Lowriding might have a long history in North America, but in Russia it’s relatively new.
NonGrata Car Club was the first lowrider group in the country, forming in Saint Petersburg around the turn of the millennium. Boyare Car Club – the focus of this story – got their start in Moscow in the winter of 2012, and ever since have been representing American lowriding traditions through the prism of Russian realities. Look at the cars in this story and you’ll quickly understand what I mean – this is lowriding without Chevrolets and Cadillacs.
Around this time, stance culture was just taking off in Russia and the NonGrata CC were moving away from Soviet cars and getting into American models, just like the rest of the lowriding world. The Boyare CC, however, had plans of their own.
Some unspoken law suggests that all car clubs should have English names, but in selecting a suitable title for their new club, these guys consulted a Russian dictionary. They quickly settled on Boyar - the name of a wealthy member of noble rank in Russia’s tsar history.
The club is made exclusively up of GAZ (Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod) ‘Volga’ vehicles, the most comfortable mass-produced cars to come out of the Soviet Union. This makes sense too, because Volga cars share some similarities with Chevrolet Impalas from the 1960s, as during this era many Soviet designers were often adopting ideas from the New World.
In the beginning the club had only GAZ-24 (1970-1985) models in its ranks, but after a while people joined with newer GAZ-3102 (1982-2010) variants. In essence, you have to own a Soviet Volga and be willing to make a lowrider out of it in order to join the Boyare CC.
Boyare CC members take the basic ideals of American lowriding and adapt them to Russian cars.
At first, suspension modifications were simple: cut some coils from the front and remove a few leaves from the rear, but later on air suspension started to become more common in the club. Yes, you could say that hydraulic suspension is key to authentic lowriding – and you’d be correct – but in Russia the cost is prohibitive, so these guys make do with what they can get their hands on.
Another key lowriding element is custom paintwork and pin-striping, and in the Boyare CC there are some real works of arts. The guys are friends with an artist by the name of Vladimir Kovalyov, who experiments on their cars with stunning results.
The club try to meet up at least once a week to cruise around Moscow, and I was invited out for an easy-going evening in the capital. The center of Moscow is very crowded and traffic-heavy at any given hour, hence why the guys like to venture further away from the Kremlin.
At the end of a fun, low-key night I returned home thinking that the adaptation of one culture’s values by another is an important thing. Just copying something won’t get you far, and you won’t create anything new or unique. Russian lowriding, who’d ever of thought…