Starting a car club is no easy feat. You have to find prospective members that share the same passion for cars that you have, and they must also be as dedicated as you are to making the club prosper. Along with those qualifications, potential members must also have a drive and a willingness to do whatever it takes to make the club successful and evolve. Longevity is probably the most sought after goal of new clubs, however, it is also the toughest goal to achieve. Often times, the energy and excitement of a new club levels off, making it the responsibility of the club’s officers to keep the members motivated and active.
In 1979, twin brothers John and James Rodriguez came together with some friends and fellow Lowriding enthusiasts to start their own car club. Reality Car Club was formed in Baldwin Park, California with the concept of bringing like-minded people together to enjoy car shows, cruise nights and community service activities. Reality Car Club was also founded with the hope of breaking the negative stereotypes associated with Lowriding at the time.
Reality Car Club enjoyed a huge amount of success as a club during the 1980’s, as the club was regularly attending the biggest car shows and cruising all of the most popular cruising spots in the Lowrider scene. The club was also contributing to the community by hosting car shows to raise funds for local schools and clubs. They would also assist local charitable organizations, raising hundreds of dollars and a ton of resources with their “Toys for Tots” drives. Membership and club participation was at an all time high in the 1980’s, and the mission of Reality Car Club seemed to have come to fruition. Things would soon take a negative turn, however.
In the early 90’s, the longevity of Reality Car Club was put to the ultimate test. Tough times saw the once booming club membership down to five members, and low morale left those five considering shutting down the club altogether. Robert Zamora, who was Club President at the time, decided that even though the club membership was dwindling, Reality Car Club was not going to fold under his leadership. Robert and his car, a 1979 Cadillac Coupe De Ville called “Prophecy,” led the charge and helped bring the club out of the 90’s slump. There may have only be one or two cars flying the Reality plaque for a while, but the club members flew the plaque proudly and made sure Reality was still seen at the hottest and biggest shows and cruising spots of that era.
Fast forward to 2009, and it’s easy to see that the era of having only one or two Reality Car Club Lowriders on display at shows is thankfully long gone. The club is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and is still the one-chapter club that the Rodriguez brothers envisioned back in 1979. There are even four members who have been in the club for over 20 years. The club is still very active, not only in Lowriding, but in serving the communities of the San Gabriel Valley, where the club members call home. After 30 prosperous years in Lowriding, it’s safe to say that Reality Car Club is definitely here to stay.
Reality Car Club currently has a wide variety of vehicles representing the club, giving them a very diverse lineup. This club has a little bit of everything, including a 1939 Chevy, a 1980 Cadillac, and even a 1984 Nissan truck. Club spokesman Andy Rivera owns one of the more unique rides that fly the Reality plaque. In 1980, Andy’s father bought him a 1965 Chevy Malibu SS. Andy’s brother Gary helped him rebuild the motor, refresh the transmission, and tune the car to the point that it was a reliable machine. A year later, he reupholstered the interior and had the car painted. Andy has redone the car multiple times over the years, and is now ready for a new project; he is currently building a 1972 Chevy Impala that will be a Reality club staple in the very near future.
Reality Car Club member Carlos Herrera, aka “Papa-Los,” is the proud owner of a 1956 Chevy Bel Air four-door sedan. Carlos’ friend Steve Hallot had the Bel-Air sitting in his driveway, and even though the car was old, dirty, dented and rusted, Carlos could still see the beauty and potential in it. After talking Steve into selling him the car, Carlos brought it home. Needless to say, Carlos’ wife Diane was not happy to see the eyesore that her husband had not only parked in their driveway, but had apparently paid good money for as well. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Carlos remained true to the potential of what he had envisioned the car would look like when it was finished. Carlos and his daughter, Janeece, went to work immediately, taking the whole car apart. Carlos and his friend, Robert Pineda, then pulled the motor out so that it could be completely rebuilt. When the motor was ready, Carlos picked it up after work, and had it back in the car and running by midnight. Much to his delight, the project was moving along quickly. After Carlos and his son David prepped the body, Carlos’ friend Mel Hernandez painted the car in a matter of hours. Carlos’ initially skeptical wife Diane could see the hard work Carlos had put into the car, and was not only proud of him, she was also very happy to see the once-rough car turn into Carlos’ dream car.
Although the club has no plans on building a “Lowrider of the Year” contender, it does not mean that they do not have the types of show cars that can live up to that same level of quality while up on the jack stands. A force to be reckoned with, Reality has intricately built custom cars that have full chrome and detailed undercarriages, as well as fully restored original classics. The club remains true to the Lowrider lifestyle as they maintain that regardless of how much work and money has gone into building the cars, they are all still heavily street driven. Reality travels all around the Southern California area, and on occasion to Northern California as well to attend car shows and club picnics.
Thanks to the longevity that the club has enjoyed, the next generation of the club has already been introduced to Lowriding. Club members’ children and grandchildren have been part of the club since birth, and are now at an age where they are ready to add the Reality plaque to their own rides. The success of the club can also be credited to the support of the members’ families. Without the support of their families, it’s clear that the club would not be where it is today. Family members lend a helping hand in many ways, such as helping to set up and clean the cars at shows, or cheering as loudly as possible when a club car wins a trophy. As is the case with other clubs that have been profiled in the magazine, the members of Reality credit their families for their individual success, as well as the success of the club.
The club’s outlook for the future is bright, as they hope to find fellow Lowriding enthusiasts that can add to the success of the club by bringing in good quality rides and a positive attitude into the tradition that has served the participating members for the past three decades. Many friendships have been born as a result of the club, and the club hopes that the next 30 years will bring new friendships, new rides and a positive image for the Lowriding culture that they love. Given the success of the first 30 years, it will be no problem for Reality Car Club to continue to contribute to the positive image and longevity of the Lowrider Culture. Ride on, Reality!