The lowriders subculture first appeared between 1940 and 1950 in the Mexican-American barrios of Los Angeles, California, according to Caprice Photography Automotive Art. Through the years, it’s grown to become a worldwide culture in any and every country, from the vibrant color schemes with interesting airbrush illustrations, all the way to impressive suspension modifications based on 13-inch wheels and classic cars. In some countries, this trend stood at the base of the air suspensions that lowered the car until the bumpers touched the ground, but these are only half lowriders.
The lowrider motto was “low n slow,” and in the beginning, this made people take cement or sandbags and place them in the trunks of their vehicles to lower the car. The idea of airplane hydraulics that could allow the vehicle to be lowered and raised as the owner pleased came in the late fifties. The technology development in chassis modification and hydraulics now offers endless possibilities to make the car bounce off the ground or move on three wheels instead of four, all with the touch of a button.
The hip-hop culture from the 1980s and the 1990s played an important role in the introduction of the lowriders in many countries through the video clips of very well-known artists like Dr. Dre, N.W.A., and Snoop Dog as they featured Chevy Impala lowriders bouncing up and down while riding on the streets with 13-inch wheels.
16 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air
This 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air has been a family car for a few years, and it was restored twice. The original car was blue with a white roof, and it was bought for the incredible sum of $150, as it was damaged on the front and in need of a new engine. In time, the current owner’s parents managed to repair it and drive it for a few years.
However, when Jack, the owner, got his hands on the car, it ended up being customized with green paint based on the second paint of the car (Tiger Micra Gold), but it took 60 hours to be completed, not including the time used to design it. Jack works as a spray painter for the family business, but in his spare time, he’s an airbrush artist and a custom pinstriper. According to Caprice Photography Automotive Art, he worked on the exterior by himself, making each curve and line look as if they were real and also using the candy-paint idea of a true lowrider.
15 1964 Chevrolet Impala SS Coupe
The story behind this awesome 1964 Chevrolet Impala SS Coupe is an interesting one. The owner, Michael, bought a stock cruiser in 2014 after he had sold his Charger to make the money for the Impala, but eventually, he ended up with a house instead of a car. The lowrider remained a future project because he didn’t have the money for it anymore, but he got the money in the end and started the second full restoration process of the vehicle after 12 years since the first one.
The mechanics needed his full attention, but eventually, he managed to transform it into the most desirable lowrider. It wasn’t an easy task; Michael needed to make more than one mechanical modification to be able to fit in those 13-inch wheels and slam it to the ground. The diff was shortened just so the negative offset rims could fit in, and the hydraulic suspension system also needed extra batteries and air tanks to function. The extended trailing arms, finished in chrome, offered this Chevy the possibility to lower and raise better than a standard suspension could’ve offered. Michael was thinking back then to swap the T350 with a 700 and also place another type of diff gears to feel more satisfied with the car.
14 1990 Chevrolet Caprice
Dave, the owner of the 1990 Chevrolet Caprice, had bought this car with the hydraulics already mounted before it was restored properly. Even if it’s a later model than the other two from above, this car still has a lot of lowrider aspects.
The ride received the traditional wire wheels, along with a stunning color scheme that took four weeks to be painted on the car, with 15 different layers of paint that offered a unique finish.
Dave had a lot of plans for his ride back in 2016: more airbrushing on the exterior and engine bay, upgrades made on the hydraulic system so that it could bounce higher, and extensive chrome work. He mentioned to Caprice Photography Automotive Art the fact that he had been around cars since he was a little kid, that he had a passion for Chicano style art, and that his desire for lowriders dated from the time when his uncle owned Impalas, muscle cars, and lowriders. When he could understand those cars and what they were capable of, he became his dad’s right-hand help and began to build cars. He had always wanted a cool lowrider, so now, he has one.
13 1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
This beautiful piece belongs to Dino Acosta, a guy who started to love lowriders back in the ’80s when he was riding in his brother’s cars, according to Lowrider. During that time, he watched the continuously evolving trends and phases of lowrider culture to learn about them. Then, the moment came for him to build his own lowrider, and even if he knew what to do and how to begin, he still needed a car, so he bought a 1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo for only $2,200. The first move he made was to shave the firewall, the hood, and the trunk lid. Then, he started to make the repairs necessary and paint the car PPG Sandstone Brown with micro flake and pearl. The mechanisms under the car were chrome plated or painted. The trunk hosts a genuine hydraulic setup made by Dino himself with some help from a few fellow car club members.
