The Bachelors LTD Car Club is legendary for many reasons, but there is one particular contribution to Lowriding that they are most recognized for. Simply put, this club helped birthed our entire culture by serving as one of the original builders, founders and pioneers of the Lowrider Movement. They are the fine rock, sand, and water that comprises the very foundation of our glorious culture, and the creators of a lifestyle that has since grown into a worldwide phenomenon. Combining the elements of love, heart, and soul, the Bachelors LTD Car Club has carved out their own unique legacy as one of the greatest and most respected car clubs to come out of East L.A. These young men turned Lowriders into high art, and were also instrumental in molding East L.A. into the Lowrider Capital of the World. The strong brotherhood among these young men bonded them as a family, as they positively represented the Raza in everything they did, ultimately framing a masterpiece of everlasting Chicano Culture.
The Bachelors Car Club was established as a lead sled and hot rod club back in 1958, and made their first appearance that year at a Long Beach, California car show that was organized by the Renegades Car Club. In 1969, the Bachelors Car Club redefined itself as a muscle car club under the direction of President Albert, who drove a 1964 Chevy Malibu, as well as Club Vice President Mando, who owned a 1968 Plymouth Roadrunner. In 1972, The Bachelors Car Club became The Bachelors LTD Car Club under the direction of President Nick Daneri. Daneri sat behind the wheel of a 1970 Custom Chevy Camaro, and his Vice President, Ron Gomez, followed his Chevy lead with a 1958 Chevy Impala. Growing pains left the car club facing an identity crisis and discontentment among its members. President Nick Daneri and VP Ron Gomez felt that The Bachelors Car Club should focus on becoming the cornerstone of the up and coming Lowrider scene. Nick's younger brother Dominic Daneri was a major liaison in the planning and building of the Bachelors LTD Car Club, helping them organize and seek out prospective members for the new club. They found fifteen young men who shared Nick and Ron's vision, and new plaques and attire were designed for what would ultimately become the Bachelors LTD Car Club, a club that still reigns supreme today.
The initial club officers during this formative time were President Nick Daneri, Vice President Ron Gomez, Sergeant of Arms Ray Quezada, Secretary Sammy Loya, and Treasurer Joe Martinez. In 1975, Sammy Loya became President, and the Late Louis "BARR" Barrios stepped in to serve as Treasurer. Business and weekend activities were discussed among the officers, and then presented to the regular club members. Satisfied with their hierarchy set up and membership level, the first business at hand for the officers was to implement a set of by-laws that would serve as the club's ethical direction. To uphold these by-laws, meetings were held once a week at Sequoia Park in Monterey Park, California. Here, a car committee was formed in order to carry out the full car, plaque, and attire inspections that would ensure the quality standards the club was looking to uphold. Fines and swats became the disciplinary actions of choice, and were subsequently given to members when they ran afoul of the laws of the club. The wooden paddle could be used for a variety of reasons, such as letting a girlfriend drive a club car with the plaque displayed, or for acting irresponsibly at a party. Occasionally, a bidding war would break out among the other members as to who would get to be the swatter. While no serious damage was done with the paddle, the potential ridicule and embarrassment to a club member's pride was enough to keep everybody in line, thusly the wooden paddle became a very effective tool for keeping order. There were also many positive rewards given to members, the highest being a "Car of the Month" trophy that was handed out on a monthly basis to the club's most deserving ride.
Cars were made to be driven back in these days and members certainly had many chances to prove themselves out on the streets to their fellow club members, as well as to the car community at large. Cruising was the best way to earn stripes and respect, and no greater battleground existed at the time than the legendary Whittier Boulevard. This historical boulevard was a bumper to bumper weekend warzone of cruising, set to a sonic backdrop of doo-wop, oldies, ranchera, and classic rock sounds, blaring out of the individual vehicles. Every afternoon became a party, and all of the East L.A. Car Club natives had their own preferred parking spots. The Bachelors LTD Car Club would park on the north side of Whittier Boulevard in front of Curly's, which was a men's clothing store. Al's Army & Navy Clothing was across the street, and this spot served as home to the Latin Lords Car Club. All of the car clubs respected each others' parking spots, so there was no reason for territorial wars to ensue. The entire boulevard was like a big family reunion every weekend, and no matter what time you cruised down Whittier Boulevard, it was a sure bet that you would always see someone you knew. Local sheriffs patrolled this hotbed of Lowrider activity and handed out $2.00 parking citations for improperly parked vehicles. Another commonly received citation was for having a car club plaque in the rear window. The officers claimed that, "It blocked your vision when looking to the rear." Increasingly worried about potential gang activity due to this growing culture, the police presence grew stronger, and the sheriffs began writing field reports on each car club. They used these reports to gather information on individuals, in order to keep profiles on each car club. The reports were so detailed, that when the police would run the car club name in their database, background information on individual members would come up. Despite this growing police presence, the culture was well underway and nothing could stop it.
