Lowrider Pimps

'64 Impala SS convertable
Engine: '73 Chevy 406-c.i.d. V-8, twin turbo with 1050 Dominator Carb. Interior/sound: stock
wheels: 20 inch Intro

Model: Laura Little

Photography/Post: Jaymz Eberly / Ian Young

Words: Ian Young

Los Angeles can be an interesting town. It’s full of beautiful people, places and things.  One of these things stands out significantly more than all the rest, and that’s the car scene.  Well, to car fans that is (which is in fact one of the toughest crowds to please). There are two types of people among this crowd. Those who watch things happen, who conform and adapt; and those that make things happen, who lead and control. Individuals among the first type might be some of the most famous and well-known people on the scene, while individuals of the second type might be a little further beneath the radar … silently running the whole show.

Rob Briggs is one of those guys that run the show. I mean the entire show … by himself.  He’s not one of those guys that just puts the gas in the car and drives, he’s one of those guys that actually built the car. For someone that is known for being “one of the fastest body in guys in Orange County” , Rob’s humble demeanor is a complete contrast from what you would expect of someone with such a reputation. Case in point, when the topic of his numerous 1st place lowriding trophies and awards comes up (and why they were astoundingly not brought up in his conversation earlier … not to mention tucked away and collecting dust in the corner), Rob will nonchalantly look at you in the eye, shrug his shoulders, and say “Oh yeah those … well you didn’t ask”.

Yeah, Rob Briggs is a rarity in the automotive industry. He’s the Real Deal when it comes to any and everything even remotely related to cars.  Just don’t hold your breath waiting for him to tell you that.


Lowrider Pimps: Alright it’s your comrade, Ian Young here from Lowrider Pimps back again. Today were here with the very talented Rob Briggs aka The Real Deal for those of you that don’t know.  I appreciate your time man and you meeting with us.

Rob: No problem.

Lowrider Pimps: So tell me … how long have you been doing your thing lowriding?

Rob: … About twenty years.  I’m thirty-nine so…

Lowrider Pimps: Man, so you got an early start huh?

Rob: Yeah we worked on cars all the time when we were little kids. My Dad … my brothers, they all had cars so… I’ve been around it my whole life.

Lowrider Pimps: That’s beautiful man. So were does your love for lowriding come from … like how far back does that go?

Rob: (pauses) Damn I don’t know. It’s just there … I guess because my brother was into it before me.

Lowrider Pimps: Really?

R: Yeah my little brother.

LP: Ok … ok. So what about lowriding has changed or is different since you got started.

R: It’s the same isn’t it?

LP: Yeah … It doesn’t change too much. I ask people that all the time and it’s always been the same. Some people say its way different, some people say it’s worse some people say it’s better; But a lot of people they always say it’s always been the same.

R: It’s always been the same y-know.

LP: So what’s a little bit of the history you can share with the people out there about some of your work?

R: Well when I do a car, I like to make everything fit right … make sure all the gaps are right.  You see a lot of cars that are nice and stuff, but everything’s not real streamline. You know what I mean? Like when you look down the side you can see the door sticking out a little bit.

LP: See that’s important to a photographer.  So I can appreciate that.  So who all have you worked with?

R: Damn, I do pretty much everything myself you know what I mean? (laughing).

LP: (laughing) Well that’s how it’s supposed to be man.

R: I do all the bodywork myself, all the paintwork, I build my own motors.  The only thing I don’t do is interiors.

LP: Ok. Well that’s cool… don’t even worry about it you got it covered how you’re doing it now (laughing).  You’ve got such an impressive collection of custom cars that you’ve done. Impressive and eye-candy as they may be I know that there’s a lot that goes into making these cars look how they do.  Can you take us through a little bit of your process that you go though, or is it different for each project?

R: Yeah it’s different. It’s kind of hard to explain.

LP: I can imagine.

R: I guess I got kind of a hot-rod, lowrider theme going.  Instead of just a straight lowrider look. You know what I mean? Some of my cars have hydraulics, like I had hydraulics on that black one … the convertible first (his ’64 Impala). Three-wheel motion … all that stuff. Then, I don’t know I just switched to airbags cuz it just rides way better. You get rid of all the weight. You don’t have to worry about no fluid, hoses poppin’ … none of that shit. Same with this (nodes toward a black and red ’63 Impala wagon) my wagon had hydraulics all on it too ... I took ‘em off.

