Lowriding for many is no passing fancy, like wheels that do tricks or a certain paint job that screams the ’80s? Yes, we’ve said it before; before MTV commercials and the occasional stereotype in a B movie, the culture was pulsing throughout many a neighborhood. Like many who’ve been at it a while, Richard Flores of Long Beach, California, has always had an affinity for cars, specifically Chevrolets. Well, working as a driver for Home Depot, Richard has the chance to see just what’s going on out in the streets. Having already owned a ’66 Chevy Impala, Richard was itching to build himself a ’63 Impala ragtop, the search lasted for months, but then…”One day while driving by a local neighborhood bank, I saw an immaculate ’66 Impala hardtop. It was the cleanest car that I had seen in a long time,” said Richard.
So Richard left a note with his contact information on the window hoping to hear something from the owner of the car. While placing the note, he got a closer look at the interior and it was just as clean as the rest of the car. In less than 48 hours, Richard received a call, “She was in fact the original owner and had bought the car back in 1966 at Harbor Chevrolet in Long Beach. It was she and her husband’s first new car.” As luck would have it, the lady, who was now a widow, was willing to part with the car because she was planning to move out to Arizona to live with her daughter and grandson. Arrangements were made to meet and the deal was sealed. The widow was off to Arizona while Richard was off to start on his quest to build his first real lowrider.
The car was stripped down to the bare minimum before heading out to Maclovio “Mac” Garcia out at Northridge Body and Paint where Mac applied the Sikkens two-stage urethane paint job, a custom tequila lime-green pearl, as Richard calls it. Richard dropped in a 44-inch moonroof for a bit of open air driving and Ray at M-2 Auto body in Long Beach smoothed out the firewall. Other than that, the body is stock. The “world famous” Walt Prey, pinstriper extraordinaire, laid some fine lines along the ’66 for a finishing touch. Mark the “Glass Man” in Long Beach installed all-new glass on the sport coupe.
The engine between the detailed front fenders is another jewel in this masterpiece of metal. Rudy Hadinoto of JR Automotive in Bellflower, California, did his thing on the OG 283-c.i.d. powerplant. Rudy made sure that the small-block was “prop” in the pony department while adding a polished intake manifold and carb with linkage, all-drive pulleys, water pump, alternator, all of which were either polished or plated by Ramos Plating in North Hollywood, California. Ah, but Rudy didn’t stop there, no sir. The details that went into the engine bay include some super-clean engraving along the air cleaner, valve covers and overflow cap. The engraving was done by “EZ” at Precision Engraving also in Long Beach. Add to the mix the electrical fans, Taylor sparkplug wires and Hooker Headers and you have yourself one bad motor! Attached to those headers is a dual exhaust system done up by Daren over at Advance Mufflers of Long Beach. Rudy also had his hand in rebuilding Richard’s two-speed Powerglide transmission for a roadworthy ride.
As far has handling the road, the suspension was giving a new life with the combined talents of Rudy, Mark Miller and Richard in Richard’s garage. The boys replaced all bushing and ball joints, stabilizer bars and steering linkage, driveshaft, gas tank straps, and modified all of the arms by either extending them (upper) or boxing (lower) them before getting the undercarriage plated.
How about the sizzling hydros, you ask? Well, the hook-up was done by “Big Frank” Estrada of Classic Auto in Paramount, California, who fabricated the double-whammy pump setup by using three Adex square squares with 5,000-psi gauges and faucet-type slow-downs on both motors. As for the ups and downs of this hydraulic system, Frank used a pair of chrome-plated D&H “strokes” in front and a pair of 10s in the rear. The coils in the cups are perfect for the ’66, 3-ton units in the front and 2-ton in the rear. The pumps are plumbed with both steel tubing and hoses. Frank used #8 hoses to the front while Richard’s friend and club member Danny Arriaga did all of the hard lines. Frank also did the chassis right by reinforcing the front and rear end. On the electrical end, eight solenoids along with eight group 31 series batteries and four switches keep Richard in lowrider readiness. Cruising stock on the ’66 comes in the form of LA Wire wheels with an engraved “Premier” script on the knockoffs.
With the ’66 semi-complete, it was off to the Bowtie Connection in San Pedro, California, where shop honcho John Kennedy had “Freddie” do up the subtle, contemporary twist to the OG General Motors design. As for the upholstery in the trunk, Henry at Henry’s Customs of Los Angeles, California, picked up on the flavor of the interior as he accented both the sound system and the hydraulics to a tee. Henry also hooked up the audio, which was purchased from “Junior” at A&K Audio in Los Angeles. The system consists of an Alpine head unit, four Infinity tweeters, four midrange speakers a pair of 6×9-inch Infinity coaxial drivers and two 10-inch L7 solobaric subwoofers. Two Hi-Fonics amplifiers, and a pair of Rockford Fosgate digital capacitors keep the power at the ready whenever Richard is in the mood to crank it up.
“I look back and remember the other ’66 Impala and how this one is immaculate compared to the one that I sold,” reflects Richard. “This one had only 117,000 original miles. Maybe I was never supposed to find that ’63 ragtop that I was looking for. After seeing how my ’66 turned out, this car was probably meant to be.” Well, Richard, by the looks of how hot “Cali-Peno” turned out, you’re probably right!
|Vehicle:||’66 Chevrolet Impala|
|City/State:||Long Beach, California|
|Setup:||Two custom pumps on a single whammy tank, three Adex square dumps, 8-inch (front) and 10-inch (rear) D&H cylinders, #8 hoses to front cylinders, 1/2-inch hard lines to rear, 3-ton (front) and 2-ton (rear) coils, eight Group 31 batteries, eight solenoids, four switches|
|Wheels:||13×7 LA Wire|