The LA Times reports that Julio Ochoa Ruelas, who founded the Dukes So. Cal. car club with his three brothers, passed away last month. The Dukes is the oldest lowrider car club still in existence, now with 29 chapters.

Julio and his brothers were long recognized as the spark that ignited the lowriding trend in Los Angeles. Working on old cars out of their uncle's shop, the brothers cruised local boulevards before starting the Dukes in 1962. After Vietnam, one of the brothers, Fernando, opened Ruelas Custom while Julio, who worked at a grocery store, scrounged parts. His favorite trick to source hand-to-find items was convincing telephone-pole workers or home inspectors to tell him when they spotted something of interest in a backyard.

Julio's best-known car was part of the most popular exhibition at the Petersen Automotive Museum, according to director Dick Messer. Julio and the Dukes were also featured in the documentary "Low and Slow." Observers said Julio's funeral procession looked more like a car show than a memorial. There are photos and memories of Julio also listed in a forum at

[Source: Jocelyn Y. Stewart / Los Angeles Times]

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