It is said that we are products of our environment and for master builder Mike Lopez this was certainly the case. Growing up in Boyle Heights, an infamous suburb of East Los Angeles, he witnessed and eventually would become part of what some consider the pinnacle of lowrider culture. “I would see the guys from Groupe and Klique car club cruising, and since everyone in my neighborhood either owned or worked on a lowrider I wanted one to say, ‘Mike,'” he says. Working at a local liquor store he eventually saved up and purchased 1962 Chevy Nova. “Back then junkyards were plentiful so I was cruising my Nova with black diamond tuck interior in no time.”
In those days your everyday car was your lowrider, and after a short stint with the Abraxas LTD car club Mike decided he wanted to build a show car that would compete at the local car shows. The recently established Lifestyle car club was making quite the name for themselves. They were known for having ‘paper plate’ cars, meaning they would buy a car off the lot, customize it, and by the following weekend would be cruizing Whittier Blvd. “I loved the attention their candy paintjobs would get and after running into my buddy Sorel at the Boys and Girls club who was already a member of the club, I soon found myself in their lineup. Right away I knew it was the right people and the right choice.”
From humble beginnings to a career spanning over four decades Mike has created and or owned some of the most iconic lowriders ever built. From the innovative 1962 Chevy Impala known as Twilight Zone to his personal favorite, National Treasure aka Indo Smoke, which is the only cover car to have been featured in both LOWRIDER and LOWRIDER Japan magazine. “I love how tastefully done that car was. Clients see what I have built and trust that I will treat their car like my own. To me its like a baby being born, seeing it grown up, and eventually watching it graduate,” he says.
“By no means do I consider myself a master builder, I’m just a guy who has been lucky enough to do what he loves,” says Mike. “With each new build the bar keeps getting raised higher and higher. Standards and times have change; I’m grateful to still be a part of it and just happy to see the lowrider movement still going strong.”