Hector Rivera, (known to most as Oso) is a family man first and foremost, but he’s got a lot of love for the Lowriding lifestylesomething that he has dedicated almost his entire life to. Born in 1962 in the heart of Los Angeles, California, Oso remembers being infatuated with classic cars as a kid. He and his mother would go over to Sears in East L.A., to do some shopping, and while his mother was driving there, Oso would be on the lookout for Lowrider cars. Seeing them would only motivate him to build look-alike model cars back at home in his room. Oso even recalls going to elementary school and seeing Ray Fuentes and the other older homeboys hanging out in the front of a house across the street. Sometimes up to eight custom bombs would be parked out in front. Oso would always tell himself, One day, I’ll have a ride like that.
In his teens, Oso started looking in the Recycler classified ads for a car. The family needed a second car anyway, so he and his mother agreed to go in halves on the price of a car. They ended up finding an older couple who was selling their four-door 1963 Chevy Impala. The car was sold for $400 and Oso had his first ride at 15 years of age! It didn’t take long before he started customizing it, first with the installation of a Craico head unit and a couple of 6×9 inch speakers. A few weeks later, he drove on down to Diamond Motors, a local auto body shop that took on the job to heat his coils and lower the car. Oso’s ride was now sitting six inches off the ground, but mom wasn’t too happy when she found out. She decided it was best to sell the car, which ultimately ended up being a blessing in disguise: Oso was a year older in 1978 when he came across a clean white ’62 Impala with a red interior. The Lowriding bug was incurable for him, and the first thing he did was purchase a set of chrome Cragar wheels with the five-twenty whitewall tires. Another trip to Diamond Motors sealed the deal and brought the car to a lower stance. His mother shook her head in disbelief, but must have come to the realization that her son, Oso, was a Lowrider guy to the core. Unfortunately, the car ended up catching the wrong attention and it was stolen from a friend’s house.
In 1979, Oso ended up getting a 66 Impala and went all out on this ride, getting the custom rims and going with a hydraulic suspension. He was hitting the cruise strips all over, from Whittier Boulevard in East L.A., to Crenshaw Boulevard in South L.A. Although he was hanging out with the guys from Gents Car Club, he ended up joining Thee Artistics in 1980. Shortly after that, an opportunity came for him to trade his ’66 for a 1948 Chevy pickup. He confided with his local Lowriding mentor, Ray Fuentes, and Ray encouraged him to make the trade for the classic truck. That trade ended up being one of the best decisions Oso ever made. This truck went on to be Oso’s claim to fame, being featured in LRM and becoming widely known in the show circuit and out on the streets by its name, Rapper’s Delight. This trokita is a fully customized ride, from top to bottom.
Throughout the years, Oso has been a longtime member of Thee Artistics, Los Angeles chapter. At one point in the mid-80s, he was the only member in his chapter, but his dedication and perseverance paid off and the chapter eventually grew under him as Club President. In 2008, Thee Artistics celebrated their 30th year anniversary. The Orange County and Bike chapters of Thee Artistics attended, as did many of the OG members.
Oso went on to build another well-known custom called, Still Rapping, a 1950 Chevy Deluxe convertible. Although most people have gone to great lengths just to own one nice classic Lowrider, Oso is sitting on top of the world with two! And it doesn’t stop there; he is about to bust out in 2011 with a rare 1959 Chevy El Camino, too!
Oso is an inspiration to many and with just a quick look at his immediate family will prove that he has already inspired others. Brother, Jesse Saldana, has followed in Oso’s footsteps since he was a child and has already built a show-worthy Lowrider car. Oso and his wife Gabby, who have been together for 30 years, brought up two great kids of their own, Ricardo and Desiree, and both of them had aspirations to build up their own cars. Unfortunately, Ricardo passed away just shy of his 25th birthday and never had the chance to make his dream come true; however Desiree is planning on building her car within the next few years.
Oso still goes to the car shows and Lowriding get-togethers and there is obviously no slowing him down. He is considered a legend in the custom car community based on his history in the culture and the cars he has shown for it. Now, things have come full circle and it’s a given that many little kids out there see Oso rolling down the boulevard and think to themselves, One day, I’ll have a ride like that.