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Affinities: The Bomb Squad

Our pictorial study of uniquely Bay Area tribes.

SLIDESHOW

Patricia Cardenas

(1 of 8)

Winnonah Sarah

(2 of 8)

Ruby Ramirez

(3 of 8)

Jaime Ramirez

(4 of 8)

Jorge Montes

(5 of 8)

Maria Zavala

(6 of 8)

Fernando Miranda

(7 of 8)

Elena Vera

(8 of 8)

 

See all the Affinities photo shoots here.


Every time
Ruby Ramirez climbs into her 1950 Chevy Fleetline, she runs through a ritual. She places her phone in a designated compartment. She checks her mirrors, hydraulics, and air bag controls, then adjusts her seat to an exacting degree. She switches on her oldies music. Then, before pulling out, she glances at her plaque—a laser-cut piece of metal that represents Califas, her car club. “I have to make sure everything is perfect,” she says. “It’s like sitting in a time capsule.”

Ramirez’s lowrider crew is one of more than 50 such clubs in the Bay Area, usually designated by car type. There are the bombs, the kustoms, the rat rods, and the hoppers. Their vintages range from the ’30s to the early aughts, but it’s the pre-’50s models—the godfathers of lowriding—that command the most respect. “When we roll in, it’s like, ‘Oh, the bombs are here,’” Ramirez says.

Some lowrider enthusiasts enter their cars in competitions, while others are in it purely for the joy of the drive. It’s an art and a lifestyle, they say—as much a social club as a way to show off their wheels. “For me, it’s like euphoria,” says Ramirez. Mission Street is the main drag, all the way from Daly City to the Embarcadero. In the summer, Ramirez and her husband, who drives a ’48 Chevy Fleetmaster, cruise nearly every weekend. “I always tell him,” she says, “our love was made for cruising.”

 

Originally published in the April issue of San Francisco

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