Fans of automotive art, rejoice! Cruising in a lowrider is now officially legal again across California with the repeal of a decades-long ban. California governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 436 last week, marking an end to state-wide criminalization of lowrider cruising.
Specifically, the bill repeals California vehicle code Section 24008, “It is unlawful to operate any passenger vehicle, or commercial vehicle under 6,000 pounds, which has been modified from the original design so that any portion of the vehicle, other than the wheels, has less clearance from the surface of a level roadway than the clearance between the roadway and the lowermost portion of any rim of any wheel in contact with the roadway,” and amends Section 21100 to repeal “the authorization for a local authority to adopt rules and regulations by ordinance or regulation regarding cruising.”
As CBS News 8 reports, the bill was a collective effort between the United Lowriders Coalition and California Assemblymember David Alvarez, and it seems to have passed in a relatively short amount of time, as far as legislation goes. Local news station NBC 7 San Diego reported that the long-overdue bill was introduced in February, and although peak summer car season has come and gone, it’s still prime time to be cruising as the automotive event calendar never stops in balmy Southern California.
One could only imagine the wave of relief this news has washed over the lowriding community. As United Lowriders Coalition Vice President Marisa Rosales told CBS News 8, “Now we are able to cruise without having that worry in the back of our minds of getting pulled over, being fined $1,000, risking six months in jail, and risking having our cars impounded.”
While Lowriders may have been associated with gang activity decades ago, we aren’t still living in the 1980s. The truth is, lowriding has always been about getting low, going slow, and looking good — basically the complete opposite of street racers and takeover twats. There is no other facet of the automotive community that elevates Detroit iron to fine art status so consistently and with such high craftsmanship.
I’m talking chrome-plated everything, engraved engine bays, paint jobs intricate enough to drop jaws for literal minutes at a time, and interior work that will make you want to go home and coat everything you own in velvet. If you dug up Da Vinci, Michelangelo, or any of the other renaissance masters, stuck them in a microwave to reanimate them, and showed them a lowrider, they’d all utter the 14th-century equivalent of “damn.”
In the decades since the first juiced car, lowrider culture has spread across the globe to as far and away as Toronto and Japan. The sight of a three-wheeling ’64 Impala amid a sea of kei cars and neon lights is something to behold, and proof of how a movement grows with time, culture spread, and mind-blowing expertise. Long live lowriding, from Ron Aguirre’s Pesco pump-powered hydraulics to Hugh Stillman’s cylinders to Doc Stewart’s paint to Sonny Madrid’s furthering of the culture. For every pillar of the community no longer on this mortal plane, hit some switches tonight.
(Photo credits: David Tracy)
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