High Style

Women rule the road at ‘Ladies in Lowriders’

By Inna Tysoe
March 2024

Beautiful, colorful rolling works of art are attracting long lines of ticket buyers to the California Automobile Museum’s “Rucas y Carruchas: Ladies in Lowriders” exhibit.

Many cars on display are heirlooms, worked on by generations of families and cherished by women in a culture historically regarded as male dominated.

Museum exhibits manager ShaVolla Rodriguez exemplifies the involvement of women in the lowrider community. She named her lowrider Adeline.

“If you come to any of our events or see us in the streets, we’re always out with our kids doing family things,” she says. “We want people to come up and ask us about our cars. We love telling stories.”

Adeline, a 1939 Buick, was a gift from Rodriguez’s husband. But she credits her father with introducing her to the lowrider community decades ago. “This culture and lifestyle never leaves your blood,” she says.

The couple built the car about three years ago. Sometimes Rodriguez goes to her garage, sits in Adeline and thinks, “Wow, this is really my car.” She considers the lowrider a rolling canvas of herself.

Rodriguez isn’t alone. Elisha Basquez wrote a testament for the auto museum wall:

“I was born into lowriding on September 16, 1981. My father, Martin Basquez Sr., has always had a passion for rebuilding cars and cruising… I remember bonding with my dad over watching the movie ‘Boulevard Nights’ and seeing the cars and culture. I was always wanting to be right there in the garage helping hand him the tools he needed while working on his cars.”

The museum exhibit features more than cars. There are lowrider bicycles and pedal cars, religious symbols, lowrider artifacts and works by local artist Cecelia Perez.

Lowriders aren’t all about nostalgia. The culture is going green. Rodriguez’s car club was involved with a high school project that converted a 1964 Impala into an electric vehicle. More than 200 kids signed up for the class.

“This would never have happened with a Tesla or a Prius,” Rodriguez says.

“Rucas y Carruchas: Ladies in Lowriders” runs through April at the California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front St.; (916) 442-6802; calautomuseum.org. Open daily except Tuesday. Tickets are $6-$12.

Inna Tysoe can be reached at tysoe@tysoes.com. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @insidesacramento.

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