War's drummer Harold Brown, who was a founding member of the band, knows his way around cars and had his own business working on them for a while, which kept him from getting drafted during the Vietnam War. Brown told Songfacts
: "The first time I knew about what we called Low Riders were my cousin Leon and a few more cruising up and down the coast in California. You also had Hot Rodders, which were a different breed racing around town. They were from the other side of the tracks. Leon left his 1953 yellow Mercury with black prime spots on it, tuck and roll seat covers from Tijuana Mexico, lowered in the front, parked on the side of the house. He eventually lowered it all the way around after returning from the Korean War.
My brother KB and I had a 1953 Dodge. We'd chop our springs with torches - this would lower the car a few inches. It made for a hard ride up until homies started putting hydraulics on them. If you were driving a truck with lift gates on the rear, you'd better check to see if someone has stolen your hydraulics - it happened to me.
We would drive from Pomona California to South Los Angeles taking side streets and main drags through El Monte, Whittier, Watts, and Compton, then eventually into Long Beach/San Pedro, California. When they finally built freeways in Southern California we would cruise in the slow lane just in case we had to pull over and do some repairs. There wasn't any AAA for us folks.
Back in 1965-66, The Sheriffs would stop us for our car being too low. At first they would have a long rod with a clamp on it. Then they would take a pack of Camel cigarettes and clamp it on to the rod sliding it under the chassis of your hooptie. If it didn't go from one side to the other they would give you a ticket or impound your ride. You have to call your daddy or momma to come give you a rider. After a couple of years they became more sophisticated by having a stick with a caliper on the end made as a ruler. The Sheriffs would measure from the ground up to your rims, then slide the calipers from one side to the other to make sure you had proper clearance. Could you imagine having a blow out? You would be dragging along the cement. Thank God for lifts."