Home » Lowrider Cruising Is Finally Legal In California Again And It’s About Damn Time

Lowrider Cruising Is Finally Legal In California Again And It’s About Damn Time

Low Riding Legal Ts2
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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.”

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

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.

Lowrider 1

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.”

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Lowrider Interior

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.

Lowrider Engine Bay

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.”

Lowrider Hop 2

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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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Christian Chauvin
Christian Chauvin
8 months ago

I’m not sure I understand the problem with this law. I’ve read the quote over and over and the way I read it, riding low wasn’t illegal but scraping the road was. I think that’s a reasonable thing to ban from a safety and damage to public infrastructure point of view.

BurnTheBlock
BurnTheBlock
8 months ago

This is the important part:

…amends Section 21100 to repeal “the authorization for a local authority to adopt rules and regulations by ordinance or regulation regarding cruising.”

A lot of California has adopted “cruising” ordinances which are loosely interpreted by the police to target individuals with obviously modified cars for the purposes of ticketing or stopping “for cause” to otherwise search and harangue.

FiveOhNo
FiveOhNo
8 months ago

Not my personal taste in automobile styling, but the dedication, effort, and skill out into Lowriders is nothing short of amazing. I’m glad that stupid law got repealed.

Myk El
Myk El
8 months ago
Marlin May
Marlin May
8 months ago
Reply to  Myk El

Take a little trip with me.

Farty McSprinkles
Farty McSprinkles
8 months ago

I hate lowriders, but I love freedom. Good for California!

Chris D
Chris D
9 months ago

At my high school, around 1981 or so, it was “Lowriders suck!”, answered by “Highriders suck!”… but no one fought about it, and everyone pretty much got along. If you had a car, that was great, and if you had something you actually liked to drive, then even better.
Some of these 60’s and 70’s lowriders are still being driven around… by Grandpas who remember the day when this stuff was cutting edge and anti-establishment rebellion.
Not my cup of tea, but to each their own. Now if they would just get better taste in music or turn that crap down a bit…

Phil Layshio
Phil Layshio
9 months ago

Not my personal style, but I had no idea they were actually illegal. What a crock.

Óscar Morales Vivó
Óscar Morales Vivó
9 months ago

Living near downtown San Jose I get to see quite a few of these on weekends, doing their thing, and they are so obviously labors of love.

Somewhat related I recently crossed path there with a heavily engraved donk that deserved a picture which I had no time to take. Artistry on (very large) wheels.

Jb996
Jb996
9 months ago

To enjoy the artwork, it is worth revisiting their prior article on Lowriders. They are amazing!

https://www.theautopian.com/low-rider-car-culture-is-totally-underrated-and-the-incredible-automotive-cathedrals-at-the-la-auto-show-prove-it/

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
9 months ago

So, were low profile tires designed as a way to lower a car and still be legal? Some of those tires are really really thin which would allow some serious lowering.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
9 months ago
Reply to  Knowonelse

Back in the day the standard tires for low riders were 5.20-13 which is basically equivalent to a 135/80 because it was the shortest sidewall available before the days of low profile tires. Also they are only ~21.5″ OD so for full size car that was an instant drop, plus they can be tucked up into stock wheel wells.

Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
9 months ago

This isn’t really my thing, but the workmanship in these photos is really something! I’ve never seen an engraved engine bay before. And I’d really love to take a close look at the paintwork on the top car. Not sure what to make of the interior in that middle photo though…

Mike F.
Mike F.
9 months ago

Glad it’s official! We’ve had some pretty nice cruises here over the last couple of years that I think involved officials agreeing to look the other way. Those cars are amazing. It would be interesting to know what a good, start-to-finish build costs. Must be an awful lot, given the quality of the interiors, the layered paint jobs, etc.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
9 months ago
Reply to  Mike F.

I’m sure many spend more than it would cost to buy many new luxury vehicles.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike F.

It’s a lot. There’s a reason lowriding is considered a lifestyle… However, a lot of the cost is mitigated if you’re part of a lowrider community. It’s common for everyone in the community to specialize in something – whether it be mechanical work, pinstriping, engraving, chrome plating, paint and bodywork, etc. And a lot of the time, people within the community trade work. “I’ll paint your car if you engrave mine.” “I’ll rebuild your engine and you can upholster my car.” That kind of thing.

Mike F.
Mike F.
8 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

Damn. That makes it even better.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike F.

