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Published on May 10, 2024
Austin's Bullock Museum Spotlights Texan Lowrider Culture with "Carros y Cultura" ExhibitSource: WhisperToMe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Austin's Bullock Texas State History Museum is steering attention to a signature slice of Tex-Mex Americana with "Carros y Cultura: Lowriding Legacies in Texas," an exhibit that's all set to pop the trunk on the Lone Star State's vaunted lowrider tradition starting May 11 through September 2, 2024. Visitors can expect an in-depth look at how these tricked-out rides are more than just cars—they're rolling canvases, engineering marvels, and bold cultural statements rolled into one.

Known for their decked-out exteriors and ground-hugging posture, these cars have a rep for being able to seriously impress onlookers when they cruise "low and slow" down Texas streets. But the story goes deeper, back to post-WWII California, where Mexican Americans started the trend-chopping down Chevys to embody the Chicano civil rights process. In response to legal limits on how low they could go, clever mechanics circumvented these laws, coming up to invent hydraulic systems that let rides bounce on demand—a spectacle that's since become synonymous with lowrider culture. As reported by Austin Culture Map, "laws emerged limiting how low cars could get, but these vehicles were already a symbol of the Chicano civil rights movement."

According to CBS Austin, the exhibit is bilingual, presenting the vibrant lowrider scene through a range of mediums. It boasts seven lowrider cars and five bikes, with each artifact set to tell the tale from various Texas cities. Among them are a '63 Chevy Impala plated in gold and an '86 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme featuring a mural of famed Mexican singer Vicente Fernández. The exhibit isn't just a static display; it includes interactive elements aimed at educating visitors on the nuts and bolts of what goes into creating these masterpieces.

It's not just about the cars; it's about the people driving them, the communities these cars bring together, and how that creates a distinct Texan flavor to the culture. "Immensely creative and endlessly kind" senior curator Kathryn Siefker told CBS Austin. The exhibition will also feature first-person interviews with members of the low-riding community.

Wrapping up the Tex-Mex affair, the Bullock Museum plans to throw several events, including expert discussions, kids' programs, and adolescence workshops. The cherry on top comes July 7, with the H-E-B Free First Sunday event promising a full day's admission on the house, plus special lowrider-themed activities geared to give you a taste of the car culture that's shaped and propelled by generations of Texas' low and slow aficionados.