It would be safe to say that this if the first time that LRM has ever featured a ’33 Hupmobile that’s been slammed to the ground using airbags. It would also be a safe bet that you won’t be seeing too many of these fancy cars on the highway, especially since they built less than 5,000 units of the Model K body styles to begin with and there are only a handful of survivors.
One such “survivor,” the only one in California, is the one belonging to Antonio “Tony” Lopez of Norwalk, California. “I got the ‘Hup’ 20 years ago for $8,000 in a trade for a ’48 Chevy Fleetline. I kept the car for a few years and during that time we were offered a ’39 Chevy and a ’58 Impala for the Hupmobile,” says Tony. So he and his wife, Gabriela, made the trade with the understanding that if the new owner were ever to sell the Hup that the Lopezes would be the first to make an offer on the sedan.
Three years later, Jerry Grijalva sold the car and it was back in Tony’s possession. With his wife’s blessing, Tony and his buddies Bryan, Ariel and Josh at VDS in Gardena, California, and Keith at Classic Customs in Ontario, California, teamed up and contributed their expertise and knowledge. The family was also part of the buildup, as sons Miguel and Carlos and brother Beto wholeheartedly enlisted in the group effort.
With a wheelbase of 121 inches, the car is a biggie; the body is made up of sheet metal over wooden framing, many cars from the ’20s to ’30s were built in this fashion. The frame is a ladder-type with cross-members for structural stability. Other engineering highlights on the Hupmobile include four-wheel hydraulic internal expanding brakes, worm and roller steering, and a three-speed selective sliding transmission.
Well, since the car is more than 70 years old, it’s only logical to update the drivetrain, powerplant and suspension-key items that need to be addressed if one plans to drive this impressive classic to and from car shows and cruise nights. It was one such cruiser night at the old McDonald’s hamburger stand that we first spotted the “Original Gangster” laid out in front of the juicy little burger joint. A few calls later via our friend Mike Ramos at the Old Car Parts store and we were in business.
TechspecsOriginal GangsterOwner: Antonio “Tony” Lopez
Vehicle: ’33 Hupmobile Model K
City/State: Norwalk, California
Club: Old Memories C.C.
Engine/Drivetrain: The ’33 “Hup” originally came with a 6-cylinder inline L-head, 228-c.i.d. engine with 90 bhp, but Tony had Beto Coronado drop in a ’69 Chevy 250-c.i.d. 6-cylinder small-block that’s been warmed over with a high-performance camshaft and blueprinted. The engine is matched up to an ’82 Chevy Camaro five-speed transmission and a rearend from a ’69 Chevy Nova.
Body/Paint: Trino Sanchez of Jalos Body Shop in South Gate, California, didn’t alter the body, just cleaned it up a bit before applying the single-stage PPG black enamel paint job. Miguel Duran of Chevy Classics also in South Gate gets kudos for doing the chrome-plating work.
Interior: The bulk of the interior is factory original, but the years of wear and tear on the seating did call for some new threads. Enter California Upholstery in Bell Gardens, California, where Jesse did the Hup good by using mohair for the seating and panels.
Sound System: David Arellano of Barnyard Customs of Norwalk, California, installed a Sony head unit, Kenwood mids and highs, Kenwood 100-watt amplifier and a pair of Bazooka drivers for some bump in the Hupmobile.
Suspension: The OG suspension was made up of semi-elliptical leaf springs, front and rear, but now sports an airbag setup installed by David Bravo, Beto Coronado and Tony in Tony’s backyard. The front clip is from a ’77 Ford Mustang and the air “goodies” are made up of Firestone bags, fittings, lines and compressors.
Tires: Remington whitewall
Wheels: The 16-inch wheels were custom made by Ben Gonzalez at Sam’s Tire in Inglewood, California