Imaginative, Eccentric, Genuine, Unique, Distinctive, Master
Everybody's got a story about how they accomplished a goal in life; something that drove them to put this goal above everything else, and motivated them to stop at nothing short of achieving it. Today, we look at Denver's "King of Lowrider Accessories," Robert Morales of Robert's Tires and Wheels. Robert Morales set a goal early in his life to establish a one-stop shop that would cater to the Denver Lowrider community, and he has done just that. It is now 2010, and Robert's Tires and Wheels has been in business for over 25 years, enjoying success on a level that has pushed even the Denver community, as his shop has contributed to several elite Lowrider builds across the United States.
In 1968, a five year-old Robert Morales moved from Mazatlan, Mexico to the U.S., with his mother and siblings. They settled down in Livingston, California, where he grew up and went to school. Robert went to his first car show in 1976 at Stanislaus College, where he fell in love with the Lowriding scene. He says he "liked the style, atmosphere, large crowds, hydraulics and, most of all, the cars." After that first show, Robert began saving the money that he earned while working hard in the fields of Northern California, in the hopes of putting it to use within the context of his newfound Lowriding passion. He also held several side jobs to earn extra money, doing odds and ends to further fuel his savings. He went to more and more car shows, and read Lowrider Magazine to keep up with what was new and going on within the scene.
At fifteen, he had finally saved up enough to buy his first car, a 1973 Grand Prix which cost him $750.00. He was all at once liberated and excited with the road that lay ahead of him. "I always envisioned Lowriding and being part of the atmosphere, being one of those guys with a nice car," he says with a twinkle in his eye. Once Robert had his car, he began saving again to have money for the customizations he had planned for his first Lowrider. He recalls a trip to Pep Boys in Merced, CA, when he purchased his first set of 14 x 7 Rev Rockets with 5.20s, which were "the 'hot thing' at the time." Fully immersing himself in the scene, Robert kept seeing and trying new things. He sold the Grand Prix and bought a '74 Glass House in mint condition. It became clear both to Robert, and those around him, that he was hooked.
Robert graduated from High School at 17, and the uncertainties of life instantly sprang up, as his family had decided to move to Colorado to seek better opportunities. Before leaving, Robert asked his friends who had been to Colorado before what it was like there. The unanimous response from them was that "it snowed and it was cold, much different from warm California weather." This description had young Robert feeling very uneasy about moving. How was he going to enjoy cruising around in his Lowrider if it was cold and snowing? This question would have to be answered eventually, as the family packed up and moved to Colorado in 1980.
Once in Denver and driving around, Robert noticed the environment change very quickly. There weren't as many Lowriders cruising the streets, or even at community events and car shows for Cinco de Mayo. "There wasn't much enthusiasm for the 'sport'," he says, adding "I was really disappointed." Missing the California Lowriding scene, he wanted to get back in touch with it, so he stepped out in search of the latest Lowrider Magazine. He had heard about a Lowrider shop in Denver on 38th called "Mile High Customs." One Saturday, he decided to go buy his copy of Lowrider Magazine there and check it out. He ended up waiting from 9 am to 4 pm for the shop to open, checking back periodically throughout the day, and was once again disappointed; it never opened.