Do you remember your first time in a Lowrider? Avid builder and enthusiast John Black does, and he remembers it quite vividly. A native of Pico Rivera, California, John's first foray into the culture came to him when he was just fourteen years old. Young men at this age are known to be curious and adventuresome, and John and his friend were no exception. One afternoon, his friend took his older brother's car joyriding, with an impressionable young John riding shotgun. Remembering the experience as if it had just happened recently, John shines when describing the 1949 Chevy Fleetline that took his breath away that fateful day. After all, the Chevy had custom paint, hydraulics, and Astro Supremes, and the rest, as they say, is history. After just one ride in the Fleetline, John was hooked, and looked forward to one day getting a Lowrider of his own.
Two years after the joyride that forever changed his life, John's father gave him an exquisite 1966 Impala on his 16th birthday. His dad had no idea of the obsession that was soon to come, as within a week, John was already at his local muffler shop getting his springs heated in order to bring the car lower to the ground. John was a hard working teen sitting on saved money, so once the car was lowered, John used the extra cash he had to buy some Rockets rims. A proud John washed up the exterior of the Chevy and took the car back home, only to be greeted at the door by his father, who was shaking his head in disbelief. Much to his father's chagrin, this was about to be the start of a very long lowriding career.
John's new-look Impala hit the streets, and soon after these inaugural cruises, a number of his friends began joining the local area car clubs. It would only be a matter of time before John did the same. His friends Tommy "Bird" Lopez and Roy "Honkey Roy" Hindson were in a club called Groupe ELA. Interested, John and his friend Mike Brickley began attending the club's meetings, and they liked what they saw. John instantly felt a kinship with the club and decided to become a member. 37 years later, John still flies his Groupe ELA plaque.
In his three decades of service to the Lowrider movement, John has built five cars and one truck. The '66 Impala was his first build, followed by a 1966 Caprice, a 1956 Bel-Air, a '73 Caprice, a '94 Suburban, and finally, the 1968 Buick Riviera you see on these glorious pages.
The Rivieria's creation began quite innocently, as John and his family were attending a birthday party at their friend Willie's house. John's son Tony took him behind the garage of the house and showed him a car, interested in knowing what he thought about it. He jokingly told his son that the car looked a mess, and that whoever was building it had quite a project on their hands. Half of the engine was in the trunk, but all of the moldings and other important parts of the car remained intact. Apparently the car had changed hands within Willie's family, had not been registered since 1985, and had been sitting behind the garage for a while.