Funky ’51

Low Joe's ride is funkafied.

Joe Phillips of Modesto, California, has pieced together one of his greatest accomplishments. We’re talking about the ride that he calls “Funky ’51,” a beautiful ’51 Chevy Fleetline that was elegantly put together over a seven-year period and built strictly for show. Before this miraculous transformation, Joe use to cruise his ride with pride up and down NorCal streets, but he wasn’t satisfied with just turning heads, so he decided to tear the car all of the way down to the frame, thus starting down a long road of customization.

Once the frame was tore down, Joe loaded it up onto his neighbor’s pickup and had it shipped to Sacramento, California, where he had the frame sandblasted and left it clean for paint. Joe already had in mind what the frame should look like, taking it to his friend Fred in Modesto. Fred knew what to do, busting out his handy tools of the trade. Fred first made sure that the frame was smooth before spraying a purple basecoat before laying out candy wild cherry throughout the frame. Fred really brought the frame to life by adding gold leaf and violet and magenta pinstriping.

Joe and Fred next mounted the front and rear suspension that was dipped in show-quality chrome and gold by Valley Plating in Santa Clara, California. It was then time to take the ’51’s body to Punch 84, the home of LeeRoy and Kenny Gonzales (who have built the legendary “Punch ’84” Chevy Silverado among others). Joe’s list modifications was long and difficult and Gonzales team was up to the challenge. They began on the ’51’s doors, which were removed and cut in half. The lower sections were welded back onto the car, the door hinges were relocated and the doors handles were removed for a smooth look. With the door handles gone, Joe thought that it would be a good idea to remove all of the emblems from the car to give it a stealth look. Wanting to make the bomb look even deadlier, Joe instructed the two to custom make and mold the skirts to the car’s body and angle two Frenched antennas at 45 degrees. The headlights were indented as well. Taking it to the extreme, LeeRoy handcrafted the Continental kit, cutting into the rear fenders, and then milled a custom grille and side gills out of aluminum to give the front and sides a truly unique look. With all of the major body modifications done, it was time to lift the car and spray the “belly” with candy violet paint.

Joe’s next step was to have the stock 235-c.i.d. straight-six smoothed out. This process doesn’t just make the engine block look good, but helps it breathe easier by releasing unwanted heat. The next step was to shave the firewall. The car was then shipped to Joe’s Modesto homeboy, Anthony, who prepped the car and left it ready for master painter Steve Fernandes of Fernandes Fine Finishes in Lodi, California.

Steve brought out the heavy artillery, masking the car off and spraying a winning combination of custom fades and patterns, using five coats of white, black, fire red and Orion silver, and drenching them in four different types of candies (tangerine, purple, wild cherry and a dab of “burple”). Steve’s custom mix created a look that others can only dream about and he did it in the quickest turn-around time that we’ve ever heard of (one day!). To seal the deal, Steve laid out three murals on the car to remind him of the days of yore when cruising was fun.

Joe’s next step was to have the bomb’s detailed engine reinstalled and it looked even better once it was back in the ’51 where it belonged. LeeRoy and Kenny had pieces dipped in chrome and gold, with a couple of painted pieces as well. The engine bay took on the look of an extreme custom-built lowrider bomb. With that look already accomplished, Joe need to go a little further by doing his interior in the same motif. Partner and Low Creation C.C. president, Robert Dulaney, helped create the custom walk-through and center console. Robert also made a custom headliner, side panels, floor pieces and swivel seat, and took countless hours of time and labor in order to achieve Joe’s custom interior look. With stencil pieces ready for the upholstery, the two naturally went with violet and purple fabric that gave the cab and trunk a mouth-watering look. Joe pushed the envelope even further by installing two Boss amps and four chrome-plated 10-inch woofers in the rear along with two Kenwood mids and a pair of tweeters all hooked up to a hidden head unit.

Looking good but still not lifted, Low Joe contacted Ali Afzal of Sinister Wheels, who sponsored Joe’s ride with rims and a Sinister hydraulics setup centering on two chrome and gold pumps with four gold-plated Delta dumps with four 8-inch cylinders up front and a pair of 10-inchers in the rear. For power, Joe can rely on four Trojan batteries and for control, he has eight switches to play with. Joe’s ride was custom fitted with 13×7 triple-gold and chrome-plated Sinister wires with gold and purple straight-laced spokes mated with a set of Remington tires.

With the Funky ’51 finished it was time to bust out, but Joe decided to be patient. Like a skilled lion waiting for a gazelle on the African savanna, Joe planned out his every move, waiting for the perfect time to strike. Joe decided to unleash his beast upon the lowrider world at Lowrider Magazine’s 2001 San Francisco car show, his first show after seven years of car crafting.

Joe and his car club lined up outside the gates of the Cow Palace at 5 a.m., and when the gates opened two hours later, Joe was entrant number 001. By the end of the day, Joe had devoured the competition, leaving him in First Place in the ’50s Radical class and the Best Bomb Sweepstakes. Talk about being “king of the jungle.” From that point on, Joe has been virtually unstoppable, tearing up everything in sight. Joe knows that none of this could have been possible without his family, friends and fellow Low Creations C.C. members, who helped him every step of the way and help him piece together his greatest dream.

Funky ’51
Owner: Joe Phillips
Vehicle: ’51 Chevrolet Fleetline
City/State: Modesto, California
Club: Low Creations C.C.
Engine: Stock 235-c.i.d. straight 6-cylinder
Setup: Two gold and chrome Sinister pumps with four gold Delta dumps, 8-inch (front) and 10-inch (rear) cylinders, four Trojan batteries, eight switches
Tires: P155/80-R13 Remington
Wheels: 13×7 triple-gold and chrome-plated Sinister wire with gold and purple straight-laced spokes