Custom Car Clubs Plaques Have Roots That Run Deep.
October 8, 2023 | By LRS Staff
Lowrider plaques hold more significance than being mere decorative pieces of metal. They symbolize a profound rite of passage and, for some, serve as the ultimate embellishment for their custom lowriders. These plaques represent inclusion into an exclusive club or brotherhood, but only some earn the privilege of owning one. Each car club operates under its own governing body, with established standards, principles, and rules that members must adhere to. While some clubs adopt a more lenient approach, others uphold strict traditions, a topic we’ll delve into in a future discussion. Conversely, some lowriders choose to be “solo riders” with no club affiliation, while others join a club because of the club’s values or the shared style of cars they build.
Origins of the Lowrider Plaque
The tradition of lowrider plaques, shrouded in unofficial history, is believed to have emerged in the ’50s. Lowrider plaques evolved from the car club plaques that adorned hot rods in the ’30s but with distinct characteristics. Unlike their hot rod counterparts, lowrider plaques were not affixed to license plates or bumpers; instead, they were typically positioned between the back seat and the vehicle’s rear deck. You’d often spot these custom car club plaques through the car’s rear window. Furthermore, hot rod plaques were typically rectangular and featured designs confined within a border. In contrast, lowrider plaques exhibited a free-flowing design without a solid frame and often included two legs for mounting.
There is no definitive answer when pinpointing the “inventor” of lowrider plaques. Many enthusiasts and sources, attribute the tradition’s origins to an unidentified car club near Downey but the history on this topic is hazy. As we continue to engage with veteran lowriders and delve deeper into the culture, we will be sure to update this document.
This section serves as a historical documentation of car club plaques while showcasing images of the ones we’ve captured. Car club plaques fascinate us because each carries a unique identity and artistic value. This tradition is taken seriously, with plaques awarded only to members who meet the club’s stringent standards and rules. Some measures are more attainable, like any organization or club, while others can feel like a full-time commitment.
(L-R) A few images taken at Jagster Co aka Jagster Engineering Group – one of the pioneers of laser cut lowrider plaques.
How are lowrider plaques made?
Car club plaquess are typically made in one of two ways. The first process, and perhaps the oldest, requires making a a negative mold that is used00 utilized in a process called “casting” which requires the maker to pour moulten metal into the cast. Once the material cools down the plaque is then released and finished off by polishing rough edges and either chrome plating, polishing or painting it.
While casting car club plaques was big in the late 40’s and 50’s, nowadays, the most preferred method for making a car club plaque is by way of a laser cuttig machine. Companies such as Jagster Engineering Group in North Hollywood, is one of the early adopters of using laser cutting machines and with 25 years of experience has become one of the ultimate sources for all things laser cut.
In this process, a digital file is created of the design and then sent to the laser machine which will cut the plaques with extreme precision. From there, the plaques are polished, sharp edges brought down, and then finished in usually gold or chrome plating and often accented by paint or custom engraving.
The images above showcase some of the lowrider plaques we’ve run across and each of them hold a certain appeal and style that is special to each club. In future installments we’ll go over the step by step process for creating each type of plaque, but for now, you can relish in the beauty of this metal art that not only represents each respective car club, but also one of the most celebrated and unique parts of the lowriding lifestyle.