The low life, the loud life - All about low riders
We all know what they are and know that they're pretty damn cool. But where did they come from, how do you explain the lowrider style, who drives them? We delve deeper into the cult of tattoos, guns, women, family and pinstripes.
The lowrider culture is an evolution of the American hot rod of the 40's and 50's. The cars were built to the "low and slow" ethos, and were meant to be smooth boulevard cruisers. With new hydraulics technology, "car hopping" became entwined with the lowrider style, with lowrider meets seeing more of these hoppers than the lowered cruisers that defined the scene in its earlier days. Some hoppers even go to the extent of installer smaller, lighter engines than those that came from the factory, some go nuts and put cinder blocks in their trunks to make the cars hop on their hind legs, all in an effort to make them easier to bounce. The cars are still treated like works of art though, with most featuring unique pinstripes by artists who treat the cars like they treat their bodies – wild graphics of women and skulls and roses, like the tattoos they carry.
Originating in the Hispanic communities in California and expanding to black communities as far as the East coast, the American lowrider scene has an extremely strong sense of community. Family comes first and the lowrider culture is passed on down to the kids. They love pugs as much as they love pinstripes, using both as territorial markers in their own neighbourhoods to distinguish one group from another. Even the way the cars are built vary slightly from one neighbourhood to the next, signifying different circumstances and unique characteristics of the builders, while the styles vary wildly depending on whether the lowriders are from the East or West coast.
How the Hapanese do their lowriders on next page
The Japanese Bosozoku started out as a gang of rowdy, loud and daredevil bikers who loved terrorising the police. Over time, the Bosozokus expanded into cars, adopting a style that was hard to replicate anywhere else.
As for the cars and the bikes, they're so loud that a fleet of bosozoku bikes going past can render you unable to hear for weeks. Long term Bosozoku members report damaged hearing. Since the loudness is such a big part of the Bosozoku style, the exhaust, whether on a bike or a car, must be the standout feature. Outside, its all bright two tone colours and ridiculous bodywork with arches, lips and scoops.
"Bosozoku" means "running out-of-control (as of a vehicle) tribe." The Bosozoku are not as hardcore as they look. Initially the Bosozoku came from lower and
lower middle class backgrounds, and used motorbikes as a way of expressing their dissatisfaction at being labeled as second class citizens. Now, professionals ranging from doctors to engineers join Bosozoku gangs and roam the streets at night, causing trouble for the police and having their own kind of fun. Most of the time, out on the road, they'll don masks and bandanas in an effort to hide their identities and protect their alternate lives as working professionals. For the newer kind of Boso, the lifestyle is a way of venting pent up frustration from work or family life.
Being a car geek, and if you've come this far, you probably want to know what kind of scale model cars you can find to reflect the lowrider culture. Click this line to be transported ot miniature lowriders.
More lowriders and Bosozoku on next page