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Lowriders featured at this year’s 24th-annual Gilmore Heritage Auto Show

Published in blog.hemmings.com

1963 Chevrolet Impala SS lowrider, owned by Jimmy Gonzalez. Photos courtesy The Original Farmers Market.

The Gilmore family, of gasoline (and later, petroliana) fame, has owned the property at the corner of Third Street and Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, California, since the 1880s. Now home to The Original Farmers Market, once per year it also plays host to the Gilmore Heritage Auto Show. This year’s event – the 24th running – takes place on Saturday, June 2, and honors the “Low & Slow – A Tribute to American Lowriders.”

Originally, the Gilmore family worked a dairy farm on the land, but, in 1900, patriarch Arthur Fremont Gilmore struck oil while digging a water well on the property. Initially the oil was used to reduce dust on dirt roads and, in the form of tar oil, provide a crude type of paving, but by 1913 the family was producing gasoline in abundance for the growing population of cars and trucks on Southern California roads. Five years later, Gilmore was the largest independent producer west of the Mississippi, fueled in part by the outlandish marketing efforts of Earl “E.B.” Gilmore, who took over the family business upon his father’s death.

1963 Chevrolet Impala SS lowrider

During the 1920s, zoning changes eliminated the oil rigs on the Gilmores’s land and, by the early 1930s, the Great Depression had taken its toll on the company’s oil and gas business. In 1934, E.B. was approached with an idea to sell produce direct from the farm to consumers, and the contemporary famer’s market was born. By the end of the year, the venue proved popular enough that vendors were constructing permanent stalls on the property, and Gilmores held the first “Fall Festival at Farmers Market.”

The Gilmore Oil Company was sold to Socony-Vaccum – which would later become Mobil – in the mid-1940s. In 1948, E.B. opened an industrial-scale “Gas-A-Teria” across from the Farmers Market, offering consumers a then-revolutionary idea: For a discount of five-cents per gallon, drivers could pump their own gasoline, or pay the full amount and receive service from attendants.

The Gilmore Heritage Auto Show began in 1995, as a way to honor the company’s past. Originally meant as a one-time event (roughly corresponding with the 60th anniversary of the Farmers Market founding), the show’s success saw it return – and grow – year after year. Today, the typical Gilmore Heritage Auto Show features nearly 100 cars on display, with thousands of visitors in attendance at the family-centered, free-admission show.

1947 Cadillac convertible lowrider

Alex Ruiz’s 1947 Cadillac Series 62 convertible.

The 24th-annual show pays tribute to a unique segment of custom-car culture – the lowrider. Tracing its roots to postwar Los Angeles, the lowrider is more about style than high-performance, with many sporting elaborate paint schemes and extensive customization inside and out. To get around a change in the California Vehicle Code implemented in January 1958, lowriders began installing hydraulics to lower and raise ride height, ultimately creating elaborate displays of articulation. Roughly 20 lowriders – including the 1963 Chevrolet Impala and the 1947 Cadillac Series 62 convertible seen here – will be featured, representing several Southern California clubs.

Of this year’s category choice, Ilysha Buss, Farmers Market marketing director, said:

Nothing in the automotive world is more uniquely American and emblematic of LA’s diverse culture than the highly respected lowrider. From detailed airbrushed artwork to high-performance hydraulic features, the lowrider is an enduring artistic style that continues to be embraced by Angelenos. We are thrilled to showcase the lowrider experience at 3rd and Fairfax.”

The show runs from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and the day ends with the cars crossing the Farmers Market property in an orchestrated drive-off. For additional details, visit FarmersMarketLA.com.