Yep! Part of the beauty of lowriders is that you’re looking at the craftsmanship and artistry of a whole community. They really are the ultimate expression of cars as art, and every one of them tells the owner’s story, with all the engraved details, murals, etc. being a reflection of their personality, passions, and background. And since everyone in their community is involved in the process of making such a personal creation, lowrider communities tend to be very close, practically family.

Masterbuilder
Masterbuilder
9 months ago

I am not a big fan of the style, but the attention to detail is amazing.

I most appreciate “built” vehicles as opposed to bolted on mods, and these cars are among the finest to be found anywhere.

LTDScott
LTDScott
9 months ago

Very happy to hear this. The lowrider community hee in San Diego is very strong and nowadays most people who own them are more interested in family picnics than gang activity.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
9 months ago
Reply to  LTDScott

Also in the San Diego area and like you I’ve found the enthusiasts I meet to be friendly and family oriented. These beauties are unquestionably art.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
9 months ago

Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

I. P. Nightly
I. P. Nightly
9 months ago

My personal opinion but these cars look like crap…..especially rolling on 3 tires or bouncing off the pavement. The amount of time and money to create this look is beyond belief.

Lightning
Lightning
9 months ago

“which has been modified from the original design” seemed to have been a carveout for exotic/supercars. They had higher profile tires back then and the lawmakers didn’t want to ban Miuras and Ferraris.

05Mil Machine
05Mil Machine
9 months ago

Lowriders are good. If anything should be banned in this realm, its the stance nation stuff.

Flyingtoothpick71
Flyingtoothpick71
9 months ago
Reply to  05Mil Machine

I know its not for everyone, but no cars should be banned. I’m not a fan of it either, but no car culture should get their pride banned. your car should just be safe for the road (ie. not going to kill someone because its falling apart)

Chartreuse Bison
Chartreuse Bison
9 months ago

Severely stanced cars are not safe for the road

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
9 months ago

The most severe lowriders, donks and jacked up mudders aren’t safe for the road either. Engines modified for extreme power aren’t safe on the road.

Almost every mod comes with a safety trade-off.

That doesn’t mean they should be banned.

Last edited 9 months ago by PaysOutAllNight
05Mil Machine
05Mil Machine
9 months ago

All of your examples are using tires in a manner with which they were designed to be used. They all might be “worse” for the road and require the driver to understand some new limits to be operated safely, but stance cars are unsafe no matter how you operate them. Show me a tire manufacturer that recommends 2 inches of contact patch at an angle for the street on a car….The smashed hot wheels look is just plain dangerous and I shouldn’t have to be at risk because of it.

JunkerDave
JunkerDave
9 months ago

…and have headlights at the allowable heights.. unless it’s not a night driver.

Flyingtoothpick71
Flyingtoothpick71
8 months ago
Reply to  JunkerDave

I’m not going to get in on the rest of this debate, I made my comment. But I do totally agree with this, headlights that blind people are honestly the thing I’m most afraid of on the road. and if its not a night driver than that’s not a problem

Paul B
Paul B
9 months ago

You know the laws are messed up when lowriders are banned, but what the David and Mike from Roadkill slap together isn’t.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul B

Oh yeah, these laws were all about targeting a demographic, they weren’t about dangerous car modifications.

Chartreuse Bison
Chartreuse Bison
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul B

Yeah I’m not sure how many roadkill cars are legal…

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
8 months ago

They are not. Lots of times they’re just using loopholes to get them home- we just bought it, have a bill of sale, insurance, etc.

A. Barth
A. Barth
9 months ago

Low rider don’t use no gas now
Low rider don’t drive too fast

That song is almost 50 years old. Damn.

And you are 100% correct: the craftsmanship in these cars is mind-blowing.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
9 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I remember seeing a low rider VW Beetle with gold plated door latches with hand etched filigree designs, on a latch that can’t be seen when the door is closed, the level of detailing they do on everything is insane

Data
Data
9 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

This was the first thing that came to my mind and now it is stuck in my head.

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
9 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I think you misspelled the lyrics, it’s “Low…ri…dah”.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
9 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I have that album, “Why Can’t We Be Friends .” And I do mean album, not that newfangled CD stuff.

Data
Data
9 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

It would have been funnier if you said newfangled 8-track.

A. Barth
A. Barth
9 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Right on!

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