Low and Slow: Origins of Lowrider Culture

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Let’s get this straight! Whatever you may think, it’s time to get the low down on the low rider culture. Many people from different cultures have tried to take credit for starting this global phenomenon. So let’s explore the low and slow culture. What does it mean to be a low rider? Where did it all begin? What is it like today?

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Low and Slow known as Bajito and Suavecito are words to describe the distinct Low Rider Culture.  The low riding culture had spawned out of Mexican Americans out of California during the 1950s. Originally, many youth would put sandbags in their trunk to give the low effect. New methods were developed to push the limits such as lower blocks, cut spring coils, z-frames, and drop spindles.  Low riders had bought older vehicles that would customize them to roll down the streets in style.  They believed in driving slow and riding purely on style and class.

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During this time period, many were into hot rod culture was about being fast and pushing the performance of the vehicles. There was a lot of backlash through the dominant Caucasian Americans due to the cultural and political statements that were made by Mexican Americans on their vehicles. In 1958, California law had made it illegal to operate any car that was lower than the bottom of any rims.  In 1959, Ron Aguirre had developed a hydraulic lift that would allow you to change the height of the vehicle with the flip of a switch. This enhancement had changed the culture dramatically and caused an explosion of changes made to vehicles like the Chevy Impala, Chevy Monte Carlo, Cadillac Deville, Buick Regal, and the Oldsmobile Cutlass to name a few.

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Many people have a bad stigma when it comes to low riders.  They see it as a place for gangbangers or people that are involved in some kind of violence.  Low rider culture is far more than what you see on television.  A lot of times people skew the worst out of a when it comes down unfamiliar culture.  Many do not take the time to understand something different.  Although this culture did derived from Mexican Americans, it has spread to many cultures and around the world.

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The fact of the matter is that low rider culture has brought many people together.  To become involved in customizing, one needs to take a lot of stability, patience, and downright love for your vehicle.  Many continue to be involved with the culture as with the progression in their lives.  In the 1999 book of Low N’ Slow: Low Riding Culture in New Mexico describes the car as an art form and expressing their values of Hispanic culture.  Many have said that they feel as though their car is a masterpiece after years of planning and building the car of their dreams.  It truly shows how much their cars mean to them and how it has become an intricate part of their lives.

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In recent years, many would consider stance culture in the United States as an offspring low riding culture of the past.  Throughout Japan and Europe, car enthusiasts have derived the low and slow culture. In Japan, many car enthusiasts would race small subcompact cars that would be a target for law enforcement.  This in turn caused many enthusiasts to seek the incognito look which many refer to as the “VIP Style”.  This style was known to customize large luxury sedans that have the characteristics of low, slow, and clean.  Throughout Europe, within each country holds a different style due to the popularity of car whom many have the similar Japanese visions of the clean and fitted look.  Today, stance culture has exploded around the world that has connect people from all different cultures.   Throughout the US, stance culture has been transformed the car scene and created new inspired low and slow community.

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Low and slow culture has become a integral part of the car community.  Whether it may be customizing your old school ride or your late model luxury car, each person has a unique style that they embody within their car.  To many car enthusiasts, the low rider community is family and a way of life.  It is great to see how we can continue you come together with the same interests and build something truly amazing.  As we move to future trends, it will be interesting to how this low and slow culture will shift with the coming of age as new enthusiasts come forth.  For now, Low riders are here to stay.

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Photos courtesy of: stancenation.com and lowriders.com.

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