When rebuilding or customizing a ride, it’s acceptable sometimes to pass the limits or boundaries of the planned design, but you have to know when to say when. Often times, we catch an idea or inspiration mid-build, and while there are certainly no limits when it comes to building a Lowrider, be aware of one thing; you can go from mild to wild overnight. Building a Lowrider is the greatest hobby in all of automotive sports simply because of how creative we can get in our realm, especially in the categories of paint, interior, and chrome, which are the three main essentials to take into consideration when building a Lowrider. This trinity of areas can easily give us upwards of 5 to 6 years worth of concept design and application, as they truly enhance our overall build. With that said, there has to be some level of restraint and caution before one goes overboard.

There are a few things to keep in mind when exploring each of these categories, and reaching your goal means adhering to these prerequisites. First, always remember that fads and trends come and go. Going for the popular choice is not necessarily the best choice for a long term build, we all remember chain steering wheels and wrought-iron grills, both of which have their current connotations in today’s modern climate. You also need to figure out how much of your car build is for your own self expression, and how much of it is meant for a public appreciation. Think of your car as an extension of you. What would you want someone to say or think about your car? Would they like your car ideas/designs enough to even claim it as their own or something they would drive? For example, gold plating just about everything was the norm and extreme five years ago and then everyone came back down to earth with chrome because it never has gone out of style and doesn’t look over-exaggerated. Today’s fad or trend is engraving all that is metal, and painting or air brushing your wheels for added points on the show circuit. There is a whole lot of work and money involved with this new form of art, but it’s something that doesn’t need to be overdone. Another rule of thumb that I firmly believe in is that you should never decorate your car according to a judge sheet to acquire maximum points or chase trophies. You can acquire enough points to compete in other places, you just have to be a little more patient and creative; plus never forget that detail goes a long way before imagination.

While there are no definite formulas for success, Lowrider greatness is certainly in the eye of the beholder. I’m sure plenty of you would say, “But Joe, who are you to judge; you’ve had plenty of loud rides yourself!” I would agree with that and can admit that I’ve certainly crossed a few boundaries in the past that I shouldn’t have, but I’ve learned to become well-rounded over the years. By going to different varieties of auto shows and grabbing other ideas from hot rods, muscle cars, boats, and even motorcycles, I’ve learned that there are so many different things we can incorporate into our builds that we haven’t typically done before. Today, our wire wheels compete with our paint jobs, thanks to all the air brushing and painting that’s done on them. It’s nice to see all the nonstop detail and articulate work on something that is new and different, but where is the border line?

Timelessness is the key to a truly great build, at least if your goal is to have a machine that is well accepted by others, including judges and the press. Every car has its own character and personality put in to it and that’s all cool, but build it for your own taste and not for a trophy. After all, the real judges of your car are your friends, people on the road with their thumbs up, or the masses at car shows who will stop and spend time observing instead of walking on by. Personal taste encompasses fashion and style choice, but it’s the little things that make the biggest impact. By all means, think outside the box and make your car different, but remember that you want to be part of the “in crowd” and not from “that crowd.”

This December issue’s cover features an elegant 1970 Impala courtesy of The Stylistics Car Club. As always, they bring their “A-game” with this convertible Chevy, with a look that defines the very meaning of the name on its gold plaque. This is one “Stylistic” ride, alright.

This Lowrider job or as some say “hobby,” comes with great blessings and constant reminders of human triumph in the form of inspirational stories which we are privileged to feature in the magazine. Great builds are one thing, but when we get stories involving charity or teaching, we can’t help but to be touched by them and feel honored to bring you the content. Frank Silva takes over the class in our “Originals” segment, as he shares his love and artistic talents with the young generation of students. No one can be a bigger inspiration besides our parents than our teachers, as they give us something they have learned that carries on through our own lifetimes. This story is in his own words, and you can almost hear the school bell ring as he begins to describe his life story. The saga of this legendary artist may not teach you anything about paint, but it will certainly teach you about life. What I really see and hear are the words and actions coming from a Lowrider role model, and those are far more valuable. It is what we learn outside of our garages that defines us as Lowriders, and Frank Silva teaches us to be proud of our accomplishments.

Those of you readers who love to park with your hoods up be wary; I hope you have a great tool box, because this issue brings you the Lowrider Performance Guide for 2011. Check out what all our Lowrider performance companies have to offer, whether you are all show, all go, or both!

In our quest to bring you all things Lowrider, we are always looking for the baddest Lowriders out there; from covers and centerfolds to the cruisers that represent on the streets on a daily basis, we welcome it all. If you think you qualify, send me a couple of photos of your ride or recommend me your humble Lowrider Role Models, and maybe we can share them with the rest of the culture by featuring them in our magazine. We can always use a little inspiration.

Air Bags or Hydraulics? As long as the frame kisses the ground, where it sits is all that matters. We don’t care if it’s from sand bags or parking blocks either!

Joe Ray