Mainstream American automotive enthusiasts have long been divided into two vibrant and primary cultures; Hot Rod and Lowrider. Though they are two very different religions, they both share a large population of worshipers who subscribe to their philosophies and beliefs regarding the perfect vehicle to use when tackling the open road or boulevard. High end customizations like chop tops, channeling, suicide-doors, paint jobs, luxury leather interiors, modern engines, and high tech suspensions fully dress these vehicles to identify their persona, as man and machine collide in these two very different worlds.
Both genres have come a long way since the popular movies, American Graffiti and Boulevard Knights hit the screens. Yet the hot rod world, which has been "souped up" since the 1930's, was the first car phenomenon to branch off into other automotive sports and movements including the lead sleds, sports cars, lowriders, muscle cars, and the street rods. Although both cultures are essentially cut from the same cloth, there is a vast separation between our world and theirs, especially when it comes to design and detail. With that being said, lowriders have definitely grown in the last few decades, seeing changes in every aspect of building from form to function. Long gone are the days of rabbit ear antennas, wrought iron front grills, show pipes, and the stuffed animal fur in the back package tray with organ pipe speakers. We've completely stepped up our game in performance, undercarriages and interiors, all while maintaining our lead when it comes to exteriors. They've always looked to us for new colors, textures, and paint schemes. Words like "candy" and "flake" have always been distinctly ours, deep rooted in our culture. They know we've always dominated in paint, whether they like it or not! Unfortunately, when it comes to detail and design, we are still far, far behind, because while they have taken ideas from us and made them their own, we have been reluctant to do the same.
For instance, there was a time not too long ago when hot and street rods, would never lower their rides close to the ground. They wouldn't even consider it. Remember, we were the ones who were "all show and no go." Fast forward to 2009, and take a good look at who's laying on the floor now! Though they use air bags instead of hydraulics, claiming that air bags are better and more comfortable, they have faced the reality that low is the only way to go. The same thing can be said about our wheel and tire philosophy. The lowrider tire size was born as a 14-inch or Volkswagen type because we were all about showing more of the chrome on the wheel than the rubber of the tire, whether its a Cragar style rim or a wire spoke design. Today's hot rod style is a bigger wheel and smaller tire as well. Even though some of the rims themselves are a much bigger size than what we use, the school of thinking is the same; more rim and less tire. These are just two quick examples, but what we're basically saying is that the lowrider culture is recognized and duplicated for its style, just as we check out the street rods to find new ideas.
We visited the National Roadster Show at the Pomona Fairplex to prove this point, as well as to see some of the differences between the two giant auto cultures. Here are the reasons why some of their vehicles have similar styles, designs or ideas that we need to look to for inspiration, perhaps allowing us to be even more creative and innovative. Now that's what I call competition!