The Traditional Ranfla
Lowriders have become a cultural phenomenon of sorts. You see them in all sorts of mainstream movies, rap videos, and even white suburbia these days… The lowrider is literally an accessory to hipsters looking to set an image, sell some product, or otherwise degrade a Spanish/American heirloom. Go to Wall Mart, buy the latest urban/rap/crap CD and rub the case against your cheek. That dirty cellophane feeling? That’s the modern American lowrider.
Obviously, it hasn’t always been that way. Lowriders were born from the creative souls of the 1940s/50s barrio youth culture. These guys were zuit suit wearing pachucos freshly back from the war that taught them so much about mechanical things. Some say it happened in East L.A., others (myself included) like to think the birthing grounds were further southeast in El Paso. Regardless, it paints a pretty cool picture if you know the culture and have an understanding of the people.
Imagine a ’47 Chevy bomb loafing down a dirt road in an El Paso barrio. He’s got the trunk loaded with sand bags and the skirts mounted a little lower than stock – it’s all part of the look. Maybe there is some Mexican music in the background and a young Latin girl scampering to get out of the way… Of course he is sitting back and low in his seat.
From that point on, Mexican/Americans had their spot in the automotive culture. As they grew into this country, so too did their automotive sophistication, ideas, and art. It wasn’t long until Chicano painters in south central L.A. were giving George Barris ideas. And of course not too long after that was the beginning of the Bellflower custom craze… Which, in turn, lead to the traditional late 60s Lowrider. The real deal. El trato verdadero.
¡Permita hay revolucionario!