Car Club: Down 2 Scale
City: Los Angeles
Model cars have been around since the first automobiles. Originally intended as a mere child’s plaything, it wasn’t until the ’70s that adults first began picking up these small-scale model renderings. As costs for these detailed miniatures decreased and new fabricating materials became available, the challenges to create exact duplicates of the real thing became a bit simpler and readily available to larger audiences. Time would see some of these miniature fabricators eventually go on to build real-scale versions of the model cars they had once built. But most would eventually find themselves returning to a hobby that taught them both the inside and outside of the automobile, and more importantly, the patience needed to create these tiny art pieces.
The early ’90s would find Gary Seeds bringing together individuals who shared a love for this hobby. He would eventually create a platform where ideas and building techniques could be shared, one that would eventually be called “Model Masters.” Soon this newly created model-builders club found itself competing at local shows like the Carson Kit Classic and the Cactus Classic in Victorville. The club grew and the name would eventually be changed to Down 2 Scale. Sadly, as the shows that helped grow the sport began disappearing, so did its members. “Everyone just went their own separate ways,” Willie Ramirez Jr. says.
The recent lowrider resurgence would see a newer generation rediscovering this art form. It would lead Gary Seeds, along with Henry Espinoza, Manny Sinfuentes, and Willie Sr. to bring back the Down 2 Scale club. They would set out to recruit the nation’s top builders and as word spread, so did its membership. “With each new member, the level of each build has increased,” Willie says. And although they still use traditional rattle can methods of yesteryear, nowadays these guys are also using real paint materials like House of Kolor candies and flake. They’re using a process much the same as a real car with basecoat and clearcoat finishes. This club, however, is for the selected few. Prospecting rules are extremely similar to those of car or bike clubs with prospects required to construct a minimum of four models a year and attend monthly meetings. “Our members have to be respectful of themselves, but more importantly respectful of our hobby,” Willie says. Down 2 Scale is extremely involved in the community and take pride in teaching the kids this artistry. “It expands their minds and keeps them busy”, Henry Espinosa says. With chapters across the country in states like Texas and Arizona, and members from the age of 18 to 74, it is never too late to dust off that old worktable. “We have all tried to build models at one time or another, we call ourselves kit builders,” Mike Mendoza says. “Which to us means you build whatever version of car you like. From Hot Rod, Rat Rod, Low Rod to Lowriders, it is the creativity and ingenuity it takes to build these detailed miniature masterpieces that people are eager to see.”