Memo Ortega Stories Part 24




Memo Ortega bought his 1937 Chevy in 1964, and has redone it several times. In the late 1990’s he redid it in this¬†two-tone blue version. The¬†Memo Ortega Stories Part 24.

[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. Today, in 2015, 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]

By Memo Ortega

My ’37 Chevy has been around for a long time we got it¬†since 1964.¬†I bought it from a friend Tony Trejo in Pomona Ca. Thats about the time I¬†was involved with the drag racers Ed Taylor, Merik Chertock … The Frantic Four and Bill Adair, all of Pomona, and other chapter in my life.¬†We went over to see Tony’s ’37, the car was hit in the left rear.

Now flashback in time to the 1950’s. Back then I¬†had a ’39¬†Chevy 2¬†door Sedan¬†I¬†was customizing. I¬†had already sunk in the rear licence plate in the trunk, and changed the taillights. I¬†had made some mean looking nerf bars for the front an rear. On the top, above the rear window,¬†I¬†built an awesome looking air-scoop.¬†The car was looking good lowered and with primer spots. To¬†bad I¬†don’t have any photos of that car.¬†Well one day a friend asked me if he could use it to go cruzin. I¬†told him why not, I’m not going anywhere today,… well guess what… he crashed my 39 into Tony’s ’37 Chevy in front of his house that nite.¬†And now back in 1964 I¬†went to see this ’37 Chevy and¬†find out it was this very car¬†my friend hit that nite in the 1950’s. Me and Tony started lol we we found out about this… we now thought it was so funny!

So after checking the Chevy¬†out he also mentioned had an other car, a ’38 4dr in the back of his house. He¬†asked me if I¬†wanted to buy it also. So I¬†ended up buying both of them.¬†From both cars I¬†built this¬†’37 Chevy.¬†Thru-out the years we have had¬†nothing but fun with the ’37.¬†Like one of my friends said one time… If only this car could talk, it would tell you some kool stories…¬†where its been, the cruzin, the car shows, its manny differnt motors… a 2.16,¬†a 2.65 v-8, a 3.96 v-8, a 250. 6, a 350 .v-8.¬†Nothing but fun as a every-day cruzer.

CCC-memo-ortega-37-chevy-C-01As soon as I started to remove the paint from the ’37 I realized this was not going to be easy, SO¬†many layers of paint!


CCC-memo-ortega-37-chevy-C-02But fortunately I had help from Michael, one of my grandsons. Look at all those colors on it. Long way to go.


CCC-memo-ortega-37-chevy-C-03We are getting there.


CCC-memo-ortega-37-chevy-C-04Still smiling…

Well this is one car that I¬†had so manny paint jobs that when me and Michael, one of my grandsons, stripped the paint off, it looked like a rainbow. (you can see a few of the other paint-jobs I had on the ’37 Chevy in THIS¬†older Memo Ortega Story.) Once we got it all stripped and primerd, we got it all ready for yet an other paint-job. This time I decided I did not want to spray it myself. So I¬†went over and talked to a friend of mine,¬†Mario Dealba jr, about laying some color on the ’37 he said “yeah ill spray it“. He did a super paint job on the ’37. We took it back home got the car all together and it looked really great. When finished we went cruzin with it again.. all over like we allways do. We allso hit a lot of car shows, just having fun with the ’37.

CCC-memo-ortega-37-chevy-C-05After we got the paint stripped from some parts I added primer to make sure the metal was not going to start rusting.


CCC-memo-ortega-37-chevy-C-06And finally I got the whole car in primer and ready for paint.


CCC-memo-ortega-37-chevy-C-07I added the lighter blue color on the belt-line and around the windows. But when it was time for the main body color I asked my friend Mario Dealba if he could do it for me.


CCC-memo-ortega-37-chevy-C-09Thats me.. very happy … picking up the freshly painted Chevy from¬†Mario Dealba. I was so happy with the way the paint job came out.


CCC-memo-ortega-37-chevy-C-10The Chevy back at home putting it all back together, most of the work is done, running boards, sun-visor and a few other details are still missing.


CCC-memo-ortega-37-chevy-C-11All back together and ready to miles and miles of cruising.

One paticuliar show I¬†remember getting invited to by Mario Dealba jr, and his familly. It was a big Low-Rider show in San Bernardino Ca. Yeah big it sure was. It was held at the Orange Show Fairgroungs. We meet at their shop early on a weekend, when everybody got there we took off got on the 10 Freeway, I’m following Mario Sr. in his candy red ’37 Chevy and me in my blue ’37 and a¬†few¬†other car with us. It was early so there was not to much traffic on the Freeway. We headed east running 60¬†–¬†65 miles an hour, a good speed, our radios blarreing out some cool tunes and smelling the cool¬†breeze. Once in a whill a car or truck honking and giving us a thumbs up that was really cool. After a while we get off the Freeway in San Bernardino¬†and head for the Fairgrounds, not to far from the Freeway. We get there and theres a bunch of cars in line waiting for their turn to get in the show. All kinds of Low-Riders a few Hot Rods, Bombs and a few Customs… this is gonna be a good car show!

