Don Juan de Oñate Car Show, “Best of
Show”– Black 1951 Chevrolet Convertible
Deluxe “My Grandpa Drove One.”
–David Sandoval, Del Norte, CO
By Robert A. Naranjo
There was a beautiful car, truck, bike (“mora”) or lowrider bicycle for just
about every taste at the Fiesta Council’s car show, appropriately named,
the “Don Juan de Oñate Car Show.” It was held at the Plaza de Española,
Sat. June 11, but it didn’t have a carreta (oxcart) on display to view or
The carreta sported the first “wheels” in these parts (meaning the entire
West) and they rolled in with Governor Don Juan de Oñate’s colonists
arriving in 1598.
The carretas were loaded with everything that was needed to start a
Spanish colonial settlement and to establish New Mexico’s first Capital
at San Juan de Los Caballeros. This was the first seat of government
in what is now the United States.
There is a carreta image displayed on the overpass leaving Santa Fé
headed north and pulled by a horse. It’s on your left as one begins
to descend Tesuque Hill from the oldest Capital city in the United States.
Highest, maybe, at 7,000 feet elevation. However, Santa Fé is,
technically, the third Capital of New Mexico.
The first Capital was established at San Juan de Los Caballeros,
(Oke, or Ohkay Owingeh), on July 11, 1598 by Capitán-General,
Adelantado, y Gobernador, Don Juan de Oñate.
Then, a few months later the capital was moved across the Rio
Bravo del Norte (Rio Grande) to San Gabriel de los Españoles,
and then ordered by the Viceroy to relocate to Santa Fé in 1610,
and with orders not to place the new capital location near an
existing pueblo, according to historians.
The NMDOT committee responsible for the images, selected
the venerable carreta or oxcart as one of many images for use
on the US 84/285 highway project a few years ago which itself
was once part of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (the Royal
Road to the Interior Lands).
The Don Juan de Oñate Car Show was sponsored by the Fiesta
del Valle de Española y Oñate Fiesta Council. The car show was
held under sunny skies with a slight breeze that made the sun
almost bearable. A clean, 1951 black Chevrolet Convertible
Deluxe, was a favorite, and for visitors from out-of-state, too.
It came away with the “Best of Show” award Saturday.
David Sandoval, from Del Norte, Colorado, was standing by and
admiring the ‘51 Chevy Convertible Deluxe with a friend
(see photo). He was asked which car he liked and planned to
vote for or if he had already voted. “I voted for #19, I like this
‘51 Chevy Convertible. It’s beautiful, my grandpa used to own
one,” he said but it was a hard-top. What happened to his
grandpa’s car, Sandoval was asked. “I don’t know, I’m not
sure what happened to it. It was used simply as transportation
back then,” Sandoval explained.
Sandoval and his friend were in Española to go to the casinos,
but they saw the car show setting up while driving by and
stopped at the Plaza. The two Colorado visitors were part
of a good size crowd that was there to see the classic cars
and listen to “Los Cavaliers,” who played a nice selection of
New Mexico music (Spanish), country, and easy listening
that motivated some car show enthusiasts to dance,
regardless of the sunshine.
The 1951 Chevrolet Deluxe, winner of the “Best of ”
Show” award, is owned by Barry Trujillo who’s the pastor at
“New Creation in Christ Ministries” which is having a
10-year anniversary celebration July 9. He said that he
“bought the car in Los Angeles three and a half years ago,”
and participates in car shows to “give back to community.
I’m not out to win but to support the community,” he added.
“It was very humbling” he said when his car’s number and
his name were called for winning one of the awards. Pastor
Trujillo said that the upholstery on the ‘51 Chevy was in
pretty good shape, but he and friends worked on the
convertible top, engine, other mechanical work, the
paint and other details. He found it in Los Angeles
(L.A.) using Craig’s List and brought it back to Española
or “Little L.A.!”
The “Don Juan de Oñate’s Choice” (Samuel de Herrera,
Duran y Roybal as Gov. Onate) was a maroon Buick Riviera.
The “People’s Choice” was a 1971 Chevy Chevelle owned
by Jeriah Serrano. He bought the ‘71 Chevelle fifteen
years ago and has about 25k in customizing it. He
said he brings out the ‘71 to give back to the
community. Other winners included Ken Pacheco’s
cobalt blue, 1964 Chevrolet truck that garnered
“Best of Show Truck” and a Gold Road King motorcyle
came away with “Best Bike, (mora), of Show.”
Best of Show Low-rider Bicycle was Benjamin Sandoval’s
trike. It had all the shine it needed and the back of the
trike was “tricked-out” (adding custom features), with
an orange-colored “full-working sound box,” Sandoval
pointed out. “It plays music,” he said. Sure enough,
a small quiet generator was near the trike and, indeed,
the box had a stereo and speakers as Sandoval indicated.
Sandoval’s low-rider trike was going up against a
“limousine” bike, but with no tricked-out full working
It was also up against some other low-rider bikes that
were all winners at past car shows
Jordan Garcia’s clean, striking blue,“1979 Schwin,”
Jeremiah Lopez’s sharp as a tack low-rider bike,
Isaiah with Tru Riders had a tremendous bike,
Brandon Sandoval’s “Twisted Charm”- an original,
one-of-a-kind, low-rider bike limousine, Chris and
Crystal Martinez’s “Margarita Mix” low-rider bike
featuring a beautiful “green flake” paint by Deo
Dominguez, the LR bike had been candy apple red
before, but that color showed up on another show bike
he said, so Martinez went with the “green flake”
paint, a very good-looking and smart choice.
Ultimately, Benjamin Sandoval’s “tricked-out low-
rider trike” beat the other fine low-rider bikes
for the “Best of Show Low-Rider Bike” award.
And, much credit must be given to the owners
of the “sick” (vernacular for very nice) and
perfectly finished classic cars, trucks, bikes
“moras,” and low-rider bikes. Through the
owner’s hard work, expense and time working
on their classics, they give the public an
opportunity to see them in “mint condition”
just like out of the factory, and then some.