Julie Duran grew up in a household filled with car enthusiasts. Her father had a love for old cars as well as classic motorcycles. He had quite a collection of classic cars, which included a 50 Chevy five window truck and a 47 Indian motorcycle. Julie’s father was also very mechanically inclined, as he performed all of the mechanical work on his cars and motorcycles. A complete garage hound, it was not uncommon for Julie to come home and see her father sitting at the kitchen table rebuilding carburetors and grinding his own valves.
The rest of the family was just as intoxicated by automobiles as Julie’s father was, as Julie’s mom drove a 55 Oldsmobile, and her brothers all collected cars as well. At the ripe old age of sixteen, one of her brothers already had three cars; a 48 Dodge, a 50 Chevy, and a 50 Chevy Sedan Delivery. The California DMV did not take too kindly to a 16-year-old owning three cars, so a letter came to the house stating that her brother would have to get a dealer’s license if he purchased one more car! Needless to say, after the letter came home, mom and dad put a stop to his buying of cars. Nevertheless, Julie couldn’t help but become naturally engrossed in the family’s love affair with cars as well.
After her father passed away in 1976, Julie bought her first car. She did not have to go very far to find it and purchase it, in fact, she bought her mother’s 67 Volkswagen. It only had one owner, who happened to be Julie’s father. The car was stock when she bought it, but she lowered it and added a few mild modifications. Not long after she bought it, the carburetor went out. She expected for her brother to fix it, but instead he said to her, Nope, I’ll tell you what to do and you’ll fix it yourself. He gave Julie an explanation on how to remove it and how to rebuild it, which she did masterfully. Julie’s work paid off as the car ran great after the rebuild. That Christmas, her cousin bought her a book entitled How to Keep Your VW Alive; after that, she performed all of the repairs on her VW.
While she quickly showed an interest in everything on four wheels, Julie’s passion for Lowriders began in the 1970’s while she was in high school. Bombs, Impalas, Malibus, Monte Carlos and Rivieras filled the school parking lots during this time. Some were under construction, and some were patterned and flaked. One summer, Julie was passing Paramount Studios in Hollywood, when she spotted actress Sally Struthers coming out of the studios behind the wheel of a Chevy Bomb. Julie could see her shifting three on the tree, and it was the first time she saw a female driving a Chevy Bomb. After that, she vowed to one day own a Chevy Bomb herself.
An avid car enthusiast, Julie has owned a classic 60 Mercedes Benz, a couple of vintage Porsches, and a classic Chevrolet Corvette throughout the years. They were fun cars but they were not Lowriders, and Julie still had the desire to own a Chevy Bomb.
Unbeknownst to Julie, her day of Lowrider reckoning came on a fateful day a couple of years back, when she went with her boyfriend to check on the progress of his 59 Chevy Impala restoration at Bowtie Connection in Torrance, California. As they walked into the shop, there it was, surrounded by a sea of Impalas in various states of restoration: a 53 Chevy Bel Air Convertibleand it was for sale!
Prior to Julie purchasing it, the car had received a variety of upgrades and transformations. Manny Molina from SouthSide Car Club had given the car a frame-off restoration around 1998-99. Bell Auto Body of Santa Fe Springs, California took care of all of the metal work and sprayed a two-tone cream and butterscotch design on the Bel Air. Quality Metal Finishes of Anaheim, California, powdercoated the frame and suspension components. Freddie and John Kennedy from Bowtie took care of the interior and convertible-top duties. They covered the interior in cream colors, using 59 vinyl and 56 inserts. They also made sure the factory correct stitching and patterns were used.
Manny had Orange Engines in Orange, California, rebuild the stock Chevy 235 and three-speed transmission. He added a split manifold and dual exhaust. He completed the restoration by installing a rare Falsey continental kit, a GM spot light and fog lamps, bumper guards, and wrap-arounds on the exterior. Manny also added the Autronic Eye and Traffic Guide in the interior.
Manny showed the car a few times and then put it in storage. It was only after a chance occasion that he had pulled it out of storage to sell it, when Julie saw it at Bowtie. Even though she always wanted a Chevy Bomb, she was still slightly reluctant at first to buy the car. In the end, she couldn’t help but to envision her memory of Sally Struthers driving her Chevy Bomb out of Paramount Studios, and this gave her all the motivation she needed to close the deal.
She and Manny shook hands and she was now the proud owner of the Bel Air. The car was in excellent shape, even though it had been in storage for a number of years. Once she had it home, she had Noah from L.Duran of Azusa, California, do some minor touch-up work, while Jack and Buck of Advanced Muffler in Covina, California, went over it mechanically.
Julie now drives the car as much as possible, attending shows and cruising nights with her boyfriend. One of her favorite things to do is put the top down on the Bel Air and listen to old Blues like Jimmy Reid or Buster Brown belting out Fannie Mae while she cruises the streets of the San Gabriel Valley. We imagine at one time or another, a young lady has seen Julie cruising and commented to herself, I will have a Chevy Bomb someday. I guess, like they say, history repeats itself.
Owner: Julie Duran
Vehicle: 53 Chevy Bel Air
City/State: Azusa, California
Paint: Two-tone cream and butterscotch by Bell Auto Body of Santa Fe Springs, California. Touch up work by Noah from L.Duran of Azusa, California
Interior: Freddy and John Kennedy of Bowtie Connection in Torrance, California, installed a cream color interior with factory-correct stitching and patterns using 59 vinyl with 56 inserts.
Suspension: Stock suspension with powdercoated frame and suspension parts by Quality Metal Finishes of Anaheim, California.
Wheels: 15-inch Chevrolet factory wheels with Cross Bar hubcaps.
Tires: Firestone 5.60’s
Special Thanks: Manny Molina from SouthSide Car Club, Noah of L.Duran Azusa, California, Jack & Buck of Advanced Muffler Covina, California, for maintenance work.