Custom Car Chronicle
Memo Ortega Files

Memo Ortega Stories Part 27




Kruzin is what Memo and Terry do on Sundays. Vondolero As Memo named his 1953 Chevy kustom must get out and kruzzzze all over the LA and Harbor areas… otherwise she just aint happy. Memo Ortega Stories Part 27

[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]

But before we go cruising lets take a moment to remember Memo’s cousin and car buddy Panya who recently passed away.

R.I.P. Panya

On December 16, 2015 Memo’s cousin Frank aka “Panya” passed away at age 85. You have probably read about Panya in some of the other Memo Ortega Stories. Panya was another original Vagabond Car Club member to which Memo also belongs to from very early on. Today there are very few original members left. After Panya’s funeral, Memo went over to his old house and talked to his son Michael about the good old time with his father. On the coffee table there was this old photo album, so Memo asked if it was on with photos of Panya and if he could take a look. It was and when Memo looked inside he saw many old photos he had never seen before. Photos of Panya’s old 1941 Chevy taken around 1948 or 49. And pictures of him with his 1950 merc. Both cars were nice mild customs with a really nice stance, and both had motorcylcle taillights which was really big back then. Memo hopes he can have the other photos scanned from the album as well, so that we can do a nice tribute to Panya article here on the CCC. Untill then here are two of the photos from Panya’s photo album.

CCC-memo-ortega-part-27-PanyaPanya with his tail dragging 1941 Chevy four-door with motor cycle taillights and single bar flipper hubcaps in 1948-49. A few years later Panya owned a very cool mildly restyled 1950 Mercury which we can see on the right photo.


Sunday Cruise

Memo and his wife Terry have been cruising Memo’s customs on Sundays for as long as they can remember. They love going out on the road with their customs, checking out known and unknown places, going for a bite to eat, and getting together with friends if they bump into them on their  way. Memo always says that his cars are not happy if they do not get their weekly cruise…

On the first Sunday in 2016 Memo and Terry took out their 1953 Chevy “Vondolero” for another cruise, and this time Memo took his camera with him to shoot some photos along the cruise. Lets sit down and listen to Memo’s Sunday Cruise story.

We got up today, got ready and took off. After a little bit we stopped for a bite to eat and after that we headed west on Arrow Highway, kruzin past the dam to Al Monte went down Rosemead blvd to Whittier Blvd and stopped by Montebello Park. Pit stop park was dead, nobody around, so we left heading West. We went under the big Whittier blvd sign on the corner of S. Arizona Ave. then went on towards the 6th bridge. We stopped there to take a picture of Vondolero on the bridge with the city in the background.


CCC-memo-ortega-part-27-01The big Whittier Blvd. sign on the corner of S. Arizona Ave.


CCC-memo-ortega-part-27-07Terry in our Chevy at Montebello Park before we left towards the back of the park.


CCC-memo-ortega-part-27-03We parked the car and quickly took this pic of the famous 6th Street bridge.


Next we went up Alameda to the Placita. We checked it out and headed towards Hollywood Blvd. When we got there, the place was packed with tourist, we made one pass and left. It took us a little time to get to La Brea Blvd. becuase of the heavy traffic, but we were having fun krusin through there. We do not come there too often, but every once and a while we like to check out Hollywood Blvd. and go krusin there.


CCC-memo-ortega-part-27-06Hollywood Blvd… it’s real neat seeing whats going on around there with all kinds of characters dressed in different costumes.


CCC-memo-ortega-part-27-08On Hollywood blvd heading west towards grauman’s chinese theater. Lots of traffic stopped at Highland Av. signal.