CCC-memo-ortega-37-chevy-C-12My ’37 Chevy parked behind the Cady red ’37 Chevy of Mario Sr. This was a BIG show in San Bernardino Ca.¬†

We got in line following the last car, we got out off our cars, talking about our little trip how neat it was, with not to much traffic out there. We were allso checking out the cars coming in behind us, lots of cool looking cars. I asked the guys if they would let us take in our coolers, couse we had a bunch of burrito’s an soda’s in the coolers. The guys told me they did not know… man that got me worried. Because¬†we have to wait till we get to the check in point… by then the line started moving. Finally we get to where we fill in the entry form, and the guys there check our cars and tells us we cant take in the coolers. “Why not???”¬†I¬†told them we just got soda’s an burrito’s…¬†“Sorry can’t do!“, .. Right then¬†I wanted to make a U-turn and go home… but no-way I¬†could turn around with all these¬†cars.¬†The guys told me they would make sure nothing would happen to our coolers we could pick them up after the show.¬†We had no other choice but to go in, end leave the coolers there… we all agreed.

CCC-memo-ortega-37-chevy-C-13My ’37 Chevy looked good at the show.¬†

So in we went, we got a good space, we set up our cars Mario’s Candy Red ’37 in front and our blue ’37¬†behind him. After we cleaned up our cars, we took off to check out all the other cars ¬†at the show. Talking with other guys we new, the day went by real slow but we were having lots of fun.¬†They had a few bands playing in the stadium. Its where the Orange show has its Stock Car Racing on Saturday nites. The crowed was big, checking out the good sounds of the bands and singers. They also they had a few tabels with a lot of beautiful trophies, big and small ones to be given out latter on for the awards.¬†By this time it was all ready getting dark,¬†Michael¬†and me went looking at more cars, and Albert and his dad went to where they were going to give out the awards, and check out the music. From where we were, we could hear people cheering. I told Mike they must be giving out the trophies to the winners of each class by now. We continued looking at the cars, latter on I¬†told Mike lets go find the guys. As we got there, they were just coming back.¬†They saw us, and asked where we had been. They kept calling your name Memo, you were not there….¬†so we got your trophy for you. You got 2-nd place in your class.¬†Mario’s ’37¬†got a first place. Wow thats was so¬†cool. I¬†told them I¬†was not expecting that at all.

CCC-memo-ortega-37-chevy-C-14Mario Sr’s wonderful Candy Red with gold accents ’37 Chevy looked really amazing. My blue ’37 is parked behind it.

So after a little bit of problems early in the morning it turned out a very good day, a¬†lot of fun and we all had a great time. After the show we went and got our coolers back, and like the guys had told us to watch them really good… They had don their job and nothing was missing!¬† By now were were all really hungry so we left the fairground and found a nice spot where we¬†could eat our burritos. They had never tasted so good. After burrito diner we went on our way cruzin back home.

This was around back in 2000, the 37 is still doing its thing in a different color… more to come…

CCC-memo-ortega-37-chevy-C-15Richard “Thinman” Crawford, ¬†made this painting from my ’37 Chevy in 2001.

Part Twenty five with more of Memo Ortega build Customs is coming soon, stay tuned.
Go back to Part 23.




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)

4 thoughts on “Memo Ortega Stories Part 24

  • October 17, 2015 at 14:34

    Memo I love reading your stories………… I hope when I am your age I still have the passion for cars like your self……..
    I love your stories because you are one of only a few we have left who has seen soooo many changes in the kustom era from the early beginning to now……….

    I would love to be the owner of one of your old Mercs you sold unfinsihed……..!!!

  • October 18, 2015 at 05:08

    Thanks so much for letting us all take a ride with you into those times, Memo. Keep those stories coming!!!
    your Conquistador friend,

  • October 18, 2015 at 07:28

    thank u guys ur words leave me speachless, we just came home an i opened my computer to the ccc an seen rik has a new one of my storys, i had forgotten this story, thats what happens when we get older lol, makes me happy to see you guys enjoying them, i give a very speacial thanks to rik an the ccc for bringin the memo ortega files storys for u all to enjoy, so manny storys i cant tell them all, rik, i thank u for all the time u have taken to do them so we can share them here for everybody, again rik props to u memo,

  • October 18, 2015 at 08:43

    Memo, you must have used alot of paint stripper to remove all those layers of paint ? i love the body work stages in primer. Mario did a fantastic job of laying down that midnight blue paint job! very cool !! Bring that car back into the future & cruise the streets & highways were it belongs for all to see, Thumbs Up !

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