Scion’s SEMA-Ready iA Lowrider Is Trying Very Hard to Fit In

So earnest, it’s almost charming.

Lowriders are cool. They’re not built to race, or even to speed. They’re the products of an automotive subculture whose motto is “low and slow.” These ground clearance-free cars are content to cruise in languid splendor while other customs whiz past with coffee-can exhausts and superchargers. Every single lowrider is a labor of love: chopped, painted and outfitted to individual taste. The whole point is to make a car that rolls in total refusal of factory specifications.

That in mind, it might be hard for Scion’s lowrider to fit in. This is the Scion iA Lowrider, a one-off SEMA special, and it certainly has all the trimmings. Gold-dipped wire wheels, two-tone paint and an airbag system with individual wheel control give the economy car some strut. Inside, heavy ruching on the seats, a chain-link steering wheel and rear middle-seat entirely upholstered in subwoofers check the standard boxes. The car’s 1.5-liter, 106-horsepower engine is unmodified, but was already great at going slow.

So, the goods are all there, but they’re part of a Japanese subcompact. All that kit was applied not by a 19-year-old scrimping and saving to embellish his Cutlass, but by the world’s largest automaker. At least in the realm of custom rides with a counter-culture bent, corporate ain’t cool. Let’s strip the Scion and get those goodies to a high-schooler with a beat ‘71 Impala.