The journey to become a medical doctor is not for the faint of heart. The monetary and time commitments it takes to reach Ph.D. requirements can put a tremendous strain on an individual. Medical school and residency programs take years, and some fail along the way, dashing their dreams of completing the education necessary to become a licensed medical doctor in the process. This type of struggle is certainly something that aspiring Lowrider builders can relate to, as it sometimes takes years to build the perfect Lowrider, and the amount of financial and personal strain each build requires is definitely on the same level as earning a Ph.D. If you can imagine doing both in the same lifetime, then you can imagine what it’s like to walk a mile in Dr. Steve Alvarez-Mott’s shoes, as he’s one of the rare individuals who has achieved both of these milestones
Steve’s father was a designer at General Motors in Detroit, Michigan, when he was born in March of 1955. At two years old, his parents divorced, and Steve, along with his brother and mother moved back to South San Gabriel, California. Years later while attending San Gabriel High School, Steve learned to drive in the family car, which was a 1966 Pontiac Tempest. His mom held a job which gave her the use of a company car, so she sold Steve the Tempest for $200 upon his completion of his driver’s license requirements. Soon, Steve and his friends got into Lowriding, and with money earned from working various jobs, he started to fix up the Tempest.
The first modification the budding young Lowrider made came in the form of a lowering job, which consisted of a trunk full of rocks that Steve found at “Marano Beach” (now known as Whittier Narrows). Sometime later, he heated the springs on the Tempest and added rims, before giving the car its first “custom” paintjob courtesy of Earl Schieb. Soon Steve and his friends began noticing car clubs in the parking lot at San Gabriel High School. One day in 1973, during the school’s lunch break, Steve and his friends were cruising Valley Blvd. in Alhambra, when they saw a 1951 Chevy Bomb scraping down the street. As it passed them, they saw the Groupe ELA plaque in the rear window. After that sighting, they knew they had to check out the club.
It just so happened that one of Steve’s friend’s brother knew Eddie Flores, who was president of Groupe ELA at the time. After getting the recommendation, Steve and his friends began attending club meetings at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on Hazard and Hammel street in East Los Angeles. Soon, they were full-fledged members of Groupe ELA, and were fully entrenched in the Lowriding scene at the time. Steve and his fellow club members were going to parties, dances, and of course cruising Whittier Boulevard every Friday and Saturday night.
After high school, Steve was not sure what he wanted to do with his life, so he enrolled in East LA College, where he studied math. The duality of these two worlds became amusing to Steve, as the guys in the club thought it was odd that he was in college, and the people in college thought it was weird that he was in a car club. Steve completed his Associate’s Degree in Math, and decided he did not want to have a career in math after all. He switched majors, and enrolled at Cal State Los Angeles as a biology major. Although he was having the time of his life with Groupe, he knew he couldn’t make a living just partying, so he buckled down at Cal State Los Angeles, and got himself a job working part time for the Los Angeles County Welfare Department. A busy man, Steve split time between working there and working at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey, California. Steve managed to save some money from these jobs, so he had Ruben “Buggs” Ochoa paint the Pontiac a candy pearl purple. The car was on the cover of Lowrider Magazine in 1978, and in 1979, Steve got his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology.
While enrolled at Cal State Los Angeles, Steve met a recruiter at U.C. Irvine Medical School, by the name of Richard Baiz. Richard asked him if he ever considered Medical School. Although he had not, Steve went and checked out the program, and decided to apply right away. He took a review course and filled all of the other necessary requirements, before applying to 20 Medical Schools. Five of the twenty schools accepted him, including UCLA and USC, but he decided to attend UC Irvine thanks to Mr. Baiz’s inspiration and recommendation.
Medical School was difficult and challenging for Steve, but he learned a lot and made many good friends. Just like at East LA College and Cal State Los Angeles, Steve’s Medical School classmates were surprised that he was in a Lowrider car club. Some of them, as well as some of his family members suggested he get rid of the Pontiac. After all, he was going to be a doctor, and doctors just don’t drive Lowriders. Steve stuck to his guns despite these pressures, and assured himself that there was no way he was going to get rid of it, so he just stored it away during the time he was at Medical School and completing his Residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology for the Los Angeles County.
Since 1987, Dr. Steve Alvarez-Mott has been practicing in Glendora and San Dimas, California. He is Board Certified and has delivered approximately 8,000 babies, and he is also capable of performing a surgery with a Laparoscopy. Back when Steve was still at Cal State Los Angeles, he met his wife-to-be, Debbie, who stood by him during those grueling days of college and medical school. They have been married ever since, and have raised five children together.
Thankfully, he kept the Pontiac because in 2007, it was part of the Lowriding exhibit at the Peterson Museum in Los Angeles, alongside such other legendary Lowriders as Joe Ray’s “Dressed to Kill” and Jesse Valadez’ “Gypsy Rose.” Recently, the Doctor has also acquired a 1958 Chevy Impala. The Impala is extra special to Dr. Alvarez-Mott, since the rear fins were designed by his father back when he was at General Motors in the 1950’s.
Steve summarized his journeys in Lowriding and his secondary education with these words: “I have realized along my journey the value of hard work, patience, persistence, faith, hope, and continuing education for a lifetime, despite what some may say to the contrary. It is very enriching and fulfilling to maintain our friendships and remember where we came from, and at the same time, move forward towards our career goals of service to our families and our communities.”
His story of dedication and hard work is a great example of an individual in The Lowrider culture who is an inspiration to us all.