It’s deeper than you think. When you actually own a certain look and style of a car after disconnecting the shocks, heating the coils, and mounting some small white wall tires with rims, you take on the responsibilities, commitments, and sacrifices that go along with playing the part of being a Lowrider. When that certain day comes, we are not the only ones affected by the image; our families, friends, and the neighbors down the block who question our motives all feel the stigma of us being seen as automotive outlaws. We are treated so differently that cops take a special attitude towards us because the vehicles we drive are not removed from the ground and that defies their codes of safety and subliminally, their code of ethics, too. When we open the door and pull out onto the street we are a member of a worldwide rebellious fraternity. We are different from everyone else, and that’s a good thing. You could be a part of this way of life for six months or “’til the wheels fall off.” It all depends on how you approach the lifestyle. We are shaped by those that bring us into it and defined by what keeps us involved up until the point that we realize there is no turning back. Yeah, it’s a drug I tell you, and most of us need to score!

Lowriding today has evolved a lot, especially over the past five years. Car clubs have branched out in chapters, as the plaque name in the back windows now includes different cities, some of which are worldwide. Some clubs now total a thousand in total chapter membership. The car trends, of course, have changed for the better, and so have the quality of builds. Cars are built today at a slower pace, no thanks to the hard economical times we are all sharing. What we have to be worried about is the question of the hour; how long is this cultural life of Lowriding going to last? We all know that the biggest deficit bestowed upon us is the fact that they stopped production of great styled Lowriders in the late ‘70s with the Lincolns, Caprices, and the Ford LTD’s. The early ‘80s styles of Cadillacs, Monte’s, and the popular Cutlass’ didn’t last too long either. So while I explain the math here, Detroit stopped making most of our favorite designs of Lowriders 25 years ago. So in reality we all drive Bombs now, and these rides cost a lot more to bring back to their original showroom appearance. Attendance at all Car Shows has dropped along with the closing down of famous Boulevard cruising spots, plus the constant adventures of taking our cars to scandalous body shops. Everyone has their own thoughts of why things are different and some ideas come with reckless abandon. The economy, the Internet, the cops, maybe even the mess caused by leaky hydraulics share some parts of the blame. With so many detrimental obstacles, when will the next generation step up, and more importantly, what will give them the motivation to carry on and uphold the legacy that the pioneers before them established?

While some are pessimistic regarding our culture’s future, I am optimistic. I believe the legacy we have is carved out of tradition, the very same tradition that has helped us survive up to this point will undoubtedly help us continue. Lowriding is like a proud family name that everybody feels the need to uphold. Then again, maybe our high standards in dedication and devotion are too much for the younger generation of men to afford. I have this theory because of experience. I know that you have to crawl before you walk, and you have to walk before you run. Today’s youth are often anxious to get into already expensive to build full custom models, rather than exercise the patience it takes to bring these 40-year-old body styles (something like a ’69 Caprice for example) up to show room condition. Not to mention going the extra mile with custom paint, interior, chrome engine, and hydraulic setups. Anyone who’s first car is built “all show” becomes a spoiled car builder and they eventually get out of Lowriding because they never earned the right to stay focused on how it takes to get there. Those things are taken for granted. You have to give your heart to building a car so that the profit is your sole experience, and more importantly, your soul’s experience! Trials and tribulations are what make a Lowrider stronger. You have to go to elementary school before you get to high school; you can’t just skip, it’s not fair and you would be cheating yourself out of life. Ask any guy out there who is a veteran in the Lowrider game how they started. I guarantee you they will tell you that they started off first with a primered car, and then their next hard earned step was to put a pearl on it. Subsequent aspirations undoubtedly included getting even bolder by laying a candy apple on it. Interiors that began as Velvet and Velour eventually became leather. When you do the math, the total experience takes about 12 years and four or five cars, $80,000 dollars, good luck, good times with friends who helped you get there, and hopefully a family that survived next to your affliction to build and keep on building. You have to have a value for something that money can’t buy in return, that way there is no turning back. That’s why Lowriding has lasted this long and survived. Nothing in this world can pay for the memories of fun late nights and sacrifices.

Today’s generation needs to see that building a Lowrider from the start is not that expensive, and that we need to build for the street first and then for the show after. For Lowriding to continue, they also need to recognize other body styles other than the ‘59 and ’64 Impalas, and realize that the roof line on some cars is better looking than the convertible tops. Back in the days, we drove our cars to work because they were new and dependable. Today we still can with all the aftermarket quality upgrades in engines, brakes, and suspension. Tell today’s youth that there is nothing like taking a black vinyl top ‘73 Caprice down to the mall and hogging two parking spaces to lay it on the ground so that passersby can see this is just the start of something big. If Lowriding is to survive, we need to go back to the streets, our standards are too high, and we all need to step back and remember where we came from. Teach the new generation that they don’t have to get a show sign for their car right away. They should enjoy it first and earn their diploma or ticket. So what I rambled on about is simple; if Lowriding is slowing down, don’t help it stop or come to an end, hand the torch to a young kid who is going to walk first because if he runs, the flame will go out.

Just my opinion…
Joe Ray