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Car show features more than 30 custom cars (Video)

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
April 14, 2013 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated April 14, 2013 at 11:15 p.m.

Alicia and Fidel Medrano look at a vehicle presented at the Low Impression Car and Truck Club Spring Picnic at Riverside Park.

CAR AND TRUCK SHOW WINNERS

BEST CAR - Jesse Leal, Corpus Christi

BEST TRUCK - Felix Perez, Yoakum

BEST BIKE - Ross Cuellar, El Campo

It's a lifestyle for Eugene Hernandez - souping up classic cars into low-ridin' cruisers.

And part of that lifestyle is showing off the finished product, both while cruising on the streets and at car shows like Victoria's Low Impression Car Show at Riverside Park on Sunday.

Low Impression Car and Truck Club, launched in 1976 by Hernandez's uncle, Pat Brown Jr., featured more than 30 tricked-out cars refurbished with thousands of dollars worth of details for the public to view.

Hernandez, an active car club participant, displayed his 1977 Cadillac Coupe Deville.

"Low-ridin' is a culture. It's not just to look cool. You sit low. You want people to look," said Hernandez, 29, about his Cadillac.

He purchased the Cadillac with a dingy yellow finish and black vinyl top more than a year ago for $2,000. Since then, he's put more than $10,000 in upgrades in the car, including a $7,000 paint job and $700 wheels.

"The paint job was the most expensive part of this car. But mostly, it's a lot of little things. There's always something to keep you busy," he said.

Hernandez repainted the car with a glittering '70s-themed blue and violet striped sheen finish, replaced the wheels and added whitewall tires, then replaced the vinyl top with a hardtop and carried the paint theme across the roof.

Inside, the upholstery and seats were replaced with white, antique-appearance leather. A modern stereo, DVD player, leather dashboard and built-in hydraulic levers that lift the car off the ground were also added to the front panel.

"This is just something we grew up into," he said. "My mom was the first lowrider lady in Victoria. And now I'm teaching my kids."

Hernandez said he doesn't sell his cars. He wants to keep them, drive them and give them to his children when they're old enough to drive.

"I have a 2010 Chevy Tahoe with 26-inch rims, but they'd rather ride in this," Hernandez said, pointing to the Cadillac.

Other custom cars were on display at the show, some driven in from Corpus Christi and Houston.

Jesse Leal's 1981 custom red Lincoln, for example, was driven in from Corpus and recently selected as Lowrider of the Month by Lowrider Magazine.

"I call it 'Baby Boy' because I'm going to give it to my son when he can drive," said Leal, while hugging his 5-year-old son Carlos. "He kisses it sometimes before he goes to bed."

Leal recently had the car on display in Vegas and drove the car around on a national tour for car shows.

Like Leal, Hernandez said low-riding and custom car refurbishing is so much more than a hobby. It's an investment of time and money, but mostly, it's a family affair.

"This is about family. We all do it together," Hernandez said. "A lot of people are into this, yeah. But I just like being able to take my kids for a ride."

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