We spend hours in our respective garages, building, sanding, and painting our dream machines in the hope that they will become an extension of us; our hope is that they will one day define us and give us our “identity.” One such car club also understands that your group of friends defines you in the same way, and this Phoenix, Arizona club, Identity Car Club, has again risen from the ashes, just like the legend of the majestic bird their city has taken its name from. The Identity Car Club was born back in 1984, with a group of like-minded individuals who found each other because of their shared love for Lowriders, car shows, picnics, and family.
As the club flourished back in the mid-eighties, what separated it from most of the other Lowrider car clubs was the fact that it was a co-ed group, which had Phoenix’s Lowriding ladies cruising alongside their male friends. The girls proved worthy of flying the Identity colors because of the quality of the cars they built, which easily rivaled their male counterparts. This equality stemmed from the club’s focus on family, and in a few cases, this co-ed clubbing led to matrimony; all in the name of love and Lowriding together! This time period became the club’s golden years, and Identity members were seen everywhere in the Phoenix scene, as they happily flew the plaque and colors that defined who they were.
As time went on, life became busier and other priorities faced the original members, thus the club slowly dissipated. What was once a proud and strong car club had dwindled, leaving behind memories and friendships that still remained strong, even in the face of the club shutting down. What was once lost can always be found again, and the club members proved this, as a couple of the club’s original members were determined to relive the Identity dream once again. Believing in the same values they once had 27 years ago, Al Luna, who was once the Club President back in 1985, and Danny Coronado, who was a dedicated club member, decided that they would give the Identity Car Club a rebirth. When Al decided to resurrect the club, he contacted a few of the OG’s and asked for their blessing. Within no time, Identity C.C AZ. was reborn!
This time around, Al’s good friend Armando “Big Mando” Aldama was asked to help resurrect the club. So with Al the President and Mando his Vice President, the duo decided to debut the new version of the club at the annual 2010 Majestic Car Club Avondale picnic. On the day of the picnic, the guys couldn’t have been any more excited; after all, nobody there knew that one of Phoenix’ oldest and most respected clubs was about to bounce back into the scene! Al and Mando excitedly packed up Al’s red ‘64 Impala, ironed their new t-shirts, shined up an original club plaque and rolled into the picnic to show everyone their new Identity! Al and Mando received a very warm reception from all of the car clubs as they were welcomed back to the scene with open arms. One friend added, “Al, you just made the Lowrider community stronger!” They received love and respect from everyone at the picnic, which was really no surprise as the Lowrider scene in Arizona has an incredibly strong bond between the area clubs and members.
Once the word was out about the rebirth of Identity, several solo riders decided they wanted to become family members and join the club that had been an inspiration to them over the years. Just as it did back in 1984, Identity held club meetings and the prospects came out in droves. A little over one year later, Identity Car Club has once again become a strong, respected, and family-oriented club with 17 members and 23 vehicles in the new lineup. Out of respect for the values the club was founded upon, this new incarnation of the club kept the idea of being a co-ed club, so ladies are welcome. OG members like Mary Villasenor, Diana and Sandy Soto, Carol Macias and others paved the way for women to ride alongside the fellas in this club, and this helped to give the club a foundation strong enough to be reborn today. Also, OG members like Chris Terzan, Gonzalo Villasenor, Pancho Valensuela, Robert Gonzales, the late Larry Boroquez (RIP) and many others are the reason the Identity plaque was accepted back into the Lowrider community so easily.
With the wind again at their collective backs, Identity C.C. plans to be around for a long time. Thanks to dedicated members and the families that support them, the club has already put together several successful events in Phoenix. They support as many functions as they can attend, and as with most clubs, Identity’s goal was to make it to the Lowrider Super Show in Las Vegas. They achieved this in 2010, when the club rolled out with three rides and a pedal car to the show, along with other members making the trip for support. This year they plan on taking even more entries. When asked for closing remarks on our interview, Al and Mando proudly state: “We are a car club―and family is our Identity!”
A good friend once told me, “it doesn’t matter what plaque is in your back window, or what ink is on your shirt, we are all one big family.” Identity C.C. lives by these words, and the Lowrider community is better because of it.