Cruising towards unity: Family-owned shop celebrates milestone while influencing lowriding culture

Hispanic Heritage Month

COLORADO SPRINGS — For the past 25 years, people from all across the country have come out to Mi Gente Customs in Colorado Springs to customize and build their own lowrider.

“Mi Gente means my people,” John Montaño Jr. explained. “We picked that name because it’s not about us it’s about our people.”

MG Customs is owned by the Montaño family. Customers often refer to the shop as a candy store because of its unique inventory that includes tires, wheels, bike and car parts, clothing, salsa and more.

“Anyone can come here and get a taste of Hispanic culture through us,” Arlene Montaño-Lambert told FOX21 News.

Mi Gente was founded in 1995. While working sales for Mama’s Tortillas, John Montaño Sr. bought the shop’s first location in Colorado Springs.

“I went in there to make a sales pitch for tortillas and ended up leaving and owning the store,” Montaño Sr. said.

The Montaño family’s goal was to turn the original 1,300 square foot facility into a space where it could share its love of lowriding.

“We basically always had a passion for lowriding,” Montaño Jr. said. “I remember going with my dad in his lowrider and him hitting all those switches.”

The lowriding culture is believed to have started in California among the Latino community. Typically, a car’s springs are heated, bumpers are engraved and all the important hydraulic and air systems are installed to make them go low.

“It’s fun, I love people and seeing them get excited about their cars and enjoying them,” said Montaño Sr.

Every lowriding car is unique as different artists put their own twist on canvasses made out of steel. It’s a complex passion, but the movement was started upon humble roots.

“Getting parts from different places and trying to put something together was a creative outlet in itself,” Montaño-Lambert said. “They would then cruise it on through the barrios.”

But low riding isn’t limited to four wheels. Lowriding bikes are also shifting gears and cruising low and steady throughout southern Colorado and beyond.

“The appetite for lowriding is being passed on to our children with the bikes,” Montaño Sr. said.

The Montaños believe the low riding culture has broken through several barriers and is now enjoyed by everyone.

“It’s grown throughout the years and we’d like to think we are helping southern Colorado with that,” said Montaño Jr.

MG Customs has been featured in several national magazines and has won awards for its craftsmanship. This year is even more special as 2021 marks the business’ 25th anniversary. The Montaño family is proud to say its operation is here for the long run.

“We just want to let the Hispanic community and all communities know we can all be united,” said Montaño Sr.

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