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A lowrider (sometimes low rider) is an automobile or other vehicle modified so that its ground clearance is less than its design specification. This can be accomplished by substituting tires with a smaller outer diameter or through more extensive modifications based on desired aesthetics or performance, such as altering the vehicle's aerodynamics, lowering its center of gravity, or changing the effective gear ratios of the drivetrain. The term "lowrider" can refer to both the vehicle and its owner or operator; the verb form "lowriding" can likewise refer to the process of modifying a vehicle in this manner, or to its operation.
Description of the subculture
There is no definitive date or location for the origin of lowriders, but likely began in the Mexican-American Barrios of Los Angeles California in the mid-to-late 1940s and during the post-war prosperity of the 1950s. Initially, some youths would place sandbags in the trunk of their customized cars in order to create a lowered effect. This method was replaced by lowering blocks, cut spring coils, z’ed frames and drop spindles. The aim of the lowriders is to cruise as slowly as possible, "Low and Slow" being their motto. By redesigning these cars in ways that go against their intended purposes and in painting their cars so that they reflect and hold meanings from Latin culture, lowriders create cultural and political statements that go against the more prevalent Anglo culture. The design of the cars encouraged a "bi-focal perspective-they are made to be watched but only after adjustments have been made to provide ironic and playful commentary on prevailing standard of automobile design." However, this resulted in a backlash: The enactment of Section 24008 of the California Vehicle Code in January 1, 1958, which made it illegal to operate any car modified so that any part was lower than the bottoms of its wheel rims.
In 1959, a customizer named Ron Aguirre developed a way of bypassing the law with the use of hydraulic Pesco pumps and valves that allowed him to change ride height at the flick of a switch. 1958 saw the emergence of the Chevrolet Impala, which featured an X-shaped frame that was perfectly suited for lowering and modification with hydraulics. Between 1960 and 1975, customizers adapted and refined GM X-frames, hydraulics, and airbrushing techniques to create the modern lowrider style.
Today, the lowriding scene is diverse with many different participating cultures, vehicle makes and visual styles. 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.
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- Cal Style VW (a latter day bomb lowrider based on a Volkswagen Type 1, not to be confused with a Cal looker)
- Car restoration
- Custom car
- Ramone (Cars)
- Royal Chicano Air Force
- Lowrider bicycle
- Sturken & Cartwright, Marita & Lisa (2009). Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. Oxford University Press. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-19-531440-3.
- Lipsitz, George (1997). The Subcultures Reader: Cruising around the Historical Bloc. New York: Routledge. p. 358.
- Lowrider History. Convictedartist.com. Retrieved on 2010-11-25.
- Brown, J (2002). "DIPN The Industry of Low Riding", Dream Factory Films, 1(2)(3).