Some people are born to be lowrider enthusiasts, while others work to become them, earning their stripes by watching the OGs of this culture show them the heart, style, and design technique that has been passed down for generations of builders and aficionados alike. It is clear that 40-year car club veteran Joe Guerra is one of the former-a born enthusiast, willing to get his hands dirty in order to make a positive impact on the culture. The product of a working class father from Aguas Calientes, Mexico, and a strong mother from the heart of East Los Angeles, Joe “Toro” Guerra was born into a large family, consisting of nine kids and not a lot of money. Growing up in the infamous Los Angeles Ramona Gardens housing projects, Toro was introduced to lowriding at an extremely young age, eventually influencing him to own a few lowrider bikes as he grew as a child. So strong was Joe’s interest and love for lowriding that by the tender age of 15, Toro already owned a 1950 Chevy.
At a time in life when most young boys are interested in youth sports or young girls, Toro was instead fixated only on this ’50 Chevy. It sadly remained parked for days at a time, running only on prayers and his own imagination, as he often had little or no funds for gas. Frustrated, Joe decided it was time to take matters into his own hands, and do what he could to make his dreams and love for automobiles a reality. So, at the age of 18, Joe got himself a good job with the Los Angeles Housing Authority. Unfortunately, times were tough and tragedy would strike, as his family was ironically kicked out of the housing projects they lived in by that same unforgiving Los Angeles Housing Authority. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Joe was forced to find other living arrangements. Luck would be on his side, however, and Toro was able to move in with his supportive longtime girlfriend and future wife, Sherri, in the city of Bell Gardens, California. Together with Sherri, Toro began his new life with the renewed confidence and swagger that comes from having a good job, a good woman by his side, and a strong love for custom classics.
Joe soon found his niche in the lowrider world, noticing his enduring love for the bombs rather than the newer models that had begun to gain in popularity within other car builders’ circles. He began the trade that would ultimately define his career-fixing up and selling bombs with his own unique style and passion while using the extra cash he was making to invest in his own personal side projects. Toro’s exquisitely designed, turquoise-colored 1953 Chevy Convertible was eye-catching enough to gain him entry into the prestigious Old Memories Car Club back in 1968-a club in which he is a proud member to this day. Joe followed up the ’53 with a jaw-dropping arsenal of over 20 additional bombs that he built either for himself or for his fellow car club members. Affectionately known as “The King of Bombs”, Toro was on the top of his game until his oldest son, Edward, busted out with his ’48 Chevy Bomb nicknamed “Root Beer Float” that was featured in Lowrider Magazine’s March ’08 issue. His son’s feature was such an inspiration for Toro that he decided to build a new project, and engage in a little friendly father-son rivalry and competition.
The hunt was on for a car that would be worthy enough to carry on the “Toro” legacy, and after an exhausting search, he found the car in a backyard in the city of San Pedro, California. Before Joe decided to purchase the car, he had eight of the Old Memories Car Club’s finest examine the car to help him determine whether or not it was worth fixing up. With the car taken apart, they made sure there were no missing parts crucial to the rebuild, and, after a full inspection, the ’39 Chevy Master Deluxe was finally purchased for $4,500. After the car was paid for, it was then loaded by the members onto a flatbed trailer and delivered to Toro’s house where he and good friend, Tutu, would begin the careful restoration process. After a few months they had the car in decent running condition, but it was still missing a few things and certainly wasn’t the head turner that his son’s ’48 was. Exhausted, Toro decided to completely break down the car and rebuild it entirely from the ground up for one final time. Joe immediately sprung into action, hooking the bomb up with every detail including an airbag system, a new custom color paint job, a new engine, and a plushed-out deluxe interior. The new exterior color was laid down by one of Toro’s good friends, Manuel the Painter, from the city of Fontana, California. Manuel completely disassembled the bomb and painted it all in one day, putting it all back together as soon as the custom paint cured. Blind Man Mike from Norwalk, California, was then brought in to reupholster the interior in original Tan mohair. After a few months of blood, sweat and tears, Toro’s bomb was complete and ready to cruise. Proud of his latest project, Joe can currently be found enjoying his ride on the weekends with his wife of 30 years, Sherri, and his newly adopted kids who are sure to follow in his footsteps as his oldest already have. Each child would definitely teach the other, indeed.
Owner: Joe “Toro” Guerra
Vehicle: ’39 Chevy Master Deluxe
City/State: Downey, CA
Club: Old Memories S.G.V Chapter
Engine: The Old Memories crew replaced the stock engine with a rebuilt and painted ’55 straight 6 235.
Body/Paint: Manuel the Painter from Fontana, CA straightened the body and painted it. The body was painted in pieces so all the nooks and crannies were covered by the custom paint making sure the entire car matched all the way around.
Interior: Blind Man Mike from Norwalk reupholstered the interior with original mohair. The interior also features GM accessories including a fan, umbrella holder, flashlight and tissue box.
Sound System: Ruben from Old Memories Car Club installed the audio system that includes an Alpine Head unit with Alpine mids, highs, and woofers.
Suspension: “La Chingona” was hooked up with an airbag system so it would lay on the ground at a touch of a button.
Wheels: 15″ Artillery rims
Tires: Firestone 560 white walls