Power-assisted accessories on automobiles were first introduced to consumers in the 1930’s. The ability to move convertible tops up and down by means other than human efforts was initially conceptualized and developed by the Chrysler Corporation. A vacuum-operated convertible top on the Plymouth brand was the first to be offered to the general public. Power windows were the next power assisted accessories to hit the market, and were introduced shortly thereafter in the 1940s. The idea behind power accessories was strictly practical in nature, allowing consumers to operate their vehicles with minimal time and physical effort. It was easier and less time consuming to flip a switch and raise your windows, lower your convertible top and adjust your door mirrors, thus providing a potentially safer car to operate while on the road. For many, an obsession with automobile power accessories is a major factor on their choice of vehicle.
From an early age, Terry Anderson has maintained a fascination with power windows and other electric accessories on cars. He remembers being five or six years old inside a 1950’s era Cadillac, and wanting to put down the window. The owner of the car instructed him to just push the button to let the window down. From that press of the button, Terry vowed to have power windows in his first car.
When he was 16 years old, he got his first car, a 1960 Mercury Comet. After little deliberation, he decided that the first things that needed to be removed were the door handles. Terry bought a “door popper” kit and a “trunk popper” kit for the Comet. Since the door and trunk kits were relativity easy to put in, Terry wanted to install power windows. He mentioned this modernization idea about the Comet to his dad. His dad asked if he knew anyone that could do it, and an eager Terry told him that he wanted to try it on his own. Terry had no electrical training, save for one class he took while in the 8th grade. Terry’s dad was working at a Ford dealership at the time, and one day came home with a box of power window parts he removed from some scrap doors in the dealership’s body shop. Terry laid out all the parts and began matching up the items. From the parts his father brought home, he found two complete power window sets. The driver’s side was the first side Terry attempted to install the upgrade in. The window did raise, but not in as smooth a manner as it should have. After doing the passenger’s side and achieving great success, he saw what he initially did wrong and went back to the driver’s side and fixed it. Both windows went up and down quietly and very smoothly. Terry was hooked on the process, and was soon commissioned into doing power windows for his friends. Not bad for a sixteen year old high school kid with no formal electrical or automotive training.
One day while Terry was at school, he was getting dressed in the locker room and overheard two guys talking about a car that went up and down with the help of hydraulics. He thought to himself, “that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.” “Why in the world would anyone want their car to go up and down?,” he wondered. A couple of weeks later as Terry was coming out of school, a dark blue 1963 Chevy Impala was passing the school. The body was stock but it was rolling on Astro Supremes. As he was admiring the car, something magical happened which would become a momentous thing in his life. Cruising at about five miles per hour the front end of the Impala went all the way down to the ground! It didn’t stop there; the back end of the car went all the way down too! At that point, at that very moment; Terry was hooked. The religion of Lowriding had just gained another disciple.
Six months later, the Comet was lifted. Terry went over to Paley’s Surplus on East Vernon in Los Angeles and bought a Pesco pump, dump valve and a check valve for $26. These parts were for the front of the car. Terry still needed to find parts for the rear end of the car ,and as luck would have it, he came up on the parts he needed when a local Lowrider guy needed to sell them to get some quick cash. Terry then went to “Old Man” Al Sullivan down on 8th avenue in Los Angeles, and had him cut the holes in the Comet and put in a bridge in the back. Terry and his buddy Stan then put wooden blocks in the car and drove it back to his house. After two or three days, the guys got the car sorted out and the Comet would finally go up and down. The next day, a proud Terry drove the newly lifted Comet to school, and dragged it all the way down the street in front of Los Angeles’ Dorsey High, somehow managing to put a hole in the oil pan. It was okay, that was just a rite of passage into becoming a Lowrider.
After proving his genuine enthusiasm for the lifestyle, Terry was now hanging out with a lot of the older local Lowrider guys in his neighborhood. Veteran guys like Carl Watson and Carl’s uncle took a shine to young Terry, and he also became a regular at the local hang out spots. There were not too many Lowrider car shows, however, RG Canning and ISCA were doing huge shows at the time, and they welcomed Lowriders. Despite that support, Lowriding still remained a primarily street lifestyle. Not long after his high school years, Terry was married and started his family. He decided to take a break from Lowriding, in order to help his wife raise their family and concentrate on the fiberglass business he had started.
