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People enjoy owning unique cars that express their personal and individual styles. Lowriders, in particular, have a long history among the custom car ranks and range from those with mild alterations to the extreme. The cost of turning your car into a lowrider depends on the complexity of your build, the quality of the finished product, and how much of the work you do yourself. So, here’s a look at what to expect regarding financial costs if you want to turn your own vehicle into a lowrider.

A brief lowrider history

Mirriam-Webster defines a lowrider as “a customized car with a chassis that has been lowered so that it narrowly clears the ground.” Lowering a car’s suspension evolved from the 1940s Hotrod and Ratrod culture, which lowered their vehicles as part of the overall look. By the late-1960s, lowriders had grown into a unique custom car class and Lowriding into a lifestyle.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture says that “historically, lowriders were mostly Latino men from Texas, the Southwest, and southern California.” Building a lowrider is often a family project, as is cruising through town and attending car shows with them. 

In the early 1990s, lowriders entered the hip-hop culture with prominent placement in music videos and movies. With another cultural group building lowriders, competition for the best car took the technology involved to another level. 

Driving a lowered car comes with risks of damaging the undercarriage and, in some places, getting fined for being too low. So, lowriders began installing hydraulics on their suspensions to raise and lower them as needed. However, adding hydraulics then led to another type of competition. 

How much do lowriders cost?

HowMuchDoesItCost says that the cost of building a lowrider depends on the customization required and desired but could be as low as $5,000 for the most basic design. However, costs rise quickly, considering the price of the vehicle before modifications can range from $2k-15k. Vehq says that hydraulics system prices range from as low as $600 and climb to over $5,000 for a system that can launch your car into the air. After covering the basic costs, most lowriders invest in audio systems, custom paint, large chrome wheels, low-profile tires, and upgraded interiors, which can add up to $10k.

If you’d rather buy a completed lowrider, LihPao suggests you prepare to pay from $10,000 for the most basic lowrider up to $100,000 for a heavily customized show winner. Famuse reports lower lowrider prices, saying that lowering collectible cars hurts their desirability on the collectors market, resulting in a range from $2,000 to $20,000.

Are lowriders safe to drive on public roads?

A man driving a 1963 Chevy Impala SS customized into a lowrider model in Santa Fe, New Mexico
A 1963 Chevy Impala SS lowrider | Robert Alexander/Getty Images

While some states have restrictions on how low a car’s suspension can be, other states do not regulate such things. However, lowriders face some particular concerns. First, any vehicle with a modified suspension risks experiencing diminished control, especially at high speeds. Next, any road irregularities, like speed bumps, train tracks, or parking lot bumpers, pose a severe hazard. Whether you buy a completed lowrider or build it yourself, most auto insurance companies provide adequate coverage. However, according to HowStuffWorks, lowriders with expensive custom paint jobs, hi-tech audio systems, or rare collector car status might be better served by a specialty collector car plan.

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