The 1970's sitcom "Chico and the Man" was based on the relationship between a cranky old neighborhood mechanic and a young man working for him. The show's story line hit home for Alonso Guerrero. Alonso had a neighbor by the name of Ed Underwood, who was a lot like the cranky old mechanic on the show. Ed was well versed in the repairing of cars, and his abilities were well rounded. In fact, Ed did it all; including rebuilding engines and transmissions, as well as various other forms of regular maintenance and repair. Ed took Alonzo under his wing and showed the young man how to build and work on cars. Ed took so much of a shine to Alonzo that he even shared his personal memories of growing up in the 1930's?an exciting time from his youth when his father had a service station. Every day after school, Alonso would hurry home to help Ed around his small shop. One day, a black 1939 Chevy came in for some repair work. As soon as Alonso saw the car, he knew one day he would have to have one. He was only thirteen at the time, so it was obviously out of the question for him to pursue the purchase of a '39 on his own.
When Alonso was in high school, he took auto shop for two periods each year to hone his mechanical prowess. One day, his shop teacher handed him a note and directed him to go see a gentleman that was opening a new auto repair business. Unbeknownst to Alonso, his shop teacher had recommended him for the job. He would end up working there for 17 years, and he left with a ton of experience as this particular shop worked on everything from exotics to Ford Pintos. The thought of building his own '39 was still in the back of Alonzo's mind, but he was busy raising two children with his wife of 30 years.
In 2004, the time had finally come for Alonso to find his own '39 Chevy. After looking at over a dozen '39's, he found one at the Pomona Swap Meet. He made the deal and drove it home right away. Once the Chevy was home, Alonso tore it down to begin the grueling task off restoration.
Alonso considers himself to be fanatical when it comes to stock original cars, so there was no question that the '39 would be restored to its original condition. Alonso had Raul Landeros take care of the body and paintwork on the car. Mike Perez, from Area 51 Customs installed the mohair upholstery, and Victor Varagoza from Vic's Woodgrain handled the wood grain work. Naturally, Alonso performed the mechanical work himself.
There was a sense of urgency towards the end of the restoration process. Alonso's father's health began to deteriorate. During the restoration, Alonso's father would come over and sit in the garage to watch him work. Whenever Alonso would go visit his father, his father always asked him how the restoration was going. Alonso would tell his father that "the restoration was almost done" and he promised him that they would go for a ride in it when it was finished. Always a man of his word, Alonso frantically worked to finish the '39, and had everything finished but the hood when he decided to honor his promise. Alonso and his father took that ride?without the hood on the car?and it proved to be the first and last time the father and son duo would ride together, as Alonso's father unfortunately passed away in 2009. The ride Alonso took with his father remains one of his fondest memories, and something he will never forget. Moments like the one Alonso was blessed with are inside all of us who truly understand this great culture. The liberating freedom of that ride filled the spirits of both men in a way that only Lowriding can. Alonso knows how lucky he was to have had the chance to experience that ride with his beloved father, and I'm sure some of you reading this can relate.