Stanced and lowered cars are pretty common on the roads these days. But even just a few years ago, seeing an e30 dragging its ass would have been a rare sight. The proliferation of car parts and modifications to get cars lower than should be possible is only making it easier for enthusiasts to get low. Some people don’t quite understand the attraction, but for those who do, getting lower can become quite the obsession.
One of my college friends, known as Ryan Automatic, was the first person I ever saw who took the lowered look to the extreme. His GT-R purple 1993 Miata is insanely low, and he’s done quite a bit of work to get it there. The passion he shows for the clean lines and flowing look of a lowered car with wide, flared fenders really shows in his car and all the work he does helping others get lower. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind taking a second to explain his passion for stanced cars (and Ruckuses and vans).
TheSupremeLou: Alright, first things first: WHY SO LOW?!
Ryan Automatic: Why not? Everything looks better hammered to the ground!
TSL: Now that we've got that out of the way. What drew you to the "lowlife" and stanced culture?
RA: First it was the look. The wheels and tires flowing flawlessly with the lowered body lines to make it all one piece of elegant machinery. Then it was the pursuit of pushing the envelope and doing things that should "on paper" never work. Lastly, the community. I've met almost all of my friends via cars. Most people going out of their way to help others all sharing the same love. And the looks on people's faces when you drive by doesn't hurt either haha
TSL: How many front lips have you gone through in your life time?
RA: I honestly couldn't tell you, but the Miata itself has been through at least 6. I keep one nice one for shows and meets and a battle beaten one for other use haha
TSL: What do you have against people who use air bags instead of coil overs?
RA: This is a common misconception about me actually. I have nothing against air suspension. I would love a nice setup on a car one day, but not this car. The bone jarring, rough, feel everything in the road feel only makes you feel at one with the car and really appreciate it.
TSL: How often do you have to change out the skid plates on your car? Is it like every 3,000 miles with an oil change?
RA: Actually, it is only just now wearing down to an area of concern. 1/4 inch steel welded to the subframe doesn't exactly wear away quickly. The exhaust itself is more of an issue, if its not grinding a hole in it, it's just falling off completely.
TSL: Was the Ruckus just an obvious extension of your quest to stay low? Or was it just that you had the need for more open air vehicles?
RA: I remember seeing my first modified ruckus and I fell in love. The long low look is just awesome and there's nothing really like it. Of course everything looks better as low as it can possibly be, it's just a little sketchy bottoming out on 2 wheels as opposed to 4.
TSL: You were actually the first person to ever introduce me to the sport of drifting. I remember when you took four people in your 240sx because it was raining and did a quick loop around campus (some of it sideways). I was sitting in the behind the passenger's seat and I remember feeling your shocks bottom out every time you pulled the e-brake. Do you still get your Miata sideways?
RA: Absolutely! Drifting stays with you, you can't really explain the feeling but there's nothing like it. Ill never stop sliding whatever vehicles I own. Big plans for the following year to pursue more of this actually. The miata itself is more difficult to slide due to its short wheelbase but its more challenging and a lot of fun.
TSL: How does the lowered stance on your car affect handling?
RA: It takes all the countless hours and money that Mazda engineers poured into suspension geometry, spits on it, lights it on fire, then pees on it to put it out. But at the end of the day it's still a Miata so it handles quite well for how low it is. I've surprised alot of people along spirited backroad runs and off ramps.
TSL: Are the modifications on your car purely for show or are there some hidden performance parts we wouldn't see?
RA: I mean, the suspension itself improves handling somewhat, even at its current state. There are simple bolt-on performance parts that give the car some extra pep for some fun. Again, more of this to come.
TSL: What was your most recent addition to your garage?
RA: I've recently purchased a 96' Honda Odyssey. And yes, it's maxxed out on coilovers, wheels, and has a lot of future plans to come!
TSL: How do your parents feel about your cars? Your girlfriend?
RA: My dads a car guy, he appreciates the work and time I put into the car. Regardless if he understands it or not. He's more worried about how the car damages the floor when I come over to work on it at the garage! (Sorry Dad!). My mom, just kinda shakes her head haha but recently she has told me how good my car looks! My girlfriend is the best, she puts up with my hobbies, pointless spending, and even deals with the terrifying noises the car makes. Most recently, a 2.5 hour ride home with no exhaust what-so-ever. We both thought we would be deaf.
TSL: Any big plans for the future?
RA: Always progressing. The car has been through 6 sets of wheels and 3 different colors within the past years, and I don't plan on stopping. Over winter the car is getting a brand new motor, Jackson racing supercharger, and other odds and ends to make the car more fun to slide. The Odyssey is getting a complete overhaul, and the ruckus will be enjoying some new flashy parts including a GY6 engine swap so it can actually keep up with traffic!
TSL: What would be your advice to anyone who wants to start lowering their car?
RA: Lower it, break things, make them unbreakable, repeat until necessary. More importantly, do whatever you want to do, not what everyone else is doing. Years ago me and a few friends were all about going low while everyone else wanted to go fast and all we caught was shit, but we kept doing what we did and now we own the kind of cars we looked up to years ago.
Ryan Automatic's Garage:
1993 Mazda Miata
-GT-R Midnight Purple
-Stock metal fenders flared out to accommodate wide wheels
-Custom Rokkor coilovers with raised tophats
-15x8.5 and 15x9.5 BBS RMs that I built from factory wheels
-Hard dog rollbar
-Raised motor 2.5 inches through the hood to avoid breaking the oilpan (again)
-Garage vary replica lip
1996 Honda Odyssey
-17x8/9 Riverside Japan wheels
-Jdm corner lamps and taillights
-Carbon Honda accord lip custom fitted
2011 Honda Ruckus
-Custom air cylinder suspension setup
-Mojo Customs 12.5 inch extension
-Custom lowered mounting point forks to maintain full shock travel
-Purple Diamond Stitched seat from my friends in Texas
-Mojo customs front wheel insert
-Shaved rear frame
-10x8 rear wheel with stretches tire
You can find more of Ryan's vehicles on Instagram @RyanAutomatic. All photos (except for the photo of the Odyssey) were taken by Some Guy Photography (who is seriously great. If you're in the New Jersey/Delaware/Maryland area, check him out. He does all his work purely for the love of cars). More of his photography work can be found at his Facebook page www.facebook.com/someguyphoto.