The hiatus didn’t last long for Terry. He had started to attend the Lowrider shows at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood California with his family, and he was seeing more and more Lowriders in his neighborhood. The image of Gypsy Rose going across the screen during opening credits of the show “Chico and the Man,” and the subsequent release of the cult classic “Boulevard Nights” were tempting for Terry to ignore. He was ready to jump back into Lowriding, and his first order of business was find a car to work on. The Comet had been reverted into stock condition and used for daily transportation for a few years before Terry finally sold it.
Car-less, a determined Terry was hunting for a unique ride, as he promised himself that if he ever built another Lowrider, it was going to be a one-of-a-kind ride. The two potential cars that Terry decided to search for were either a 1960 Pontiac, or 1963 1/2 Ford Galaxy, and he decided that whichever model he found first would become his next Lowrider. One day in December of 1977, Terry was driving down a local boulevard in his work truck, when he spotted a ’60 Pontiac with a crashed front end sitting in front of a body shop. Terry slammed on his brakes and got out to talk to the owner. He asked the owner if he wanted to sell the Pontiac. The owner said “sure, I’ll sell it to you for a $125 dollars.” While they were talking, Terry spotted a front end for the Pontiac in perfect condition sitting up against a wall. In his best “south central game” Terry asked the man, “now the front end comes with the car right?!” The owner responded to Terry with exactly what he wanted to hear; “yeah, no problem!”
Terry immediately went home and picked up the money for the car. He paid for the car and got a receipt. Putting the front end on his work truck, he brought it home, intending to send out a tow truck to pick up the actual car. He took a picture of the car as soon as it was set in front of the house, and got to work on it that night. After about three or four months of working on the car, Terry had the replacement front end on the car and the car was in running condition. Thankfully, both the car and the replacement front end were white in color, so a new paint job could wait for a while. This gave him the chance to lift the car, not an easy task, as it had been about ten years since Terry last lifted a car. Everything went in the car smoothly, but the cylinders he was using were too thin. He went over to Otto’s Hydraulics and met Hydraulic Legend Ted Wells, who promptly sold him some new style cylinders and then mounted some Tru Spokes on the car.
The car was now at a point where Terry had it on the streets and it was attracting a lot of attention. He was the talk of the town, and people were wondering who this “older guy” was with the funny looking car. In the late 1970’s, Terry was considered an “older guy” in Lowriding, even though he was only in his late twenties. One day on his way home, he stopped at an intersection. Across the way there was a group of guys who happened to have Low riders. They all stopped and stared, breaking out in laughter at Terry and the Pontiac. As Terry started to enter the intersection, he let the back down and they stopped laughing. He then let the front down and their mouths dropped down even lower than his Pontiac. He opened the trunk from inside the car and they all went crazy! Leaving the youngsters cheering behind him, Terry continued home, but decided to go back and talk to the group. Soon after this conversation, they were all friends and started hanging out at the local Church’s Chicken on Sunday nights, as well as a few other local hang out spots.
After some body work, a paintjob, and some other minor enhancements, Terry entered his first Lowrider car show. In 1980, Terry drove up to Fresno, California with the Pontiac which was now freshly painted and christened “Lo ‘N Sol,” to attend a car show put on by the car club Thee Individuals. He took home four trophies from the show, and felt a great sense of accomplishment. Terry won first in his class, best interior, best sixties, and best hydraulics, virtually sweeping the major categories he was eligible for. From then on, Terry hit every car show he could. Whether he brought his car or not, he just wanted to be a part of the Lowriding culture. Terry and his Pontiac were unique in the scene, which helped him get into shows like the very popular ISCA shows that were being produced at the time. Soon people were referring to the Pontiac as “The Robot Car” because of the many different movements and animated items on the car. The car going up and down, the record player going in and out of the glove box, and the trunk opening remotely were getting Terry a lot of positive attention. Terry and the car were at their third show in Bakersfield, California when Larry Gonzales was covering the show for Lowrider Magazine. He and Terry set up a photo shoot, and the car was featured in the January 1981 issue of Lowrider Magazine.
