Ruben Navarro & Juan Carlos Carrion are two first generation Australians. Ruben’s parents originated from Argentina, while Juan Carlos’s mum is from Peru and father is from Spain. Both grew up in the suburbs of Sydney and are now loving fathers, husbands and proud members of Socios Car Club – Sydney chapter.
Socios Low Rider Car Club originated in Sacramento, Los Angeles and has been running for approximately 12 years. A Sydney chapter was created by Ruben and Juan Carlos in February 2017. Ruben is a founding member and Juan Carlos is a Sydney representative. Juan Carlos had recently left a previous car club and was looking for a new one to join. He originally thought to start his very own car club in Sydney but after a friend had started a Socios Newcastle chapter, he got in contact with them to discuss all things Low Rider. Both Juan Carlos and Ruben then got in contact with the President of Socios, Gabriel who is based in Sacramento, the originating town where the club was born.
Walking up the Kingsway Drive in Caringbah to meet Ruben and Juan Carlos (who is a family friend of mine and practically my cousin) I didn’t realise how blown away I would be by the Low Riders. Low Riders are obviously not as common in Australia. Not only are they extremely expensive but our legislation doesn’t allow for some vehicles to be on the road. For the very first time in my life, I had three Low Riders parked right in front of me. To try and describe them all, I would not be doing them justice and to be honest all I could say was “this is so cool” with my mouth wide open. I watched as many stopped by to take photos with the cars, saw people poking their heads out while driving to have a look and there was definitely some impromptu photo shoots took place (mine included).
The reason they picked Socios Car Club was because the rules resonated with them, “the rules suit the laws in Australia. A lot of the clubs brought over from America don’t work here because you need to have a particular type of car, with hydraulics, can’t be four doors, can’t be right-hand drive. So we decided to go with a smaller club” and also “you know to stick to the Latino side, Socios”. Having originated in Los Angeles where the Latino population is much larger than in Australia I wondered how the car club differed in ethnicities. Socios Car Club, in the United States, is predominately a Mexican car club but they also have members of other nationalities. Ruben and Juan Carlos made it clear that you don’t have to be Latino to be part of the club. In Sydney for example; the club has roughly about 8 members that are Argentinian, Peruvian, Chilean, several Australians and also Scandinavian.
Socios is like a community and it has a “family feel” as emphasised by the two members. Ruben and Juan Carlos met through friends and have children of similar age. I asked how their passion for Low Riders is received by their families and they both laughed. Juan Carlos nudges Ruben and laughs “You go first!”.
“My wife is Australian, she likes the Latino Culture, she always says to me I should embrace my culture more, which I do. She thinks it can be a little bit over the top, you know with the photos and the image”. I’ve neglected to mention that Socios have a unified look. If you’ve ever seen the film Blood in Blood Out you will know what I’m talking about, Dickies, navy blue, black, button up shirts with the top button done up and let’s not forget the “Socios” logo in Old English writing. Ruben continues “Sometimes we pack a couple of beers, just two beers and we’ll go drive somewhere to the beach and we’ll park up and have a beer together”.
Juan Carlos explains that there’s a lot of time that is put into the club being a Sydney representative. His wife being of Samoan background is very supportive and his four girls love the car, “I took my little one, she’s two years old, I took her around the block and she loved it. She dances with the music on, I’m very lucky my wife is very supportive”.
I often wonder what life would’ve been like if my family migrated to the United States rather than Australia. Sometimes I feel like I may have missed out a bit on fully embracing my culture. The Latino Culture in America is so vivid, especially in Los Angeles. I never would have imagined that there would be a Latino Low Rider car club in Sydney, Australia.
As previously mentioned Socios Car Club is not limited to Latino members, but as a Latino, I had a certain appreciation for the club that I’m finding hard to describe. In some really weird way, it almost made me feel more connected or at least want to find out more.
Socios Car Club Sydney Instagram – @socioscarclubsydney
Words by Carolina De La Piedra
Photos by Aimee Flores
Instagram photos sourced from @socioscarclubsydney