“New Mexico as a culture, as a people, we have this image of what we grew up with and what we were raised with… we hold on that. That unity and pride. A lot of us didn’t have it easy.” – Lawrence Marquez
My name is Lawrence Marquez and I was born here in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I grew up in the streets of East L.A.
As a kid we grew up viewing these vehicles as something really nice, I was always attracted to them. Now that I am older, I was able to create a project of my own!
It’s an 82 El Camino and it’s different from most. The project is not done, but it takes time, it takes pride. It’s a passion that I see in myself. It’s a project for the communities themselves, even if it’s not from the same communities that I grew up in, they still have a pride for them and fixing them and making them better. Having one… it’s just something you can’t pass up! When people say it’s nice, it makes me feel good inside like I have accomplished this much… but I am not done, I want to accomplish more! I see the younger generations, whether it’s Black, Hispanic, White, or any other race, when they see these vehicles… I think they too wish to have one of their own one day. It might inspire them to do better, to do right, and maybe one day they will have their own.
I see these projects as really important. I didn’t do this as a youngster, when I was younger I didn’t do any of this. Doing it now, and being able to do it with my son, bonding with him that way… I see his friend’s minds open up to this. It can change their path in their lives. It did for me. They are beautiful vehicles. A lot of them are rare and hard to find. We don’t just get them and park them, we don’t abuse them, we try to make them better. It’s hard to explain… it’s a passion that each individual has within themselves to create something out of normality.
As a kid, I use to sit on Central on the old Route 66 and my parents would allow us to sit and watch them go up and down. There was a lot of vehicles with hydraulics, with music systems, and beautiful paint jobs. Seeing that, it had our minds in wonder. Now that I am older, I feel like it’s my turn! I’m going up and down with the music and the nice paint job. It’s like a chain reaction. It’s just a different generation.
New Mexico’s Essence
New Mexico as a culture, as a people, we have this image of what we grew up with and what we were raised with… we hold on that. That unity and pride. A lot of us didn’t have it easy. A lot of families did not have what they needed to get by. Over time, people go to school and they make it by.
I grew up around the gang culture. I can relate to gang culture. But doing this, I put my time and my focus. I leave the gang culture behind. This is what I want to dedicate my time to. Personally, I feel like this is what I can leave behind for my kids. I don’t want to direct them in the way that I was directed. I want to teach them better. Knowing what I went through, it hurts me to think that if I went through that, that they are going to experience a hard life. If I can get them involved in something other than gang life, like lowriding.
New Mexico has a rich culture. I have been to a lot of states, from the east coast to the west coast, the heritage and the culture of New Mexico seems like it has not changed, but it has changed a lot. New Mexicans hold their culture dearly. Like Old Town, it hasn’t changed in so many years, and that’s a good thing. I’ve met many people from other states who pass through New Mexico who tell me they miss it. There’s no place like here. The food is authentic. To experience Albuquerque, you have to go through Albuquerque. You have to get a feel for it. And that’s what makes it all worthwhile.
Love for Lowriding
Lowriding is a term they use for vehicles that are low. Lowriding is just a passion.
There’s people who come in their normal cars, they pull in between these lowriders, and they are welcomed. They are putting their time doing what we do. Everybody is accepted. We all come together for the idea of what we are trying to do. It’s a community.
I have one of my members come all the way from Taylor Ranch. It’s past Rio Rancho. We are here every Sunday night. We get this moment one time out of the week, where we see everybody come together with our cars. And we fit in. It’s not the gang life. It’s my culture, it’s who I am. It’s what I remember growing up as a kid.
My projects are never done. As soon as I am done with this one, I am going to begin another one. It’s something I want to keep doing. It makes me happy.
I don’t see it a negative group labeling (lowriding). It was never a stereotype. Lowriding is something that brings people together that normally wouldn’t come together. I can recognize members of other car clubs. The unity is there, the friendship is there. It doesn’t work that way in gang culture. This is changing the mind frame of myself and the youth. There is a high volume of people that get into the culture, even in small towns.
When people start acting foolish, it takes away from what we are trying to do. Our purpose is the pride we put into our vehicles and showing them off. We also get people who come and are drinking and are just drama. They cause a scene, cops come, and shut it down. They don’t know the extent of what that individual is trying to do. It ruins the night for a lot of people who came to enjoy themselves, especially if they drove from miles away.
A lot of the individuals who are building these cars have a talent. Some are from painting, some are muralists, or the hydraulic set up, and the overall creation of their vehicle itself. They are showing their art. They are expressing themselves. I think that’s what it all boils down to.
I don’t have a name for my vehicle, but I did want to airbrush my daughters name to the back. Her name is Hailey. I keep saying it’s going to be hers, but she is only a year old (laughter).
A lot of these vehicles are in bad condition when we find them. A lot of them were wrecked. And what we do is fix them and get them back to their original condition. Spend time, money, and effort. It takes passion to get them back to where they use to be. We add our own little touch as far as painting, systems, tv’s, hydraulics, airbags, it goes on.
For the community of New Mexico that has not experienced lowriding, give it a try! Come on down! This is the original Route 66. It’s an old scenic route. Every Sunday night we are here. It’s all about the passion for the vehicles. It’s nothing to do with gangs, it’s all about the vehicles. It’s an art. Some art is better than others. And my is going to get there. I’ll get there. I’ll get there.
Photo Credits: Bobby Gutierrez