Low Riders

Frank Chavez Restores Vintage Chevrolet Cars and Trucks

I visited Frank Chavez’ auto shop on May 25, 2014. Mr. Chavez specializes in restoring Chevrolet trucks 1937-54 and cars from 1935-65 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I spent a few hours talking with him about low rider symbols such as dice, tattoos, religious symbols.

The conversation started because Mr. Chavez took out a book from his archives called Low ‘n Slow: Lowriding in New Mexico by photographer Jack Parsons. It’s a beautifully illustrated hardcover book that illustrates the culture of low riders in northern New Mexico.

Mr. Chavez is also a member of the Duke’s Car Club Albuquerque Chapter. According to the club’s web site, the organization is “the world’s oldest lowrider club in continuous existence.”

I met Mr. Chavez at the 30th Annual Car Show presented by the Albuquerque Museum and the New Mexico Council of Car Clubs on May 18, 2014.

Frank Chavez with Duke's Car Club Albuquerque Chapter

Frank Chavez specializes in restoring vintage Chevrolet Trucks and Cars. Albuquerque, New Mexico. May 25, 2014.

Frank Chavez with Duke's Car Club Albuquerque.

Frank Chavez with Duke’s Car Club Albuquerque Chapter. Albuquerque, New Mexico. May 25, 2014.

Frank Chavez with Duke's Car Club Albuquerque

Frank Chavez with Duke’s Car Club Albuquerque Chapter. Albuquerque, New Mexico. May 25, 2014.

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Freddy Gutierrez and his 1949 Chevy Fleetline Deluxe

I visited the 30th Annual Car Show presented by the Albuquerque Museum and the New Mexico Council of Car Clubs on May 18, 2014. In the show I found a 1949 Chevy Fleetline Deluxe with a Mexican American themed interior. The car was customized by Freddy Gutierrez with Duke’s Car Club of the Albuquerque’s chapter who was kind to let me photograph his vehicle.

Inside the car, in a small tray, there is a cracked black and white photograph of Freddy’s dad who served in World War II. The car seats are covered with Zarapes and a Howdy Doody toy rides in the passenger’s seat. The mix of Mexican and American references inside the vehicle in very interesting. As a third generation Mexican American, Freddy pays tribute to his Mexican origins and embraces the American culture. I was very happy to make these images.

Freddie Gutierrez honoring his dad Frank Gutierrez

Freddie Gutierrez honoring his dad Frank Gutierrez. May 19, 2014. Albuquerque, NM.

Freddie Gutierrez and his Low Rider Memorabilia

Freddie Gutierrez and his Low Rider Memorabilia. May 19, 2014. Albuquerque, NM.

Freddie Gutierrez and his 1949 Chevy Fleetline Deluxe

Freddie Gutierrez and his 1949 Chevy Fleetline Deluxe. May 19, 2014. Albuquerque, NM.

Custom Cars and Low Riders in San Juan Texas

On a hot Sunday afternoon I met custom car owners from San Juan, Pharr, McAllen and Raymondville, Texas to take pictures and talk about their cars. I picked the San Juan Municipal Park for the location of this photo shoot because I wanted to include a Mexican American themed mural as background. The mural features an agricultural laborer, family life and Aztec-like symbols.

I interviewed owner Joel G Flores from Raymondville, Texas. He is the proud owner of a black, shiny 1936 Plymouth with air conditioning nicknamed “Chingon”. The car has a black and white painting on a rear compartment door that features charros with a Mexican flag. I asked Joel what the term Mexican American means to him. He replied that we all have Mexican roots, “todos venimos del otro lado”  he said in Spanish, we all come from the other side. Mr. Flores was born in Texas but is aware of his Mexican roots. “I’m proud to be a Mexican American” he said “it’s not to insult nobody, it’s just being proud of who you are”. Mr. Flores has taken “Chingon” on the road to be shown at car festivals in various cities. It earned first best of choice in Lowrider Magazine in San Antonio, Texas.

I also interviewed owner Jaime de la Cerda who restored a 1947 Chevrolet from the bottom up. He has driven the car to San Antonio, Texas and back to the Valley to participate in a low rider show.

I would like to thank Rafael Soto for bringing together car clubs from various Rio Grande Valley cities for this photo shoot. Also, thanks to Iris Davila for helping me with names of the car owners.

Custom cars and low riders in San Juan Texas_05

From left to right: Arnold Martinez with Veteranos Car Club, Josh Razo with Del Valle Car Club and Roy Loera with Latin Fantasy Car Club. April 27, 2014.

Latin Dreams Rio Grande Valley

R. J. Guzman with Latin Dreams Rio Grande Valley Car Club. April 27, 2014.

Latin Dreams Rio Grande Valley

R. J. Guzman with Latin Dreams Rio Grande Valley Car Club April 27, 2014.

1936 Plymouth named Chingon

Joel G Flores proud owner of this 1936 Plymouth with air conditioning nicknamed “Chingon”. The car is tattooed on Joel’s forearm. April 27, 2014.

Arnold Martinez with Veteranos Car Club.

Arnold Martinez with Veteranos Car Club. April 27, 2014.

Josh Razo with Del Valle Car Club in San Juan Texas.

Josh Razo with Del Valle Car Club in San Juan Texas. April 27, 2014.

Custom cars and low riders at San Juan Texas Municipal Park

Front row from left to right: Joel G Flores and his 1936 Plymouth nicknamed Chingón, Elizandro Chandler Flores with Veteranos Car Club, Jaime de la Cerda and his 1947 Chevrolet. The oldest cars in front are nicknamed “bombs” or “bombitas” in Spanish. Back row from left to right: Joey Flores, Chris Coronado with Veteranos Car Club, Bobby Martinez with Veteranos Car Club, R. J. Guzman with Latin Dreams Rio Grande Valley Car Club, and Iris Mambo Davila with Traditionals Car Club. April 27, 2014.

Jaime de la Cerda and his 1947 Chevrolet he restored from the bottom up.

Jaime de la Cerda and his 1947 Chevrolet he restored from the bottom up. April 27, 2014.

Jaime de la Cerda owner of a 1947 Chevrolet.

Jaime de la Cerda (front) owner of a 1947 Chevrolet. April 27, 2014.

Jaime de la Cerda with his 1947 Chevrolet

Jaime de la Cerda and his 1947 Chevrolet he restored from the bottom up. April 27, 2014.