The wheels Dino selected were a set of 14×7 True Classics with Premium Sportway whitewall 5.20s, while the engine also received multiple Edelbrock upgrades with billet and chrome accents.
He named his car “Plain Jane,” and he takes it to local car shows and cruise spots all the time. The car is truly a masterpiece of style and great taste.
12 1947 Cadillac Series 62
The owner of this 1947 Cadillac Series 62, Alex Ruiz from Rancho Cucamonga, California, wanted a special royal lowrider, and he got it, as Lowrider states. Having in the past more than one Impala, he just needed something more unique and outstanding. He fell in love with this type of car when one of his friends met with him in a jet-black 1947 Cadillac. After extensive research for such a car, he found the 1947 Cadillac Series 62, and it was a beautiful convertible.
The former owner had made some modifications to the car before Alex bought it, the mods including a 700R transmission, new Escalade seats, and an all-new crate motor, so he already had something to start with. The first mod that Alex wanted was a set of bags from Universal Air, and then, he mounted a four-link suspension and a Ford 9-inch rear. The custom paint used to restore the body was champagne covered by a clear coat with a gold pearl mix. All the metal parts were dipped in chrome, while the convertible top and the interior were reupholstered to match the special color. The dash was also airbrushed to resemble wood. This car really turns heads wherever it appears because of its style and class.
11 1941 Pontiac Torpedo
This awesome 1941 Pontiac Torpedo was created based on a passion for the automotive world. Juan Delarosa, the owner, had quite a remarkable father, Guadalupe Islas, who involved him in his mechanical works. According to Lowrider, despite his work as a mechanic, Guadalupe also wanted to work on a special project that he and his son could work on for their own pleasure. One day, he took Juan to see a 1941 Pontiac Torpedo that was owned by Juan’s godfather. The motor was in bad condition, so they were able to buy it at a low price to start the restoration process.
Unfortunately, while Juan was finding the motivation to begin this project, his father passed away. This was the trigger that made him want to restore the car that would be in memory of his father. It took six years to gather all the needed parts because the car was unique, a single-year model, more exactly. The first modifications were a 1963 Impala rear differential and a 5.7 Chevrolet engine combined with a 350 turbo transmission. The air ride came right after to make it embrace the ground a little bit. It was also installed with a full stereo. The paint used was Lexus silver metallic mixed with charcoal gray with a lot of chrome accents.
10 1964 Buick Riviera
According to Lowrider, Andy Sapien from Montebello, California, has built some of the most interesting, stunning, and famous lowriders through the years. He’s made or worked on cars like the “Crazy Camino”, the “Dress To Kill,” and the “Penthouse”, but his own made-up lowriders actually date back from 1978 until now, according to Lowrider. These include a 1979 Candy Magenta Cougar, a 1963 Impala, and the most recent acquisition: a 1964 Buick Riviera that was a gift from one of the members of his car club, Lifestyle Car Club. Being a lowrider enthusiast and having a lot of experience with this type of cars, his own project has received a lot of custom touches.
The door handles, keyholes, and rain gutters were shaved; the color of the car was changed to a PPG blue one with pinstriping and pearl accents; a new Hoppo’s two-pump system with two Optima batteries was mounted in the trunk; and the list goes on. The most interesting point of this car is the engine built by Mr. Soto from A&S Auto. The 350 Chevy small-block used for the car received three two-barrel Edelbrock carburetors combined with chrome upgrades, a refinished engine bay, and a 700R transmission. A set of 13×7 Dayton Wire Wheels completes the picture perfectly.
9 1958 Chevrolet Delray Delivery
Like most car enthusiasts, Armando Oliva got his passion for lowriders from his brother, Ishmael. Being a fan of the lowriding culture, Ishmael had his own dream: to restore a 1958 Delray Delivery. Unfortunately, his dream was set aside because he became ill. According to Lowrider, the car was standing in Ishmael’s backyard for a great number of years when Armando made the decision to restore it for his sick brother.
