Gustavo “Caspy” Julian grew up in the southern California playground known as Anaheim, California. Heavily immersed in the lowrider culture from an early age, he remembers the older guys cruising down Anna Drive with their lowered rides, their crushing sound systems rattling the neighboring buildings with the sound of bass, providing a soundtrack for the warm California summers. He can still vividly recall the excitement that he felt when looking at the candy-coated paintjobs, the wire wheels, and the hitting of the switches. “It was simply amazing,” he says, still in awe of the memories. Upon his very first visit to a Lowrider Magazine Car Show with neighborhood friends, “Silent,” David, and Raul, he was hooked and fascinated with the culture. He fondly remembers watching “Bumper to Bumper Fixed Up Rides,” and considers it “a great source of inspiration,” as he began learning about building these fantasy machines that seemed so far away at the time. Due to their youth and financial status at the time, Caspy and his brothers could not afford to pay anyone to fix up cars, so they started working on bikes, slowly building their skills and mechanical training that would one day lead them to working on the cars they loved. His brother was the first to branch out, and moved to Abilene, TX, and found a job that would teach him about designing custom paint jobs for lowriders. Caspy was next, moving to Altus, Oklahoma in 1990, and bringing along with him his love of cars, candy, and chrome. He began fixing up cars, keeping true to his heart and aspirations, spreading his SoCal style to the Midwest street scene. Not long after arriving in Altus, Caspy decided to start his own car club with his brothers Tomas aka “Shorty,” Francisco aka “Shotgun,” and Jose aka “Pepe.”
In 1992, the Illegal Toys Lowrider Car Club was born. Besides the Julian brothers, original members of the club include Chris Rollins, Alex Cubillos, Robert Revilla, Lanny Morgan, Andrew Gloria, Rene Dominguez, and William “Memo” Tomey. In 1998, Alex moved to Oklahoma City and continued representing the Altus chapter. Two short years later, the second chapter of Illegal Toys became official, including new members Pablo Lynch, Jesse Rodriguez, Paul Garrison, “Junior” Jose Martinez, “Chino”, Erik Martinez, Miguel Lopez, Darwin Murillo, Daniel, Sergio Martinez and Joel Martinez. This year they look forward to establishing a new chapter in Fort Worth, TX, carrying on their 17 year tradition of excellence and honor within the lowriding community.
There is only one word to describe the Illegal Toys Lowrider Car Club: Dedication. Long nights and weekends, wrenches turning, bleeding knuckles, are all typical of great car clubs, but what makes this car club so exceptional, is their longstanding commitment, and dedication to the institutions of family and community. As a family, they work together helping each other out, passing down patience and valuable lessons throughout various projects. The children work on their bikes with their parents; the adults work on each other’s cars lending their skills wherever they are needed. One member put it, “it’s not easy with the current economic situation and people losing their jobs, but we will keep it positive, that’s why it is always important that we help each other out. It makes things much easier. One way or another, we always make things happen, even if it is last minute.” This club is a true example of what a community is all about. Caspy adds, “it’s not just the one member putting their heart into the project, it’s the whole club putting their efforts into it as well.” Welders, painters, mechanics and upholsterers are all present in this self sufficient mid-west club.
According to Caspy, one of the differences about their car club is their ideal of morality; they want to be out there doing things right. They want people to get a good impression of what lowriders are truly all about, and they want to be good role models for their kids as well as the community. In 2005, club members got together to discuss how they could promote their sense of community to the public. They became a non-profit organization and adopted the Capitol Hill District Special Olympics as their main project. Once a year, the Illegal Toys Lowrider Car Club hosts the largest lowrider show in Oklahoma City, donating fifty percent of the proceeds to this project. In addition, the families work together to provide toys for the organization known as Toys for Tots. Thus far, over $5,000 has been donated to the Special Olympics. The rest of the profits stay within the club to provide resources and tools for helping all members achieve their lowrider dream.
Once a month, the whole club gets together and puts their blood, sweat, and tears into one car. With each member contributing his or her skills, they have made some amazing machines, all while forming a strong bond of pride, letting the results speak for themselves. Some of the club’s more notable cars are in fact, the direct result of this group effort. In the 90‘s, the premier car of the club was Pepe’s ’86 Honda accord called “Something for Da Haters”, published in Lowrider Magazine in the March 2001 issue. In November 2008, the club wanted to attend the Odessa Car Show, so they got together and decided that they would all work on Caspy’s car. Within two weeks they took a rusty 1950 Pontiac Silver Streak and transformed it into an amazing showpiece, one that would bring home the First Place trophy. Now that’s the kind of teamwork that brings a family closer together! Currently, the club’s most recognized car is Erik Martinez’s ’66 Impala called the “WWE Ring” by famed wrestler, Eddie “The Latino Heat” Guerrero.
Although they are not a big car club, they are a proud club, and what they lack in membership numbers, they overcome with heart. An unmatched sense of pride in their work and an unbreakable commitment to family is evident by the fact that 70% of their original members are still active, and those that have left maintain contact with the members, and ride together whenever possible. The members of Illegal Toys Car Club prove through their actions and dedication, the universal appeal and limitless boundaries of our wonderful lowrider culture. From the streets of California, to the prairie backdrop of Oklahoma, they prove that no matter where you are, you will always see those candy paint schemes, traditional metallic patterns and beautiful machines that sing a lullaby of hydraulic sound, at the flip of a switch. It’s almost like being in a different world when you are in your cruiser, jamming on the oldies or a little bit of Vicente Fernandez, breezing your way through a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Lowriding runs deep in our veins. For some, it is a kind of therapy, spending hours under the hood or polishing the beautiful chrome trim. Indeed, everyone has their own different reasons for lowriding. Illegal Toys members put out all their efforts to go the extra mile for their car club members, families, friends, and especially the community in which they live.
When asked about the future plans for the club, both Pablo and Caspy vowed, “to keep lowriding alive and positive, keep the annual show going, and continue to grow.” Oklahoma lowriding is here to stay thanks to the efforts of the Illegal Toys Lowrider Car Club. May each one, teach one, as we all continue growing together through our strong families and sense of pride in our lowrider community.