Do you think you love your Lincoln, are mad about your Mazda or are passionate about your Porsche? Perhaps you are fanatical about your Ford, think your Subaru is superb or would even take your Chevy to the Levee. We love our cars and go so far as to name them, decorate them, and on occasion, provide them with a pine-scented deodorizer. If you think you have a personal relationship with your vehicle, you are not alone. However, in many parts of the world, there are subcultures that are created around certain vehicles that are amazing at the least.
Here are 12 passionate car cultures around the planet worth learning about and appreciating.
SoCal Low Riders
SoCal Low Riders have gained famed from everything from the music of “War” to the John Candy, Steve Martin comedy “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”. They have become part of an American culture and with roots in East LA. Today, SoCal low-riders remain the center of the low rider universe. While initially pretty straightforward, with cars that would elevate up and down and front to back and constructed with a theme of “low, slow, and go” today’s SoCal low riders car culture is more diverse and certainly more powerful.
It is not all that unusual to see a low-rider reach heights of 8 feet and display some awesome side to side acrobatics. The difference is, today’s low riders include detailed engines that any muscle car enthusiasts would appreciate.
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Even if you’ve never heard of Donks, you’ve likely seen them. They are generally classic American cars sporting very over-sized tires and accentuated wheels. What also sets them apart is a traditionally bright, colorful paint scheme.
The bigger the body, the larger the wheels and the more outlandish the paint scheme, the better a car will fit in the world of Donks. Think 22 or 24 inch wheels are big? Try 30”. Think orange is outrageous? Try purple. Even late model large family-style cars have recently invaded the world of Donks. It is a world not for the timid or shy.
What started as an escape from a busy, complicated life has turned into the Van Dwellers lifestyle. With roots in the 1960’s counter-culture, van life is a mobile, Bohemian style of living that limits physical possessions but that offers freedoms that other car subcultures don’t.
Modern technology is an asset for Van Dwellers, allowing them to maintain a semblance of income through internet-connected employment or blogs. Van dwelling is a form of constant camping and Van Dwellers wouldn’t have it any other way. #VanLife
Greasers of Sweden (Raggare)
While much of the world moves on from the beatniks and greaser of the 1950’s and 1960’s, in Sweden, many, both young and old, have decided to stay…or at least revisit it frequently. They are the Swedish Greasers and are an automotive culture of their own. They celebrate classic American cars but unlike “car show” American cars, they are just as happy with vintage cars in any condition.
Raggare are a combination of the modern day American hipster, punk rockster and Fonzie and friends rolled into one, and they love it.
Rich Kids of Dubai
Even for the wealthy, the Rich Kids of Dubai car culture may be challenging to accept. Keep in mind, this is a country with a police department that has a roster of cars that includes Lamborghini’s, McLarens, and Porche’s. These are the rich kids of the richest families and their lifestyle doesn’t just include Ferrari’s and speedboats but photos of beautiful young people among amazing Dubai city-scapes. Yep, you’ll be jealous.
Street Racers of Japan
Part video game, part American car show, the Street Racers of Japan are true automobile enthusiasts. From the opulent and expensive to the classic and cherry, the Street Racers of Japan don’t just want to hide and display their vehicles every-other weekend, they enjoy showing them off in action. This differs from so many car subcultures who work so hard in preserving their cars, they fail to fully enjoy them.
Japan’s Dodge Van Racers
We had you at van racing right? In Japan, one of the more unique car cultures is that of racing full-sized Dodge vans. Started by a group of motorcycle racing enthusiasts, Dodge Van Racers don’t just race their vans, they actually drift them around the track. One doesn’t know whether to smile, laugh or just appreciate the show.
While many car seem to have some entertainment or other redeeming values, that is not the case with Japan’s Bosozoku. They are Japans version of the 1950’s “Rebels Without a Cause” movement that is finally weakening, yet still an annoying presence in the streets of Japan. They are loud, leather wearing youth’s who intimidate drivers and pedestrians alike.
Simply put, Ratrodders are hot rod enthusiasts who don’t care much for appearances. They probably feel hot rodders spend too much time on aesthetics and polishing while they would rather spend efforts improving power and performance. “ Rat Rodding” may sound like an insult to most, but to this automobile culture, it is a term of endearment.
Sleepers are an interesting car subculture because, for the most part, they prefer not to be recognized other than by other Sleepers. These are car owners who have older or family-style cars that would appear to be almost generic in nature. When put to the test, however, these Sleepers will often blow the doors off most competitors. They are like the seemingly innocent poker player that asks “Does three kings beat two pair?”
The Kustom Kulture doesn’t just apply to a type or style of an automobile but in the attitude and skill, it takes to create something unique. It involves moving an exhaust pipe, bending a bumper or using a different material to bring an idea or concept into reality. It challenges limits of mechanics and art. The Kustom Kulture is where the Picasso’s of car cultures are born and sometimes live.
Started in the 1970’s by young, male adventure seekers in the Middle East, Arab Drifters have become almost legendary. They enjoy putting vehicles to the maximum test in Arabian desert conditions, rising and falling over sand dunes and drifting with exceptional skill. While technically “outlaws” these drifters have recently been demonstrating their skills on more private land to avoid police interference. They are worth a search on your favorite video sharing platform.
Automobile and car cultures can range from the bizarre to the amusing to the outright illegal and dangerous.
The fact is, we love our cars across this planet and enjoy their place in our lives.
Whether you are driving a subcompact or a supercar, enjoy your vehicle of choice and stay safe and stay legal. That includes keeping all of your paperwork and licensing in order. It may not be as exciting as drifting in Japan or Saudi Arabia but it can save you a bundle of hassles and time. It may also just keep you from living in a van.