Trigger Warning: This post may upset anyone that views car modification as something that always needs to make logical or financial sense.
Redundant intro considering this lowrider series as a whole? Perhaps, but we’re about to veer further off the Speedhunters beaten path and I wanted to level set first. From this sentence on, the wheels get bigger and the cars get figuratively and literally louder.
Vehicle styling has always been a subjective matter because style itself is subjective. Each of us so fiercely defend our own preferences that we often forget others have differing opinions.
A friend of mine once changed my point of reference with a simple statement. ‘Not everything is for everyone.’
Fittingly, that same friend spent a serious amount of time shooting for Rides magazine, a print magazine almost exclusively dedicated to cars like the ones featured in this post.
‘Dub’ styling has always existed an arm’s length away from the lowrider styling that captivates me. It contains many of the same elements of traditional lowriding, presented differently. As much as I’ve always found the genre a bit over the top, I do vividly remember the first time I saw a spinning wheel in person.
It was on a BMW X5 that was was parked right beside a street-plated BMW E30 M3 with Dekra race number plates on its sides. Funny, I remember an older gentleman with a stock E46 M3 criticizing each for their taste in blasphemous modification.
Of course, I’d be lying to you all if I tried to say a car with a door that opens downward isn’t at least partially over the top. But does that modification, among a host of others, mean this genre is worthy of an upturned nose?
As a fan of chopped tops, body drops and suicide doors, it would be hypocritical of me to say yes. Personal tastes aside, can you honestly look at the car above and say you don’t see the talent involved? Can you also truly say you don’t see one detail that interests you, either aesthetically of mechanically?
This car has crossed over into art, and as observers we’re each going to take something different away from it. Some of us might be drawn to its flaws, others its intricacies, and a handful may be offended by its extravagance. None are wrong and none make it any less artistic.
Just like wheel fitment that goes down and out, big wheels were counted on to be a fad. It was given five years tops from early 2000 inception to now. The joke’s on us, because over 20 years later and I’d argue it’s only become a bigger genre.
Big wheel cars are now faster and more detailed than ever. Don’t believe me? Check out how many YouTubers are getting into big wheel racing, three years after we first dipped our toe into the pond.
I’m not going to sit here and say I understand every subset of this niche, but I can say I’ve matured to the point that I can respect it.
I’d hope all of you are there too, but I know that’s a tall ask.
Making an Astro van into a show vehicle is as silly as taking a econobox sedan and making it a race car. Oh wait, the latter is widely accepted, so why isn’t the former?
In both instances the end result is miles way from what the factory ever intended. Nonetheless, each serve their purpose of bringing a smile to the owner’s face.
The dedication employed here is admirable; this Astro has evolved significantly since its purchase 20 years ago. Early 2010 might have been my favorite version, but as the inscription on the door reads ‘The Game Isn’t Over Yet’.
Who really knows what safari this Astro may embark on next.
For a variety of reasons, I wish I was at the TakeOver Super Show myself. I would have loved the opportunity to speak with the owners of these cars to gain some insight into how they became so heavily modified. Especially considering the wide variety of base vehicles.
Is the entry ticket to this style of modification the same as every other? Does a simple wheel change give way to a truly slippery slope?
A slope that leads to a fully engraved air strut with matching caliper and rotor hat? I’m guilty of some serious scope creep with my projects, but I’ve never gone quite this far. But maybe I’ve simply never been inspired as much as this individual?
Before I draw this retrospective to a close, I’d like to touch on what I know some of you are dying to say: ‘These cars are a waste of money’.
Fair point, there is a significant amount of legal tender sunk into this Lexus GS.
So much so that there are references of it throughout the car’s elaborate show display. Custom wheels, paint, suspension, audio, interior… it all adds up, fast. I don’t think it’s ridiculous to assume the total is well into six figures.
Is that a waste? Maybe, but is it any more of a waste than the same amount of time and money invested into a car that has the potential of hitting a wall its first time out? Food for thought…
Passion can’t really be quantified, and as easy as it is to pick away at this section of car culture modification by modification, remember the quote I shared before: ‘Not everything is for everyone.’
The passion these owners have for their vehicles is no less than the passion you have for yours.
As nicely as it would be to end this series with that anecdote, I would like to ask, if there were another genre you wanted Speedhunters to explore that’s a little left field for us, what would it be?
As connoisseurs of all car cultures, enough is simply never enough.
Photos by Keiron Berndt