This was the era of rabbit-ear antennas, 4 & 8-track stereos with vibe-sonic 45rpm record players under the dash, color bars, writing on rear quarter windows, names above door handles, and chrome lake side pipes. Choice rims at the time were Cragars, Rockets, Dynastys, and these were always deep set with 5.20s. Tru-spokes emerged later, and despite the potential for being ticketed, car club plaques were proudly displayed to show unity and club identity. I remember riding my Schwinn Stingray in the sixties, and seeing Lowriders all over East L.A. flying their car club plaques. I admired the Bachelors LTD Car Club because my own brother Blas (BJ) Gonzales Jr. was a member, thanks to his lifted maroon 1964 Chevy Impala SS. It was a wonderfully innovative time back then. Car Show displays consisted of brown bark, angel hair, white rock, white foam, and an informative car sign by a legendary pinstriper like Mr. Walt Prey. Hot spots for cruising were A&W Root Beer on Whittier Blvd. in East LA, Harvey's Broiler (also known as Johnny's Broiler) on Firestone Blvd. in Downey, and Tiny Naylor's on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. The Bachelors LTD Car Club was a very self-sufficient club, as the majority of the customization work was done by the club members themselves, although sometimes they would receive some assistance from their respective fathers. After all, the fathers of these pioneers were often the original builders of rides themselves. These father and son duos were fine examples of true Lowriders, and it was not uncommon for some fathers to also take their son's friends under their wings as if they were their own child. This "each one, teach one" philosophy rang true throughout the Bachelors Car Club, and their reputation and respect grew tenfold as a result of it.
The Bachelors also made their mark on the innovation side of the culture as well. A tight-knit group of local historical builders ruled the '60s and '70s, forming a circle of artisans, mechanics, and automotive gurus that comprised the very backbone of what we consider classic styling today. Painters and creators like Bill Hines of Lynwood and Steve Heard of Huntington Park, Hydraulic Inventive's Fernando Ruelas of LA, Grillo's Iron Works of El Monte, as well as Bachelors LTD's very own Richard "Gumby" Rodriguez performed unheard feats of bodywork, while interiors commonly went to Frank Rodella of Norwalk.
Realizing that their mission of spreading love and respect the Lowrider way should not just be limited to the streets, the Bachelors LTD Car Club held magnificent car club dances. These social events became a huge hit for them. Club Promoter Jim Montoya was an important asset to the car club at this time, as he gave them easy access to some of the best nightlife spots in Los Angeles. Living like "Bachelors" in every sense of the word, these young men felt that better clubs would bring out better girls for their events, and they were right. Top clubs like The Ambassador Hotel, Biltmore Hotel LA, Roger Young LA, Sheraton Universal Hotel in Universal City, The Pasadena Hilton, The Grand Hotel in Anaheim, Goldenwest in Norwalk, Latin American Press Club of Pico Rivera, and Montebello Country Club in Montebello served as the host places for some of the greatest social events ever put on by a car club. Long sleeve shirts with car club colors worn over the shirts became the mandatory event attire. A night club newspaper called The Free Grapevine Press by Paul Carlen featured photos and press coverage, that to this day is the only recorded history of these amazing local happenings.
The education, pride, and respect the Bachelors LTD Car Club had for each other is what endeared this brotherhood of young men to the other car clubs. Most members are from Cantwell High School, where they flourished under the guidance of President Nick Daneri and his officers. During this revolutionary time in the culture, these ideals of respect, honor, and love were mutually shared by rival car clubs from different high schools. These schools included Cantwell High, Salesian High, Garfield High, Roosevelt High, Bosco Tech High, Mark Keppell High, Montebello High and Schurr High. This common respect kept the rivalries friendly and competitive in nature, rather than becoming something detrimental to the gente. The Bachelors believed in themselves and each other, and always encouraged one another to develop their skills and talents, as well as to pursue higher education, As a result of this, many of the Bachelors' members have gone on to become successful in many different career paths. Richard Escobedo, a USC Alumni, is a great example of this, as his son Richard Jr. is now also a USC student. The Bachelors believed in keeping each other on the right track and Richard was always excused from car club meetings to study for his school finals. Believing that this experience in the car club helped to make him the man he is today, Richard says, "Remember your past, because it molds us to who we are," adding that it's important to "be a part of your culture." Former President Nick Daneri has gone on to become a building inspector for the city of L.A., and his brother Dominic shares his same line of work. Ron Gomez has continued his car passion, having given over 30 years to N.A.P.A. Auto Parts. Mike Perez, one of 3 remaining Lieutenants with the LAPD Air Support Division since beginning work in 1977, now cruises Crenshaw Blvd. from his position in a helicopter as part of the second largest fleet of police aircraft in the United States. Richard "Gumby" Rodriguez cruises the states in his big rig as a truck driver, and Sammy Loya does the same as a Charter Bus Driver. Sammy also shows off his musical talents, bringing that original East L.A. sound with the band "Nation of Aztlan."
The Bachelors LTD Car Club is still active today, participating in local East L.A. car shows and cruising the neighboring cities. This devoted group of men is now a true Lowrider family, supporting each other whether in good times or in times of heartache. The club's annual family and car club picnic shows the results of almost four decades of dedication to the wonderful sport of Lowriding. The low-to-the-ground aesthetic bonded these men under one common plaque, a plaque that represented not only who they were, but who they wanted to become. The Bachelors are a testament to the fact that your Lowrider best reflects your personality, in a lifetime full of individual perspectives, all too numerous to account for.
Though the mind is a vast and complex center of ideas, each man's views differ. Thus, no two perspectives in the universe are exactly alike, and no two Lowriders are exactly alike, either. The only device that views things exactly as it sees them is a camera; even the human eye creates mental images to interpret what it sees. What is in our mind's eye as we reflect back on The Bachelors Car Club? We remember those who fell. We remember those who stood out as heroes, and those who sat on the bench in anticipation. We remember everything; both the serious and the comical moments. We remember that this car club was the one that took over the streets in East L.A. at a time that no other club could have done it. They created a balance, a guiding light for Chicano Culture, and paved the way for all other car clubs to carve their own niche and place in our sport. The torch has been passed on to the rest of us from these visionary young men, and our culture is a much better and stronger culture because of it. Viva the Lowrider Movement!