LP: I’m really into a lot of the flame work that you do. A lot of your work is so complex and like, unbelievably detailed it’s kindof hard to put into words. So for myself and a lot of other artists out there, what sort of tools and techniques do you use to create some of these masterpieces you do?

R: Techniques … I just grab the tape and go for it. (laughing). Eighth inch tape dude. I just start layin’ out the flames. Whatever … you know what I mean?

LP: It comes out so awesome though.

R: Thank you.

LP: Being that you’ve built a lot of these cars from scratch, what are some of the things someone might want to take into consideration when building a custom car?

R: Plan things out. Don’t jump the gun. Your gonna lose your mind end up losin’ a lot of money doing it. You know what I mean? Because your gonna start doing things twice.

LP: As far as the engine, the transmission … some of the more internal components of a custom car … like how important are those things?

R: Oh Important. It depends on what you’re going for though. Like, in this one (his ’64 Impala convertible)…  of course I got out of hand.  I mean, I got twenty grand in motor. Just in the motor. Like my other cars were just kinda crate motors … you just buy ‘em put ‘em in … put some headers on ‘em. Those good runners, you can go anywhere in ‘em y-know? But the black car, the twin turbo car, it’s kinda hard …

LP: Since were talking about that, why don’t you tell me about some of these cars you got here, like the models and years …

R: Ok, I got the ’63 (Chevy Impala) wagon,  it’s cool … stock 350 in it.

LP: And his one here?

R: ’59 Biscayne. All flame. 

LP: That’s one of my favorites right there.

R: The ’51 Merc … chopped it all, channeled it.  Put it over the Oldsmobile chasse. I got the ’66 Impala … flat black flame… that’s my wife’s car.  Actually that’s gonna be hers too … that wagon.

LP: Nice … I was on your website (briggspaint.com) and I saw that you also customize bikes and helmets too.

R: Yeah.

LP: I’m sure you pretty much know that your reputation precedes you, sort of like; when this guy does something … he does it well.   Sort of like the Midas touch in other words. 

R: Yeah, I don’t cut corners. You know what I mean?

LP: So what should people know or take into consideration as far as price when it comes to your work.

R: I’m not that expensive …tell you the honest truth.  But um, all I can say … if you want it done right….      Yeah you can go around the corner and get it cheap, but in a year is the paint gonna be flakin’ off? I mean, trust me I get a lot of bikes and cars that come to me and their paintjobs are like shit.  They look good at first, but then down the line they’re cheap.  That’s why you spend the money and get the good materials.  A lot of people use cheap materials … that’s the problem.

LP: They say “Good work isn’t cheap, and cheap work isn’t good”. 

R: Yeah exactly ... that’s a good one right there. I should write that on the wall.

LP: Legend has it, your known to go to such extremes as a perfectionist that if a door isn’t closing just right or if a seam is a little bit off, you’ll remove the entire door…

R: Yeah dude … and start all over.  It’s a pain in the ass but look at the outcome after your done. It’s worth it ...  it’s so worth it.

LP: A lot of people don’t really understand the fanatical obsession that goes into it. 

R: Yeah ... I’m not putting anybody down but you see all these cars in magazines, then you’ll see ‘em up close and it’s like … I don’t know man. Some people just cut a lot of corners I guess. But then again a lot of people don’t know. They’ll take it to a body shop... they’ll get it done then they’re like … cool. But if somebody that really, really knows starts lookin’ at it and starts pointing out things … you know what I mean?  You just gotta watch … if someone gets a car done, you just gotta kinda watch what they do. Make sure everything is lining up good.  To me the gaps are the most important part. If the gaps don’t line up dude, the car looks like shit.

LP: So what advice would you give to someone just starting out in the whole custom car culture? Like what’s important to know before you even get started, let alone being taken seriously as a professional in this business?

R: Like if you were gonna try to go out and get a car (to work on)?

LP: …like if they were gonna try and do what you do, what advice would you give someone that’s trying to start out?

