History of the low rider cars
The car is also channeled by lowering the body over the chassis and raising the floor. An adjustable suspension is installed to control height. Elaborate metallic paint schemes and murals featuring Aztec themes, buxom women or the Mexican flag are prominent on exterior.
For a lowrider, it was all about looks and cruising local boulevards. The lowrider car was an extension of the fashion sense of the Mexican-American. First Zoot Suits, and later baggy khakis, white T-shirt, chained key fob, bandana and a pretty girl in the passenger seat complemented the lowrider look. The lowrider was an expression of cultural, if not civic, pride. In , they formed the Dukes So.
The club cemented the concept of socializing, dances, cruising and shared love of the lowrider car and lifestyle. Each new generation brings new cars to the lowrider fold.
- Low and Slow in the Heartland: Kansas City’s Lowrider Culture and History.
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Early favorites included pre-war coupes like the Mercury and Oldsmobile 88 s and post-war Plymouths , Fords , and Chevrolets. The most defining feature of a lowrider was, and remains, its conspicuously low clearance. These cars had chopped and lowered suspensions and sometimes roof lines to match.
'Slow and Low: Lowriding Culture from the Southwest to Japan"
Legend has it that the use of hydraulics was first introduced to allow car owners to avoid being ticketed after a California law prohibited vehicles riding lower than the bottom of their rims. This law specifically designed to target Chicano youth for police harassment. But with hydraulics initially taken from the landing gear systems of airplanes , a driver could simply flip a switch and boost the ride height back to street legal.
The trend of lowering their vehicles set the Chicano car culture of the late 40s and early 50s distinctly apart from that of its Anglo counterpart. White car culture worshiped at the altar of hotrods with their engines and bodies modified for speed. Lowriders were intended for cruising, for showing off the quality of a car and its customizations.
The focus was on aesthetics not horsepower. The classic cruising route for lowriders was Whittier Blvd. Whittier was a main thoroughfare which ran through the heart of the city. As such, it functioned not just as an artery for local commerce but also as a meeting place for the Chicano youth of East LA. Whittier was where you went to see and be seen, and there was no better vehicle for cruising the main drag than a lowrider. Lowriders are about much more than just hydraulics.
Fancy paint jobs abound incorporating glitter, gloss, elaborate murals, pinstripes, all complimented by lots of sparkling chrome.
Lowriding: This Culture Is About More Than Cars
Along with their lowered suspensions and ornate exteriors, lowriders round out their look with flashy rims and well-appointed interiors. Expense and attention are rarely spared on lowrider interiors.
Velvet, embossed leather, and sleek vinyl locate the proverbial seat of luxury little lower to the ground. Custom steering wheels are a favorite modification, as are aftermarket foot pedals, shifters, and even bespoke cigarette lighters. Basically, on a lowrider, if it can be customized, it will be customized.
Lowriding: This Culture Is About More Than Cars - The New York Times
Hoppers are those cars outfitted with hydraulics and suspensions capable of not just elevating, leaning, or lowering but also bouncing the car. Contests are even held to test which lowrider can gain the most air measured in feet, not inches. Obviously, this amount of bounce does put these cars at risk. Hoppers can get so vertical they can damage the rear bumper.
Although large numbers of s and s cars are also modified, and to a lesser degree newer vehicles. Lowriding originated in the s and blossomed in Southwestern Chicano communities during the post-war prosperity of the s. Initially, youth who dressed in the pachuco style would place sandbags in the trunk of their customized cars in order to create a lowered effect.
This method was replaced by lowering blocks, cut spring coils, z'ed frames and drop spindles. The aim of the lowriders is to cruise as slowly as possible, "Low and Slow" "Bajito y Suavecito" being their motto. However, this resulted in a backlash: the California Vehicle Code , which outlawed any car having any part lower than the bottom of its wheel rims.