Mr. Cartoon’s Super Bowl lowrider is this Pepsi-backed Impala
Every SoCal hip-hop party needs lowriders—even the Super Bowl. In addition to the three bagged droptops on-field during the halftime show, which starred Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar, Pepsi commissioned one of L.A.’s own to deck out a custom Impala lowrider with some pin-striped, head-bobbing glam. Mr. Cartoon delivered in fine style … and, thankfully, his creation wasn’t subjected to hood-stomping dancers.
SoCal lowriders can trace their lineage back to the legendary Gypsy Rose, a 1964 Impala customized with over-the-top flair. We’re not just talking about a hand-done paint job and wildly articulating suspension, though the rose-slathered bodywork speaks for itself: the final iteration of Gypsy Rose boasted a custom velvet interior complete with chandelier and cocktail bar. Though there were multiple iterations of the car, the final and most glamorous product, a legend of the Latino car community created by Jesse Valadez in the early 1970s, has since been entered into the National Vehicle Historic Register, honoring its place in the annals of automotive history.
Mr. Cartoon, who’s equally comfortable with a tattoo gun, a spray-paint can, or an air brush gun in his hand, drew on a long-standing tradition for this Pepsi commission. Even with the blue-dominated paint scheme, it’s easy to see the influence of Gypsy Rose: a ’60s Impala rolling on hydraulic suspension and wheels the size of dinner plates, a glamorous custom interior totally overhauled to match the exterior, and intricate hand-brushed details on the hood and decklid—Cartoon’s hallmark, and the result of over 200 hours of work.
Born in San Pedro and raised in L.A., Cartoon says that lowriders weren’t always meshed into the culture of hip-hop. At first, they were “kinda disconnected, and the West Coast brought those lowriders into hip-hop. Now it’s a part of life.” With Compton heavyweights like Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar performing at So-Fi Stadium alongside Long Beach’s Snoop Dogg, a lowrider build showcasing SoCal automotive artistry was only appropriate.
The build, which Cartoon told Car and Driver was an 18-day rush job, brought together a slew of local shops and suppliers, in fact. Ronne Payán Kustomz dipped the 1967 Impala convertible, which Mr. Cartoon sourced, in Pepsi blue. Phillips Finelines took care of the delicate pinstriping. 714 Motorsports decked out the interior with suede-trimmed leather upholstery and custom floor mats. Bowtie 61 Customs helped wrangle parts.
The rush done, Cartoon’s cruising East L.A. enjoying the fruits of his labor before he releases the lowrider into Pepsi’s hands.
“It’s like driving a painting down the street,” says Mr. Cartoon, “like something that should be in a museum is actually in this little garage. And I hope people connect to it, and can see that it’s honest, it’s from the heart.”
We’re glad Pepsi is giving the artist a moment with his car. Lowriders are meant to be seen and heard—and what better place than on their native streets, sparks flying, tunes bumpin’?