Imaginative, Eccentric, Genuine, Unique, Distinctive, Master
Before the creation and inception of Lowrider Magazine in 1977, there was not a single publication on the market dedicated to Lowriding. In the early 1960's, Lowriding enthusiasts would take photographs of their own cars, as well as other vehicles at the various car shows being held at the time, in order to document the era. A lot of the photos of these early days were taken with consumer grade cameras, usually the Polaroid instant camera models, which yielded mediocre results. Thankfully, some photos were taken with professional grade cameras by people who not only had a passion for the cars, but a passion for photography as well. Howard Gribble is one of those select individuals who shared an equal passion for these two pastimes during the 1960s, and he never missed the chance to document this unfolding of Lowrider history.
Howard Gribble was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, and he relocated with his family to the South Bay area of Los Angeles, California when he was just 8 years old. While in junior high school, Howard started to notice cars in the area with scallop paintjobs, pinstriping, and flamed paintjobs. As a young artist, he started drawing pictures of the cars he saw on notebook paper. By the time he was in high school, custom cars dominated his interests, and collecting car magazines became yet another hobby for young Howard. It would not be long before he would begin working on his first automobile.
At 15 years old he got his first car, a 1950 Ford sedan, which he quickly customized by shaving the door handles and removing the emblems. Howard was going for the "George Barris" style that was very popular at the time. With limited money, the schoolboy's project never really took off. A few years later, however, Howard did some custom work on his 1961 Ford Starliner. Shortly after the car got a custom paintjobs, it was tragically wrecked after a careless driver ran a red light and hit Howard.
In the mid-1960s, Howard purchased a Polaroid camera to take photos of his different interests. He always took photos here and there, so it was only natural that after a while he would want to upgrade his equipment. Howard purchased a 35mm camera, and started to attend car shows in the Southern California area on a regular basis. Since there were no magazines covering the Lowriders or the custom car scene, Howard took his camera to the shows and photographed the cars for his own personal enjoyment.
One day at work in 1966, Howard mentioned to a co-worker that he wanted to buy a late model or newer car, spray it down with custom paint, and put hydraulic lifts on the car. The co-worker commented, "Oh, you mean a Lowrider?" That was the first time Howard heard the term Lowrider, he had always heard the cars referred to as "cruisers" or "Bellflower-Style" cars. In April of 1967, Howard bought a brand-new 1967 Chevy Impala SS, and within two weeks, the Impala was in a local shop getting lifted by a guy named Red. After the hydraulics installation was done, Howard's friend painted it metal flake fuchsia. To complete the car, Howard picked up a set of rims at Mr. M's on Rosecrans. Howard drove it around for a while before Dave Kent in Venice, California, added lace patterns to the car. A young man, who was working out of Dave's shop by the name of Walt Prey, worked his magic to pinstripe the car.