In the world of car culture, there are different genres that people attract themselves to. This includes, hot rods, muscle cars, stance style, truckin and lowriders. Most think the term lowrider or lowriding consists of a car with a flashy paint job, airbrushed murals, custom interiors, hydraulic set ups and wire wheels; however, the word does mean much more. The word itself derives from Mexican/American culture built in the mid 1900’s; it’s a lifestyle and a hobby combined all in one. The term belongs to Mexican Americans who endured social and political obstacles, all the while preserving their culture and identity, and it dates back as far as boulevard nights in Juarez Mexico. Culturalist from the past, mention that a large number of cars, both German and American made, existed in the city. It is said that the owners of these cars, placed cinder blocks or bags of sand in their trunks to demonstrate the act of lowriding! “Nobody seems to know for sure, none other than Mauricio Herrera, who states “I was born and raised in the Juarez down town district, and remember older Pachuco’s (Pachuco refers to a subculture of Chicanos and Mexican-Americans, associated with zoot suits, street gangs, nightlife, and flamboyant public behavior) sand bagging their cars as early as 1939. People thought the idea was insane.” Said the 84 year. “Then I moved to Los Angeles in 1942 and sand bagging didn’t come into L.A. until 1947 (www.Convictedartists.com).”
Most people who participate in this particular cultural scene, possess a general understanding that hydraulic customization was created in the city of Los Angeles. History states that hydraulics setups, and actual suspension customization emerged as a response to a California law, prohibiting and deeming any car illegal that was lower than the bottom part of the rim. In 1959, enthusiast Ron Aguirre, created a loop hole in response to the law. This involved the use of hydraulic pesco pumps and valves, which allowed one to change the height of their ride at the “flick of a switch (Wikipedia).” When law enforcement came around one would raise their vehicle, when they left, they would lower it back down, that was a huge benefit for the lowriding scene.
From the Boulevard nights in Juarez, to today’s styles and standards, the lowriding culture endured its own timeline of evolution. Starting with American cars manufactured during the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. These cars are referred to as bombs, or bombas and are a considered to be a rolling time capsule.Then the timeline gets into the popular Impalas and Caprices of the 60’s, referring to these cars as classics or true classics. Chevrolet in the 70’s, also introduced the classic Caprice Glasshouse and the Monte Carlo, which are great prospective lowriders. Oldsmobile started gaining attention in the 70’s as well, especially with the Cutlass. As you start to examine cars from the 80’s and 90’s, people have set their attention on the Gbodys. The Gbody is a nick name given to the General Motors G platform vehicles. The list includes Oldsmobile Cutlass, Buick Regal, Pontiac Grandprix and Chevrolet’s Nova, Monte Carlo and El Camino. Stepping away from the 80’s and entering the 90’s, where a unique style for car culture came about. This was the time when the Euro category received attention, where lowrider enthusiasts utilized Honda Accords, Acura Integras, VolksWagons and various models from Nissan to demonstrate their cultural inspirations. These cars were no different from older or new traditions, the paint jobs remained prestige with patterns and murals, and hydraulic trunk setups lacked no attention to detail. The Euro age of lowriding lasted early into the 21st century, but it did not last long and very few are put in car shows today.
The most well know car shows include the Lowrider SuperShow tour, which is hosted in cities such as, Las Vegas, Nv, Phoenix, Az, Miami, Fl, Odessa, Tx, Denver, Co, Albuquerque, Nm and many more. The magazine tour is one of the most popular car shows, but, clubs throughout the nation host similar size car shows especially in California, where car meets and cruises are in high demand. These events, allow any custom car to be recognized. Categories can range from best hopper, luxury, luxury lowrider, classic 60-70’s, old school bombs and best of show. The system of different categories allow for cars that are customized fully, and street cars slightly modified, to compete in a general setting.
