This feature will definitely bring back some good old memories for all the OG lowriders when we begin to mention the old car club names and car show events that were well known in the distant past. For those not from the Southern California area, or for those who are of the younger generation, this will be more of an interesting look into the history of lowriding, coming directly from one of the founding fathers of the lowriding movement, Steve Gonzales. This story also comes from the era of the infamous cruise nights on Whittier Boulevard and of the movie "Boulevard Nights".
For the Gonzales Family, the custom car legacy started in 1934 with the birth of Blas Gonzales in La Puente, California. The automobile culture in the family began when Blas' father owned a gas station and auto shop. Years later, Blas met his wife-to-be, Beatrice, in high school and they would eventually wed and have three boys and a girl together. Blas worked hard at a local auto body shop to make sure his kids had clothes, food, and a good education. Blas would even take his work home where his youngest son, Steve, watched his father work in the garage. When possible, Steve would also get hands-on with the cars, and that is what sparked his love for cars as a child. Even at 5 years old, Steve was sanding cars with his father!
Steve's first rides came in the form of two pedal cars. Only a child but already infatuated with the lowered custom cars that would cruise around in his neighborhood, Steve took it upon himself to lower his pedal cars, his Hot Wheels cars, his model cars, and his 1972 Schwinn Stingray 5-speed apple crate. Steve would take the spring out of the fork to give his bike that lowered stance. Seeing Anthony Gonzales of Sons of Soul Car Club driving around in his hydraulically lowered '64 Impala and scraping on the ground, Steve would try to scrape his bike too! He took an extra baby bar and put it on his front tire and he would push down on it at fast speeds so that sparks would ignite. When his father caught him doing this, Steve thought he was going to be in trouble, but instead, his father welded on a plate with two spikes on the sides for Steve's feet, making it easier to scrape and spark. Soon all the neighborhood kids were asking if he and his father could do something custom for their bicycles!
At the early age of 12, Steve began asking his father about picking up an old Mercury they could work on, because he had seen pictures of his father's old '51 Merc and loved it. Steve's older siblings had already left the nest by this time, so this allowed Blas to have a little extra time and money for his son, Steve. Blas agreed and they spent the next two years looking for the right car. Eventually they found a '50 Merc for $900. It was missing a lot of parts, but that was okay since this was a project and they were going to customize it anyways. Blas did not stand in his son's way when it came to ideas for customizing the Merc. One of the main things Steve wanted to do to this ride was chop the top down four inches in the front and seven in the rear. This father and son duo created one of the baddest rides on the boulevard, rebuilding and customizing every aspect of it: rewiring, upholstery, bodywork, transmission, engine, and (with the help of Raul's Hydraulics) a height altering custom suspension. Steve says that it took them about two and a half years, but it was that time that proved to be "one of the most treasured, sharing, talking, laughing, teaching, and learning moments" of his life. He will always cherish that time with his father. Blas Gonzales went home to the Lord about three years ago and left behind his custom '23 Ford Roadster for Steve.