The vehicle had to be dug out of the ground because the weight of it had made it literally sink in the mud. It looked like an abandoned car and not an outstanding idea for a project. First of all, he had to wash off everything that had accumulated over the years. Then, he started to dismember it piece by piece to be able to replace the rotted quarter-panels and floors and rebuild its engine. The exterior ornaments were chromed, and the body received a whole new look through Sunrise Pearl paint and striping layers. Before he passed away, Ishmael was able to see his dream car finished, washed, waxed, and also polished, and all the members of the family will never forget his face as he looked at it.
8 1940 Chevrolet Master Deluxe
Michael Romo, the owner of this beautiful red 1940 Chevrolet Master Deluxe, started his lowriding journey with a few ups and downs. When he was a kid, his bike represented his ride, and his daily routine was to go on the driveway of Lowrider Hydraulics, according to Lowrider. The fact that he smelled hydraulic fluid all the time he was riding his bike and the passion that emanated from the shop made him think of having a car of his own. The first vehicle that he transformed into a lowrider was a 1976 Caprice Classic, but since that one, he’s bought, transformed, restored, and sold a lot of other models.
Once he and his family moved to Idaho, he started to think that he could add a little bit of his passion for lowriders and maybe change the culture from Twin Falls, Idaho. With the help of three friends, he managed to open a chapter of Viejitos Car Club over there. He managed to raise awareness by driving his car, the 1940 Chevrolet Master Deluxe, on the streets of Twin Falls and also leave his mark on the town so that it was never the same again.
7 1984 Cadillac Coupe De Ville
Mike Guptar, a Brooklyn resident, started a 1959 lowrider project with a lot of enthusiasm but abandoned it after a few hours. He didn’t want to be left without a ride for such a long time because that project would’ve taken a lot of time. Leaving the car aside to wait, he thought it would be a good idea to buy a car, a 1984 Cadillac De Ville, from a former club member. The Cadillac being in much better condition than the initial project but also with a few things that needed to be handled, he started the new project by buying a 1990 Cadillac from which he would take spare parts.
He took everything that fit and that was in a good condition, including the interior. Then, the car got to S&R Autobody to be painted in metallic blue. After a year had passed, the car was still not ready, but things were done in time. Then came the mods made to the rear window, which could finally be rolled down. The paint was ready after the last finishing touches of candy blue and green patterns from the roof and the light blue and gold stripes from the rest of the body. Once the two pumps for the air suspension were installed in the trunk, the car was complete.
6 1937 Lincoln Zephyr
Each project can last longer than expected. It can be full of ups and downs, problems or solutions, but everything has an end eventually. However, in those TV shows where everything is peachy and the restorations take place in fast forward, there’s also a lot of lying, according to Lowrider.
David Novelo from El Monte, California is a car enthusiast, but from so many makes and models that he likes, he chose the 1937 Lincoln Zephyr as the perfect ride.
He was first searching for a 1937 Chevrolet coupe with five windows, but when he went to go and see the car, the owner told him that he had already made a deal with someone else. Trying to insist on buying the car, David found out from the owner of the Chevy that he had more than one model listed for selling, and so he found the Zephyr. The car was already bagged, so David simply replaced the system with a new unit, and the car ended up lower than it was before. It was also repainted, and it received a new set of 16-inch rims that fit perfectly. Through the years, David received a lot of offers to sell his beloved Zephyr, but he denied them all.
5 1979 Lincoln Mark V
John Joyner from Merrill, Wisconsin, discovered his passion for cars when he was 19 years old. Because he grew in a different place, Modesto, California, he was influenced by many things throughout his life, but his neighborhood friend, Tom, was one of the most important ones. According to Lowrider, John remembers that his friend had a 1970 Cadillac lowrider that made him purchase one, too, when he took his driver’s license. His first lowrider was a 1982 Cadillac, but he didn’t enjoy it too much. He did some bad things with the wrong people and ended up without his wife, his newborn son, and his car.
