Lowrider cars were outlawed in the State of California in 1957. Drivers were in violation of the law if they lowered their cars past the lowest point of their wheels' rims. To lower a car farther than that would make the car unsafe for driving. A lowrider driver, tired of getting tickets for violating the law, invented a way to lower and raise his car using aircraft hydraulic pumps.
A San Francisco State University newsletter explains that "Lowriders began installing hydraulics so that a car that seems to be only two or three inches off the ground can be raised to eight or 10 inches to go over curbs, railroad tracks or past a police car." Like California, other states have laws in place regulating lowriders. Oregon requires that wheel covers cover the entire width of the tire down to within 20 inches off the ground on trucks. Oregon drivers can have hydraulics, but their lowriders must remain a minimum height off the ground. If a vehicle is sitting on a flat surface with no tires mounted on its wheels, no part of the underside of the car may be touching the ground.
In Utah, vehicles with less than a 100-inch wheelbase may have a mechanical lift of two inches and an increase in height of two inches with oversized tires. Vehicles that have been lowered may not have any part of the vehicle lower than one inch above the lowest part of any wheel. Utah has not been able to find a hydraulic suspension system that meets the minimum federal motor vehicle safety standards. Thus, motor vehicles with hydraulic suspensions cannot be registered within the state and cannot be legally driven on the state's highways.
Louisiana allows lowrider vehicles to operate on its streets and highways as long as the vehicles comply with the minimum and maximum requirements for the height of headlamps. In addition, lowriders must have operational shock absorbers and springs, have at least three inches of suspension travel and four inches of ground clearance (measured from the frame of the vehicles when on a level surface) and comply with general requirements for motor vehicles.
- a car in a car show image by Gary from Fotolia.com