Even as a young man, Alfredo “Hot Rod Freddy” Quintero loved lowriders. He was eight years old when he saw his first one — an emerald green 1968 Chevy Caprice — and he’ll never forget that day.
Like many who would grow up to nurture an affection for automobiles, Quintero used to play with Hot Wheels as a boy, racing them side by side in his childhood home in San Diego, admiring the detail of each scale-model toy.
Now, as an adult and Canton resident, Quintero has a car lover’s chance of a lifetime: the opportunity to see the lowrider he’s spent years working on immortalized as an iconic Hot Wheels 1:64 die-cast toy car.
Quintero and his root beer brown 1975 Impala will be among 18 regional Hot Wheels Legends Tour winners vying for the grand prize at the Specialty Equipment Market Association — a custom build vehicle organization. The show is today in Las Vegas.
Having secured a spot earlier this year during the Hot Wheels Legends Tour event in Atlanta, Quintero’s car will be inducted into the Hot Wheels Garage of Legends — a collection of one-of-a-kind cars. And, his ’75 Impala is just that: custom paint, interior, accessories and a hand-painted mural of his family in the trunk. It’s a car that Quintero, his friends and his family have worked on for nearly 10 years now.
The influence and importance of family in Quintero’s life and work cannot be overstated.
In 2010, after he saw a listing on Craigslist for the Impala he’d soon come to own and restore, his sister offered to pitch in and help him purchase it (while he awaited income tax returns).
“It’s been a real family effort,” Quintero said. “It’s been an effort from the kids and the wife … and everybody else. It’s taken a lot of commitment from them to be able to support and keep me focused in the build. And, it’s always been all about the family.”
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He said his children, Enrique Quintero, 12; and, Serina Repin, 13, have spent their share of time “with dad in the garage, cleaning it up, getting it ready for car shows.”
Quintero added that those who have helped him piece together the Impala, and those he’s met along the way have been like a family in their own right.
Among them, Pete Mata of Fontana, California, who’s known Quintero for about seven years. They came to know one another through membership in the same car club.
Mata said that in addition to being a family-oriented man, Quintero is “very dedicated to getting his car built the right way … and, when Freddy works on his car, he’s very meticulous and methodical. He’s always looking to improve. Making sure things fit right.”
Added Mata: “He’s a ‘measure twice and cut once’ kind of guy. He likes to do everything to the best of his ability.”
Pete Becerra of Palmdale, California, who did the paint job, echoed these remarks.
Becerra said Quintero from the start was “very particular about what he wanted and the color he wanted. He put a lot of thought into it, which is, just like everything else with that car, planned out. There’s been hours and hours of work that went into it.”
Becerra said the outcome of this week’s SEMA show in Las Vegas could be a game changer — but even being invited to the competition, he felt, has been an honor for his friend.
“This is something very big,” Becerra said. “Many of us spent our childhoods playing with Hot Wheels … If he’s able to pull this off, I mean, he’s going to get a Hot Wheels made from his own car. That’s really big. That’s hard to even imagine.”
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The significance isn’t lost on Quintero.
“I’m excited and nervous at the same time,” Quintero said. “To think, I was once a little kid playing with these little toy cars, and maybe one of those cars is going to be designed from mine … Wow. It feels crazy to be part of this. I am grateful.”
Added Quintero: “It all just feels totally unreal.”
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