When you really take the time to look at the world of lowriding you’ll soon realize that the beauty of the culture is more than skin deep. Beneath the candy and chrome, the hours spent tracking parts is a lifestyle, which revolves around loyalty and dedication. Whether it be the loyalty to the club or the dedication of time and funds to building a car, both of these factors continue to be pivotal and play a huge underlying role within the lowrider lifestyle. The same can be said about Don Armstrong — the owner of U.S. Radiator.
When Don started with the company over 40 years ago, it was a venture that would take him on the ride of his life. Just sitting down with this icon is an experience in itself. In essence, he’s become an automotive legend and historian who has created much more than a thriving business — he’s created a family which he’s proud of. By creating radiators with exacting standards and the best in cooling efficiency, he has become the purveyor of excellence when it comes to cooling down the industry’s hottest builds. Each of his radiators is made here in Los Angeles, crafted by artisans who have become his extended family.
While taking a tour of his factory, Don would stop off at each station and explain the technology behind their builds, but in the same breath he was sure to always mention his employees. “If you treat your employees with pride and respect they will in turn create products of equal value,” said Don. He went on to explain that it’s the combination of his employees and tooling that are his biggest assets, and the quality of their work became quite apparent when he walked us over to a pallet that contained one single box of radiators. “That right there is all the defective returns that we’ve had in the past three years,” he says. That in itself was both shocking and impressive, and a further testament to the fact that he makes quality radiators that set the industry benchmark. Don would also be the first to admit that his tooling makes all the difference in the world, and after seeing all the different stations and processes by which they’re created, we can tell you that everything is made with care and pride.
With never-ending research and development, his work can be found in the best builds throughout the world. From Paris to Dakar, from airport tugs to quad-digit blown beasts, his radiators are the byproduct of years of excellence and hand assembled by journeymen who revel in knowing that they can cool off the most heated powerplants.