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Learning about lowriders at San Diego City College

As Hispanic Heritage Month rolls on, San Diego City College invited some of the county's most passionate lowriders to share their culture and cars with students Thursday.

The group was led by Marcos “The Rabbit” Arellano, president of the South Bay’s Impalas Car Club. He brought his 1962 Impala convertible, which was so low, "I don’t think you can slide a penny under there," he said. "It’s literally touching the asphalt.”

Arellano bought the car almost 20 years ago for $17,000. He has since renovated it with hydraulics, 13-inch rims, chrome parts, and many other customized components. He said it’s now valued at $140,000.

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“Anybody can be a lowrider and you can start at any age,” Arellano said, “but, you have to have the passion for it.”

City College administrators invited Arellano to be a guest lecturer and share his lifetime of experience with students.

With a standing-room-only full house, he talked about the history of cars born in the barrios. He mentioned that most of the earliest lowrider cars were hand-me-downs, renovated by men from marginalized communities who used their imagination and mechanical skills.

They created moving masterpieces. But society created stereotypes.

“A lot of people hear the word lowrider and say ‘oh the lowriders are coming, that’s horrible, that’s bad.' I want to educate them. [I want to tell them] it’s ok to come to talk to me, come ask me a question,” Arellano said.

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Arellano has educated people on his passion and also inspired many of them to join the lowrider culture and community.

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M.G. Perez
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KPBS
Deanna Garcia demonstrates the hydraulics in her 2000 Lincoln Town Car on the campus of City College, Thursday, San Diego, Calif., Sept. 29, 2022.

Deanna Garcia said she started loving lowriding as a child when her father would take her to car shows.

“It's not something you do overnight. It’s going to take years to accomplish, but that’s the passion of it,” Garcia said as she showed off her customized 2000 Lincoln Town Car. “It's something when you’re done that you can show everyone who you are just through your car.”

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M.G. Perez
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KPBS
Alonzo Delgado, 13, directs his remote control lowrider model car. He joined other lowriders on the campus of City College, Thursday, San Diego, Calif., Sept. 29, 2022.

Alonzo Delgado, 13, is still too young to drive. But the Hilltop Middle School 8th-grader is preparing for the day he will become a true lowrider. He described his dream car.

“It's going to be a four-pump car with 12 batteries, wire wheels and it’s going to be a hard top,” he said as he directed his remote-control lowrider model car around one of the parking lots on the City College campus.

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