By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass
Part 5 of 5
Carolina Hernandez, on the other hand, is the lowrider with the hopper—a car whose front hood can bounce up in the air.
‘Hopping’ cars has been an art form since the 1960s. It wasn’t fully perfected, however, until the mid-1970s. Back in the day, they would put a beer can next to the car and if your car was able to hop higher than the beer can, you gained celebrity status among lowriders. Nowadays, when hoppers get together casually or at competitions such as Extreme Autofest, they can hop their cars up to eighty inches high.
The Only Woman With A Hopper
Carolina Hernandez is the only female lowrider with a hopper. A San Diego local, she met her husband, Jorge, about 13 years ago. Jorge was already into the hop scene, meaning he would fix the hydraulics in a car to see how high the front bumper could “jump”.
Carolina said, “Since day one, I would always support him and go to the shows. I really liked it. Sunday nights we would go cruise. We would go to Sunday hops, where we get together, we park our cars and whoever has the car to show, they would hit the switch and make them jump.”
Nowadays, Carolina and Jorge do this full time. Their kids were born and raised in it and her husband is the President of Just II Loww car club.
“He’s always had cars and I never wanted a car for myself. Everybody would tell him, because I’ve always been with him and I would support him, and they would tell me, “Oh, you know, how come you don’t want a car?” Or they would tell him, “Build her a car.”
Carolina didn’t want a car because she liked riding with Jorge. She liked spending time with him. Then, about three years ago, she had a change of heart. She told her husband, “You know what, I do want a car now.”
He was so excited. He asked Carolina what kind of car she wanted and she immediately said she didn’t want a show car. Instead, she wanted a hopper. “Well, not many girls have hoppers. To me, to my understanding, I think I’m the only one with the hopper in the lowriders and the only woman. Usually all the girls have cars for shows.”
Her husband did most of the work in the backyard. It took him a couple of months to get everything together. “It’s gotta have different strokes, coils, batteries. Everything costs.”
Carolina’s car can hop about 70-72 inches. It’s generally not for the arena, but more for the streets.
“I like driving and then I put it on three wheels. I drive it on the street. I try driving it on the freeway. It’s usually possible, but there’s times that there are cars on the freeway that go way faster than my car.”
Lowriding cars are not only low to the ground, but due to the batteries in the trunk, they are also slow riding cars. With lowriders, you want to cruise, not race.
Low-RI-der drives a little slower, after all.
Where To See Lowriders:
- Chicano Park has an annual event in April where lowriders feature.
- Lowrider Community of San Diego has 13 car clubs come together about once a month to coordinate their upcoming community events.
- Auto Heritage Days in National City: Lowriders compete here in several different categories.
- Extreme Autofest: is the only car competition that features both regular cars as well as lowriders.
- At Foodland for Taco Tuesdays throughout August 2015. You’ll also see them at Foodland for Thanksgiving dinners and their Toy Drive in December.
- Watch three movies: Boulevard Nights started it all. The documentary Everything Comes From The Streets is about the San Diego lowriders. The Unique Ladies is a documentary about women lowriders of San Diego.
Read The Whole Series
Part 1: Lowriders Return To Highland Avenue
Part 2: Lowriders: Jose Romero Tells The History
Part 3: Anatomy Of A Lowrider: The Standards, The Art, The Technology
Part 4: Women Lowriders: Marisa Rosales and The Hudson