Lowrider DIYer, engine expert, car club president, and all-around auto addict. For this 31-year-old mechanic, cars are a deep connection to culture and community. They’re an escape from the unpredictable elements of reality. And, they’re a completely contagious way of life.
Nights. Weekends. Holidays. Birthdays. Rain or shine. Joe’s dedication reaches far beyond the garage. From getting his club members’ cars show-ready to coordinating a network of 30+ car clubs and organizing statewide charity meetups, Joe’s always got one foot on the gas.
From a young age, Joe would watch the neighborhood rides roll by and imagine himself in the driver’s seat. But his lifelong passion wasn’t fully ignited until his older sister took him to the area lowrider meetup. Flashy paint jobs? Custom chrome details? Pure prestige? Ten-year-old Joe was hooked. It was here he decided, “One day, I’m gonna hit that switch.”
A few years down the road, riding around in his cousin’s Firebird, Joe came face-to-face with a new scene: hot rods. This time, he couldn’t shake the adrenaline rush. He needed his own high-performance vehicle. Luckily, a local legend known as “Poppa Noel” took Joe under his wing and helped him build his first ride (a ’69 Chevy Nova dragster). The two have been customizing cars together ever since.
Thanks in part to Poppa Noel’s garage schooling, Joe grew into the go-to mechanic he is today. Body work, paint, transmission, suspension, hydraulics – you bring the ride, and Joe will craft a loud and proud revival. Condition is no concern.
When Joe got his hands on this ’72 Monte, he saw potential for hot rod greatness. But this ride needed lots of love before hitting the streets, including a new motor and transmission, and some serious body work. Three months of sleepless nights later, the “gun metal gray” rod was up, running, and ready to wow at the biggest car show of the year.
“Built, Not Bought.” That’s the mantra Joe lives by. And his ’81 lowrider is living proof that man can conquer almost any mod when put to the test. We’re talking custom paint, new wheels, door upgrades, and a complete overhaul of the engine (or as Joe calls it, the heart).
Inside these humble backyard gates, Joe stores his personal collection, dreams up his latest masterpieces, and watches his troubles fade away. These days, Joe’s crew is turning a ’64 Impala into a tricked-out cruiser and upgrading the engine in the ’72 Monte. The yard also houses Poppa Noel’s beast of a Camaro (’67 Rally Sport). All hail this ultimate home workshop.
When Joe isn’t getting his hands dirty in his own backyard, he’s passing down his love of cars to the next generation. Whether it’s helping a neighborhood kid do mom’s oil change, teaching a mechanic-in-training how to fully restore a motor, or simply handing his switch box to a young admirer, it’s safe to say that Joe “Monte” is on his way to becoming an automotive master. Like Poppa Noel before him.