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Lowrider culture part of Phoenix identity

The car club is one of the oldest in Phoenix. It was established in 1974. Club President Carlos Mena is passing the tradition on to a new generation.

PHOENIX — The Sophisticated Few Car Club lowriders line out at El Reposo Park in south Phoenix.

Park lights hit the hoods of the cars and offer a hint of what lies on top. Beautiful works of art adorn the hoods and we see in the full light that the car themselves are also works of art. 

Rick Ruiz is the vice president of the club. He grew up with it. The lowrider life is in his blood.  

“My parents were into the low riding. They used to cruise Central when I was a kid,” he said.

The car club is one of the oldest in Phoenix. It was established in 1974. Club President Carlos Mena is passing the tradition on.

“My son is a member now. He has his own car," he said. "My daughter you know when she was little, they had bikes and peddle cars.”

According to some historians, the first lowriders arrived in Phoenix in the 1950s. What it means to these collectors is pride and hard work.

“For me, it’s showcasing my art piece that has had my blood, sweat and tears over the last 13 years,” Ruiz explained.

The cars may be recognized by some after they were featured in Phoenix Suns’ superstar Devin Booker’s Instagram. He teamed up with the car club to help foster children in Arizona this past holiday season.

Anna Barrios founded Roman Home LLC for foster kids. She said when the kids saw Booker pull up in his lowrider, they raced over to say hello. 

“The kids have a memory that they’ll never forget. They still have the autographs that they talk about till this day,” she said.

“Some very beautiful cars man," Mena said. "For him to come out and bring one of them…it was amazing.”   

In the past, the lowrider tradition has gotten a bad rap. 12News asked Ruiz what’s a misconception people have about lowriders. He said “they think that we got it by some illegal means or that we didn’t work for it.”

But this team does.

It’s an expensive, and at times, waning, art, with cruising banned on many popular Valley roads. Currently, downtown Glendale is still a popular place that lowriders are welcome on certain nights of the week.

But with Booker’s seal of approval, the low and slow lifestyle is catching on with a new generation and reaching a broader audience.

The Sophisticated Few are celebrating their 49th anniversary May 27 at American Legion Post 41. It’s open to the community and members are encouraging people to come out and celebrate.

For information visit the Sophisticated Few page on Facebook.

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