We got to La Brea Blvd. an headed south, we wanted a famous Pinkys Hot Dog, but when we got there the place was over crowded… I guess like always, so we decided to keep on krusin down to Santa Monica. The place was so packed with traffic, so we left and headed down the Pacific Coast Highway towards LAX Airport. We went to this spot where our good friend Howard Gribble likes to take photos of planes taking off on the runway. We love to kruze there, just having fun all over. We left there rappin pipes… Let me tell you… Vondolero never lets us down “nock on wood“, and it also jams when I step on the gas, one mighty fine kruzer. We headed towards Redondo Beach, it was a cool day, but who cares, were out there kruzin… mabe I should change my name to kruzer haha… Cuase thats what every car I’ve had have run the wheels off them kruzin after all thats what I’m build them for. Since I was a teen I have been krusing my rides, just to have fun and I haven’t stopped krusin since back then… Every Sunday, just ask anybody that knows me. Anyway lots of people at the beach, walking the beach, having fun.

CCC-memo-ortega-part-27-09Terry with LAX in the background with a plane just taking off. You never have to wait long for that to happen… busy airport.


We left and headed down to San Pedro, we went down pacific to where it ends and headed right to Point Fermin where we always end up on Sundays, its just one of our favorite places to go to. We headed all the way to where the road ends, and made a u-turn and parked the car. This is where the Legends Car Club parks on Sundays. Its such a great place with great views over the ocean looking out at Cattalina Island. We took a couple of photos there and then some guys in a station wagon pulled next to us. They told us they had seen us in Boil Heights ealier in the day by the 6th Street Bridge. I told them “yeah we were there, we are just kruzin all over having fun”. They gave us a hight five an left. We also left there, and made a pass at the Ports of Call a very famous spot for tourist, its a couple of miles from Point Fermin. We  got there and it also turned out to be packed with people. We kruzed through there, very slow with our Chuck Berry oldies music blarring out of Vondolero’s speakers… we turned many heads, and people where checking out Vondolero.


CCC-memo-ortega-part-27-04San Pedro, California close to the Angels Gate Park.


CCC-memo-ortega-part-27-05We parked the car at Point Fermin and walked around for a bit, taking a few photos from the view.


CCC-memo-ortega-part-27-10Point Fermin with a great view over the pacific looking out at Cattalina Island.

Next we headed to Long Beach on The Pacific Coast Highway, again lots of tourist there as well, still for the holidays I suppose. We turned up on Atlantic Blvd and headed North towards East LA, again kruzin all the towns. We drove past the old Barris shop on Atlantic Blvd in Lynnwood… it was closed. Atlantic looks so much different now then how I remember it from back in the early 1950’s, and from all the famous photos. It has a center divider in the road now… We went back to LA, to Broadway and then back to 6th St. over the bridge and headed east on Whittier Blvd. We made another pit stop at the park, but still nobody around… odd. Then we decided to go back home, where we got at about 7,30. Another great kruze and lots of fun with my wife Terry in our “Vonderlero” 1953 Chevy. All throught the day we did not see any old cars at all… How Weird!!!

CCC-memo-ortega-part-27-map2Some of the places we went to this Sunday… we did good.

Go to Part 28 of the Memo Ortega stories.
Go back to Part 26.


(this article is sponsored by)







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)

8 thoughts on “Memo Ortega Stories Part 27

  • bob thats a good question,… when theres a swape meet we see them all around an allso when theres car shows ,… here in so cal u cant imagine how manny old cars are around when they come out of the woodwork other wise u dont see them as we say then u see them, everybody does there owen thing its kool,…but for me all i want to do is kruze my wheels off as i allways say an thats what we do, … back in the 50,s u would see kool cars krusin all over but times changed,.,,, me.i dont care if i get rocks on my tires or bugs in my front fenders or rock chips its about having a kool car krusin down the streets thats where its at for me, ,,a couple of places we do see old cars is at montebellow park an point fermin in san pedro on sundays,

  • Memo, you & Terry racked up the miles cruising. the vondelero is part of you,taking you places most of us readers have never visited or seen ? Just having fun & relaxing. very cool !

  • “Round, round get around. I get around. Yeah………”
    Love it Memo. When I was growing up in the Detroit area that’s what we did every weekend. Woodward Ave. Gratiot Ave. Harper ave.. All over. Good times…..

  • Hmmm, cruising in a cool custom – who’da thunk it? ..Kidding! Good on the Ortegas for enjoying their “old car” to the fullest; and thanks for the travelogue of some cool spots!


Leave a Reply