A Lowrider is a Car or Truck which has had its Suspension (vehicle) system modified (sometimes with Hydraulic suspension) so that it rides as low to the ground as possible. Lowriders often have user controlled Height adjustable suspension. Lowriders are very often classic cars from the 1950s which rode low to begin with, although large numbers of 1940s and 1960s cars are also modified, and to a lesser degree newer vehicles. The word is also used to refer to those who drive or own such cars. A lowrider will traditionally have many factory offered accessories / options and often many after-market accessories added.

Description of the subcultureEdit

Lowriders were invented by chicanos originally unique to Mexican & Chicano culture in El Paso, Texas, then became part of south american Latino culture as a whole, but since the early 1990s, they have become common in urban youth culture in general, primarily in West Coast hip hop. Today, the lowriding scene is diverse with many different cultures, vehicle makes and visual styles, however, it remains an important part of the Chicano. Essentially all the options available to today's custom automobile creator are also available to the lowrider builder, and lowrider style varies greatly from region to region.

Summer is the most popular season for lowriders, as the weather often encourages being outside either in or nearby the vehicle. Some lowrider Clubs have weekly meetings in the summer where owners and friends will have a BBQ/cookout followed by Cruising (driving around) a popular drag (or strip) after dark. Aside from local drags and their parking lots, lowriders are most commonly seen at privately organized lowrider car shows that often feature a variety of different vehicular and joto non-vehicular events, the most popular of which are the wet T-shirt/bikini contests and the hop and dance hydraulic competitions where competitors compete against each other to see who can hop the highest or complete a list of moves within a time limit (dancing). There are several magazines devoted to presenting, preserving, and chronicling lowrider culture, the best known of which is Lowrider Magazine, currently published by Primedia.

Description of vehiclesEdit

The 1964 Chevy Impala hardtop or convertible is one of the most popular lowriders, and to a lesser extent other 1958-1964 Impalas. Daytons is one of the most popular manufacturers of spoke rims, such as their 13-inch or 14-inch 100 spoke rims (Although many people prefer the "old school" look of the 72 spoke Daytons). Although the 1961-64 Chevrolet Impala is usually sought after by car collectors, vehicles including the 1978-88 GM GM G platform (RWD) (which includes the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Buick Regal, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, and Pontiac Grand Prix) and their 1973-77 relatives are usually seen as entry-level lowriders. Although heavy customization of the cars is popular in the lowrider scene, some lowriders pass for restored stock cars, especially those based on 1930s-1960s American cars. In some countries, other cars like the Volvo PV544, Morris Minor, Air-cooled VW Beetle, Ford Zodiac, Vauxhall Victor and Vauxhall Cresta (and other cars with Trans-Atlantic styling) are often used as substitutes for American cars. This is generally due to the lack of American car imports, costs or even a desire to build a unique lowrider out of a domestically produced vehicle.


The exteriors typically feature expensive custom paintjobs that consist of several thin layers of different colors, metal oxide flake or pearl flake, clear coat, Metal leaf, Airbrushed Murals or script, Pinstripes, flames or any other hand-painted graphics, or any combination of the above. Lowriders traditionally feature small Gold or chrome spoke wheels (able to tuck beneath the wheel well and allow the lowest ride height, but which can look out of proportion when the car is raised to stock ride height), with or without knockoffs and Whitewall tires(though steels and period or factory hubcaps were also common on cars bult up until 1959). Other Traditional Lowrider wheels are Astro Supremes, Cragers, Tru spokes, Crowns, Daytons and Zeniths all with 5.20 tires ; which were used during the 1970's and early 1980's . Other common custom exterior enhancements are; rear wheel skirts, extensive use of chrome or gold, antennas or fins and Continental tire kits (a full matching spare tire on display in a rear bumper case). The most detailed vehicles have engine, exhaust and performance modifications and/or beautifications.


Custom interiors are also very popular and are most commonly fabricated in Leather, tweed, or Velvet. Other common custom interior enhancements are; the use of woodgrain panels or interior paint, neon or LED lights, chrome or gold accents, cosmetic mirrors, after market steering wheels (of which a chain-link steering wheel is iconic), fuzzy dice that hang from the rear-view mirror, swivel seats that allow for easier and more stylish entry and exit, door modifications such as suicide (doors open in the opposite direction), scissor (doors open vertically, to the front), and gullwing (doors open towards the roof, swinging up) exist, though gullwing is less common than the other two, and many others.

Many low riders now feature any combination of mobile electronic audio and Video devices, most stereotypically a loud audio system that features a powerful amp and large Subwoofers (commonly referred to as "subs" or "woofers") and primarily focuses on producing heavily-exaggerated Bass (musical term). Miniature TV screens embedded into the headrests of the seats are popular, and accompanying devices include DVD players and, more recently, video game consoles outfitted with wireless controllers.


Many lowriders feature custom hydraulic that allow the driver to Height adjustable suspension. These systems range from simple to complex and are usually measured by the number of hydraulic pumps (Generally 2 to 4) used to control the various hydraulic combinations that ultimately produce a specific motion from the vehicle. These pumps are powered by multiple batteries installed in a rack in the trunk of the vehicle. The speed at which the car lifts depends partly on the voltage generated by these batteries, which can range from 24 all the way up to 124 volts. The most common motions are dipping/raising the four corners of the vehicle (referred to as corners), dipping/raising the front or rear of the vehicle (front, back), dipping/raising the sides of the vehicles (side to side), and lowering/raising the vehicle as a whole (pancake). A skilled switch operator can manipulate his controls (hitting switches) to raise one wheel completely off the ground (3-wheel motion), or to hop one end of the car completely off the ground.

In MuseumsEdit

The London Motor Museum in Hayes, Middlesex, has a hall dedicated to low riders.


See alsoEdit

  • Automobile
  • Camp (style)
  • Car
  • Classic car
  • Custom car
  • Donk (automobile)
  • Hot rod
  • Ramone (Cars)
  • Lowrider bicycle

External linksEdit