Like all things, change is irrefutable. That is, what was yesterday’s Lowrider Movement or “onda,” is today’s politically correct “lowrider sport.” Fortunately, unlike other automotive sports, lowriding does have cultural roots. Before lowriding became an international phenomenon, and certainly before Lowrider Magazine, it was a subculture within barrios and communities across the United States. Today, the art of lowriding has reached an unprecedented level, unfortunately with some media-based negativity.
Lowrider Magazine understands the importance of educating the new enthusiast on lowriding’s cultural and political roots. More importantly, we believe it to be our duty to recognize those individuals who paved the way with blood, sweat and tears in the decades of the Lowrider Movement, and helped it become the most recognized motorsport in the world. Lowrider Magazine introduced the Lowrider Hall of Fame to honor such individuals and bring their untold stories to light.
The Lowrider Hall of Fame (LHoF) will recognize these individuals on an annual basis. The inductee is chosen according to individual achievement and/or positive role in the lifestyle, sport and culture throughout lowrider history. Fortunately, there are many great leaders in our sport today. However, the LHoF will acknowledge those leaders with a minimum of 20 years involved, in some aspect, in this history.
The LHoF Nomination Committee, consisting of Lowrider Events judges and past honorees, will submit all nominations to the LHoF Executive Committee. These nominations are reviewed and final inductees are confirmed by the Executive Committee. This category honors are as follows:
Leadership HonorA car club founder/leader who has directly affected the course, actions, contributions and positive influence of a recognized and organized group and/or car club.
Craftsmanship Honor Designer, builder or artist in creating original and outstanding vehicles. Also, exhibiting these vehicles for a consistent period of time.
Lifetime Contributor Honor A community leader and/or activist dedicating time, resources and heart in contributing and/or investing directly back into the lowrider community. This category may include car show promoters, who produce lowrider events that promote, educate and entertain the lowrider community.
Now in its third year, the Lowrider Hall of Fame has been a historical achievement, and we anticipate even greater success in the future. The Committee has received numerous comments regarding this accolade and its first honorees, without any political bias or questionable agendas.
Previous inductees of the LHoF have set a high standard for future members. A recap of those honored is as follows: The first ever (2005) Leadership Honor was awarded to Julio Ruelas, founder of Duke’s Car Club. The Craftsmanship Honor was awarded to Bob Mercado of Bob & Sons Upholstery. The Lifetime Contributor Honor was awarded to “El Larry” Gonzales of Lowrider Magazine and L.G. Productions.
The 2006 Lowrider Hall of Fame sophomore class is as follows: The Leadership Honor was awarded to Joe Ray of Lifestyle Car Club (now Lowrider Editor). The Craftsmanship Honor was awarded to Mario De Alba, Sr. of Elite Car Club. The Lifetime Contributor Honor was awarded to Nick Hernandez of Texas Tours and Taste of Latin Car Club.
The official 2007 honors are as follows: The Leadership Honor – Ricardo Alvarado, president of Oldies Car Club; The Craftsmanship Honor – Ted Wells of Professionals Car Club; and The Lifetime Contributor Honor – Jesse Valadez of Imperials Car Club. In the coming months, LRM will introduce each honoree in our magazine and profile their influence, dedication and passion to lowriding.
In its third year, Lowrider Magazine’s Lowrider Hall of Fame will present this year’s awards at a special ceremony in October. Come and be a part of a historical night of dinner and dancing, as the lowrider community honors these three living legends.
Ted WellsCraftsmanship HonorProfessionals Car Club, Los Angeles, CaliforniaRecognizing a designer, builder or artist in creating original and outstanding vehicles. Also, one who exhibits these vehicles for a consistent period of time.
Ted Wells was born and raised in the home of lowriding-Southern California. When he was 13 years old, he had a moment that would forever change his life. It was 1966 and a friend of the family was stopping by the house to pick up some money that was owed for a couch that had been reupholstered. He pulled up in a ’65 Chevy Corvair Monza, complete with Supreme wire wheels and a flake paint job. He flicked a switch twice to make that unmistakable sound of motors whirling that rung in young Ted’s ears. The car dropped to the ground and Ted stood there, mouth open, as he watched the young man go into the house. After getting the money, he came out, got in the car, hit the switch twice to raise the car and drove off. In that moment, Ted fell in love with hydraulics and lowriding.
