When building a Lowrider, the final piece needed to complete the build often comes in the form of a car club plaque, which is to be fitted in the back window of the ride. This plaque is sacred to car club members, and many of them build their cars around the aesthetics of the plaque. Considering the fact that some riders work for years to earn the opportunity to “fly” these car club plaques in their respective rear windows, it’s only right that these final additions receive special attention.
It is widely believed that the first Lowrider car clubs began putting their car club plaques in automobile back windows sometime during the late 1960’s. The Hot Rod crowd had been putting some sort of club identification on their cars since the early 1930’s, but it was not until the late 1960’s that the early Lowriders added their own spin to these club identifiers, and they initially designed a different type of plaque to be placed inside the cars.
The car club plaques have always been foundry casted in brass, bronze, or aluminum, but in the last 10 years or so, laser cut plaques cut from sheets of metal have become more popular. The ability to produce more ornate designs, coupled with the lowered cost of producing a laser cut plaque, has persuaded many clubs to forego the more traditional and expensive casted plaques in favor of the new laser cut plaques. There are still some clubs that prefer the casted plaque, but the vast majority of car clubs in the present day prefer the laser cut alternatives.
About 12 years ago, Joel Garcia started Jagster Engineer Group with a $500 loan from his father, Joel Sr. Initially; Joel started producing high end custom furniture and company signs. When he started Jagster, he was working with a company that was cutting parts for him, and he saw that they were starting to work with laser cut car club plaques. Two years after Joel started Jagster, he and his father decided to take the business to the next level by purchasing machines to bring their work in-house. They also wanted to expand their client base by serving the Lowrider Culture. Joel and his dad were already Lowriding, so it made sense to set their expansion plans in that direction. Joel went back to school to learn engineering, and also received hands on training to learn how to use the machines they purchased. He graduated from Los Angeles Trade Tech and then enrolled at Cal State Los Angeles, in order to complete his engineer degree. Thus far, he has had to put school on hold because running Jagster takes up the majority of his time.
The first car-related product they produced were laser cut key chains. Joel and his dad cut some Bowtie and Impala key chains and headed to a car show in Fresno, California. He brought his “Pomona Swap Meet” wagon, and sold the key chains throughout the show. They sold everything they had that day.
The father-son duo came back to Los Angeles and started to cut more key chains while they planned for the next weekend. Since that first show in Fresno, Jagster grew quickly, and the company went from walking the shows with the wagon to setting their own booth at the shows. Soon after, they were following the Lowrider Magazine car show tour and getting recognized. Car Clubs started to come to them to cut their plaques, and car owners started having Jagster cut custom parts for them. These parts included the likes of trim pieces, rear end supports, hydraulic backing plates, and grills.
As Jagster’s reputation for quality work and customer service grew, it allowed Joel to add to his product line. He began producing extended skirts for the 1996 Cadillac big bodies, license plate toppers, and jewelry for the car clubs. It should be noted that all of Jagster’s Chevy products are GM Approved, and Joel has the hang tags to prove it. Jagster has also worked with Mister Cartoon and Mario’s Auto Works to produce one off pieces for their high quality builds. Over the past couple of years, they have added Lowrider Bicycle parts to their offerings, including custom sprockets, pedals, and forks. Jagster takes care of the chroming, plating, powder-coating, and engraving of their customer pieces as well, which makes them a one-stop shop.
Their customer base has grown over the years to include customers from countries located outside of the United States. Joel has even traveled overseas to attend shows and meet these customers face to face. If you don’t see Jagster at the shows, you can always stop by their shop, or reach Joel and/or his dad on the phone.
What is the plan for the future at Jagster Engineer Group? Joel would like to get back to Cal State LA and complete his education, but it may take some more time since there are also plans for expansion and new products. You can reach Jagster at 213-703-3229 or visit http://www.myspace.com/jagsterla.