The lowriding scene in Pueblo, Colorado is very prominent; various car clubs showcase their rides weekly, cruising around Northern Avenue. Additionally, there are higher standard clubs who only participate in popular shows, and hardly allow their car to touch the pavement. Some of the car clubs include, Sweets Dreams, Pure Perfection, Sick Side, Nothing Else Matters, Luxury, Victory Life Ministeries, and the popular Rollerz Only. Upon talking with Gabe and Carlos Martinez of Sick Side CC, about the culture of lowriding, they mentioned that its an outlet that keeps them out of trouble, and allows them to invest money in their rides instead of other things. The Car club itself consists of twelve rides and is mostly a tight nit family affair. This particular car club is not shy at demonstrating how to pop the switch, and is known for hopping down Northern Avenue.
Mark Montez a local who participates in the Pueblo, Colorado lowrider cultural scene as well, is a proud owner of a fully customized 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. This Car is not only breath taking from a distance, but is equipped with custom chrome suspension and various undercarriage parts as well. This is a Prime example of a well rendered Gbody classic, that is ready to participate in any kind of car show. Montez mentions how his initial involvement is due growing up with a family member, who was an active member of the lowriding community. The next question, was do you think you would of gained involvement if it wasn’t for that relative? He simply paused and stated “eventually I’m sure I would’ve.” Personal relationships and influential family members seem to be a common story when it comes to being involved with this lifestyle. There is always that one family member who opens ones eyes to glorify and appreciate a car culture like this.
Another Rollerz Only car club member in the southern Colorado area, is Larry Quintana and his 1965 Impala. This vehicle has set standards that are hard to beat. The car itself, offers a custom patterned paint job, accenting different tones of brown, with a hint of burnt orange. Additionally, the overall body exhibits gold leaf marks as well. The 65 Chevy is equipped with an all chrome engine bay, and hosts a 350 Chevy small block. This prestige automobile wouldn’t be complete without it’s all gold 13×7 Zenith wire wheels, which allow it to casually stroll through the streets. Overall, this car is a blessing to see in person, and Mr. Quintana is not one to hold back on showing it off. He was happy to talk about the car along with all of the specs and modifications that enhanced the vehicle. He also mentioned that he won best interior and best paint at the City Wide car show in Colorado Springs, 3 weeks prior to his interview. During his chat session he mentioned that he has been involved in the lowriding scene for roughly two decades. He also stated that his first few lowriders included a Mercury Topas, a 1981 Buick Regal and a 1963 Chevy Impala. This is a definite must see in person to understand how serious this car club is about lowriding.
Most people understand that these kind of cars are an huge investment and it can become a costly affair. Dominic Dutton who possesses one of the most prestige impalas around, understands this all to well. His 1962 hardtop Impala is completely restored from the ground up, and was purchased from an older gentlemen from Canon City. The impala has an original 283 Chevy small block, coated in a immaculate Chevy orange layer of paint. Also the car sits on 13×7 triple gold Daytons. The car itself is well worth over 20 thousand dollars, and is a definite collectors item. Since he purchased the vehicle he has mixed in his own
lowrider flavor to it; adding, back fender skirts, pinstriping the whole car, along with gold and silver leaf accents as well. Next on Dutton’s agenda is to lift it, with a custom hydraulic setup and he said its gonna happen very soon.
The lowriding lifestyle is one adopted internationally and has no race boundaries. The Japanese have such a prominent display of lowriding culture, that they issue their own lowrider magazine. The culture across the Pacific ocean even has a yearly set scehdule for lowrider Super Shows. The Japanese come to the United States and take back with them American custom lowriders, just like in one of the ending scenes of the 2017 movie “Lowrider”. Where a Asian spectator offers the family to name their price in return for their custom automobile. As Josh Sotelo, a member of Pure Perfection CC, states: “It’s not just a Mexican or a Chicano thing, It’s not a race or a sex thing, it’s about anyone who wants to share the lifestyle.” This lifestyle is open to any and all it’s about making the best piece of art on wheels as humanly possible, and trust that there are many modifications that can be done to any prospective lowrider.