A LOWRIDER is a style of car originated by Chicano communities that sits lower to the ground than most other cars. Many lowriders have their suspension systems modified (with hydraulic suspension) so that their ride can change height at the flip of a switch. 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 were known as Low Riders.
Lowriding originated in the 1930s and blossomed in Southwestern Chicano communities during the post-war prosperity of the 1950s. Initially, youth who dressed in the pachuco style 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" ("Bajito y Suavecito") being their motto. However, this resulted in a backlash: the 1958 California Vehicle Code 24008, which outlawed any car having any part lower than the bottom 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 (scavenged from a surplus B-52 bomber) that allowed him to change ride height at the flick of a switch. In 1958, the emergence of the Chevy Impala which featured an X-shaped frame that was perfectly suited for lowering and modification with hydraulics. Between 1960 and 1975, customizers adaped and refined GM X-frames, hydraulics, and airbrushing techniques to create the modern lowrider style. The oldest car cruising the strip is located on Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles. Cruising on this strip became a popular past-time whith the lowrider community during the 1940s before spreading to surrounding neighborhoods in the 1950s.
Since the early 1990s, lowriders have become common in urban youth culture in general, primarily in West Coast hip hop. Today, the lowridering scene is diverse with many different cultures, vehicle makes and visual styles. However, it still remains an important part of the Chicano community. Essentially, all the options available in today's custom automobile creator are also available to the lowrider builder, and lowrider style varies greatly from region to region.
The most popular season for lowriders is the summertime, as the weather often encourages being outside either in or nearby the vehicle. Some lowrider clubs have weekly gatherings in the summer where owners of lowriders and friends will have a barbecue followed by cruising a popular strip after dark. Aside from local businesses and their parking lots, lowriders are most commonly seen at privately organized lowrider car shows that often feature a variety of different vehicular and non-vehicular events. The most popular of which are the wet t-shirt/bikini contests and the hop and dance hydraulic competitions. This is where competitors compete against each other to see who can hop the highest or complete a list of moves within a time limit. There are several magazines devoted to presenting, preserving, and chronicling the lowrider culture. The best known of which is Lowrider Magazine, currently published by Primedia and Street Low Magazine.