SEMA worthy FR-S in his own garage (who has ) continued their subtle pot shots in direction, while the “Ultimate JDM Experience” 7tune took a more direct approach berating the stance community any chance they got on their Facebook page.
If you add in forum goers and around the world stance has never been globally more hated and as it continues to grow in popularity so do the numbers of those who vehemently oppose it.
While I am a strict believer of “to each their own”, and the last person to force acceptance down someone’s throat, I often wonder if these people hold the same animosity towards other style first genres such as lowriders and kustoms?
Top Notch Video Production
As technology improves, and becomes more readily accessible, both photography and video-graphy quality naturally improve year after year.
In 2013 it felt as though automotive video production as a whole took a huge leap forward in terms of quality.
Local producers like , Art Malczewski (), , and all brought their best to the table and globally has been absolutely destroying along with , and .
People often ask why I don’t personally try my hand at event videos and the honest truth is that compared to the ever increasing quality of video produced I’ve got nothing to bring to the table.
In the United States spray-able Plasti Dip has been available for years, but here in Canada the now familiar blue and yellow rattle can was previously only available at one specific store (Home Hardware), and even then it’s actually on the shelf availability was quite slim.
This all completely changed when the automotive community saw the pigmented aerosol propelled rubber as an economical way to completely change the look of anything relatively temporarily.
Now Plasti Dip is available pretty well everywhere you turn and it’s use has grown from wheels and interior trim to complete exterior refinishes.
The wild demand for the product has even birthed a number of rubberized coating companies that will not only supply people with the product but also do the labor as well.
When done right Plasti Dip applications create a unique finish that is not easily reproducible with other products, but when done wrong incorrectly or hastily yields a much less desirable look.
Whether Plasti Dip has, or will, become a serious contender for the vinyl, or even paint, markets still remains to be seen, but I don’t think I was the only one surprised with how widespread it’s use was in 2013.
2013 could almost be dubbed ‘The Year Of The Bag’ because not only did anything and everything touch the ground at 0 psi, but people finally started to really pay attention the performance merit of air suspension.
/ that documented Matt Farah’s experience carving California corners in an air ride equipped Audi S4, while over on s set-up installed on his SEMA bound Double Down Mustang RTR project.
Across the globe Airrex affiliated released a video showcasing several different cars drifting on air, while a little closer to home put their equipped s14 through it’s paces at a Risky Devil Drift event.
The icing on the cake came when both Air Lift Performance and released videos directly comparing bags to coils with results closer and more favourable than many air ride naysayers are willing to believe.
While the war between bags and coils continues to wage on it’s not unfair to say that air, as a way to balance form and function, gained a lot of traction in 2013 that is only going to continue in 2014.
Pushing Static Fitment and Ride Height
The ying to air rides yang, the boundaries of what was achievable riding on coils was again pushed to new limits in 2013.
What was low in 2012 became a thing of the past as people removed helpers, lock rings, ordered new springs, lifted motors, notched frames, and generally did whatever they could to minimize the amount of light that could pass under their car.
While some opted for the impossibly low, and impossibly, clean look others simply went with the ‘just ain’t care’, low no matter the cost, approach.
With no end in sight I genuinely fear for the well being of oil pans and speed bumps of 2014.
This might be a direct result of the different events I attended this year but I noticed several builds trending more towards the “classier” side of things in 2013.
By class I am referring to a restrained, coordinated, colour pallet and acute attention to detail.
Cars with just enough done to stand out but not so much that they deter from the vehicles charm and natural appeal.
This is a stark contrast, and refreshing change, from the “throw everything expensive at it and keep what sticks” approach that seemed to be popular of years past.
It often takes a little more time to modify a car this way but there’s honestly nothing wrong with that.
Tire/Wheel Width Balance
The last trend I am going to touch on, and one of my more favourite, is the return of the tire width/wheel width balance.
For awhile many seemed dead set on throwing the widest wheel, and narrowest tire, under their car and calling it a day but now, people seem to want to fit the most of both underneath their rides.
Yes, to the bane of fitment critics mentioned above tire stretch is still very much a thing but the days of the extreme “look at me” stretch seem to be numbered.
Whether this trend is a result of people spending even more time calculating their final specs, getting better at fender modification, or a direct result of the increased use of over fenders I am not sure but I for one welcome the return of more tire.
With tire width on the increase I’m looking forward to beefing up the neglected Fat And Flush category of the site.