The English translation for the Spanish phrase “La Gente” is “The People.” When the founders of La Gente Car Club decided to start the club, the focus was to be on the members first, and then the cars. Lowriding is primarily made up of two elements; people and cars, so the club name, “La Gente,” was a perfect fit.
La Gente Car Club was founded in 1975 in the city of Oxnard, California. As a tribute to the area, the founders of the club added “chiques” to the bottom rocker of the club plaque, in reference to the area of Oxnard where they lived. Eventually, the “chiques” on the bottom rocker of the plaques were updated to Oxnard. Since Oxnard is the founding chapter of the club, it is also known as the “mother chapter.” A few years later, a second chapter was opened in the Imperial Valley area of California. This chapter was born in 1979, when a relative of one of the members of the Oxnard chapter asked if they could start a chapter in the area. They added “Del Valle Imperial” to the bottom rocker of their plaques.
For a number of years, La Gente made their way to shows up and down California, and into Arizona and Nevada with these two primary chapters. That is, until a third and fourth chapter were established in Los Angeles, California, and Phoenix, Arizona. At the beginning of the summer of 1989, the Los Angeles chapter was started. When the chapter was started, it mainly consisted of family members of the chapter’s founder, but in due time other members started to join from other cities in the Los Angeles area. The latest chapter of La Gente was started in Phoenix, Arizona by a member of the Imperial Valley chapter that had relocated to the area in the year 2000.
Requirements for club membership include owning a vehicle, and striving to be the best in your category, while giving respect and participating in community service. Owning a vehicle is a must to be a part of La Gente, because through the car, the club will reach out and connect with their respective communities. By striving to be the best in your category, the member will represent La Gente at the shows with a clean and well-built ride, while motivating their fellow members to keep improving their rides. Respect is a given, as each chapter is diverse with membership from different backgrounds, and everyone should always be treated with mutual respect. As far as community service is concerned, it starts with each chapter participating in community events and yearly functions like toy drives, food drives, and fundraisers. Members of La Gente volunteer their time to help out the communities that they live in. Not only do they help the communities, but they also show those who may have a negative opinion of Lowriding that there is a positive side to it as well.
From street to full show, La Gente members have one goal when it comes to building a ride for the club, and that is to be the best in their respective show categories. When it’s time to put the La Gente plaque on the car, it should be the payoff for all the hard work that was put into the build. The Oxnard chapter Vice President Jerry Villa’s 1965 Chevy Impala SS convertible is the perfect example of the high standards and quality builds from La Gente. His ’65 was featured in the November 2010 issue of Lowrider Magazine. Nick Guzman, who is the Oxnard Chapter President, has a 1951 Chevy truck called “Puro Corazon” that is another consistent class winner.
Club members have a variety of rides sporting the La Gente plaque. There are the ever popular Impalas, Chevy Bombs, trucks, big body Cadillacs, Cutlasses, Regals and a couple of Harley Davidson motorcycles. The club is already grooming the next generation of La Gente. Many of the members’ children are members of the bike club and participate in the shows as well.
As we touched on in that last sentence, family is an integral component in the success of the club. The members would not be able to attend car show, meetings, and community events without the support of their families. The club makes sure the families are included in all club events, and every family member is also allowed to wear club colors. With the families involved in the club, it also makes it easier for each chapter to keep its members motivated.
The club and its members have been featured in Lowrider Magazine, as well as other car magazines, and in their local newspapers for their community outreach. The Imperial Valley chapter has produced the La Gente Super Show for the past 18 years, which brings car clubs and solo riders from all over California, Arizona, Nevada, and Baja, California. The proceeds from the show are funneled back into the local communities and programs like youth boxing, soccer, and t-ball.
With over 30 years of Lowriding to their credit, La Gente is a prime example of what a Lowrider Car Club should be all about. They are family oriented, active in their communities, and have some of the culture’s most high-quality rides. The next generation of La Gente members will carry on with the standards put in place by the founding members and the current members. There are no plans to add any more chapters to the club at this time, as the club and its members are content with the club as it is right now. As someone commented to me, “A club is only as good as its members, and we have good members!” We here at Lowrider Magazine would like to congratulate La Gente car club for three plus decades of Lowriding, and we wish them continued success.