Viva La Raza … and everyone else who loves lowriders!
Popular culture is not just about pop musicians and movie stars anymore. Kids idolize snarling, foul-mouthed rappers and the manufactured heroes of the wrestling ring. The image of the late Eddie Guerrero of WWE fame, rolling into the arena in shiny convertible lowrider cars is indelible in the minds of phoney-fight fans the world over. Borrowing from local owners, "La Raza" single-handedly turned lowrider cars into a must-have aspiration for a whole generation of adolescents, and not just Chicanos either. Hip hop megastar Eminem once arrived for a red carpet appearance with his buddies Dr. Dre and 50 Cent in a hazardously-lowered mean machine, reiterating the view of lowrider cars, rightly or wrongly, as "pimpin'" automobiles.
Events such as those have added star quality to the virtues of lowrider cars. They've long been more than that, though. Their background began way back in the 1940's when post World War 2, cars became a status symbol, a sign that industrial growth had been cranked back up and the world would be right again. Ethnic minorities such as Chicanos and African Americans set about customizing their automobiles as a way of individualizing them out of pride, and lowering motor cars became an instantly recognizable trademark. Unfortunately, it made them targets for unfavorable attention from the authorities and brought about contests between opposing gangs in the community.
In 1979, a movie called "Boulevard Nights" portrayed Mexican youths as thugs and conveyed a message that they were good-for-nothing criminals with nothing better to do than cruise the streets looking for trouble. Though the movie's reviews were abysmal, the police heard the message loud and clear. They took to arresting drivers and passengers of lowrider cars, to supposedly clean up the neighborhoods.
These days, lowrider cars and trucks don't offend the public's sensibilities and they are seen as magnificent collectibles. From their mirror-like chrome fenders and immaculate interiors to their whitewashed tires and hydraulic wizardry, lowriders are no longer painted as the 'bad boys' of hobby motoring. Pick up an enthusiast magazine and you'll see the extent to which owners will go to protect the movement's image as one of prestige and style. A single vehicle can contain enough electronics; it would seem from the specifications, to power a small jet airplane. The insurance costs for lowrider cars can be outrageous if the modifications have sent the budget soaring as high as the car is low. In fact, many owners of lowrider cars would never be seen driving them on public roads unless it was to transport them to motor shows.
Whether you're into cars or you're not, you have to admire the tenacity of those who own and love lowrider cars, to foster the growth and positive image-building of the pursuit. It's a part of America's modern history that has stretched across the world and now unites fans from all cultures and ethnicities with a single common interest.