Nothing Like it: The Walt Prey paint job, Astro Supreme wheels, frenched antennas, Rabbit ear antennas...and did anyone notice the monks?

Documenting the History of Lowriding

Words: Jay Villa | Photos: Fred Enke

Take a look at these old lowrider photos. Trippy sh*t, right? 

I can stare at ‘em all day. Oddly enough, I can almost smell them too – something only those in the know could appreciate. Old photographs have a character that many won’t get to experience in this digital age. We live in a world of instant gratification. Digital cameras allow you to snap a pic and preview them on the spot. But not back in the day. Back then, we’d have to pull back the film advance lever to get to the next frame and reset the shutter; then, we’d manually focus, frame the pic, and press the shutter button, hoping and praying we get the kill shot. We were limited to how many shots were left on the roll, and then we had to rewind the film in the canister, remove it, then drop them off to get developed.  

These photos were saved from being tossed in the trash.

Today we can snap and preview hundreds of shots with ease. But hey, I’m not complaining. It’s convenient – albeit at the cost of lost traditions. But film photography isn’t gone forever. There are plenty of people who still shoot film, and I think it’s great, but I’ll admit that I’m not one of them. I’m used to the speed of digital, so seeing photos like these is special. 

Famed photographer Fred Enke took the photos on this post. The back story of these photos is pretty interesting too. According to Pat Ganahl, the original negatives of these photos were going to get tossed in the trash (after Mr. Enke passed with no known heirs or contacts), and that’s when he got a hold of them and shared them with the world on his blog, a blog you should cruise by because he’s got some good stuff on it. According to Mr. Ganahl, these photos were the original article’s outtakes that appeared in either Car Craft or Hot Rod back in the day. Pretty cool when you consider a lowrider would have a tough chance landing the pages of those same mags today.

Now, if you don’t know who Pat Ganahl is, he’s a legend in the automotive publishing world. He’s published some excellent books and served as editor for Hot Rod – but his inability to play corporate politics made him the shortest-serving editor in the history of the Hot Rod magazine – an accomplishment which has been noted by the magazine itself, and a title he should be proud of.  

1 of 34 negatives saved from being thrown the trash. Photos by Fred Enke, saved by Pat Ganahl.
The End of an Era. 

In Pat Ganahl’s writing, he says something interesting that would resonate with many of the guys that drive their cars. He says, “…in our day of deflated air bags on everything; it’s hard to understand how radical this car looked in ’72, with its hydros dropped until the side pipes nearly rested on the ground. These were the days when show cars were still cruised on the streets and driven to shows. Only hydraulics made this stance possible.” On the flip side, the attention to detail and money spent on modern full show cars is downright outrageous, so it’s easy to understand why today they’re not driven nearly as much as yesteryear. 

There’s a lot of unseen historical photos of lowriding 

There’s a lot of history that needs to be shared when it comes to lowriding – or any part of the culture for that matter – and there’s no better time than now to chronicle all the tales that haven’t been told. With tons of photos stuck in albums, toolboxes, filing cabinets, and storage boxes, we must share them with the next generation of lowriders. Like Marcus Garvey said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.”

As part of an ongoing series, we’ll share photos and stories from the old school days. It’s our way of sharing the present and the past and a good way to document the lifestyle. In the past few years, we’ve also lost some legends in the game, and we could only imagine the stories they could share and part of the reason we created a section dedicated to this. 

On that note, if you have anything you want to share, hit us up by clicking here.  

1958 Chevy Sedan called "Sundowner." Possibly another Walt Prey creation.
The History of Lowriding needs to be Documented.  

These lowrider photos are timeless. They speak volumes about those involved. From the car builder to the landscape, there’s lots of history in them. No longer there, the photoshoot took place at the Virginia Dare Winery in Cucamonga, CA. Now home to a business center, it was the perfect backdrop for the shoot. The photo also features what is known as the Most Famous Lowrider – Gypsy Rose – from the Imperials car club. Sadly, both Jesse Valadez Jr. and Sr., the owners of Gypsy Rose, are no longer with us. As these photos help memorialize a piece of low-riding history, it’s further proof that the history of lowriding needs to be documented and preserved so future generations can reference its roots and history. 

In our opinion, one of the most powerful photos of the legendary Gypsy Rose (Imperials Car Club)