Larry Vaughn's 1966 Pontiac
Bonneville at an indoor car show in the late 1960s
or early 1970s
. "Larry was an early member of the Imperials car club, then, as now, one of the most prestigious lowrider groups. The Imperials recently celebrated 50 years as a club and Larry, his wife and two sons came from their home in Virginia to attend the banquet honoring the 50th anniversary of the club. Larry Vaughn Sr. currently drives a 2014 Chevy Impala on air bags and has recently acquired a '70s Buick Riviera "boat tail" that has custom paint and hydraulic lifts. Tradition runs deep for some of the old timers.
" Photo by Howard Gribble
Some of Howard's favorite photos were not taken by himself, like this snapshot of Jim Boyd's 1963 Ford
from the camera of Mike Smith
. Mike owned and operated a custom wheels and accessories shop called Mr. M's
in the mid to late 1960s
. " The car belonged to Jim Boyd, who was two years ahead of me in high school (though I never knew or heard of him then, that I can remember). It was the first car I ever saw that was lifted, though at the time (1965) it was front only and still painted factory red. Later the tail light were deeply tunneled and 1953 Studebaker gravel pans added under the bumpers, along with extended rocker panels to make it look even lower. Then he had Larry Watson spray it as shown in the pics and had the interior done in sculpted rolls and pleats. It also had Buick wire wheels and hydraulics added to the rear. It made a very brief appearance in some documentary film about the youth culture of the day. And I saw it once more at the 1965 Long Beach show in fall of that year. So why are these rather poor photos among my favorites? Well simply because they are the only ones (beside a couple in Larry Watson's collection) that I've seen. I never photographed the car and it never appeared in print, at least not that I'm aware of. It was a great custom for the time and at the very top of my list of cars I'd like to see rediscovered. Or at least dome more pics come to light. Would be great if someone came forward with more info.
" Photo by Mike Smith
, from the Howard Gribble collection
A polaroid photo of Howard Gribble's 1967 Chevrolet
Impala. This photo was taken when it was brand new, and it still had the factory paint. Red Pierce
had already installed hydraulic lifts
on it, and Howard had fit it with deep dished chrome wheels. The flat baldie hub caps had not been installed yet, so Howard believes it had to be taken about June 1967
. I'll let Howard take over from here: "I like the low angle detail shot of the front wheel, it gives a feel for what the whole lowrider look was all about. This Polaroid was the first camera I owned. Film was expensive and I was very careful to make each shot count. I think the camera cost $12 or $15, something like that. But it had a surprisingly sharp lens. Focus and exposure control was crude and manual. Yet the results were pretty good and the prints have not faded or changed colors like a lot of the 35mm prints from back in the day.
" Photo by Howard Gribble
, from the Howard Gribble collection
Another so-far unpublished photo from the Howard Gribble
collection. This photo from the 1970s
shows an Impala at an indoor show. According to Howard the trophies were LARGE back then. "In fact every car got a "participation" trophy for just entering. And these participation awards could be 2 feet or more tall." Photo from the Howard Gribble collection
Howard Gribble is a photographer and a lowrider and custom car historian from Torrance, California. Howard was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, but moved with his family to the South Bay area at age 8. While in junior hight school, Howard started to notice customized cars in the area featuring scallop paint jobs, pinstriping and flames. He started drawing pictures of the cars he saw cruising the streets. By the time he was in high school, custom cars dominated his interests, and he started collecting car magazines. At age 15 Howard got his first car, a 1950 Ford sedan that he wanted to give a "George Barris" style, but due to a limited budget the project never really took off. In 1965 Howard bought a 1961 Ford Starliner that he and his friend Carl Darling turned into a customized boulevard cruiser. After the Starliner followed a range of nice custom cars with a lowrider touch.
In the mid 1960s Howard purchased a Polaroid camera to take photos of his different interests. He upgraded to a 35 mm camera, and started attending Southern California car shows on a regular basis. Since there were no magazines covering the Lowriders or the custom car scene, Howard took his camera to the shows and photographed the cars for his own personal enjoyment.
In 2006 Howard signed up for a Flickr account so he could share his photos with the world. He started uploading photos of his various interests, including custom cars and lowriders. So far millions of people all over the world have seen Howard's amazing and continuously growing collection of photos. Howard has contributed some good looking photos and stories to Kustomrama the last year, and now we are expanding the cooperation with this gallery featuring some selected photos from Howard's collection. Some have been published before, and some are making their debut here.
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