With Cinco de Mayo car shows, block parties, and other public gatherings getting canceled this year, many of us have been disappointed, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find safe, alternative ways to celebrate.
To mark the occasion virtually and honor Mexican American car culture, the team at CarParts.com brushed up on the history of lowriders (which you can learn more about here) and reached out to members of the lowrider community in order to spotlight their rides and share their stories. Check them out below.
YMM: 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
Media Courtesy Of: @SwitchezPhotography
Simplicity at its finest. This clean Cutlass is brought to us by our friend, @SwitchezPhotography, a 16-year-old classic car and lowrider enthusiast. His dad, George, was the one who got him into the lowriding game. George bought this ride in Oxnard 15 years ago and drove it to Bakersfield, where he had the hydraulics installed. He then dubbed it, “El Chicano.”
YMM: 1961 Chevrolet Impala Convertible
Media Courtesy of: @LongBeach_Lloyd
“Family over everything” is a motto Lloyd lives by, and a vibe that’s deeply rooted in his passion for lowriding. Lloyd’s daughter and son both share his love for lowriders.
I love letting my kids play in my car! They are the only people I allow to climb around in my car or jump on my seats!
Fun fact: California Love was named in honor of Tupac, who rode in this exact same Impala in the music video for “To Live and Die in L.A.” The car had been put up for sale since 1996 until Lloyd bought it a few months ago. Since then, he’s overhauled it and been adding his own touches.
YMM: 1951 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe
Media Courtesy Of: @RafaelPerez619
For Rafael, the owner of this gorgeous ’51 Chevy bomb, lowriding is a family affair, too, particularly as a way of bonding with his daughter. As his latest project, Rafael recently got to work on a custom car seat for his baby girl.
Even with social distancing orders in place, lowriders still have a way of bringing people together. To virtually celebrate the 50th anniversary of Chicano Park in San Diego, Rafael joined others in his community who posted pictures of lowriders at the park along with fond memories using the hashtag, #VirtualChicanoPark50. Here are a couple of the stories he shared:
In 1996, I was in high school and my Chicano Studies textbook had a photo of Chicano Park Day full of lowriders. The image captivated me and I dreamed of having a car at Chicano Park Day. I just wanted to be part of this community and culture. That image inspired me to apply to SDSU and was a major factor in drawing me to San Diego. Que viva Chicano Park #Chicano #Chicana #Chicanx #Barrio
After over a year working on restoring my car, when I finally got it running, the very first place I drove to was Chicano Park. The connection to the past is strong in the park and it just felt like the best place to go first after bringing the #5TYONE back to life. Que viva Chicano Park… Here’s my #5TYONE at Chicano Park a few years ago!
DOING IT TO DEATH
YMM: 1961 Chevrolet Impala Convertible
Owner: Xavier The X-Man
Media Courtesy Of: @XavierTheXMan
Xavier The X-Man was the one who started the #VirtualChicanoPark50 challenge, inspiring Rafael and their fellow community members to reminisce on Instagram. Here is the first story he shared, along with a photo of his ’61 Impala, Doing It To Death:
I arrived in San Diego in 2000 and the first place I visited was Chicano Park. I came there to see all the amazing art and to ask the spirit guides to help me and my family make this new city our home. I also asked them to guide me in serving my new community the best way that I could. Chicano Park is a sacred place to me and I could never forget the sacrifices the people in the community had to endure to make this park a reality for all to enjoy. Que Viva Chicano Park!
Xavier’s love of the community, his heritage, and his family are a huge part of what lowriding means to him. Doing It To Death is dedicated to his dad and his hometown of Salinas.
YMM: 1964 Chevrolet Impala
Owner: Jesse Valadez (Imperials Car Club)
Media Courtesy Of: Petersen Automotive Museum
A rose by any other name wouldn’t look as sweet as this custom beauty, and certainly wouldn’t have as rich of a history. Revered by lowrider enthusiasts worldwide, Gypsy Rose is arguably the most famous lowrider of all time, especially after she appeared in the opening credits of 1970s sitcom “Chico and the Man,” cruising down Whittier Boulevard in East LA. Featuring close to 150 hand-painted roses, a sumptuous pink crushed velvet interior, chandeliers, and a cocktail bar in the back, it’s not hard to see why she became the belle of countless car shows and garners so much attention to this day.
Currently housed at the Petersen Automotive Museum, this ’64 Chevy Impala is actually the third iteration of the legend that is Gypsy Rose. Her first predecessor was a simpler pink ’60 Impala (without the flowers), which in 1960 was designed by Imperials Car Club president Jesse Valadez as a tribute to burlesque singer Gypsy Rose Lee. Valadez then went on to design a ’63 Impala with flowers and a glass roof, but after that second version was damaged, he recreated it into the ’64 Gypsy Rose we have today.