Low riders have been around for a long time and come in many different shapes, sizes, and designs. Let’s dive deeper into this classic car culture.
You know a low rider when you see one. They’re typically old GM vehicles that have been modified with a super low ride height, small custom wheels, flip switch hydraulic suspensions, and intricate paint jobs with polished metal ornamentation all around the car. Low riders got their start as a Southern California car culture in the 1950s, but it has branched out to have a worldwide following and has amassed plenty of different cars that fit the low rider lifestyle well. We’ve already given a run down once before on the history of low riders and the sought after ‘64 Impala, but this time we’re giving you the top 10 low riders you could buy today.
The Chevrolet Deluxe was a line of vehicles produced from 1941 to 1952, which runs along the same time that low rider culture got its start. These early Chevys were the original basis for low riders before the use of hydraulic systems. They were the ones that had the clipped springs, overweighted bodies, and were the reason for the original California vehicle code that led to the implementation of hydraulic suspensions. Today, you can still find Fleetmasters, Fleetlines, and Stylelines from this series of Chevy cruising around low and slow, but they’re probably sporting a little more pop in the shocks now.
Cadillacs were hailed as some of the most luxurious American land yachts around back in the day, and the Cadillac DeVille also made for a great low rider. These long and low beauties came in plenty of diverse styles over the years and provide low rider artists with a large canvas to work with. You had those huge tailfins on ‘59 and ‘60 models, that intimidating grille on ‘61-’64 models, the ever-growing lengths, and there was the choice of 2-doors or 4-doors. If popping the front end off the ground is more your style, late model Cadillac DeVille models also made for some serious hoppers too.
When I mention the Buick Riviera as a low rider, I don’t mean that smoothed out thing that came out in 1995. I’m talking about the early E-bodies that were available from 1963-1976, but especially the first generation. These classic coupes were essentially elongated muscle cars, and they look so nice when they’re made into low riders. The body lines of the Riviera make for a great pinstriping canvas and the car handles nice while having the interior luxuries one would expect in a Caddy.
The Chevrolet El Camino is a unique car in its own right, but the low rider ones take it to another level. This Chevy provides an interesting aspect that no other low rider car really does, a truck bed to customize. Owners have used the El Camino bed to showcase their hydraulic systems, added leather seating, or just sealed it up with a hardtop bed cover that works as an extension of the car’s paint canvas.
Another Cadillac that’s widely used by the low rider crowd is the Cadillac Fleetwood. I’m not just talking about those grandparent owned Fleetwood models from 1985 to 1996 though, I’m also talking about models like the classic Fleetwood Brougham. Fleetwood originally was a reserved top-of-the-line body for Cadillac vehicles, so dropping and customizing them as a low rider is a fun way to flaunt your cash.
The Chevrolet Monte Carlo is another staple vehicle for the low rider scene. While the Impala is one of the most widely recognized low riders, the Monte Carlo also sees its fair share of fandom in the community. You’ll typically see the more compact third or fourth gen G-body Monte Carlo being used as a low rider, but the ‘70 Monte Carlo is the highly sought-after model out there. Fun fact, the low rider used in the movie Training Day is a 1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
Now, I know the Buick Regal shares a lot with the Monte Carlo, but it has just as much of a following. Again, the ‘70s and ‘80s G-body is the most popular for Regal low riders. Luckily, if you can’t find a Regal or Monte Carlo from this era to make a low rider, the Oldsmobile Cutlass and Pontiac Grand Prix can fill the void. However, there’s something the Regal offered that the other G-bodies didn’t at the time, the Grand National. Yep, you can find some of the fastest cars from the ‘80s setup as low riders.
The Chevrolet Caprice was available as a family sedan and wagon back in the day, and it shares a lot with its Impala sibling. This made the Caprice an affordable low rider alternative to the Impala, and it was more widely available for a time. Not many people are looking to restore these old family cars, but they definitely turn some heads when they’re low riders, especially the wagons.
I know, this is kind of a broad term for a list of specific low rider models, but there’s just so many diverse trucks being given the lowrider treatment that I kind of had to. You’ve got old school truck classics like the GMC 1500, Chevrolet 3100, and Chevrolet C10, but then there’s those that have lowered newer trucks like the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra too. These low rider trucks are also pretty unique when it comes to hydraulics. Since the bed is separated from the cab, some have made it so the bed moves and dances with hydraulics rather than have the hydraulics lift the frame.
Of course, the number one low rider to look out for is the Chevrolet Impala, especially the 1964. The Impala is the most popular and favorite model to work with when it comes to crafting a low rider, no matter the year (with the exception of the seventh and eighth gens). The 1964 is special because of its unique single year design from the end of the third generation. It holds a special place in the community’s heart as the quintessential low rider after having been molded and showcased by some of the greatest low rider designers in the industry. If you want to have a low rider, any vehicle on this list will do, but if you want THE low rider, you’ve got to get your hands on a ‘64 Impala.