Not many people can say that they’ve put in four decades of work in the Lowriding scene, but Santa Ana resident Cruz Alvarez can. For 42 years, Alvarez’ heart for Lowriders has been beating strong, and he shows no signs of slowing up now. His first foray into cruising the boulevard was with a 1966 Chevy Malibu, and to give you some perspective, the car had only been out of the factory for four years when he purchased it! Cruz had the Malibu painted in a Metal Flake spray job, lowered and he added chrome wheels to it, giving him the perfect cruiser with which to join his first car club; the Latin Gents. Eventually, he left the Latin Gents and joined a car club from his hometown of Santa Ana, California called Classics Car Club.
Things progressed for Cruz, and in 1974 Cruz married his high school sweetheart, Dolores, and sold the sixty six Malibu. Taking on the responsibilities of starting a family, Cruz felt it best he step away from Classics Car Club to focus on his new life. Through it all, Lowriding never left his heart and after twenty years had gone by, Cruz found a 1952 Chevy Deluxe and brought it home. His brother-in-law, Art Ramirez, was president of Orange County’s Old Style Car Club, so Cruz joined the club with his fifty two and once again had a nice car to cruise on the streets of Santa Ana.
Alvarez kept on Lowriding, finding a ’56 Ford Truck in 2001, which he instantly purchased and began to tinker with. He liked the overall vibe of the truck, so he didn’t go all out on the build; opting instead to keep it simple by lowering it a little and giving it a nice, custom, Purple paint job. What Cruz did next was a rare move by many Lowriders, but a necessary one for all. Realizing how big his fleet of cars was getting, he decided to build a garage big enough to house the vehicles.
The project officially began in 2002, and after much planning, Cruz erected a 40’ x 30’ structure in his backyard. He decided this would be more than just a space for his dream cars; he wanted it to reflect the history he had in cruising the boulevards so he began to decorate it. Cruz started filling his dream garage with automotive art and Lowriding memorabilia that he had collected throughout the years. Before long, the space had completely been transformed and what was once a garage now resembled a ‘50s diner!
Of course now that he had a ‘50s diner, he decided he needed one last decoration. What better to put in a ‘50s-themed garage than a 1957 Chevy Bel Air! Cruz told his wife, Dolores, that he wanted to find a 1957 Chevy Bel Air convertible. She knew it was his dream car, but she also knew the cost of a restored one was well over $50,000 dollars and since he had just built a garage, she was hesitant to encourage him. She told him, “You have your ‘52 & ‘56; you don’t need any more cars.”
Undeterred, despite what Dolores had told him, Cruz put the word out that he was looking for a restored fifty seven. Every car that came his way was out of state, but he wanted to buy one locally so that he could examine the car thoroughly before making the move to purchase it. One Saturday morning, the phone rang at the Alvarez home. It was a friend of Cruz’ calling; his son had found a Bel Air in Los Angeles that was restored and for sale. While he was already prepared for the backlash that his beloved wife would send his way, he nevertheless convinced Dolores to drive with him to see the car later that day. His friend rode down there with him and as they waited for the seller in a McDonald’s parking lot; Cruz was fraught with anticipation, hoping it was the car he’d always wanted. Sure enough as the car approached, a stunned Cruz said, “Wow! I want it!” and Dolores said, “Me too!”
The car was beautiful; it was restored and all-original, looking fresh out of the factory. A deal was made and three days later it was sitting in Cruz’s dream garage where it fit right in with the decorum.
While she was initially happy he bought the car, ever since Cruz brought the car home, Dolores has had to fight with it for Cruz’s attention. Thus, the fifty seven has rightfully been christened as “The Other Woman.” While the Chevy may be “The Other Woman;” it will never replace Dolores, who lovingly gave Cruz the green light to bring her home. If you ask Cruz who the car belongs to, he’ll tell you that it belongs to both him and his wife. What a smart man. After all, a happy wife equals a happy life!
“The Other Woman”
Owner: Cruz Alvarez
Vehicle: 1957 Chevy Bel Air Convertible
Car Club: Old Style C.C., Orange County
City/State: Santa Ana, California
Paint: The Bel Air was painted the factory Tropical Turquoise as part of the restoration. Cruz added the one-piece bumpers and the continental kit to the Bel Air after he bought it. Clemente Rodriguez from New Year Chrome Plating in Santa Ana, California took care of all of the chrome plating.
Interior: The interior was refreshed to factory specifications as part of the restoration. Cruz installed the in-car entertainment powered by a remote controlled DVD head unit housed in a custom under dash enclosure that was paint matched to the car. Cruz added the custom painted ice chest in the trunk for use at the shows.
Suspension: The suspension and frame were restored to factory specifications before Cruz had Richie Rodriguez of Garden Grove, California install a custom airbag set up that allows the fifty- seven to lay low, dip the rear end, and lock up the front end. Because the car was a restoration, Cruz did not want to cut up the car for a hydraulic system.
Engine: The 283 was rebuilt and painted to factory specs and Cruz upgraded the battery and added a few chrome and gold pieces to the engine bay.
Wheels: 14-inch Dayton Wire Wheels.
Tires: Premium Sportways 5.20s.