In 1973, the lowriding scene was an underground movement of guys who loved their cars and learned their lowriding know-how on the streets. The style was low and slow. In garages and alleys, cars were being lifted using hydraulics of every possible kind. Creative vatos with a little know-how and elbow grease were starting what has evolved into lowriding as we know it today. These were the outlaw days of the sport when a lowrider was known to go to extreme efforts to acquire hydraulic parts. There were no hydraulic shops to be found, but the creative lowriders survived to flourish. Even more than today, the public then looked at the lowrider as a real oddity.
That reaction from the public was part of the reason that lowriders were built in the first place. The movement continued and lowriders honed their customizing skills. Some guys became so good at lifting cars and they soon gained regular customers and their lowrider hydraulic business was born.
A Majestic Beginning
Kevin Smith, the owner of Compton Hydraulic in Compton, California, was one guy with the know-how and reputation to gain prestige within the lowrider community. Kevin is credited with starting the Majestics Car Club that has spread to Phoenix, Arizona, in addition to the three California chapters that include Compton, San Diego and Delano. Kevin's new club began by building rides and hanging out. They began by painting the Majestics logo on the rear windows before acquiring plaques. The club began its Lowrider Hall of Fame journey by hitting the boulevards of Southern California and spreading the lowrider culture through their many journeys onto the streets of Aztlan.
Hollywood Boulevard and the legendary Whittier Boulevard were favorite cruise spots. Into the mid-to-late '70s, the Majestics membership grew, especially in the Downey, California, area. In fact, a lot of people thought that the club originated in Downey, as the members from Compton, Huntington Park and Watts would gather and ride with the Downey members. Some members from this period included Ritchie Rich's '64 Chevy Impala. In '79, "Blvd." Rod broke out his nearly new Lincoln Continental riding on Zeniths, one of the first lifted Lincolns on the scene.
Compton's On The Move
Hauncho and "G" are members with more than 25 years each. Back in '75, G broke into the club with his '63 Impala lifted in the front, riding on "20s" with hubcaps. In '79, Hauncho and fellow member "Turtle," along with others, were part of the group that rode with Downey members. In '79 they began the Compton chapter with 15 members from Watts and Compton who enjoyed cruising everywhere possible, including Hollywood, San Diego's Balboa Park, Pomona, Florence and Main, and many other cruising spots of the day.
G continues to be the driving force behind the Compton Chapter today and has some fresh rides in the works, including a bad '67 Chevy Impala convertible. He also owns a unique '64 hardtop that goes by the name "Santana." He shows the younger members what's up and is a true OG rider.
The Compton Majestics of today have 25 members and are very organized. They meet every Saturday and have a no gang / no violence policy. A car must be finished and approved for admittance into the club. Prospective members must also attend eight consecutive meetings to receive a Majestics plaque. The Majestics also go for the traditional style only: Chevys, Cadillacs, Buick Regals, Olds Cutlasses and the like. The Compton Majestics are more organized than ever, an indication that they will be here for many years to come.
Expansion In Arizona
Way back in '75, some adventurous members from Norwalk, California, took a little trip out to Firebird Lake in Phoenix, Arizona. Firebird Lake was the first place that lowriders had shows in the Phoenix area. It was at Firebird Lake that Majestics members "Boy" in his '68 Chevy Caprice and Robert in his '66 Caprice spread the word about the Majestics Car Club. The newly founded Phoenix Chapter of the Majestics was soon flying placas of their own.
Beginning in the mid-to-late '70s and continuing into the '90s, cruising was heavy on Central Avenue in Phoenix. The cruise on Central thrived for many years. In '94, Central Avenue was closed to cruising because of the violence that marred the scene. It was not the lowriders who caused the problems, but rather people who were drawn to the scene and did not know how to act. Unfortunately, lowriders were often falsely blamed for the violence by association.
Lowriding united a lot of people and families, but rival clubs were reality back in the day. Competing for prestige on the streets was common between car clubs. In those times, rival car clubs would settle their disputes with a few words or a rare fistfight. Though car clubs did have rivals, actual skirmishes between them were rare and relatively harmless.
In today's scene, car clubs have long since settled their disputes and have united for one main cause: to cruise in peace. Nowadays, lowriders must be careful not because of other lowriders but because of the people who are on the streets and their unpredictable actions. Positive actions by lowrider car clubs are improving public perceptions and the Majestics are no exception as they now are active in the organization of picnics and hopping events that are open to all clubs and individuals. They also support many toy drives and charitable causes organized by other car clubs.
Marty "Scrape '67" Smith was the president of the Phoenix chapter for 10 years ('82-'92). Marty, along with longtime member Victor Gonzales, were quite active in keeping the club together through the many eras of car styles. The Phoenix chapter wanted to change with the times and began to allow Euros into the club also. Though traditional lows never faded out totally, the traditional lowrider made their surge back to prominence in the '90s. Today, all vehicle types are allowed into the Phoenix area chapters.
Another longtime member, Richard Gonzales is presently the president of the Phoenix chapter that has given birth to surrounding Arizona chapters that include Glendale, Avondale and Casa Grande chapters. The club is moving ahead with members concentrating their efforts on the building of show cars, in part because the cruising scene is no longer welcomed.
San Diego Gets In The Action
Marty Smith was one active vato; he is also credited with starting the San Diego and Delano chapters more than 10 years ago. In '90, it was Marty who gave the Majestics plaque to Armando Franco, the first president of the San Diego chapter. The San Diego chapter began with 12 members who were friends and members of City Nights C.C. of San Diego who decided to create their own chapter of the Majestics. At the time, the Majestics had already made a name for themselves rolling on the boulevards of Southern and Central California and Arizona. New in San Diego, the Majestics were on the street consistently and made their presence known. Other longtime lowrider clubs did not quite like the new boys in town, but years on the streets have built friendships with other local veteran lowrider clubs, like the Amigos, Klique, Groupe, New Wave, Individuals and others. The San Diego chapter is also responsible for hosting several shows and picnics over the years and supports other local club events and benefits.
Like their brothers in Phoenix, the early '90s found the San Diego chapter with a lot of min-trucks and Euros along with the traditional lows. Soon the Lowrider Movement leaned toward the traditional scene once again. The San Diego Lowrider Council would not let the Majestics join the council because they had trucks and Euros in the club, so current president Rob "Bird" had to make a tough decision and in '93, no truck or Euros would be allowed in the club. The San Diego Majestics is now 26 members strong with a nucleus of 10 members with more than 10 years in the club.
The Majestics-San Diego, together with the Compton, Phoenix, Glendale, Avondale, Delano, and the newest chapters in Casa Grande, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Miami, Florida; Japan; Hawaii; New Mexico; and Canada, represent one of the driving forces behind the Lowrider Movement.
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