After his release, he went to live with his parents in Wisconsin and found a job in an auto parts store. This was the time when he bought the 1979 Lincoln Mark V from a neighbor and started the project with a set of wheels and a two-pump hydraulic system. The car was repainted and airbrushed, and the initial hydraulic system was replaced with a four-pump Showtime one. The motor received a chrome-plating dress-up, and the car was given a new vinyl top. He’s now a happy man with a new wife and kid and a lowrider by his side.
4 Senseless: 1996 Lincoln Town Car
Even if one might think that a 1996 car can also be a perfect lowrider, this vehicle in the picture would still be wrong. This trend refers to those beautifully shaped Cadillacs and Chevrolets and also those interesting Lincolns that are a bit older than this one. It’s known that one can make a lowrider out of any car by simply mounting a two-pump hydraulic system and a set of 13-inch wheels, but not all those cars look good with these types of mods.
The 1996 Lincoln Town Car would look better left as classic as it is but yet a little modern. This square-shaped car was specially made for the US, and even if it looks like a lowrider with those little wheels, more exactly a set of 13×7 OG center-gold with the dishes painted in the color of the car, three-pump CCE competition hydraulic system, chrome finished parts, House of Kolor red-flake paint mixed with Kandy red paint and pinstriping, it’s a bit odd. It would look better fully restored to its original shape and maybe offered a set of interesting rims. There are some Lincoln models that make exceptional lowriders because they’re in fact classic cars that fit the lowrider theme. On the other hand, this one is a little bit too new.
3 Senseless: 1999 Volkswagen Jetta Mk4
The 1999 Volkswagen Jetta is a normal daily-use sedan that can be modded in many different ways, such as adding more power to the engine, a beautifully chosen lowered suspension, an interesting body kit that fits, some nice wheels to match the extended front, rear fenders, and so on. This “lowrider” Jetta is nothing more and nothing less than a kitsch. The paint used for the body is meant to simulate the lowrider Candy color pinstripes, but it looks like a child was drawing some lines on a piece of paper.
The suspension is of a lowrider, but it doesn’t belong on a car like this. The wheels are also lowrider type, but they shouldn’t be seen in such a mixture. The work from the trunk seems like it was made by a beginner and not by a professional air-suspension mechanic. People tend to think that if they own a car, it can be transformed into anything if this is what they want. “Let’s make a Daewoo Matiz a lowrider, and this is enough.” No! In fact, this type of car ruins the actual idea of a lowrider.
2 Senseless: 1987 Trabant 601
This 1987 Trabant 601 is owned by Liz Cohen, a German that went to the US and started his dream lowrider project over there. The final “masterpiece” cannot be taken seriously, however. Even if it’s a unique car, no one else thought of making a Trabant lowrider; no one else would take on such a project in the first place, according to Tesztelok. The body of the car, made from cardboard, and the chassis were modified to be able to mount the air suspension (which needed a special design), as well as the engine that was replaced with a 5.8-liter Chevrolet small-block. The color of the car remained the original one, maybe because the owner wanted it to still have a classic side.
Liz Cohen wasn’t able to put all the pieces together without any professional help, so he went to Arizona to find all the answers he needed. This project took more than eight years to be finished, and the huge amount of work cannot be described in just a few words, but why would someone want to do this? This is a question that doesn’t have any easy answers, and no one can explain how some people think of things.
1 Senseless: 1986 Jaguar XJ40
The 1986 Jaguar XJ40 is a stylish and yet office type of car. It would look better as one of the cars owned by a politician or someone who simply loves old cars and restores them, but not like this. Instead of chrome ornaments, the owner has mounted gold-looking ones (they’re surely not gold) that don’t fit in this picture or with any Jaguar model—that’s for sure—and a set of wheels that have nothing to do with the car (even if they would fit on a lowrider). It definitely doesn’t get even near to a lowrider, despite its production year. It’s a large sedan that aims to be in the luxury class and not the lowrider scene at all.
Those headlights have had better days, while the paint of the car matches the gold trims but has no place in the world of lowriders.
However, getting back to the wheels, they are, in fact, chrome wheels, but where did the gold go at this stage of mods? Maybe the idea was to have them half gold and half chrome, just to be sure it could be compared to a lowrider, at least based on something by those who don’t know much about it. It’s definitely wrong.
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