If there is one thing that almost all Lowrider builds have in common, it's the fact that there's always some sort of influence or motivating factor behind the build itself. In many cases, it can be a death in the family, a build for a spouse, or even a lifelong love affair with a certain make or model. In the case of Alex Garza's '77 Monte Carlo, the motivation stemmed from a promise. Alex's quest for the perfect Monte began as he decided to look for a car to build after one of his good friends, a friend with whom he used to ride motorcycles with, was killed by a drunk driver while riding his motorcycle. Herein lies the promise; Alex gave his word to his wife and mom after the tragedy that he would never again ride street bikes, and that he would instead build himself a Lowrider.
An honorable man, building a Lowrider was a great way to keep Alex out of harm's way for his family's sake, while simultaneously preserving his identity as a true auto enthusiast. "Lowriders were always a hidden passion of mine," he says. "My uncles had built some serious street cars back in the '70's and '80's in Delano, CA. After I sold my motorcycle, I began my search for a Lowrider to build, focusing on finding a '73-'77 Chevy Monte Carlo," notes Alex, with a tone of reason in his voice. "That was the car that all of my uncles' had back in the days. Coincidentally, the Monte Carlo was also the car I learned how to drive in when I was a teenager."
Now that he had narrowed down his ideal make and model, Alex was well on his way with the build. After weeks of searching, he had a good lead from Craigslist; it was a 1977 Chevy Monte Carlo that was up in Delano. "I drove to Delano to check out the MC. It was kind of in a rough shape. It had some cancer in the normal places, like the wheel wells and exterior. I went over the car and made sure that the car had no prior or major body work. I then asked the guy, 'Are you firm with the price of $1100.00?' I figured I could live with the cancer spots and so forth, but with the title and registration being 10 years behind, it was going to be expensive. I decided to offer him $600.00 for the car. He spoke to his wife, and they handed me the keys and paper work and I drove it home."
Once the car was parked safely at Alex' home, it sat in the drive way for a while, until he was financially ready to breathe new life into it. "One day I woke up and drove it to my boy Edmund Frausto's shop. He had done my hydraulics before, and I felt that he was the man to do it again. Edmund installed two Showtime pumps, four switches, and six batteries," he explains. "I did not want a hopper, I just wanted a clean cruiser, and that is exactly what he gave me when I picked it up. Roughly 3 months later, I took the car to my buddies at Kal Koncepts and said, 'I am ready when you are.'" Once Dion and Craig saw how serious Alex was about his build, they quickly went to work, with Craig immediately sketching out some renderings for design ideas. "He came up with an idea that we all agreed upon, so while Craig continued to sketch on paper, the necessary body work began. Brandon Lamby shaved the door handles, and cut and removed all the cancer, replacing it with fresh new metal. There were over 300 hours that was put into the body work before we were satisfied with it," Alex says with a smile. "Once the body was perfect and primed, it was ready to be blocked and smoothed out, in order to get ready for the paint."
During the process, Craig had been on the phone with House of Kolor, and was told that they wanted a couple of older cars in their booth for SEMA. Craig sent them the rendering of the Monte Carlo and they were blown away. They immediately requested and approved the car to appear in their booth. The possibility of such great exposure weighed heavily on Alex. "Having been to SEMA before, I knew what was at stake, and I was not going to let my friends down with this build. I knew that I was going to have to go into overdrive with this one," he says with a grin.
Work began for the crew at a feverish pace. "Once my partner, Nino Brown, and I got the car dismantled, I was ready to get the chrome redone. I called an old friend in Anaheim, Peter Tapia, who deserves all the credit for the re-chroming of the car, from top to bottom, and from front to back," Alex comments. "During the time that the car was disassembled while being chromed and painted, Dion Guiliano, Nino Brown, Rich Wyman, and myself started on the interior down at the Mob Shop. The Mob Shop took great care with their work, handling everything from the fiber glass installs to the carpeting," he says, giving credit where credit is due. Stitched in BMW Leatherette material, the spice orange and tan inserts were the perfect match for what was to become the "Microphone Fiend."
Alex's road to the perfect build did have one major pitfall, however. "After blowing up my stock engine at the Majestics' picnic, I sent my car to Steve Johnston and Nickaracci, and they replaced the motor with a 1977 Corvette 350 four bolt main with a cam, lifters, aluminum intake, Edelbrock Carb, electronic fuel pump, dual electric fans and aluminum radiator and turbo 350 transmission. Juan, from Performance Off Road, installed the exhaust."
Now that the car was nearly complete, all it lacked was audio, which was added as the final step in the build. "The stereo system was built by Rich Wyman and myself. The system consists of 4 Kicker L7 8-inch subs, 2 Addictive Audio 6.5s, and 2 Addictive Audio 6x9's in the rear deck, powered by 1 Addictive Audio 10.4 4 channel amp, 1 Addictive Audio 200.1 mono amp, and a JVC head unit," he says. Serious sounds indeed, but what else can you expect from a "Microphone Fiend?"
When we asked Alex why he decided to build this car, he told us that it was built for a couple of reasons. "It was built in honor of my mom, Diana, who passed away from breast cancer in 2006. Most importantly, it represents the promise that I made to her about selling my street bike and building a Lowrider," he says proudly. "It was also built for my uncles, who showed me what Lowriders were all about when I was a kid." What a way to keep a promise, Alex.
Owner: Alex Garza
Vehicle: 1977 Chevrolet, Monte Carlo
Ctity/State: Bakersfield, CA
Club: Stylistics Los Angeles
Paint: The Monte Carlo was sprayed with House of Kolor Candy's and Pearls.
Engine: 1977 Corvette 350 motor, and a 350 transmission. To allow the engine to breathe properly, an Edelbrock carburetor and intake, as well as a billet air cleaner were used in the build.
Sound System: Chris West at Turn It Up Stereo in Tracy, CA built the custom fiberglass enclosure and installed the custom sound system, with the help of Trino Alfaro.
Interior: The interior was stitched in two-tone BMW leather. The interior was dressed up with painted panels, the dash and package tray were also painted, in order to tie in the interior to the exterior designs.
Setup: A two-pump Showtime Hydraulics set up, powered by six 31-series deep-cycle batteries. Wheels: 13x7 100-spoke Zenith Wire Wheels
Tires: Coker 5.20's