The name Andy Douglas is one name that I'm all too familiar with. Having entrenched myself in the scene, this name has been ringing in my ears for years as the name of a man who was hitting back bumper and flipping cars over as far back as the 1970's! One thing I couldn't attach to the name was the face, since I had never had the chance to see the man in person. When I got the word about his induction to the Hall of Fame for Craftsmanship Honors, I was excited and honored to be the writer assigned to do the feature. The one thing I wasn't excited about was having just a few days to locate a man that seemed to be more of a myth than a reality. I had to hustle in order to shoot him, interview him, and have it all submitted within half a week. Needless to say, my search began immediately. I got on the phone and started making phone calls to present and past New Style members. I got my lucky break when I called my friend Carlos "Coast One" Malvido out of San Jose, CA. Not only did Coast One lead me to Andy's whereabouts, he also led me to a good taqueria once I arrived to San Jose! Without further ado, I present to you the story of Lowrider Hall of Famer, Mr. Andy Douglas.
Growing up in the East Side of San Jose, one can't help but to grow up around gangs. At age eleven, Andy joined a street gang by the name of "Callejeros" (street wanders). "When I came home that night my dad kicked my ass, he wouldn't let me do it (join a gang)," says Andy sternly. Andy's dad, who was a diesel mechanic and owned his own trucking company, bought Andy his first car, a 1952 Chevy. "The car was a piece of junk, but I took the car apart and restored it," says Andy with a laugh." "I can't remember what ever happened to that car," he says, giving me a sense that he's been involved with so many builds over the years that he's lost track. This is probably true; as Andy's dad had him working at the trucking company banging out fenders and doing body and paint work from a very early age.
Getting his Driver's License and a Nomad at age fifteen, Andy restored the Nomad and eventually turned around and sold it. This was his first foray into "flipping" an older car, and a key moment in his life, as he achieved a lot of confidence in his skills. Around that time, Andy also fell in love with the Impala. "The '64 was my favorite year," he acknowledges. By the time Andy was 16, he was able to get his hands on one, and he immediately began to fix it up. "That was my first Lowrider," says Andy with pride.
One of Andy's neighbors had a relative by the name of "Poppy" from East L.A. who would come up and visit often. Since both Poppy and Andy were both into cars, they became close friends. "Poppy is the one that got the 'L.A look.' inspired in me the 5.20's, the front lifted, and the rear slammed," Andy reminisces fondly. During Andy's junior year in high school, Poppy invited Andy to go down to East LA to cruise Whittier Blvd. "You have to see what we are doing to the cars down there, we are [even] putting little tires on them," Andy says, doing his best Poppy impression. Back then there was no Lowrider Magazine to show what everyone was doing to their rides, so Andy decided to take a road trip from East San Jo to East Los so he could see these ground-breaking modifications firsthand. "I went down there in my Root Beer Brown '64 with 10" wide Anson Sprints and wide tires," recalls Andy. "I saw all the cars with little tires and even a couple of guys with hydraulic set ups. I was like, 'this is what I have to do.'" Andy began asking some of these L.A. riders where they had gotten their hydraulic set ups. After making friends with a couple of the guys, Andy went with them to the aircraft shop. "They took me to Cal Nelson in San Fernando, and to Palley's Supply Company in Los Angeles," says Andy. "Those were the two aircraft supply places that just sold aircraft stuff." Of course, aircraft pumps were the norm for the first hydraulic set ups, but Andy was about to embark on a journey far bigger than he ever imagined.