As we began our trek back to the traditional lowriding standards of deep candy paint and laced-up rides soaked in chrome, we realized that the last few years a trend not only in lowriding but in custom cars in general of stripping once-chromed parts and covering their luster in matching paint with a color-coordinated interior had somehow infected the industry. Like the many trends that came before it that transcended one genre of custom cars and spilled over to lowriding, this trend has run its course. We can now return to our roots; refined and trimmed, but our roots nonetheless.

For us as lowrider loyalists, we may incorporate some parts of these trends into current or future lowriders, but never will we allow ourselves to turn our backs on what makes a juiced, custom-painted and chromed-out lowrider. This is what sets us apart and has all other car factions copying and biting our style, wanting to borrow it for a video or invite us to a show, or just be happy that we drove by to add a lot of flash and style to their mundane turnkey cookie-cutter custom cars.

We lowriders are the individuals that other custom car owners aspire to be. We are originators, so if we feel like layering patterns across a car while we bolt in plush swivel bucket seats, all while sitting on 14-inch wire wheels in a stance held by hydraulic fluid and enough pressure to crush a skull, that's what we're going to do. We're the only car group that isn't worried about the next man or the resale value of our masterpiece of culture and pride.

That being said, we lowriders are the true leaders of chrome, so we have a bit of a dilemma when it comes to the shiny stuff. If we plan to build a ride that was made after 1968-since most '69 through present day grille work is made of plastic-it's either a custom-built metal grille, n.o.s. grille or fixing what you got. If it's not bad, you might be able to pull it off, clean it up and slap it back in place. For most street riders, this will be more than okay, but if you're building a show stopper or just want the best ride with no room for error, you will need to find a source.

Until recently, VMC (vacuum metalized coating) was the process of choice, but with many parts the process was not an option, so we searched further to stumble upon Chrome FX. Chrome FX is a process produced by a machine manufactured by the alsa Corporation. The machine is simple: it has four tanks and three spray guns. each tank is regulated by a valve with a gauge built into the knob to ensure accuracy. The tanks are filled with filtered water and mixes of chemicals are added to three of the tanks while one is left for a rinse.

Setup of the Chrome FX system is easy enough and training is provided with each machine, which is kind of them since the sticker price on this dreamweaver is a glassshattering eight-grand, more than we were expecting, but then again, it's cheaper than trying to open a chrome shop and less caustic than the chemicals used in the hexavalent chrome bath that many bumpers took. The mixing of these chemicals creates a metal deposition that can be sprayed to any surface, which leaves a bumper-shine finish.

Since Chrome FX uses paint as a base and for topcoat protection, its only drawbacks are the same as the paint on your ride: scratches, chips and fading. Much like the custom paint on your car, however, if you take care of it, you'll be gleaming for the next few decades.

In short, Chrome FX is in no way a replacement for chrome on the undercarriage or any metal part that's fit for traditional chrome, but if it's plastic or an irreplaceable diecast part that's too damaged to dip in chrome because of the body filler, Chrome FX is the answer to your prayers. Chrome plating will continue to change and evolve like everything else in the automotive industry, and with ridiculously strict ePa and osha regulations tightening with each new year, a system like Chrome FX is a solution for many who would have no other option but to paint their parts a real nice silver and live with it.

For those of you who can't afford the Chrome FX system, you are kindly invited to contact the alsa Corporation for a referral to one of the many customers who have thesystem and can fulfill your request. hopefully, this will help you fill the gap between your hood and front bumper.