The image above tells a story that I am proud of. As far back as I can remember, I was fascinated by classic cars. My uncle had a 1963 Chevy Impala SS Convertible (top right) and I loved the idea of fixing up and restoring your own custom creation. Around 4th grade, I decided I wanted to restore a Schwinn bicycle and make it a custom lowrider. With the help of my uncle and his friends I was able to locate a 1976 Schwinn Stingray and I was hooked.
I immediately drew a vision of what I wanted it to look like when it was done (with crayons.) It was going to be blue and it would fade to purple. The wheels would be gold and chrome and it was going to have a massive amount of metal flake in the paint. This drawing would serve as my inspiration for the next three years as I started helping my grandpa out at his grocery store doing random tasks for a few dollars here and there. This gave me a reason to constantly be around my grandpas grocery store so that I could be available for any “job” that needed to be done. By the time I was in junior high I was working an hourly shift and my bike progressed quickly.
My Schwinn came out great, and I enjoyed showing it at car shows. I also eventually became a member of Nite Life Car Club and enjoyed going to the meetings and helping plan things like the annual car show. Little did I know that this experience would come in handy later. By the time I was in high school and 15, I had saved up enough money to buy a 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. It needed mechanical and body work but it was mine.
Once again the drive to work more hours and spend more time at the grocery store kicked in and I started fixing up my Cutlass. I also enrolled in auto body class at my high school ROP and started fixing up the Cutlass. I did all the body work myself and with the help of my cousin Rene, painted the car at school. (Blue and white car in photo above.)
All the hours worked at Beto’s Market and time spent into fixing up the Cutlass would soon pay off. One of the guys in the neighborhood near my grandpa’s store had a 1950 Chevy Deluxe 2 door powerglide. It was complete, with a bunch of accessories and although it needed some work, it was a bad ass ride. When I heard he was thinking of selling it to buy a newer car, I jumped at the opportunity and offered to trade my Cutlass and some cash.
I was 16 or 17 and was now the proud owner of a 1950 Chevy. I was so proud to drive around in it, revving up the pipes, shining the chrome every chance I got and waxing the aging paint to bring out the remaining bit of glory. Once again, I put in work and little by little made improvements. I had the interior redone, added a pair of 14″ Daytons and installed a sound system. I drove it to school every day and would get to my high school really early so that I could get prime parking in the Senior parking lot. My car was even featured in my Senior yearbook (black and white photo above)
It was also my Senior year that I was accepted to go to college at San Diego State after graduating from Santa Barbara High School. Life was good, I had my dream car, I would soon be moving to San Diego, and I had no worries in the world. My dad valued the idea of me getting an education and was committed to helping me financially through college. So naturally when the time came to pay the first college bill, the deposit on the dorms of $5,000 I looked to my dad for help. His response was unexpected, he asked what I was going to do with the Chevy Deluxe. I said “I plan to keep it here while I am in college. Once I graduate and get a good job I’ll move into a house with a garage and then I will pick it up and take it home.”
My dad’s response was one of two options. Option A, I could keep the car in my parents driveway while I finished college and I would be responsible for figuring out my own way through college. Option B, I could sell the car to get the $5,000 I needed for my deposit on the dorms and he would remain committed to helping me financially through college. I agonized over the decision and spoke to some guys from the car club about it. After what seemed like an eternity and consistent feedback about the right choice, I decided to sell the car to my cousin. In retrospect the decision should have been easy and obvious, invest into my education. But at 18, it killed me to have to sell my car. I promised myself that some day I would own another and I hoped that the day would come soon.
I went off to college at SDSU and financed my first car, a 1994 Honda Accord. I needed something dependable to get around San Diego. I couldn’t resist and put some wire wheels on it to satisfy my itch for a lowrider. (middle right above) The car was fun, I was able to make some modifications in the engine, added a sound system and made it “custom enough.” I eventually sold the Honda and continued through college. I would go on to get involved in my fraternity, Nu Alpha Kappa. Who would’ve known that the experience from running a car club meeting and planning events would be an asset for my campus involvement in college. I ended up being chapter President of my fraternity and Vice President of the Campus Cultural Greek council as well a homecoming nominee.
When I graduated, I went straight into the real estate field. With the business acumen I learned at Beto’s market, the education I got at San Diego State and some great mentors I launched my real estate career. My love for customization and restoration led me to become a specialist in renovation mortgages when I was a mortgage banker. The idea of being able to buy a home, fix it up and give it your custom touch reminded me of my lowrider days and excited my about the mortgage business even as the market collapsed.
It’s been 17 years since I sold the old black Chevy and although I’ve repainted one of my cars since then, restored an old schwinn several times over (lower middle left) and attended every car show I could make it to in the San Diego area, I still hadn’t made good on my promise to myself. I was ok with that because so many other dreams had become a reality. Accomplishments like marrying the love of my life, buying our own home, and getting involved in my community filled the gap. With many goals yet to be accomplished the idea of owning an old car seemed like a distant dream, until a friend challenged me to see possibility. I was asked “if I was to own a car, how would that look like?” This got the wheels turning and inspired by other businesses who had classic cars to represent their brands, like Northgate market and Xavier the X man, I began to search for a deal for a company car for theHomeMap.
After searching for months I finally found the deal I was looking for. A 1951 Chevy Styleline Deluxe 2 Door 3 speed Sedan. It was complete but not running. I proceeded to make a deal and after a summer of mechanical work and a lot of paint, the front end was reassembled and the car is now running! When I initially conceptualized theHomeMap as a real estate brand, I visualized branding that would marry my love for the road and cars with my passion for real estate. Project 5TY ONE is an exciting opportunity to be able to promote homeownership, home restoration opportunities and connect with other car enthusiasts. So keep an eye out for the progress of the project. Once it’s looking a little better, I look forward to attending community events and local car shows. Up next is some lettering to make it a true Realtor mobile. Which style do you think looks better?