Custom Car Chronicle
Memo Ortega Files

Memo Ortega 34 Ford


Besides Custom Cars Memo Ortega also worked on a few Rods. He built and painted Mike Evans car in the mid 1970’s. The Memo Ortega 34 Ford stories.

[box_light]Memo Ortega is a well known name in the SoCal Custom Car and LowRider Scene, but perhaps not as well known as it should be. Memo has been working on custom cars and Low Riders since the early 1950’s. He became good friends with Custom Car Icon Gil Ayala, and in the late 1950’s he even bought Gil’s famous 1942-46 Ford Coupe as a persona driver. In 2014, 80 years young, Memo is still chopping tops, and any other custom car work you can think of from, his garage work-shop. Check out more of the¬†Memo Ortega Stories¬†in the Memo Ortega Files on the CCC[/box_light]
On June 8th, 2014 the second Annual Memo Ortega Car Show in downtown Pomona took place. One of the cars showing up at this years event was a 1934 Ford Memo worked on and painted back in the 1970’s. And guess what, the car looked as good today as it did back then. Mike’s ’34 Ford is still wearing¬†its original Memo Ortega paint job, shining as bright like as it did almost 40 years ago. Seeing the car at his Car Show brought back many fun memories for memo… We leave it here to¬†Memo to do the talking.

By Memo Ortega

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s hard for me to remember every car I did in the 70,’s, but here’s one I sure can remember. Mike Evans and his wife Kathy had asked me to keep an eye out for a ’34 Ford 2-dr sedan. One day we went to this car show in our ’37 Chevy together with Chayo Olquin. He had this real neat ’48 fleetline he had bought from Roger Squires out of Torrance Ca, (thats Howard Gribble’s aka “Kid Deuce” home town). The show was at Knots Berry Farm in Buena Park Ca, we were walking around when I spotted this car body sitting on a trailer it was a ’34 Ford 2-dr, just what Mike and Kathy wanted. I went over and did a little rappin with the owner and got his number. Latter that day I called Mike and he got all jazzed up. We decide to go and take a look at the car in Corona Ca, where the owner lived. When we got there, we knocked on the door and knocked… finnally the guy comes to the door and we tell him what we are here for. He tells us I’ll be out in a minute. So we waited and waited… after a long time the guy comes out, “can I help you?” Gezze I can’t belive this, here we’ve been waiting all this time… and turns out this guy’s tv program is finnally finished, so he can help us… now can you belive this!After wheeling and dealing, Mike ends up buying the ’34. The guy had allmost everything for the car… and despite the doubts we had about this guy he even deliverd it to Mike’s home… that was a plus.

CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-01When Mike took the car to Memo, it was fairly complete, but still needed a lot of work to get up to mike’s and Memo’s standards. Mike’s two sons loved to help out Memo.
CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-02Memo did a lot of work on the Firewall, recessing the center, filling all unneeded holes and make it as smooth as possible.
Mike had me do all the body work on the Ford. We then installed this trunk section behind the rear body panel. When all the body work was done Mike and Kathy asked me to paint the car. We went to the paint store where me and Kathy picked the two tone colors. I painted car, and right then she did not like the colors! I told her wait till im done with it. When I was done with the paint job she could not belive how neat the colors came out… boy were they happy! One day Mike and me we were coming from cruising around and stopped by Joe Lassalettes (sp) place in Covina, first time I meet joe. He sure liked my ’37 Chevy I had back then, the way it looked an my paint job. Joe fell in love with my car.

CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-03We added a special Potter trunk to the back of the car. The piece had a hard life and needed quite a bit of work to meet our standards. The mustache and sideburns were the rage back then.
CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-04Behind the Potter trunk I added a smooth spare tire cover. To make this all happen I also had to extend the bumper brackets.
CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-05With all the body work done the body was primered I assembled the car for the first time. Mike actually drove it around like this for some time.
CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-06Then it was time to take everything apart and get the body sanded smooth and ready for its final paint.
CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-07In the paint booth…




CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-08Mike’s 34 on one of the many trips we took, this one up into the mountains. My ’37 Chevy sits behind the Ford… you can see it better in the next picture.

CCC-memo-ortega-37-Chevy-70s-02Both the ’34 Ford and ’37 Chevy are typical ’70’s cars.
I’ll tell a little bit about Joe. Joe, and his partner big Stan Johnson were drag racing champions in the 60’s. They ran C. class in there 40 Willys coupe, they won the ’65 winternationals an bakerfield the same year… how cool is that! I know it has nothing to do with customs, but this is part of my cruzing around, Joe is still my friend.

CCC-memo-ortega-37-Chevy-70s-01The kid pollishing the rear wheels on my ’37 Chevy is a young Dale, one of Mike’s sons. Dale and his brother Mickey were allways helping us. Mike’s ’34 is in primer sitting in the back.

Mike’s ’34 in 2014

At my resent show, Mike brougth his 34, that car still has the same paint job I did in 1976. I was asked by Marve Coley, owner of a nice green Custom Merc, how manny coats of clear had I sprayed on the 34 when I painted the car back then. I told him, no clear at all! “WOW, that paint is so shinny for being more than 30 years old!” Thank you Marv, I said to him, this paint job looked still like the way I did my paint jobs back then! I hand rub them till perfection.

The photos below are taken at the Memo Ortega Car Show in Downtown Pomona on June the 8th, 2014. Mike’s ’34 Ford Sedan still looks exactly as it did when Memo built and painted it in the mid 1970’s. BTW that’s Memo’s 37 Chevy parked next to it, the same one as the two tone blue car in the photos above.



CCC-memo-ortega-34-ford-11Memo Ortega posing proudly with Mike’s ’34 Ford. It’s hard to believe the paint job on this one is almost 40 years old, and still looking so good today.



Good thing is… Mike allways carries a camera even back then so now we can see some work I did back then. I don’t think I have seen these 1970’s photos ever before.








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Rik Hoving

Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)

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