If you follow any one of a number of skate media sites, you may have heard of a flashy new trend sweeping across the state of skateboarding – skater’s skating on cars. But, like all trends, these seemingly fresh maneuvers didn’t come from nowhere, they have precedents, forebears that have established the basis for the skater to car relationship way before today’s youngins were even playing with their Hot Wheels™.
Sure, the cars may be getting newer and more expensive, the tricks may be getting more technical or gnarly, but the seed of the stunt was planted generations prior. In the effort of placing this trend in some historical context, we’ve taken the opportunity to parse out some of the more pivotal moments of skaters skating on cars in a video timeline. So if you do decide to do it (because “skate and destroy,” amiright?) you should at least know its history so you can try and progress the stunt to higher levels of stupidity than ever before.
Lance Mountain in Powell Peralta’s “Bones Brigade Video Show”
One of the earliest car rides in skate video history comes, of course, in the earliest promotional skate video, Powell Peralta’s “Bones Brigade Video Show” from 1984. Though the video is mostly pastel short-shorts and inverts in bowls, Lance Mountain’s intro segue is something like the grand-daddy of street skating, a little slow, but still entertaining to watch in its own weird way. Street skating at this time was still resemblant of sidewalk surfing, but Lance kicks home the point that skating and surfing are separate activities entirely by acid dropping off the hood of some surfer’s car and cruising away to a less wavy pastime.
Savannah Slamma Street Contest
Four years after Lance hopped off the hood of that chop-top beach cruiser, Thrasher came out with a video from the Savannah Slamma skate contest held in a massive warehouse in Savannah, Georgia. The course consisted of a random array of launch ramps, wall rides, and stray PVC piping, with an old beater car thrown into the mix to make the course resemble something like a street – it was a “streetstyle” contest after all. The Gonz, Eric Dressen, Tommy Guerrero, Christian Hosoi and the other competitors took the street style to the stadium by running over and riding across the shit-brown sedan.
Natas Kaupas in Santa Cruz’s “Streets on Fire”
Natas dropped one of the most progressive and stylish street parts ever in “Streets of Fire,” and he took the car ride to new heights with his ender, a boardslide across the roll bar of a convertible Toyota 4-Runner.
Hook-Ups Road Trip
Skate teams had been packing vans full with sweaty skate rats for demo tours for nearly a decade by this point, but Hook-Ups really took the show on the road in 1995 by retro-fitting their gutted Ford Econoline van with coping on the hood and roof, and a U-Haul trailer crammed with plywood ramps. Every parking lot became a demo, and every demo became a gathering of middle-American angst that could only be quenched by a Kirchart kickflip and a flash of some local girl’s tits. And then it was on to the next town…
Hamilton Harris in the NYC section of “Eastern Exposure 3”
Skating in New York City is kind of like being a pilot fish in a sea of sharks – cars own the road, and skaters can only do their best to weave in and out of their wake and stay from out their grill. But Hamilton Harris wasn’t content with such a low rung on the street’s food chain. No, the great automotive beasts that prowl NYC were to him just another obstacle to overcome. Off the sidewalk, over a cab’s hood, and into the streets, Hamilton demonstrates the sometimes parasitic relationship between skater and motorist.
Mike Vallely at the 411vm Europe contest
Nearly 10 years after the Savannah Slamma contest, and after more than a million advancements in street skating, European contests were still putting cars in their transition-heavy skateparks to turn them into street courses. Mike Vallely, America’s angriest skate ambassador of the 90’s, decided that instead of landing his mega mute back 180 over the whole thing, he’d rather just fuck it up instead with a body slam to the hood, a front flip to the roof, and a few futile punches to the back window for good measure. VALLELY SMASH!
Chadillac Escapade from 411vm #58
The new millenium came at the crest of The Muska madness, and The Muska was always one to progress the skater/car relationship. Major moments include: Asking OnStar where the handrails were at, rocking a Cadillac logo on a pro model, and buying this old DeVille and tagging it up with cheesy graf so he and his homies could shred.
PJ Ladd in Coliseum’s “PJ Ladd’s Wonderful Horrible Life”
Has there ever been a better, more game-changing introduction part for a skater than this one by PJ Ladd? Don’t even try to think of one. This is it. And while PJ was busy casually progressing flatground to the dizzying standards of today, he also managed to quietly toss in a little tail skid to fakie across the bumper of what looks like his mom’s mini-van at the beginning of one of the most technical video parts of all time.
Jim Greco in Baker Skateboards’s “Baker 3”
Whereas PJ was mastering the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it style of skating cars, Jim Greco was never much good at such subtleties. Instead of hitting a car that just happened to be at the spot in question, Greco battled LA traffic and parked his big-box Chevy in the famous bump over the driveway spot to backtail it for posterity. (In the typical Greco fashion of skating a (skater-manipulated) spot until all trick options have been exhausted, Jim went back and dropped a few more hammers on a few different cars in this same driveway.)
Nissan Qashquai/Rogue Commercial
It took longer than one would imagine for car companies to catch on to the whole marketability of the skater/car thing (probably because skaters are notoriously broke bums), and by the time Nissan hit the skate demographic in 2007, they executed their ad in typically cringe-worth fashion. After watching some disembodied giant foot kickflip and wallride this mini-SUV, how could you not want to put your skateboard up as a down payment on a new Nissan Rogue immediately?
Mandible Claw’s New York Clip 12 – Rush Hour
Here begins the reactionary push and pull from corporate to core and back again that skateboarders have to deal with since entering the mainstream. After a slew skaters being sponsored by car companies, Colin Read (aka Mandible Claw) came through with this amazing edit of skaters crushing strangers’ cars throughout NYC. No fucks were given by the skaters while a thousand expletives were hurled at them from the unsuspecting drivers’s windows.
Dew Tour Toyota City Downhill Streetstyle Contest
Back in the corporate skate circuit, Toyota strategically placed a reinforced sedan off a curb-cut in this pretty gnarly downhill course in San Francisco. Big Daddy Shecks treats the windshield as a launch ramp and goes for gold in this victory lap run. But as hard as they may try, there’s still no fooling skate purists with this shameless “streetstyle” product placement.
2015… three decades of skating cars later and just about the only way to up the ante is by picking only the most forbidden and expensive cars to skate. Chachi uses his superhuman ollie skills to hop up onto the hood of a new Police Interceptor while on his way to a Bronze video premiere, and some rando, best left unnamed for the furor his stunt dredged up, hopped on the trend by stepping to the neon blue hood of this $60,000+ Porsche.