Lowriders in Chicano Culture

From Low to Slow to Show

by Charles M. Tatum


The classic six-four. Three-stage metal flake paint. 100-spoke, 24k gold-plated Daytons. Sandcast, laser-cut, and CNC-machined club plaques. While meeting the lofty aesthetic standards of lowrider culture is of paramount importance for Cholos and Cholas, lowriding is also a true expression of Chicano community and individuality.

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Cover image for Lowriders in Chicano Culture

July 2011


Pages 223
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Race and Ethnicity/Latino and Hispanic Studies
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    Hardcover: £47.00/51,00€/A$79.00

This informed and accessible book captures the art, energy, passion, and pageantry of over 60 years of lowrider culture—an absolutely iconic Chicano and American phenomenon.

Much like rap music and ethnic foods, Chicano lowrider culture has become sufficiently widespread in recent decades to almost be considered "mainstream." However, those outside of lowriding may not realize that this cultural phenomenon is not the result of a recent fad—it originated in the pre–World War II era, and has continued to grow and evolve since then.

Lowriders in Chicano Culture: From Low to Slow to Show allows readers to see how this expressive culture fits within the broader context of Chicano culture and understand how lowriding reflects the social, artistic, and political dimensions of America's fastest-growing ethnic group. It includes chapters that explain the culture of pachucas/os and cholas/os; the unique aesthetics of lowrider vehicles; lowrider music, shows, and clubs; the mechanics of building a lowrider vehicle; and lowrider culture in the media including film, newspapers, and television. The book also traces how lowrider culture has recently expanded beyond the urban streets and into the massive exhibit halls of lowrider shows, exposing lowrider culture to even more enthusiasts.


  • A chapter on the origins of lowriding documents the evolution of the culture
  • Illustrative photographs depict lowrider mural art, pachucas/os and cholas/os, hopping and dancing contests, and "Zoot Suiters"
  • A glossary of lowrider lingo defines unique terminology


  • Supplies an accurate and informed history of lowriding within the context of Chicana/o history and culture
  • Documents the influence of lowrider culture in popular music such as rock and roll and rap
  • Challenges the erroneous belief that lowriders are members of violent gangs
  • Conveys the excitement of attending a lowrider show with all of its pageantry
Author Info

Charles M. Tatum is professor of Spanish in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. His published works include Chicano and Chicana Literature: Otra voz del pueblo and other books on Chicana/o literature and Latin American popular culture.



"The author addresses a whole host of invaluable social science and Chicano studies issues and topics, and does so with particularly critical and astute observations pertaining to both Chicanos and Chicanas and the broader history and heritage of the US Southwest. In this latter sense, Tatum has succeeded in producing a classic treatment of one of the most iconic symbols of the Chicano cultural tradition. Summing up: Highly recommended."Choice

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