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Memo Ortega Stories Part 30




Memo Ortega recently came across some more of the photos he took at the late 1980s Paso Robles West Coast Kustoms show.

[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]

Memo’s Flashback

Cruising to East Los Angeles

Remembering some of my early cruising days back in 1951, ’52, with my old 37 Chevy. A car I¬†will never forget.¬†I did a lot of work on it to my liking, thats wats customizing is all about. When I¬†got the car I¬†was 14 going on 15, years old and I just wanted a kool kustom to kruze them wheels off… which I sure¬†did. I filled the door handles and truck-lid, and installed ’40 studebaker tail-lites on my rear fenders. I made me some plain side hood panels also, and installed some ’40¬†Ford headlites on my front fenders, and eventually painted it metallic green. An of course I¬†lowerd the heck out of it. It was so low that at one time I¬†got stuck on the railroad tracks.¬†Theres a lot more that I¬†did on this car, check it out in one of rik’s early Memo Ortega Stories.

I¬†grew up in La Verne, Ca where one of the older krusers told me about a kustom shop in East Los Angeles called the Ayala bros. He¬†mentioned that¬†maybe one of these days you might want to go over there, and check it out since you like our kustom cars…¬†¬†The older kruzers in my neighborhood¬†had some neat kustoms… those were the ones that gave me the kustom bug.¬†Well I¬†told one of my friends if he would like to kruze over to East LA with me on a Saturday to see if we could find that¬†Ayala’s Kustom Shop, since I¬†had never been there before. Yeah lets kruze there he had¬†never been to east LA either. So comes Saturday and we just took of to East LA,¬†even if we did not know where the place was, we had no address, no nothing.¬†When we got to East LA, we asked at this auto shop for directions. ¬†Turned out the guys in the shop knew about the Ayala’s¬†and¬†told us where it was.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-johnny-rosier-iceJohnny Rosier gave Memo a picture of an old restyled Ford pick up truck he used for his Ice deliveries.

Well we met Gil¬†an his brother Al¬†an they really liked my ’37 Chevy. From that moment¬†on we went to that East LA shop¬†pretty often on Saturday afternoons.¬†We got to see kustoms there but we never bothered the workers in the shop,¬†mostly we talked to Gil, he was always nice and we became friends.¬†One other guy I¬†remember from the Ayala Shop was Johnny Rosier¬†he would later get a ’53 Mercury that was done at the Ayala shop. We got to know him a little better, he was kool, took time to talk with me an my friend, two young teen kids instrested in kustoms… he liked that. He allways asked us how come u guys come way out here to East LA, that’s real far from where you¬†guys come from. Because we like krusin¬†we always said! ¬†¬†His car merc so was kool just seeing him leave the Ayalas shop was a huge¬†plus for us…¬†Just one of my many great memories from the 50’s.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-johnny-rosier-53Johnny Rosier later had this 1953 Mercury hard-top that was restyled at the Ayala Shop. It was a really beautiful car with an amazing paint job. I remember clearly how Johnny slowely took off at the Ayala shop to go for some cruising on Saturday nights.


Paso Robles WCK show

I recently came across some more photos we took at our 1980’s visits to Paso Robles how. This was such a great show, great memories. So back to Paso Robles Part 2.¬†I know the Paso¬†Robles West Coast Kustoms car shows are no more, but so many of us still remember them… awesome times we all had there. Never to be forgotten!¬†So many of us out there met and made so many new friends were made that we still talk to and together we remember those were neat times in Paso Robles.¬†¬†So many cars to look at. This show I went there with¬†my G.M.C.¬†chopped truck which I had just painted in two tone blues. The first time¬†I went¬†there it was in black paint (I see that one of the pictures I found was with the truck painted black). Now the truck lives¬†in japan with the Pharaohs Car Club with Junichi last time I¬†heard.

Later on the show was moved to Down Town Paso, where it was even better and the night kruzin was the thing to do.¬†On some of these photos you¬†can see one of my grandsons posing with¬†some cars, good memories from back in the 1980’ss. Nowadays the show continues in the town of Santa Maria, Ca,

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-14This lavender metallic 44-48 Ford chopped coupe looked really clean.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-13Primered ’51 Merc with chopped top with original rear window, and recessed tube kind of grille.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-12Ford Victoria in light blue primer with lots of work done on the front. It looked good.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-11The “Mini Merc” ¬†first time I saw the Volvo Amazon based custom. Was really interesting to see, great custom, to bad its gone.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-10So many great cars there, I really loved these 80’s Paso Robles shows.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-09Very slick looking chopped Chevy Hard-Top in metallic black with silver top and black tires.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-08This blue primers ’51 Merc with 50 rear window looked really good to me. He came all the way from Washington.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-07This one was from earlier when I took my GMC truck (in the background) when it was painted all black. Thats my friend Richard Crawford aka “Thinnman” with his ’55 Chevy low rider panel wagon.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-06Buick mild custom. My GMC is in the back painted two tone blue by now.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-05Loved this wild 51 Merc.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-04Unfinished chopped mid 50’s Mercury in pink and lavender primer… Wild.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-03’57 Chevy bumper with custom bullets and 53 Chevy grille on wild looking50 Merc. I really like the large radius hood corners…¬†

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-02Paul Bragg showed up with his stunning ’49 Mercury in two tone olive green. Thats my grandson kneeling in front of it, he loved it also.

ccc-memo-ortega-30-car-shows2-01Bill Reasoner had brought his personal 1951 Mercury named “Cool 51). Beautiful car, that bill and his wife sitting on the right side of the photo. I heard Bill’s old¬†Merc is now also in Japan.

(This article is made possible 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)

10 thoughts on “Memo Ortega Stories Part 30

  • So good to have another look through your photos, Memo. Your own comments make it even ten times better. It was your articles that got me hooked on Rik’s CCC, after poring over his wonderful collection in his photo gallery. What memories you and Terry have, and now your grandson is carrying the torch forward. Among many others whose lives you have inspired.

  • Wow, I love seeing these old pictures and wondering where the cars are today and what they look like. I’m shocked to see Sam’s blue ’49 in buff primer with red scallops- the one with the ’57 Chevy front bumper and ’53 Chevy grill…I have never seen it in that version. I know Sam bought the car in the ’90s after it was painted blue with flames and shown at Oakland.

    Thanks so much for the pictures, Memo…these are really great!

    • Ha… I thought the yellow Merc looked familiar, and had some elements the same as Sam’s… but never realized it is the same car… I know you have been very close to this one Rob.. so you know best.

  • Thanks Memo, those pictures from the early Sherwood Park days in Paso Robles bring back wonderful memories. Customs were coming back and these shows made us feel like we were part of something special!

  • thank u guys glad u guys like em , good memories we have from back then im happy to share them, if it wasent for rik lot of people out there like u guys could not see em hope to share more later too many of them photos, its nice bringing back memories like u guys say,

  • I’m late to the party (as usual!), but I too want to thank you Memo – for all the insight you provide regarding the custom scene on the “left” coast. Great images! Please keep them coming.


  • I absolutely love your pics. Car shows in the 80’s were my favorite part of childhood back then. My tio had a 63 Impala that won all the time and my cousins would break dance at the car shows too. I’m currently attempting to bring that back to my small town and as I was researching I came across your site. Very inspiring to me and it brought back so many memories. Thanks for sharing.

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