When the lights go up at today's huge lowrider shows, hundreds of cars gleaming with triple-dipped chrome and gold plating, elaborate candy and metalflake paint jobs, rolling on custom-spoked wire rims featuring the finest spinners money can buy, fans throughout Aztlan (Chicano slang for the American Southwest) and all America, to Japan and Europe, gasp with appreciation and envy. As lowriding has taken the world by storm, it has also taken the mainstream automotive industry by surprise--no one seems to know where the world's number one auto trend came from. Some automotive enthusiasts like to write the sport off as the new cruiser on the block, eyeing hoppers and their high performance hydraulics somewhat suspiciously.
Other custom car historians dig a little deeper, tapping out a few lines about the late '70s, the television show Chico and the Man, and the first few issues of Low Rider Magazine evidence enough that lowriders have enjoyed at least a decade or two on the streets. But, lowriding's roots reach far deeper into history than that, the result of two very different traditions, California car culture and Mexican cultura coming together in Southern California. Lowriding has always had a distinct Mexican flavor, hotter than hot rods and lower than customs.