As we walked up to his home, Fred threw open the door to a small, one-car garage, exposing the most pristine 1954 Chevrolet Truck I have ever seen in person. The truck had a vanity plate that read "El Profe" and the truck carried an original style Moss-green and cream two-tone paint scheme that took me back in time as if I was seeing this beauty roll straight off of the factory line. As if the truck wasn't impressive enough, my eyes searched the rest of the garage and found every inch of it covered in antique, impossible-to-find spare parts, as well as past Lowrider spreads featuring some of his favorite feature cars from the 80's and 90's. It was clear to me that this guy was a true veteran of the culture, as this was not his only sanctuary. He guided me toward the two car garage located in the back of the house that featured a 1950 Chevy Fleetline, with a complimentary paintjob to the truck in the other garage, as well as an immaculate 1950 Bel-Air 2 door sedan. It was as if he had completed a set of Chevy masterpieces. The adjacent back yard also had a chassis from a 1941 Special Deluxe, as well as a 1948 Suburban that will one day carry his students to parades, sporting events, and school functions. To put it bluntly, every square inch of his home, inside and out was covered in vintage cars, and car parts, so much so that it was almost like a museum. His passion for the culture was obvious, so I sat down with him to find out more about what has made Fred Perez the man he is today.
Fred Perez was born in El Paso, Texas and lived there until he was 24 years old, a time in which destiny called and urged him to move to Colorado. The son of a hard-working mother and father, the Chicano lifestyle influenced him heavily in his younger years, as did Pachuco culture. "I got into Lowriders back in 1978, when I was going through the Lowrider magazines," he says. "Every year I would go visit my cousin Danny Dominguez in the city of Commerce, CA, and he would take me cruising. Back then, I was 13 years old, and every summer I used to go with him on Friday nights to Whittier Blvd. I'd see Lowrider bikes, Bombs, vans, cars, and custom trucks," he explains in a voice warm with memories. The experiences motivated him into delving into his first foray as a Lowrider bicycle builder back in his homeland of El Paso. "I went home and told my Dad I wanted to build a Lowrider bike and he said 'how are you gonna build a bike, when you don't have any money?' So I started selling and recycling aluminum cans and I bought a '69 Schwinn. It took about 2000 dollars worth of selling newspapers, collecting cans, and cutting lawns before I had it finished," recalls Fred. While he worked on the bike, the nature of competition helped him to develop his building style. "I used to compete a lot with Nano from New Breed Car Club down here in El Paso, Texas. He had a three-wheel bicycle, and we always competed in the shows during 1980, '81, '82 and '83." Though they were competitive, Nano often served as Fred's event guide as to when and where the next shows would be. "I'd travel for hours to do the shows with my bikes, from El Paso to Phoenix, San Antonio, Roswell, Espanola New Mexico, if my father would take me," laughs Fred. Little did he know it at the time, but Fred's hard work in the bicycle realm would eventually pay off in the form of a winter 1994 Lowrider Magazine pictorial on his "Grim Reaper" bicycle, a project he would come to build for his sons, Andrew and Freddy.