Iconic lowriders take center stage in Petersen Automotive Museum

1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo "Spirit Runner"

Comprehensive lowrider
exhibit opens May 11

(April 17, 2024) LOS ANGELES — The Petersen Automotive Museum will celebrate the artistry, culture and history of lowriders with its largest and most comprehensive lowrider exhibit, set to open on May 11. “Best in Low: Lowrider Icons of the Street and Show” will showcase some of the most significant lowriders in history, as well as incredible custom motorcycles, bicycles and art.

Located in the Mullin Grand Salon, the exhibit will celebrate the creativity and unique identity of lowrider culture by highlighting the intricate and labor-intensive craftsmanship that goes into creating these mobile masterpieces. The display will showcase the techniques that have become a hallmark of the lowrider scene, including custom paint, engraving, gravity-defying suspension and plush upholstery. The exhibit will also feature artwork and photography from some of the most influential artists from the Chicano lowrider art scene today.  

Vehicles on display will include one of the world’s most famous lowriders, the 1964 Chevrolet Impala known as "Gypsy Rose." The iconic ride earned its initial notoriety in the 1970s television sitcom “Chico and the Man.” In 2017, Gypsy Rose became the first lowrider to be inducted into the National Historic Vehicle Registry.

1964 Chevrolet Impala "Gypsy Rose"

Other notable lowriders include the 1958 Chevrolet Impala convertible “Final Score” and 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air “Double Trouble,” both three-time Lowrider magazine Lowrider of the Year award winners, as well as the 1958 Chevrolet Impala “Dead Presidents,” built by Albert De Alba Sr. and Albert De Alba Jr., who are among the most established and respected craftsmen in the lowrider community.

The exhibit will also feature the 1954 Chevrolet 210 Sedan “Sphinx,” an influential car in the Japanese lowriding community, and the "Twisted Toy" bicycle, a three-time Lowrider Bicycle of the Year, plus numerous other iconic and award-winning lowrider cars, motorcycles, bicycles and more.

Lowriders emerged onto the Southern California automotive scene in the post-war era as unique symbols of personal creativity and cultural identity. While hot rodders concentrated on going fast, lowriders focused on cruising low and slow. Lowriders evolved into an expression of cultural pride in Southern California’s various Chicano communities by the late 1960s.

1958 Chevrolet Impala convertible "Final Score"

As the popularity of lowrider culture has grown both within the United States and beyond, this exhibition is a new chapter focused on the artistry and craftsmanship of lowrider cars and the impact of this culture on the customization scene. Los Angeles is often called the center of lowriding, and the city continues to be the dominant image of the culture both nationally and internationally.

Though Chicanos/Latinos are often cited as the generators of the culture, African Americans, Asians, and members of other cultural groups participate in the lowriding scene, and all have contributed important innovations. Today, lowrider communities can be found across the United States from the West Coast to the Southwest, and even in Chicago, Kansas City and New York City. Internationally, there are lowrider communities in Japan, Brazil, Thailand and even France.

1936 Ford pickup "Trokita Loca"

“The lowrider displays are always a fan favorite, and we are excited to open the most comprehensive lowrider exhibit in the museum’s history,” said Petersen Automotive Museum Executive Director Terry L. Karges. “This exhibit celebrates the rich history of lowriders and will give visitors the opportunity to learn about their impact on the automotive world, the culture at large and the history of car customization.”

“This Lowrider exhibit will be a new chapter exploring the craftsmanship of lowriders and the impact of this culture on the customization scene,” said Dr. Denise Sandoval, guest curator at the Petersen Automotive Museum. “We will also highlight the diversity of the culture through the region for the first time, including cars and motorcycles from Northern California, New Mexico, Texas and Japan, as well as feature cars owned and worked on by women.”

“Best in Low: Lowrider Icons of the Street and Show” opens on May 11 and will be on display through April 2025.