The Accessory Guru
In today's era of custom car building there are many avenues to visit when finding the right car or parts to complete your dream car, if it's a restoration or a tricked out low-low. Nowadays you have the internet, text messaging, next-day delivery service, cell phone cameras and other tools to help you track down the rarest of goods. Not too long ago, even as recent as 10 years back, people had to hoof it; using word-of-mouth, scribbling down secret directions to locations where rare parts could be found, scanning local newspapers, making phones calls and plain old driving out to wherever you needed to go to get the part. There was always that one guy that would know what was up, that gave you an answer like, "I know where there's one, how much are you willing to get the part for?" One of those "someones" is Michael aka "Accessory Mike" Ramos of Whittier, California. We've known about Mike since the mid 90s, but he's been doing his job since his teenage years.
"I started out in this business back in 1977 when I used to draw cars in high school. I always new that I wanted a bomb. I bought my first car when I was fresh out of high school in 1979," Mike states proudly. His love affair with cars even led to finding his dream girl. "I met my wife at a grad night party, courted her, and the day after I got out of high school, I was working at a place called Chief Auto Parts. Ironically, she lived around the block from the store I worked at and she used to parade herself near the shop," he recalls. "As for my first car, it was a '73 Chevy Impala. I bought it but didn't bring it out until it was all done. I was 17-years-old, but I wanted to move up so I bought a Porsche. This was the time when there was lowriders in Montebello Park during the heyday," says Mike. "Back at that time everyone in the scene was doing the transition to disco music, TR7s, TR6s, Spitfires and Porsches. Lowriders were still in, Whittier Blvd and Montebello Park where it was happening, so I wanted a sports car, a 914, a poor man's Porsche which was my second car out of high school," remembers Mike.
Fresh out of school, working, and having fun, Mike was living the good life. He had his car, a job, and his lady, but life would soon bring him an unexpected surprise; his lady became pregnant with a baby girl. Due to responsibility, Mike knew he had to go out and sell his prized Porsche to facilitate his new duties both as a man and an expecting father.
"So I sold the Porsche to pay for the hospital bill for my new daughter and then got myself a little go-getter, a '67 RS Chevy Camaro convertible. I found that car for $500; drove it for a while, but my lady hated it," he says. At that time the now deceased Ricardo Montalban was pushing on TV the new Chrysler Cordova with rich Corinthian leather, so as luck would have it, that would eventually be their first family car. "I put an ad in the Recycler newspaper, which was `the Craig's List' of its time back in the day, and a guy saw my ad in the paper. He called me and said that he'd trade me a Cordova for my car plus $500," he recalls. Mike knew it was best for his family, so he got the car for his baby doll, but he still wanted a nice car for himself. Mike starting driving around, hustling again which he had already begun prior to getting rid of his Porsche, searching for ways to make money and hook up his own car. At that time there weren't too many places locally where he could just go for parts and accessories, Mike's resources were limited to four options. "There was only this one place in Montebello, or you had to go to the dealer, or guys would steal stuff and you'd get it off the street but that was kind of hard. So you had to go to this place out in Pomona, California," he says. Knowing he had responsibilities to his family, he chose the legal route.