R: I mean, if your gonna go buy a car … like to start doin’ stuff to, try to find a car with out a lot of rust first of all, don’t get a car that’s all rusted out.

LP: Ok … it’s always interesting to interview someone with so much respect for the community, which is really lacking now days, how do you maintain your cool? In other words, how do keep from letting a lot of the negative aspect (of lowriding) get you down and keep moving in a positive direction?

R: See, there is some negative shit though. Like my car, a lot of people don’t like the wheels, or the flames I put on the side.  Like the old school lowrider guys, I don’t know for some reason they look down on that. 

LP: Have you ever gotten caught up in any of the politics of lowriding?

R: Yeah there was this one photo shoot that went bad one time. The photographer was giving me all kinds of compliments and stuff … he wanted to put it on the cover of the magazine. But it got tied up in all this bullshit … just because it didn’t have 13-inch rims (spokes) on it; it started this big ol’ thing. Everybody got all bent out of shape because of that. That’s the part of the whole thing that really bugs me … everything’s all the same. It’s bullshit. A lot of people don’t really appreciate the work that goes into this.

LP: But you keep it moving though ... keeping it positive.

R: Yeah, I don’t give a fuck … can I say that?

LP: Yeah (laughing).

R: I’m trying to make it different, dude. You know?  The black car (his ’64 Impala), I’ll pull that out somewhere and I’ll pop the hood … no one has that.  They’re like, whoa. I wanna blow peoples minds.

LP: What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen in this business?

R: Well, in the black car … it blew up. I was doing an interview for this magazine and I was coming home afterward from Gardena … and I blew the whole motor up.  The whole thing just started … (whew)… that was an expensive thing man. Man, there have been times I’ve been driving and the wheels fall off.

LP: What?

R: Yeah dude. Insane. Crazy dude … it’s scary. What else … man I’ve been through a lot of shit.

LP: Man, just so many things huh…

R: So many things man.  But you just look past it and keep it moving.  They make great stories later on, y-know? It sucks at the time but …

LP: You’re really a motivator and an inspiration to a lot of people out there but is there anyone out there that inspires you?

R: Yeah, there’s a lot of people. Painters mostly. I look up to a lot of custom painters.

LP: Like who?

R: Like Craig Frasier … guys like that. But, car builders … the main guy … Chip Foose dude.

LP: Yeah that guy’s great ... I’m glad you said that.

R: Yeah, that guy’s the man dude ... he’s the man.  But there’s a lot of people too that are no-namers that are bad-ass. You don’t even have to have the big name. There’s garage guys that just kick-ass dude.

LP: Where do you see the culture of lowriding going in the future? What can we anticipate as fans of lowriding in the future?

R: I think they need to let more new and different style cars in there man. Everything’s kind of always in a box. It’s always … you got … the Impala with the thirteen inch Daytons. There’s nothing wrong with it, there’s just so many. I don’t know, just get something new in there.  Change it up a little bit, y-know? It’s cool, the culture’s cool and all that but, just change it up a little bit.

LP: Do you have anybody out there you wanna shout out of say hello to?

R: Nah, I’m pretty much friendless bro. (laughing) No, I got my wife and then my kids … my brothers. 

LP: Ok, ok … that’s beautiful man. Well I really appreciate your time and you meeting with us today and everything.  I really feel personally inspired and I know there’s a lot of other artist out there who … you know, you’ll light a fire underneath them too as soon as they see this so…

R: Yeah, that’s what I want actually… to get ‘em goin’ dude.

LP: So keep it going and keep moving in this positive direction and you know I’ll be back  … soon as I get a Cadillac so you can do the bodywork on that bad boy.

R: Hell yeah dude. 

Yeah, Rob Briggs is a rarity in the automotive industry. He’s the Real Deal when it comes to any and everything even remotely related to an automobile. Legend has it he can build a car blindfolded … and with the love and pride that he puts into his projects, its no mystery why he has such a reputation.    That and the fact that he’s the older brother of the editor-and-chief of this publication doesn’t hurt either. This is Ian Young signing off  … drive slow and low y’all. I’ll see you fools on the boulevard