Life is precious and life is short. Life also teaches us what we are truly made of, but sometimes; we aren’t blessed with enough time to realize it. Unfortunate tragedies often take away the people we love, at a time far too soon for us to be ready for. This can bring about intense feelings of sadness and grief, but it can also bring about inspiration through tribute and dedication, and this story is about the latter.
I will undoubtedly remember this photo session shoot for a long time, as Hector Alvarado of Chino, CA was so excited about his photo shoot, he nearly sprang through the phone when he got the call. It is commonplace for most of our subjects to be pretty excited, as many have viewed the pages of LRM for years, longing for the day that their hard work would be recognized within those same pages. Hector’s excitement had an especially touching influence about it, and I would soon find out why. While I was shooting his car, I talked with him about youth, hard work, and those that pass away, and what it means to truly love Lowriders. Here is what he had to say:
“As I was growing up in Brawley, CA in the late ’70’s, I always admired my older brothers for fixing and painting their Lowrider cars. Back then I was 13 years old, and fixing my Lowrider bike. My dream was to be just like them when I grew up when I would, watch them work on cars. I admired how they sanded, fixed dents and painted, and realized that this was what I wanted to do.”
“My brothers had the talent of painting cars, and they painted many cars for guys in the barrio. When I was about 15 years old, my brother, Harvey, started to teach me how to prep cars, and eventually taught me how to paint. I bought my first car at 16 years old, a ’66 Chevy El Camino, and this was the first car I painted ? a candy turquoise. I started painting cars on my own. Over the years I have painted numerous cars, always adding my “touch of class” to them.”
“About 3 years ago, a friend of mine, Steve, offered to sell me a ’47 Fleetline. Once I saw it, and [noticed] what shape it was in, I knew I had to have it. We negotiated a price, and when it was all said and done, I took the car home and got started on it. A few months after purchasing the car, my friend Steve, who sold this Fleetline to me passed away.”
Knowing the shape the car was already in, it was obvious to Hector that he needed to continue his late friend’s work. His untimely death had shaken Hector, but it also had given him a responsibility to do a great job with the build, since his friend unfortunately passed before the car could be finished. I felt for Hector, and was touched by his story, but there was still more to learn. Hector continues:
“I started restoring the car, working first with the wiring, and then I continued with the body and paint. I painted the body in a two-tone base coat, [with a] clearcoat PPG finish. The main part of the body was sprayed in a PPG Red Rose color, which looked like a Black Cherry tone. The fenders were sprayed in a jet black color, giving off a two-tone, elegant finish.”
“Even though this car was 63 years old, the car was a California car, and it was in really decent shape, requiring only minor work. The car was running when I got it, and my father-in-law and I overhauled the engine in my driveway. Next, I re-chromed most of the exterior parts through Metal Masters of Chino, and added all my accessories, which included 15-inch artilleries mounted on Firestone 5-60’s gangster whitewalls. Other options that I tracked down through the antique car swap meets and eBay included a visor, a thermometer mirror, Thompson spotlights, a GM locking gas cap, an umbrella holder, a pipe and pipe holder, a Thermador cooler, fender guides, cruising skirts, and front and rear bumper guards.”
“There was nothing wrong with the interior, but once the car was painted, I decided to refresh it. I sent the Fleetline out to Raul’s Upholstery in Ontario, where they gave the interior a beige tone and tweed-fabric finish. When I purchased the car, the suspension had already been modified, and the car was hooked up with front and rear airbags, controlled by two switches. The rear leaf springs were already de-arched, and a few of the stock leafs had been removed, to allow the suspension to travel smoothly.”
Finally, Hector’s dream Fleetline was finished, and all those years of studying under his brothers had paid off! Now his brothers, especially Harvey, who taught him how to paint, would get the chance to see their baby brother represent the Alvarado family name in LRM! I left the shoot in a great mood, happy to have helped Hector share his story, but what Hector told me in the days following the shoot truly broke my heart:
“On the evening of this photo shoot, my brother, Harvey, passed away. Harvey was the one who taught me how to paint. He and I had many years of good times painting together. In memory of my loving brother, I am dedicating this accomplishment to him. Rest In Peace, Brother.”
We here at Lowrider offer our sincerest condolences to Hector and his family following their loss. Great work on the Fleetline, Hector, you can be rest assured that your brother’s memory and his personal touch will live on forever..
JUST A TOUCH
Owner: Hector Alvarado
Vehicle: 1947 Chevrolet Fleetline
City/State: Chino, CA
Club: No club
Engine: Stock 1947 235 c.i.d. with split manifolds, controlled by a 3-speed transmission.
Suspension: De-arched leaf springs, and front and rear airbags controlled by two switches.
Wheels: 15-inch artilleries
Tires: Firestone 5-60’s gangster whitewalls.