Ralph Fuentes was born in 1961, the same year that Chevy subtracted the fins from its classic Impala models, opting instead to introduce the Super Sport to the market. Growing up in Lynwood, CA, Ralph was heavily influenced by his elders and neighborhood peers; he is one of the few veterans that can truly say that he's been around custom cars ever since he was born. As a young boy, Ralph used to spend hours upon hours drawing out custom car sketches, something his mom took notice of right away. This was in the era when most of the cars that were being customized were 40's and 50's models with chop tops and artilleries. Ralph's father always had customized Hot Rods himself, although his designs were more subtle than some of his extremist neighbors. One such neighbor had custom Lowrider cars that were lowered close to the ground with chains and bags, and were riding on Supremes. Ralph remembers seeing one of these cars very clearly, as this was the first time he saw a Lowrider car hop and scrape. "I remember while I was cutting the grass at my parents' house, I noticed a 1970 Chevy Impala that was visiting one of the neighbor girls down the street. The first time it cruised by, it slowly dropped the front end and scraped it. I was in shock; then the second time he drove down the street he was hopping it and that's when I got bit by the Lowrider bug," he says with a smile.
The community of Lynwood is considered by many to be the South Side of Los Angeles, since it is located south of Slauson. "Things were different in Lynwood compared to East LA and the Boulevard," Ralph explains. In the South Side, everything was more laidback, and not as competitive. After Ralph's dad gave him his first car when he turned 16, he wasted no time turning the '72 Grand Prix into a Lowrider by lowering it, adding hydraulics, and changing the stock wheels to Supremes. After Ralph started to cruise, he met local legends like Snacks, Michael "Box" Patterson, Ted Wells, and the Tovar bothers. "Our style was different from the East LA Lowriders," explains Ralph. "We just stayed to ourselves. It's that dedication inside you that if you are a rider, you don't care about anything else or worry about what everybody else is doing. I was just having fun."
This mentality kept Ralph a solo rider for quite awhile, until he found kindred spirits in the Majestic's Car Club. After joining, he learned about the car club atmosphere and spent time with a group of people that shared his interests in cruising, BBQ's, and getting together at parks or burger joints. Car shows were not that common back in the 70's, and it was not until 1979 that he attended a show at the Great Western Forum, where the Majestic's won the most members/participation award. Around the early 80's, many Boulevard cruising spots were shut down, so many car clubs dismembered, including the Majestic's. Since the streets were shut down, Ralph started to attend more car shows, and that is were he met a few of the members of the Imperials. After a few years of showing, he joined the Imperials and realized that his designs and ideas needed to be more progressive. Mixing what he learned from his time in the Majestic's along with the new aspects of Lowriding he had picked up from his Imperials affiliation, he began to get a great reputation as one of Lowriding's better riders. In fact, Ralph was one of the few to drive his Lowrider with a full chrome undercarriage. Taking things a step further, he would even hop the car while driving, not caring if it got damaged in the process! His ambition and dedication soon earned him the position of President of Imperials Car Club in 1988, and he held office for the next fifteen years.