Welcome to the lowrider capitol of the world

Tag Christof

Wedged between two national forests and split by the Rio Grande sits Española, New Mexico. With a population just over 10,000, and an economic relevance that peaked when the railroad rolled through in 1880, you wouldn’t expect much more than Southwestern small-town tourist fare here. All the more surprising, then, that it’s become the Lowrider Capital of the World.

It started small, 60 years ago. The lowrider scene had already taken root in Los Angeles, a new car culture born of rebellion. Its brash, flashy, low-and-slow mantra served as an act of defiance by Chicanos who had long been told to keep their heads down, work hard, and assimilate into the white American mainstream. Lowriders were an outward statement that they weren’t content to blend in. They had arrived, they had a culture all their own, and they wanted people to know it.

That resonated in Española. The town, sometimes called “Little L.A.,” has deep ties to the Hispanic and Chicano communities of Southern California. Families that had been in New Mexico for generations would head west seeking opportunity and return with money and a taste of California culture. Lowriders were a natural fit for Española, a continuation of the artistic tendencies that had defined Northern New Mexico for hundreds of years.

If I wasn’t getting ready to move ahead into something all-electric in the next 3 or 4 years, I’d be tempted. I roll wayback into hot rod days in the 1950’s. My fave would be a seriously chopped and channeled 1950 Mercury 2-door coupe. Not likely to go with the classic flathead innards. More likely an OHV Caddy mill, Studillac-style.

2 thoughts on “Welcome to the lowrider capitol of the world

  1. Chingona says:

    “Gypsy Rose, most famous lowrider is from East Los Angeles” https://abc7.com/automotive/gypsy-rose-famous-lowrider-is-from-east-los-angeles/5265147/
    “Chimayo , NM – Dave’s Dream wasn’t just any clean Espanola Valley lowrider.
    This immaculate 1969 Ford LTD lowrider was so extraordinary that the Smithsonian Institute bought it from Irene Jamarillo in 1992 and included it as piece of its eternal collection in the Museum’s former Road Transportation hall.” http://www.convictedartist.com/lowrider.html

  2. nicknielsensc says:

    I’ve wished since I was 13 that my grandfather could have lived several more years, mostly because I missed him, but also because then I would have been old enough to buy his 1959 V-8 Silver Hawk from the estate. I only got to ride in it a few times a year, but I loved that thing from my first ride. He had even had seat belts installed after my father (his son) died in a car wreck. “Wear the seat belt. You don’t want to die like your father.”

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