Oak Cliff Lowriders Bring Dallas Community Together


This story first appeared in KERA News.

A mix of Tejano music and hip hop beats blast from people’s trucks on a Sunday evening in Oak Cliff.

Families post up on Jefferson Avenue, traveling from Pleasant Grove, Mesquite, North and South Dallas — even as far as Waco — to admire tricked-out classic cars from the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s during the lowriders car parade every Sunday.

Juan, Esther, and their daughter Sofia frequently come out on Sundays to watch the car parade, sitting on the hood of their truck. Keren Carrión/KERA

It all started on Father’s Day in 2019, when the group Dallas Lowriders decided to host a car show on the Oak Cliff strip. Afterward, people kept showing up.

“Over time, it got so big, it got out of our control,” said Mark Matas, spokesperson for the Dallas Lowriders.

The Dallas Lowriders parked their cars in front of the Oak Cliff Cultural Center. The group, made up of 18 people who are aficionados of classic Chevrolet Impala cars, are more of a “familia,” or family, than a club.

Gold chrome accents and the deep slant of the hydraulics makes this 1962 Impala a lowrider. Keren Carrión/KERA
Mundo Herrera, with the Dallas Lowriders, stops traffic before pulling out with his 1962 Impala convertible, to take kids on a cruise, on Sunday evening, Aug. 22, 2021. Keren Carrión/KERA

It started back in 1979. But when the leader of the club, Ivy Matas, was murdered in 1985, the group ceased to exist until his brother Mark Matas decided to start it again in 2003. He kept the name to honor the legacy of his brother and the people that started it first.

“Everybody that’s involved with us is family,” Matas said.

This multi-generational event is just as much for the people who own the cars as it is for the families and kids watching it.

Kids congregate near the Oak Cliff Cultural Center, playing around the classic cars, and hanging out near El Chuy’s Dallas apparel truck, on Jefferson Ave in Oak Cliff, on Aug. 22. Keren Carrión/KERA

Lowriders start pulling into Jefferson Ave, revving their engines and bouncing their cars in an attempt to be the flashiest on the block.

Rene “Jefe” Cisneros is from Pleasant Grove. Cisneros, who goes by Jefe, owns three classic cars and he rotates through them at the car parade every week. His daughter, Brenda Cisneros, came out with her 1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo for her birthday.

Brenda Cisneros, 22, spent her birthday on Jefferson Ave, cruising with her 1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Keren Carrión/KERA
Jefe Cisneros pulls up a photo of his 1948 Chevy Stylemaster. The family have their own car club, Cisneros C.C. Keren Carrión/KERA

People bring their cars out to impress. Showing off who has the best rims, the nicest paint job, the coolest hydraulics, the newest chrome.

“Every little bit of money that we get, we invest in our cars,” Eric Najera said. Najera has been with the Dallas Lowriders since he was 17.

Hugo and Jehovanny Rodriguez, brothers, come out with their families every Sunday for the past year. Their sister-in-law, Jessica Velazquez, sits on a camping chair behind them. “We are fanatics of classic cars,” she said. Keren Carrión/KERA
Young adults participate in the lowrider car cruise on Jefferson Ave, flashing a bright mustard and magenta custom paint job and interiors. Keren Carrión/KERA

Other car groups make an appearance on Sundays too: Texas LegacyEstilo Car ClubRollerz Only, and more. They all make up the United Lowriders Association in Dallas, where they have meetings to discuss issues and events in the community.

“It’s a lifestyle,” Najera said. “This cruise is to enjoy our rides.”

By the end of the night, smoke fills the air from the burnt rubber scratching the pavement, signaling people to start heading out.

The tradition keeps families coming back every Sunday.

Monique Garza rides on the passenger side of the 1964 Impala, on Sunday night. Her husband, Rudy Garza, is part of the Dallas Lowriders. Keren Carrión/KERA