When he was 16 years old and ready for his first car, Ted’s parents promised that they would help get him a new car and Ted’s car of choice at the time was a 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1. Shortly after that request, Ted went to a few school dances and, after seeing a couple of Chevys laid out, Ted fell in love with their lines and sleek looks. As it turned out, a downturn in the family business had Ted’s mom asking him to “settle” for the family’s old ‘62 Impala, a complete godsend to Ted.
Ted started officially lowriding in 1970, when, he laughs, “Back in the day, if you had a Chevy, some rims, a tape deck and a color bar, you were lowriding.” In 1972, though, Ted lifted his second car and one of his friends exclaimed, “This looks like something out of a Sears and Roebuck catalog.” And so his hydraulic career was born.
Lifting cars in those days was quite a different affair. Acetylene torches and modified aircraft parts were the makings of a hot system. There were no kits, no pre-made spring cups, no pre-wired switch boxes, and Ted became one of the pioneers in the art of lifting cars.
Ted was one of the founders of the Professionals Car Club and there were always club members who wanted their cars lifted. Ted was the one who got the call to make that happen. One of the trademarks of a lowrider, the hydraulic system, became Ted’s forte. The setup in his car, which featured a Bob and Sons interior, chrome motor and undercarriage, was the crme de la crme for the time. Ted pulled a trophy for Best Interior from one particular RG Canning show with his Bob and Sons interior.
Ted enjoyed the show scene, but enjoyed the cruises more. Places like Tops on Imperial and Central, Church’s Chicken on Vermont and Century, just to name a couple, were places where Ted could be around the cars and people that he loved. Hanging out with the likes of Majestics and Lifestyle C.C., Professionals flourished and its numbers grew steadily. Ted was a true rider and he could be found anywhere and everywhere that people were cruising and having a good time. Ted says of those times, “You could hang out till three in the morning and nobody died, it was just fun.”
In 1977 after his infamous win at the L.A. Sports Arena, Ted dragged his car for blocks, sparks flying everywhere, trophy hanging out of his sunroof in celebration of his big win. A couple of blocks away, Ted had pull into a gas station to use soap to plug up the hole that he made in the gas tank. Moments like these hold a special place in Ted’s heart. That trophy and two others are the only trophies out of many that he won that Ted has kept. And for those three, it’s the stories and memories behind them that are most important to him.
Ted stopped lowriding for a spell not long after that, but even during that time was still collecting aircraft parts for setups that he would eventually build in the future. Ted’s continuous quest to find these parts will be one of his legacies to lowriding. On how those parts are becoming harder and harder to find, Ted says, “There are plenty of people looking for this stuff. Take, for example, John Travolta. He has a few planes that he’s restoring and he’s looking for original parts, just like guys building Chevys want original parts. There are a lot of stuntmen who use this stuff, too. In an army movie or the A-Team TV show, when you see an explosion and a guy gets catapulted in the air, that’s the stuff that they use.”
It’s also considerably more reliable, a point Ted makes. “If aircraft stuff messes up, the plane’s coming down. If a tailgate pump fails, you just can’t get the refrigerator in the truck.” And it’s all about knowing what parts to get. “There are about 500 different aircraft pumps, but only a handful of them work for our application.” Ted is single-handedly responsible for the recent surge in aircraft setups. Anthony Fuentes’ ’63 Impala got people back into these setups again and Anthony got the parts and his schooling from none other than Ted.
Ted says, “Anyone wanting these setups more than likely either comes to me or gets the parts from me.” Ted’s knowledge of these OG setups is invaluable to the lowrider community. Many of the setups that he’s built have been of the tailgate type, but Ted is one of the few people who have the knowledge and resources to build an OG aircraft setup. One of those tailgate setups was in a car that he designed to hop all four wheels or “pancake,” and Ted spawned a resurgence in the ’90s of this popular ’70s trend.
Ted’s garage is his world and in that world is a museum of parts and lowriding history. From his oil can collection to his collection of aircraft parts and lowriding memorabilia, his garage is a trip down memory lane for those who are fortunate enough to enter it. It’s also the place where he builds cars and memories not only for himself but his customers. But by making himself and his customers happy, he’s also keeping old school lowriding alive. On any given day one of his setups is laying out a car and putting a smile on the face of someone walking down the street admiring that car rolling low and slow.
From his old school setups to his old school attitude on lowriding, Ted helps keep alive an era that has come and gone, but hopefully, with some help, will come back again. Ted’s laugh and outgoing personality are what people think about in addition to the cars that he’s built. For all that, Ted Wells is our 2007 Lowrider Hall of Fame Craftsmanship award winner.