You know the guy-he looks the part, but he's not. He's a poseur, or poser-whatever. Yes, there's some layering and subtlety here, and though some cases of posing are blistering examples you can see from space, others are not because of minor details that act as exceptions to the rules. Some mods that qualify as poseur parts in SoCal might be correct in Chicago. Don't confuse a work-in-progress with a don't-get-it or want-to-look-the-part.
There are some core facets to pinning down a poseur. Non-functionality or non-use is a key component-you've got no reason, no need then why? Is your look out of date? Are parts installed properly? Are they necessary? Contradictory? Is the only purpose of a part or a vehicle to make you look like something you're not? Are things overdone? Show cars, by nature, are poseurs. They're not supposed to DO. They're supposed to look like they DO. That can be a purpose, but the purpose is to be a poseur. You want to be a poseur, fine-here's your sign.
We scoured the web for evidence of various poseur mods, so if you see a likeness of your own ride, don't act like you're not guilty. The following aren't the only ways to identify a poseur, just the best. We had indicators that didn't make the list, and there are many other ways you can identify a poseur (use the questions we asked in the last paragraph). Call this honorable mention: spinners (powered or otherwise); GPS on the dash (pointless tourist distraction as bad as texting-you're acting like you know); too many gauges (no one pays that much attention); under-installed stereos (things rattle, amps overheat, no range to the sound and bass); the plastic toupee protector in convertibles (like windows up with the top down); and styles that mimic bad engineering (like VIP tire settings).
Monster Decklid Wings.
A classic poseur part: If the big, honking wing on the back of your car/truck/ute has no reason then you have no excuse. Are you racing where downforce is helpful? Is your car naturally skittish and prone to oversteer like the Porsche 911? It's even easier to tell a poseur wing if it's set badly. At the least, a wing should be set nearly flat to let air flow cleanly past it and not impede mileage, if not oriented for the creation of downforce to aid traction (as is a wing's bent). Wings that point up reduce downforce, and cause spooky traction behavior.
The only real purpose for monstrous wings is downforce and stability-take the Mitsubishi Evolution's massive two-plane spoiler/wing. It's a car built with homologation in mind (factory-race use, essentially) with fixed and adjustable surfaces, all of which have a purpose for being there. Even the tall sail panels increase linear stability at high speed, and improve slide-balance in rally-style use. Other famous examples include Chrysler's Daytona/Superbird. Wings were part of its aerodynamic advantage, and led to NASCAR dominance before being outlawed.
Poseur Classic, Updated: Windows Up with the Top Down.
Yuppers, this is one of the all-time greatest signs that you're a poseur: Drop the top in a convertible and leave the windows up. Here's your sign. Without explaining the basics of aerodynamics, if you remove the top of a vehicle, you probably expect there to be some turbulence in the air as said vehicle travels through it. Roll up the windows and sure, you'll reduce some of that wind, but first off, how much, and secondly, why?
With windows up, not only do you incur significant social disgrace as the person who bought a convertible to enjoy the air through their hair, but is unwilling to have their hair tousled by aforementioned air, you actually suffer a legitimate threat to life and limb with all of that unsecured glass. For the same reason that half-down windows are dangerous during side-impact and rollover collisions, windows up with top-down become a veritable guillotine waiting to happen-that's if your reputation hasn't killed itself already.
Real Trucks with Skinny Sidewalls.
Stiff and bouncy rears its ugly head again: Skinny sidewalls on big tires mean all vehicle dynamic load-borne by the sidewall from street to wheel-is being done by less material. This means the material has to be stronger, and that usually means stiffer. The tire's sidewall serves as a secondary dampening system, too, with cushion characteristics that can be altered to match terrain and driving style. If you reduce the sidewall height, then you're reducing the usefulness of the tire, and on a heavy vehicle it magnifies other ride-related issues. Shorter sidewalls also mean larger wheels, and that means an increase in unsprung mass and the rolling physics that contribute to exponentially increased braking distances.
The tire is probably one of the most underappreciated and most misunderstood parts of your vehicle, and on any truck pointed into the wily outback, that tire's sidewall can be your best friend, or your biggest nightmare. One of the easiest ways to cope with rough terrain off-road is by reducing the pressure in the tire. And please, don't use the "I want it to handle" line-we're still talking about a truck, right? Tall wheels and skinny sidewalls on a big truck mean it's not being used properly (those tires are not there for function, just appearance), and is essentially incapable of working as its designed-a poseur for sure.
The "tribal" style of vehicle art has been on the scene for more than ten years, so you can trace its movement across the country and internationally. Described as a jagged sort of wave or flame pattern, and probably not too distant from Southern Pacific islander tattoos, the "tribal" style of vehicle art has run its course. Once again, what's pass? in New Jersey can be current in rural Ohio. It's not a matter of areas being ahead or behind the times, it's about where a trend originates, and how long it takes to migrate elsewhere.
When you've seen tribal flames, tribal stickers, and tribal stripes in prepackaged sticker kits, and high-end vehicle painters have used about every adaptation of the pattern in every way imaginable, the style has run its course. Tribal-style vehicle art was truly adaptable and attractive, but it's completely played out. Why be behind the curve? What's next? Don't follow the trend, especially one that's so stale, or you'll be a poseur.
Non-Functional Carbon Fiber.
Carbon fiber is cool, no doubt, but its use must have a reason, a purpose, or it's just poseur-fiber. Hand-laid or machine-made, colored or the ubiquitous black & grey, carbon fiber is super useful. Especially excellent are real structural parts built with this wonderful material such as A-arms, bracing, aero parts, wheels, brackets-all of which benefit from the use of strong, lightweight materials. Not stickers. Not overlays. Not dress items. Not panel covers.
If you've got a heavy steel hood that weighs 50 pounds, then a 25-lb. hood manufactured with carbon fiber is a sensible choice, and yes, it looks sexy. What if you own a Subaru WRX or STi, with an already lightweight aluminum hood? Many carbon-fiber hoods weigh more. In that case, the only reason for CF is to look special. Congrats, you're a poseur. On top of that, consider all the tack-on items that are made with carbon fiber nowadays, including stripes, trim panels, switches, sundry gingerbread, etc. You're adding weight, and usually contradicting the vehicle's original design ethic with incongruent patterns.
There's also a separate and parallel logic to the use of carbon-fiber parts that prescribes real men paint their carbon fiber. As we've always said, why advertise? Well, because you're a poseur.