“Times… They Are A-changin.” The title track to Bob Dylan’s third album was released in 1964, the same year as the iconic 1964 Chevy Impala; arguably to most, thee popular Lowrider of all time. The irony of this suits my topic of discussion today perfectly. We’ve all seen ‘64s built in every way possible, but the respect is still there. They still turn heads, they still capture our fancy, and they, like so many other classic cars help to define Lowrider culture. We know who we are and we aren’t going anywhere, but are we as challenged and inspired by the traditional builds as we used to be? I would argue “Yes!” defiantly, but as someone who has been around Lowriding for decades and supervised the magazine for the past five years, I’ve seen evidence to the contrary. Let me explain before we jump to conclusions that I may have forgotten what the toggle switch on my console is for.
For the past five years as your editor, I’ve seen our readership/newsstand sales evaporate slowly. To combat this, we’ve done what we can to strictly maintain our traditional values while also including different sections of interest, and columns that strayed from our typical editorials with a Lowrider slant to them. We presented Retro Lowrider, which brought back memories of the styles from the late ‘60s; we had our Music section, our Car Club section, Lowrider Image, Original, Roll Models, and so forth. We brought about issues with more models, issues with less models, issues with bikes, issues without, and we’ve typically run ten traditional car features with two of them being Bombs every month. Feedback-wise I didn’t hear too many complaints, though I heard a lot about what a great job I was doing because I’ve removed the big wheel ads! That’s funny.
It’s also a problem to a certain extent. Being steadfast in our traditions or old school ways can sometimes make us narrow-minded and as a magazine, that mentality can be a cancerous situation. Again I’ll explain. Lowrider exists today solely because of our die-hard core of readers. After all, You pay the price for the magazine; You pay the ticket price to get into the shows. However, as a print medium, we are already facing an uphill battle to stay alive out there because of the internet. Of course we have our website that is blowing up world wide but, like many of you, the need to have a physical magazine we can read in our garages and tack on our walls for motivation is crucial and cannot be lost. Bear with me. More often than not, I get asked “Is Lowrider dying?” My answer is a resounding “No.” However, times are extremely tough everywhere nowadays. We have a number of factors that weigh on us and make for some transitional growing pains. First of all, magazines and car shows don’t have anywhere near the revenue and sponsorships that they used to. This is money we need to maintain the quality of the magazine you guys deserve and we HATE having to jack up cover prices to try and substitute for this. Also, while guys are still building cars at a much higher standard, the cars cost more today and the builds are taking more time. Gone are the days of booming business by selling builds to Japan because the Japanese are buying the car bodies shipping them home and customizing on their own while doing more than justice to the builds and the culture. This makes most builders today keep their builds until they get tired of them and build something new which puts even more of a dent in the number of quality rides out there for us to bring you in our pages. You can also factor in that car manufacturers haven’t built our favorite Lowrider type and style of cars for over 25 years. G Bodies might be considered “Bombs” in terms of age! None of our rides have that new car smell. As far as traditions go, yes, we tend to hand our life experiences over to our kids, who we start off with in Lowrider bike builds at a young age, which hopefully guides them over to continue on as they grow up to the building of Lowrider traditional cars or bombs. The reality of it all is this; yes, Lowriding is still strong within the culture itself, but where did the fan base go?
Did they turn to Motorcycles? SUV’s? Tuners? Ferraris? I don’t know the answer to that but I do know that our tradition passes on and breeds “the new generation.” The new generation needs to come with us and I am going to do whatever I can to add them to our movement because we can’t stand still and rust. I speak to you not only as an editor but as someone who changes leaky cylinders once in a while, too.
I live and die for Lowriding and I’m sure most of you core readers do, too, so understand that I mean no disrespect to our culture car builders and clubs when I remind you of a time when Mini-trucks and Lowrider Euros were popular back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. While these cars were “love it or hate it” status to most traditional builders, it can be argued that they helped us grow in many ways during their time, too. We are yet again at a similar crossroads. In light of this, we will be adding a new series called “Roll Playerz,” which will feature Candy-Apple Escalades, 300Cs, SUVs and the like because we need to recognize and get in touch with a section of our fan base that I feel we have neglected. Before you hang me or yell “Off with Joe Ray’s head!” Hear me out. This section will simply be an addition to what we already have, so there will still be many traditional Lowrider features, and the rest of the magazine will remain as is. Rest assured, our roots will remain true to the core. This is simply for the younger builders out there who have started with these as to get into the culture and for those out there who use these as drivers of their choice. Remember that there are a lot of popular Lowrider Clubs out there that have these vehicles, and every time you go out to a Lowrider event, these are the same other vehicles that we have in the parking lot. Hell, you may even drive one yourself! Seeing some of these builds may inspire, rejuvenate, or reenergize some of us, and I honestly believe that. All I ask is that as readers, you are open-minded as we reach out to other sections in our market that have always been there and supported us.
This book is Our everything, and though we may have our creative differences from time to time, we are all united under the culture of the tradition we love; Lowriding. There will always be those out there who are critical about how thin the mag is, or why certain features make it and others do not and I respect your opinions highly, but just know that my service to this magazine is not selfish, nor do I have any interest in selling out. I am a Lowrider, period. I always have been and I always will be. I ask you guys to trust my leadership as while I have a 35 year old brand to protect; it is also my life’s blood and my responsibility to make it flourish and progress. I do so from the same garage as you. I’m not some corporate guy trying to tell you how to run our culture; I live and breathe it and I need you guys to approach this with an open mind and know that bottom line, I’m doing what I feel is right to continue this for us for another 35 years. To uphold tradition sometimes means to keep up with the times, too, and I am learning that more and more every day. We can’t be left behind. That same ’64 can park next to a 300C and each car can be appreciated by a different breed of Lowrider enthusiast. These modern beasts face the same tests as our traditional Lowriders do. Custom paint, adjusted stance, custom interior, custom wheels; can they not park in the same driveway? Do they not also make our women swoon? We were all young once of course, and half of you guys are married to the girl who checked out your Impala. For these younger kids, that Impala might be a Tahoe. Give ‘em a chance. Let them into our world and welcome them and this section with open arms. Who knows, you may find out that you get some ideas or tips from these rides. With all due respect, I apologize to those who are strict in your traditions, and I feel responsible and eternally grateful to you for your support, but we can’t go back to the way the mag was in the old days without taking tips from it. That means including the trends of today as well, just like we did back then and it will be done respectfully for all involved. Again, I ask you to trust in my leadership, I’m behind the wheel of a lot of the classics you drive too, so just know that I won’t steer us wrong. I humbly thank you for your time and offer you my email address firstname.lastname@example.org for those of you who’d like to voice your opinions in a respectful way so that I may answer and better help the discussion, debate, and direction of our favorite magazine as we roll towards another 35 years.
In service and with respect,