Truck of the Month



Manuel Fuentes' '52 Chevy Thrift Mas­ter

A proper sancha knows how to keep it player. They un­der­stand the terms of en­gage­ment and live by a set of dif­fer­ent rules. But ev­ery once in a while they start act­ing up and be­fore you know it they want more. C’mon now fel­las, you know what I’m talk­ing about.

Now imag­ine hav­ing a sancha who doesn’t want to sit on the side­lines and shine when called upon? But let’s make it worse. Imag­ine hav­ing a sancha who doesn’t want you to her­self. Imag­ine one who wants to live in your home, and in the pres­ence of your wife?

OK so by now most of you are say­ing, “No mames!” Now that we’ve piqued your in­ter­est and got­ten your at­ten­tion, there is one man who has been suc­cess­ful in do­ing just that. His name is Manuel Fuentes—and yes his sancha lives in his pad. But make no mis­take; Manuel makes no at­tempt at hid­ing the love af­fair that be­gan in the ’80s. It started off as a rusty af­fair but since then Manuel has spent a small for­tune on cos­metic surgery and bolt-ons and she’s since evolved into a sul­try women with curves to die for—and get this, Manuel’s wife ac­tu­ally likes her. In fact, his wife was well aware of the on­go­ing love/hate re­la­tion­ship and says, “[Manuel] spends more time and money on her than he does on me, which is why I call her ‘Sancha’.'”

But be­fore you get any wise ideas that’ll get you hos­pi­tal­ized, we do have to clar­ify that Manuel’s “Sancha” is ac­tu­ally a '52 Step­side truck. Yeah … sorry to burst your bub­ble of high hopes.

The af­fair be­tween Manuel and his

'52 be­gan in the early ’80s when his com­padre Billy found the truck in La

Puente, Cal­i­for­nia. She was in real rough con­di­tion but he saw po­ten­tial, so he struck a deal and gave the owner his own truck in re­turn for the '52 and $800. When he got the '52 back home he used the ad­di­tional money to pur­chase a '47 that was to be used as a parts truck from which he would use the bumper, grille guards, win­dow frames, bed, and other mis­cel­la­neous parts.

With the help of Billy Soto, the truck was re­assem­bled, cleaned up, and that’s when it was painted a mid­night blue. Manuel en­joyed it for a few years un­til one event­ful day he walked out from work to find that it had been rear-ended. The whole back of the truck had to be re­placed, and while do­ing so he de­cided to re­paint it blue and white. Happy to be back on the street, the truck was used as a daily driver for over a decade un­til he de­cided to do a com­plete frame-off restora­tion in 2000.

Un­for­tu­nately Billy was no longer around so his search for new shops to work with went awry. As with most of us who cus­tom­ize cars, he was hav­ing trou­ble find­ing a de­pend­able shop, and af­ter fall­ing vic­tim to false prom­ises and tall tales, he met Os­car Or­tiz. Within three years of their meet­ing, they were able to bring this mas­ter­piece back to life and the end re­sult is this in­cred­i­ble restora­tion be­ing show­cased to­day.

It’s an in­cred­i­ble piece of Amer­i­cana that takes you back in time and it’s al­ready claimed its fair share of awards. And while the awards make for great pa­per­weights, Manuel un­der­stands that they’re sim­ply me­men­tos of time, but takes even greater pride in know­ing that he is able to hit Whit­tier Boule­vard with the same re­newed pride he did some 30 years ago.

The Groupe Car Club on dis­play at a well known and fa­mil­iar area back­drop.

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