The feature in the magazine got Terry and the Pontiac more attention, and soon he was being invited to shows like Johnny Lazoya’s Phoenix show. One year, Lowrider Magazine invited Terry to their show in El Paso, Texas. Terry obliged, and he and his brother loaded up the car and headed to Texas. They got into town the Friday before the show, and while driving down the main drag in El Paso, a man drove up on the side of them. He asked what they were doing in town. They explained to him that they were there for the Lowrider Magazine show. Feeling like the bearer of bad tidings, the man broke the news to them that the show date had been changed and pushed back. Terry didn’t believe him initially, so they pulled over and he showed them the Lowrider Magazine that had just hit the newsstand with the date change. Frustrated, Terry thought to himself, “If I would have bought the magazine before I left California, I would have not made the drive all the way to Texas!” Terry called Lowrider Magazine’s Sonny Madrid back in California, and he confirmed what they had just heard, the date had been pushed back. Sonny convinced Terry to leave the car at a local shop in El Paso, which they did, and he and his brother returned to Los Angeles. To Sonny’s credit, he reimbursed Terry and his brother for their travel expenses. The following week, Terry and his brother returned to El Paso and were awarded the trophy for longest distance, having easily earned that award by driving back and forth from California to Texas twice. Terry continued to travel to car shows for a few years and collect trophies, but after a while the Pontiac was retired and put in storage, so that he could concentrate on his expanding power window business.
For the next few years while working and running his fiberglass business, Terry was installing power windows for friends after he closed up his shop. He would come home from work and do the power window installations in his own driveway. After a while, the fiberglass business was becoming too costly to operate, so he decided to do the power window installations full time. In the early 1980’s, a lot of Lowriders were coming to him for power windows, much to his delight, as he was working on anything and everything. There was a lot of trial and error and Terry made sure to document what components worked with each model of car. As his reputation grew, his customer base grew as well.
Once in a while a customer would ask Terry to install a “door popper” kit or a “trunk popper” kit, and since Terry had experience with these types of installations, it was no problem. As the years past, remote control accessories became very popular and Terry was able to accommodate almost every request, including remote sunroofs, door poppers, and hydraulics. Soon people were asking Terry if he could automate items in their cars. His Pontiac already had an automated glove box that was a hit, with not only the car show judges, but his fellow Lowriders as well. Soon he was making custom seat tracks, automating glove boxes, and panels built to conceal audio equipment. All of his work had been through referrals and word of mouth promotion. He has never had to do any advertising. Terry has worked on a lot of the top Lowriders and some of his customers’ cars have been featured in Custom Rodder, Rod & Custom, and Lowrider Magazine. Terry and the Pontiac were also featured on the front page of the Los Angeles Times in May of 1984. In 1993, Terry was profiled in Lowrider Magazine’s Legend of Lowriding series.
After hundreds of installations, Terry had his power window installations and electronic installations down to a science. The attention to detail he puts into his work stands out, and gets him noticed by those who want the best at any cost. Terry has never had to tell a customer that he could not do a job, even under the toughest of circumstances, and he has no plans of slowing down, either. Terry has vowed that he will keep doing the installations for as long as he can.
Even though Terry has not had the Pontiac out in years, he still attends shows and has plans to build a couple more cars. We can be sure that whatever model he decides on next, the finished result will be just as unique as his Pontiac was. When asked to sum up his career in Low- riding, and his thoughts on Lowriding overall, Terry had this to say; “I wouldn’t trade my life for any life.” His sincerity rings true, as he continues, “I would do it again and again [for] as long as I can. I want to be the 90 year-old guy some youngsters walking into the car show see and say, ‘who’s that with that Lowrider?’ The guy looks like he’s 90 years old! And someone says to them, he is 90 years old, and let me sit you down and tell you who he is.” Even though he laughs at this thought, his love for the culture is very serious. “I don’t want people to say what a great guy I am, but to say how long I have been doing this,” he says. “Low riding has come a long way since I started in the 60’s…We have now advanced to the point where we are [on] almost equal footing with antiques, hot rods and other types of auto enthusiasts,” he explains. “This is a work in progress, and I am proud to be a part of it…Lowriding has enhanced my life, and because of my love of Lowriding, I have been fortunate enough to turn something that I love into something that I can make a living at. That makes me a very lucky man.” In reality, it is Lowrider Culture that has been lucky. We are lucky enough to have an artist and craftsman like Terry Anderson dedicate his life to being a part of this culture that we are all passionate about.