Immaculately finished jade green Volkswagen Variant illustrates how Only the Fittest is about more than just lowered suspension. Picture: Ryan May / RM Media
Cape Town - An event that first ‘dropped’ four years ago and is now firmly on the Cape car culture calendar, is 'Only the Fittest', hosted by Capestance.

We spoke to Capestance founder Tauriq Ajam after the show, which went down at Atlantic film studios in Montague Gardens in the closing hours of 2017.

But first, a little about the show. Only the Fittest has earned a reputation for pulling the cleanest, lowest, most desirable customs from across the peninsula and beyond.

Ajam, well-known for his beautiful bagged 1976 Mercedes Benz W115, known as Mila, as well as for his daily drive, a bagged 2006 BMW E91 320d estate, has been a pioneer of stance culture in the Cape.

Chevrolet Ute by Sumo Customs showed off its superlative paintwork. Picture: Ryan May / RM Media

Capestance started in January 2011 with the stated aim of pushing the stance category within automotive shows and industry.

Back then, stance usually meant cut springs or coilover kits, going for the drop and little else. Now it has developed into a more subtle (mostly air bag driven) style with lowered suspension, large rims, stretched and low-profile tyres and camber.

In Ajam's words, stance is about “the lowest cars, with the best wheels and lowest profile tyres coupled with a clean exterior and interior”.

Classic Veedubs show just how long you can go. Picture: Ryan May / RM Media

Capestance raised the bar, as it were, by featuring the best, fittest and cleanest customs in South Africa.

“At the time we were students and tried to show the youth and SA that we can build show-stopping vehicles on a tight budget,” he said, but things have changed since then.

“Over the years, with the guys and ladies getting good jobs and starting businesses, they have been able to put some serious cash into builds. That’s where we are now, building cars of international calibre, and we have the capacity to host some of the best shows South Africa has seen.

“Only the Fittest 2017 was a big milestone for Capestance and the stance enthusiasts in general; it proved South Africa has reached a professional standard - and it’s just going to get better.”

Japanese-styled stancers were all around. Picture: Ryan May / RM Media     

“This was our fourth annual event and it was our biggest yet in terms of show vehicles, show space, vendors, activities and attendance. As it was an end-of-year exhibition, we decided to keep cars on show and not having them moving around for limbo and other activities, mainly for public safety.

“We included activities for the whole family, such as jumping castles, clowns, magic show, nail bar and VIP lounges, vape lounge and, to top it off, a wide variety of food vendors. We even added a burger eating competition and vaping competition to keep the public entertained throughout the day.”

About 400 customs entered for the show, he said, but they could only manage to squeeze 70 of them inside the main hall. However, there were dedicated outdoor sections for other 300-plus cars.”

Looking for originality

At stance events, judges are looking for creativity and originality, together with excellent execution of the ideas and themes, rather than a few random modifications.

“We had more categories than just stance," said Ajam. We had race, drift, bikes and classics. With Capestance we pride ourselves on pushing the South African benchmark of quality and we pushed it this year with the cleanest and freshest customs in South Africa.

Wide-bodied BMW M3 and Honda S2000 machines were among the judges' favourites. Picture: Ryan May / RM Media

When asked what really stood out for him at the show, Ajam named Fabian Petersen's white E12 on Hartge wheels, and Zuhair’s yellow Quantum, winner of quite a few Best of Show awards.

“Also the wide-bodied BMW M3s - there were several of those - and the red Honda S2000. They put in a load of work, money and patience to get their cars to where they are.

“Fundamentally our aim was to push the quality of cars and shows produced in SA," he said, "and show the world what we're capable of, constantly inspiring car enthusiasts to grow the movement and motivating them to produce what they thought was impossible.”