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Staggered For A Reason

All too often I see claims being made about why it is stupid to put staggered wheels on a FWD VW. Amidst the numerous reasons given why one should never dream of doing such a thing, my favorites are; “It adversely affects handling” and “Your car isn’t RWD.” You may well expect that right about now I might say something to rebut those two statements; but I am not going to because they are true. That’s right, putting staggered wheels on a FWD car has absolutely no positive affect on handling or performance whatsoever – but then again, I don’t recall anyone ever saying that it did.

Not everything that we do to our cars is intended to increase performance. For example, take into account the exterior modifications that most perform to their vehicles. Doing such things has absolutely no affect on the way a car drives. Indeed, there are even modifications which hamper performance – take for example those two massive subwoofers you have sitting in your trunk or the ridiculously low setting you have your coilovers on or the limo tint you have on your windows and the short ram intake that does nothing but suck up hot engine air… It seems that putting larger wheels in the back of our cars isn’t the only “pointless” thing we do that adversely affects performance; so then why is there so much animosity towards staggered wheels?

There are those among us who have no aspirations towards using their VWs to become the next Juan Pablo Montoya or Michael Schumacher. Imagine that. Don’t get me wrong – I love spirited driving just as much as the next guy, but not everyone’s interests strictly lie in straight-line speed or in taking a corner as fast as possible.

The whole debate over staggered wheels runs much deeper than one would think. More and more frequently I see a large divergence of purpose in the world of VW tuning. There are those who are in it for the “go” and then there are those who are obsessed with the “show”. The “show” people are all too often put down by the “go” people, where as the opposite is not the case. It is an accepted fact that if you have a fast car, you deserve respect. This kind of paradox I don’t understand and never will.

Let me start this next paragraph by saying that I love fast cars as I know most people on this website do and I have absolutely nothing negative to say about them, so please don’t take this in the wrong way (i.e. – of course I love fast cars – find me someone without an AARP card who doesn’t). But anyone with enough money can make any car go fast. There, I said it. Throw enough cash into the mix and, bam! – your car will go very fast in a straight line. Aesthetic modifications, however, are not the same. It takes much more vision, insight, and taste to make a car stand out from the crowd than it does to make a car fast. And maybe read this part twice – no amount of cash can buy style. There are numerous cars out there that have had tons and tons of money invested in them, but still fall short of anything special.

Thus we return back to the question of staggered wheels. Why put wider wheels in the back of a FWD car? The answer is so simple it’s funny; because those who do so think that it looks good. No claims about performance or anything of the sort – people do it because they like the way it looks. So if everyone is so willing to accept that people tune cars to make them faster, then why not accept that others do the very same thing to express their own style?

And if that comes with the price tag of more understeer, than so be it.


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