American Lowrider

Southern California is known for its car culture and in the 1950's young Mexican Americans started building cars that expressed their own sense of style and the "lowrider" was born. Like many other custom cultures, the lowrider evolved and by the 1970's brightly-painted custom cars on hydraulics were a common sight on streets like Whittier Boulevard in Los Angeles.

The 1970's lowrider style came to define the movement in popular culture, Journalist Ted West in 1976 said, "Lowriders express the refusal of a young Chicano American to be Anglicized. There has never been a clearer case of the automobile being used as an ethnic statement." But long before the lifestyle was associated with chain steering wheels, hydraulics, and outlandish paint jobs, there was a different kind of lowrider, the first lowriders.

American men returning from World War II came home looking for distractions other for thrills. As a result, the automotive hobby exploded in the 1950s, some hopped up old jalopies and headed up to El Mirage to set speed records and others raced sports cars, another group was building cars for another purpose "bajito y suavecito" (low and slow). Unlike the stripped down built-for-speed hot rods, lowriders were built for comfort, cruising, and to make a statement. Streamlined classics, with chopped tops, fender skirts, visors, chrome trim, and pinstripes.

While the flashy 70's style cars have become commonplace at California car events. At least one shop is trying to save this traditional lowrider, Slick's Customs in Montclair, California. Builds cars the way those early builders did, capturing a culture and motoring experience that was nearly lost. Spending the day at the shop you get a sense that this is more than a business, it is a part of a tightly knit community, a family, these cars are a part of Southern California culture and a special connection to the past.

Slick's doesn't have a website, doesn't even have a sign, but the shop is currently so busy from word of mouth that they are having to expand. Follow Slicks on Instagram and Facebook. Enjoy more photos below: