History: In 1973, the lowriding scene was an underground movement of guys who loved their cars and learned their lowriding know-how on the streets. The style was low and slow. In garages and alleys, cars were being lifted using hydraulics of every possible kind. Creative vatos with a little know-how and elbow grease were starting what has evolved into lowriding as we know it today. These were the outlaw days of the sport when a lowrider was known to go to extreme efforts to acquire hydraulic parts. There were no hydraulic shops to be found, but the creative lowriders survived to flourish. Even more than today, the public then looked at the lowrider as a real oddity. That reaction from the public was part of the reason that lowriders were built in the first place. The movement continued and lowriders honed their customizing skills. Some guys became so good at lifting cars and they soon gained regular customers and their lowrider hydraulic business was born.
A Majestic Beginning: The Majestics Car Club, founded in 1973 by “The Godfather”, president Little John, had a mission statement that really reflected this new attitude toward lowriding. “It’s so people can see that not all lowriders are a bunch of kids. Many are homeowning, job holding, respectable citizens that have cars as a hobby and abide by certain by-laws set up by the members at large”. The prestigious Majestics Car Club, which now has chapters throughout the United States, began with two affiliated clubs, the Majestics-East Los Angeles, sometimes known as the “Chicano” chapter, and the Majestics-Los Angeles, considered the “Black” chapter. Majestics chapters everywhere proudly boast the membership of many races. Hollywood Boulevard and the legendary Whittier Boulevard were favorite cruise spots. Into the mid-to-late ’70s, the Majestics membership grew, especially in the Downey, California, area. In fact, a lot of people thought that the club originated in Downey, as the members from Compton, Huntington Park and Watts would gather and ride with the Downey members. Some members from this period included Ritchie Rich’s ’64 Chevy Impala. In ’79, “Blvd.” Rod broke out his nearly new Lincoln Continental riding on Zeniths, one of the first lifted Lincolns on the scene.
Compton’s On The Move:Hauncho and Gangster are members with more than 25 years each. Back in ’75, Gangster broke into the club with his ’63 Impala lifted in the front, riding on “20s” with hubcaps. In ’79 Hauncho and fellow member “Turtle”, along with others, were part of the group that rode with Downey members. In ’79 they began the Compton chapter with 15 members from Watts and Compton who enjoyed cruising everywhere possible, including Hollywood, San Diego’s Balboa Park, Pomona, Florence and Main, and many other cruising spots of the day. Gangster continues to be the driving force behind the Compton Chapter today and owned some fresh rides, including a bad ’67 Chevy Impala convertible ande a unique ’64 hardtop that goes by the name “Santana”. He shows the younger members what’s up and is a true OG rider. The Compton Majestics of today have 25+ members and are very organized. They meet every Saturday and have a no gang / no violence policy. A car must be finished and approved for admittance into the club. Prospective members must also attend eight consecutive meetings to receive a Majestics plaque. The Majestics also go for the traditional style only: Chevys, Cadillacs, Buick Regals, Olds Cutlasses and the like. The Compton Majestics are more organized than ever, an indication that they will be here for many years to come.
Majestics now: The Majestics Car Club counts more than 1500 members. The chapters Compton, Los Angeles, Huntington Park, San Diëgo, Kansas City (KC), Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), Antelope Valley (AV), San Fernando Valley (SFV), Central California, Delano, Las Vegas, Detroit, Westside Detroit, Phoenix, Casa Grande, Avondale, Glendale, Roswell, Ventura, Chicago, Central Florida, Hawaii, Canada, Japan, Amsterdam, Paris, North Carolina, Miami, Hi Desert, Daytona Beach, Inland Empire represent the driving force behind the Lowrider Movement.
The Majestics is a Southern Californalowridercar club founded by by Giovanni "Lil John" Bertoldi in 1973. Lil John is also the first President of the club. Joe Rivera was the first Vice President for a short time. When Lil John formed the club, several members of the Persians left their club to join Lil John. David Romero was one of the Persians that joined Lil John. "David was responsible for bringing so many of the neighbourhood from Santa Fe Springs to the first Majestic meeting. Andy Telles brought others from the neighbourhood of Pico Riviera to form Majestics." Many men from several neighbourhoods started joining after that first official meeting. The first meeting was held at Bellflower High School.
The first club shirts were baby blue.
The Bronze Plaque
Vice President Ernie Lopez helped Lil John execute the design for the plaque. "Ernie was excellent at drawing letters." Lil John wanted to achieve an identifiable look that would hold up for decades. The plaques of clubs such as the Imperials, Klique, New Wave, Groupe and Lifestyle served as inspiration for the design. The Bronze casting plaque was made by Koehler Foundry in Bell, California.
In the mid 1970s the club rented a clubhouse in Downey. "We had two of our members, Rags and Tulo, staying full time there." The club spent a lot of time at the clubhouse, throwing parties and having a good time.
By 1977 the Majestics had grown in membership and solid cars. In 1978 Lil John began forming new chapters. Delano was the first chapter, run by Abel Sr. Compton became the second chapter, and Orange County the third. Huntington Park and Arizona followed. The Majestics was the first club to franchise Lowrider chapters and spread beyond the So Cal mother chapter.
Traditional Lowrider Cars Only
In 2008Reinaldo M. Robinson wrote a story about the club for Lowrdier Magazine. At the time the club was still active, only accepting traditional lowrider cars, like two-door Chevys (Impala, Caprice, Monte Carlo), Big Body Cadillacs (two- and four-door), and G-bodies (two-door Regals and Cutlasses). To start a chapter, it was required that there were at least five clean and complete cars.
Past and Present Members
John "Lil John" Giovanni Bertoldi
Joseph Huan Amaro
Art Garcia's 1966 Chevrolet
Lil John's 1966 Chevrolet Caprice
Louie Vasquez's 1968 Chevrolet Impala
Roy Elias' 1968 Chevrolet
Doug Burson's 1973 Chevrolet Caprice
Carlos Vasquez's 1976 Chevrolet
Ernie Gonzales' 1976 Chevrolet Caprice
In 1973, the lowriding scene was an underground movement of guys who loved their cars and learned their lowriding know-how on the streets. The style was low and slow. In garages and alleys, cars were being lifted using hydraulics of every possible kind. Creative vatos with a little know-how and elbow grease were starting what has evolved into lowriding as we know it today. These were the outlaw days of the sport when a lowrider was known to go to extreme efforts to acquire hydraulic parts. There were no hydraulic shops to be found, but the creative lowriders survived to flourish. Even more than today, the public then looked at the lowrider as a real oddity.
That reaction from the public was part of the reason that lowriders were built in the first place. The movement continued and lowriders honed their customizing skills. Some guys became so good at lifting cars and they soon gained regular customers and their lowrider hydraulic business was born.
A Majestic Beginning
Kevin Smith, the owner of Compton Hydraulic in Compton, California, was one guy with the know-how and reputation to gain prestige within the lowrider community. Kevin is credited with starting the Majestics Car Club that has spread to Phoenix, Arizona, in addition to the three California chapters that include Compton, San Diego and Delano. Kevin's new club began by building rides and hanging out. They began by painting the Majestics logo on the rear windows before acquiring plaques. The club began its Lowrider Hall of Fame journey by hitting the boulevards of Southern California and spreading the lowrider culture through their many journeys onto the streets of Aztlan.
Hollywood Boulevard and the legendary Whittier Boulevard were favorite cruise spots. Into the mid-to-late '70s, the Majestics membership grew, especially in the Downey, California, area. In fact, a lot of people thought that the club originated in Downey, as the members from Compton, Huntington Park and Watts would gather and ride with the Downey members. Some members from this period included Ritchie Rich's '64 Chevy Impala. In '79, "Blvd." Rod broke out his nearly new Lincoln Continental riding on Zeniths, one of the first lifted Lincolns on the scene.
Compton's On The Move
Hauncho and "G" are members with more than 25 years each. Back in '75, G broke into the club with his '63 Impala lifted in the front, riding on "20s" with hubcaps. In '79, Hauncho and fellow member "Turtle," along with others, were part of the group that rode with Downey members. In '79 they began the Compton chapter with 15 members from Watts and Compton who enjoyed cruising everywhere possible, including Hollywood, San Diego's Balboa Park, Pomona, Florence and Main, and many other cruising spots of the day.
G continues to be the driving force behind the Compton Chapter today and has some fresh rides in the works, including a bad '67 Chevy Impala convertible. He also owns a unique '64 hardtop that goes by the name "Santana." He shows the younger members what's up and is a true OG rider.
The Compton Majestics of today have 25 members and are very organized. They meet every Saturday and have a no gang / no violence policy. A car must be finished and approved for admittance into the club. Prospective members must also attend eight consecutive meetings to receive a Majestics plaque. The Majestics also go for the traditional style only: Chevys, Cadillacs, Buick Regals, Olds Cutlasses and the like. The Compton Majestics are more organized than ever, an indication that they will be here for many years to come.
Expansion In Arizona
Way back in '75, some adventurous members from Norwalk, California, took a little trip out to Firebird Lake in Phoenix, Arizona. Firebird Lake was the first place that lowriders had shows in the Phoenix area. It was at Firebird Lake that Majestics members "Boy" in his '68 Chevy Caprice and Robert in his '66 Caprice spread the word about the Majestics Car Club. The newly founded Phoenix Chapter of the Majestics was soon flying placas of their own.
Beginning in the mid-to-late '70s and continuing into the '90s, cruising was heavy on Central Avenue in Phoenix. The cruise on Central thrived for many years. In '94, Central Avenue was closed to cruising because of the violence that marred the scene. It was not the lowriders who caused the problems, but rather people who were drawn to the scene and did not know how to act. Unfortunately, lowriders were often falsely blamed for the violence by association.
Lowriding united a lot of people and families, but rival clubs were reality back in the day. Competing for prestige on the streets was common between car clubs. In those times, rival car clubs would settle their disputes with a few words or a rare fistfight. Though car clubs did have rivals, actual skirmishes between them were rare and relatively harmless.
In today's scene, car clubs have long since settled their disputes and have united for one main cause: to cruise in peace. Nowadays, lowriders must be careful not because of other lowriders but because of the people who are on the streets and their unpredictable actions. Positive actions by lowrider car clubs are improving public perceptions and the Majestics are no exception as they now are active in the organization of picnics and hopping events that are open to all clubs and individuals. They also support many toy drives and charitable causes organized by other car clubs.
Marty "Scrape '67" Smith was the president of the Phoenix chapter for 10 years ('82-'92). Marty, along with longtime member Victor Gonzales, were quite active in keeping the club together through the many eras of car styles. The Phoenix chapter wanted to change with the times and began to allow Euros into the club also. Though traditional lows never faded out totally, the traditional lowrider made their surge back to prominence in the '90s. Today, all vehicle types are allowed into the Phoenix area chapters.
Another longtime member, Richard Gonzales is presently the president of the Phoenix chapter that has given birth to surrounding Arizona chapters that include Glendale, Avondale and Casa Grande chapters. The club is moving ahead with members concentrating their efforts on the building of show cars, in part because the cruising scene is no longer welcomed.
San Diego Gets In The Action
Marty Smith was one active vato; he is also credited with starting the San Diego and Delano chapters more than 10 years ago. In '90, it was Marty who gave the Majestics plaque to Armando Franco, the first president of the San Diego chapter. The San Diego chapter began with 12 members who were friends and members of City Nights C.C. of San Diego who decided to create their own chapter of the Majestics. At the time, the Majestics had already made a name for themselves rolling on the boulevards of Southern and Central California and Arizona. New in San Diego, the Majestics were on the street consistently and made their presence known. Other longtime lowrider clubs did not quite like the new boys in town, but years on the streets have built friendships with other local veteran lowrider clubs, like the Amigos, Klique, Groupe, New Wave, Individuals and others. The San Diego chapter is also responsible for hosting several shows and picnics over the years and supports other local club events and benefits.
Like their brothers in Phoenix, the early '90s found the San Diego chapter with a lot of min-trucks and Euros along with the traditional lows. Soon the Lowrider Movement leaned toward the traditional scene once again. The San Diego Lowrider Council would not let the Majestics join the council because they had trucks and Euros in the club, so current president Rob "Bird" had to make a tough decision and in '93, no truck or Euros would be allowed in the club. The San Diego Majestics is now 26 members strong with a nucleus of 10 members with more than 10 years in the club.
The Majestics-San Diego, together with the Compton, Phoenix, Glendale, Avondale, Delano, and the newest chapters in Casa Grande, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Miami, Florida; Japan; Hawaii; New Mexico; and Canada, represent one of the driving forces behind the Lowrider Movement.
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Majestics - History of a Car Club
From The Streets To The Show, Majestics Puts It Down One Rear Bumper At A Time.
Since its start in the early '70s, the Majestics Car Club has been cruising the streets of SoCal and beyond with both class and style. True riders in every sense of the word, Majestics' members can be found any Sunday, or any other day for that matter, on boulevards all around town. It all started with Giovanni "Little John" Bertoldi, the founder and former president of Majestics. For more insight on Little John and the origins of the Majestics Car Club, read our interview with him in our May '02 issue.
Fast forward a number of years and the documentary movie, Sunday Driver (shot by Carol Strong and distributed by Rockstar Games), chronicles the goings-on of the current Majestics Car Club. The movie follows a number of the members, including Twin, through their trials and tribulations, all the while showing the love affair that they're having with lowriding. Many who have seen the movie aspire to join their ranks, but owning a lowrider is not all it takes. The quality of the person comes first and foremost, which Dmack couldn't stress enough. The top priorities are commitment to the club and building and maintaining a quality vehicle along with the betterment of the sport.
Majestics is a traditional car club that's all about riding. Dmack stresses that you won't find an all-out show car that can't be driven on the streets because the streets have always been their home and that's what they're all about-cruising, getting together with other club members, and having fun. You'll also find them at other lowriding club functions, mingling, and making friends everywhere.
They only accept traditional lowrider cars, like two-door Chevys (Impala, Caprice, Monte Carlo), Big Body Cadillacs (two- and four-door), and G-bodies (two-door Regals and Cutlasses). To start a chapter, it's required that there be at least five clean and complete cars. They've had quite a few offers from people to start chapters here and there, but they're very selective about who flies the plaque. The reason is because they want quality cars and, more importantly, quality people to represent the club. Dmack mentioned that he'd rather have a person with a great personality and a clean street car than a full-out show car and a questionable disposition. So, owning the baddest candy painted, chromed-out undercarriage on your '64 Impala doesn't make you a shoo-in for a Majestics' plaque?
Cruising and hopping-wherever you go, whether it be Compton, San Diego, Phoenix, or Detroit, a couple of members of Majestics are bound to have their plaque proudly displayed in the rear window. When it comes time to smash some back bumpers against the asphalt, the big "M" will be in the mix.
Majestics has a rep known worldwide for swinging with the best of them. "The Dream Team" (a group of hoppers consisting primarily of Nene, Todd, Paul, Big John, and Fabian in Kansas City) loves to travel different places to hop. They can be found wherever there is some hopping action, plaque in the back window, shaking every time the bumper hits the ground. Besides them, there are plenty of others in the club who will put it down. Just when you thought it was enough to hop a beat-up hopper, the Majestics have been stepping up their game. Now they're breaking out hoppers, flaunting candy paintjobs, nice interiors, and sparkling chrome undercarriage cars. They drive up looking like a show car, hop 75-plus inches, and cruise off into the sunset with the system bumping.
All this is a manifestation of the Majestics "from the streets to the show" mentality. As members of Majestics, they are expected to show up and support shows large and small. On the large scale, everyone knows that their world famous New Year's Day picnic at Veteran's Stadium in Long Beach, California, is arguably one of the best lowrider events in the country, with people from all different clubs grilling, hopping, and having a good time.
Last year we covered a picnic/softball game in Lancaster, California, and a picnic in Detroit Michigan. The Lancaster event involved a softball game for a few friendly dollars and at the end of the picnic there was a raffle with some really cool prizes.
On the business side, twice a year there is a meeting with all the presidents and vice presidents of each chapter from across the country. During these meetings, they talk about any problems and concerns they're having with their individual chapters and also spend some time socializing. The Lowrider Magazine Super Show in Las Vegas is when one of those meetings takes place. While the wives and kids are out shopping and hanging out, they get to discuss the club's issues. They also give out trophies for things like the Most Improved Car, Most Improved Member, as well as other "specialty" trophies to keep things fun. For a night out, a big bash is thrown to bring together the entire club, both here and abroad, for some fun with their wives and girlfriends.
"It's still a 'G' thang." Unbeknownst to many, Gangster is still very much at the top of the pyramid in the Majestics family. He knows all the goings-on and is in contact with the outside on a regular basis. Various members will get a call from him about events before they even have a chance to give him the 411. Twin is the active president in his absence and is one of the original members of the club. Dmack is the vice president, taking over the reigns of that position when AC passed away in 1999. Dmack's '93 Cadillac Fleetwood "Papa Don't Take No Mess" graced the cover of our July '07 issue and was also featured in the Lowrider exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
The evolution of the Majestics Car Club is a slow and steady one. From its Compton roots to being known and respected all over the world, all indications are that they have no intention of exploding in numbers. Instead the important thing to them is to cultivate the members they have and become an even closer-knit family. Majestics' long history and rich past lights the way to their future, which is very much alive and growing.
If you're interested in finding out more about the Majestics Car Club, you can find them on the web at www.geocities.com/majesticssocal or for more info on the movie Sunday Driver, check out: www.rockstargames.com/sundaydriver.
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