He started one of the most respected car clubs of its time, built a car that set the pace for Nor Cal; his car club helped promote a small magazine named Lowrider in the 70’s; he helped add rules to the judging rule books; he was one of the judges in what is arguably the most controversial sweepstakes decision in Lowrider history; he has been Lowriding for almost four decades, and chances are that you’ve never heard of him before. His name is Jose Martinez, and he’s a lifelong Lowrider enthusiast that is still involved in the Lowrider scene. If you’ve attended Lowrider Magazine car shows in the past two decades then you’ve definitely seen this veteran there.
Jose Martinez started Lowriding when he was in high school at the age of 17. Back then, the big car clubs in San Jose were New Style and First Impression. At that time, I wasn’t thinking about joining any car club, says Jose. In 1976, he owned a 1975 Monte Carlo that he would take to school. One day, Jose ran into Larry El Larry Gonzales, who was selling a small paperback magazine called Lowrider Magazine in Jose’s high school parking lot. Jose and Larry hit it off right away, and as they started talking about cars, they became quick friends. In 1977, Jose’s brother and few of his high school friends got the keys to their first Lowriders. Soon after, the idea of starting their own Lowrider car club began to be kicked around between those high school friends. In the summer of ’77, they formed Low Conspiracy Car Club. Jose Martinez was voted as the first president of the club. That same summer, in the same city of San Jose, CA., Larry Gonzales came out with the first issue of Lowrider Magazine. Low Conspiracy and Lowrider Magazine did a lot of things to help each other out in those early years. Since Low Conspiracy had set such a high standard for the cars in their club, they used to get constant features in the magazine. The club helped promote the new magazine, and always supported Larry. Within two years of the club’s existence, the membership grew from ten members to thirty. Back then, in order to get in to the club, your car had to have a clean paint job with no primer spots, it had to be lifted, and you had to be riding on Zenith wire wheels. Once you were in the club, you were also expected to add a custom paint job to your car. That’s how I got into painting cars, explains Jose.
The cars weren’t the only thing that had to meet a certain standard, the owner had to as well. In the 70s and 80s, the infamous Story and King Boulevards in San Jose would be packed with tens of thousands of car enthusiasts and spectators. In fact, the Story and King area would attract people from all over the state and surrounding areas every weekend. Every club would make their way out there, but Low Conspiracy would always make their presence felt. The club would hang out in different areas of the Boulevard and wouldn’t get harassed by the police as much as the other clubs. This respect stemmed from the fact that the club was known to help out with community events, and for the fact that Jose made sure that all of his club members conducted themselves in a respectful manner. They went so far as to make sure that they cleaned up the trash in the parking lots that they hung out in before leaving the boulevard.