Traditionalists who restore vintage cars are very opinionated when someone starts messing with their livelihood. The “someone” in question are custom car builders, those who choose to go left instead of right. Whereas the builder/restore would have the car back to its original state, well at least close to it, the customizer will put his spin on it. It could come in the form of a major body modification; say, chopping the top some 6 inches or swapping out the front end for a different year of the same model. In any case, once the car has been altered from the factory specs it becomes “custom.”

Well, that’s exactly what Cesar Rodriguez of Coachella, California, did to his ’48 Chevrolet Fleetline coupe; he went custom. “I’ve been a lowrider all of my life,” says Cesar. “I’m car crazy. I started searching at the Pomona auto swap meet for a Fleetline but had no luck. So I came across my Chevy through a friend who found the car in Texas, inside of a barn.”

As it happens, from time to time people start projects out with the best intentions, but then get sidetracked for whatever reason. “My friend lost interest in fixing up the car and it sat in his garage for four years,” explains Cesar, “but when I saw the car I fell in love with it. I paid $4,500 for the ’48 and took it home to start working on my dream project.” That meant getting an early morning wakeups from his son Mario and wife so he could get out to the Pomona swap meet to get those much-needed parts. Working together with friends from Velvet Chevy of the ’40s, buddies Victor, Lucio Lerma and Rafael, make this all come together.

If you think that the car is striking, it’s even more impressive in person. From its low-down stance to its voluptuous curves, this golden chariot’s color is very reminiscent of the amber Mexican drink that would put hair on the chest of a 10-year-old. Throw in the peppy small-block GM for “motorvation” and you’ve going one reliable “Bowtie” of a bomb. The car has racked up a slew of First Place awards in the Best Bomb and Best Candy Paint categories. So a toast to you, Cesar, or should we say “bodyshot” for a delicious ride that will have heads turning wherever “El Tequilero” rides. Cheers!

El Tequilero
Owner: Cesar Rodriguez
Vehicle: ’48 Chevrolet Impala
City/State: Coachella, California
Club: No affiliation

Engine/Drivetrain: Cesar had Simon Chevrolet in La Quinta, California, squeeze in a 350-c.i.d. engine with all of its dress-up goods between the ’48 Chevy fenders. The 2004 crate engine packs 330 ponies and is matched up to a 700R overdrive transmission that was built by Mr. Terry Finch of Hesperia, California. The 3-inch custom exhaust rounds out the performance end of this beauty of a bomb.

Body/Paint: While in Hesperia, Cesar made the wise decision to have Sencio Chavez of Sencio’s do the frame-off work. Every fender, bolt and nut was removed so he could prep the car for the rich House of Kolor candy gold two-tone finish.

Interior: Get behind the steering wheel and the first thing that pops in your mind is the simple but elegant design of the dashboard. The way the gauges, knobs and buttons were laid out, one couldn’t imagine it being any better, but guess what? It is. That’s because the garnish moldings and faux woodgrain finish done by Victor’s in Anaheim, California, kicked up the dash appeal several notches with the detail of the graining and spotless finish. Then there’s the original upholstery done by Armando Liera of Liera’s Upholstery in Indio, California. The accents for the interior come in the form of polished billet found on the doors, wrapped steering wheel and floor pedals. The moldings inside and out were sent to be re-polished by Cal McCollum at Vintage Chevrolet while the Bumper Boys in Los Angeles, California, dialed in the chrome parts.

Sound System: The audio system installed by Rafael in Indio consists of a Custom Autosound digital head unit, 10-disc changer and amplifiers of 150 and 250 watts. An array of speakers found their way into the cabin of the Chevy.

Suspension: Terry Finch is responsible for the ground-hugging stance of El Tequilero. That’s because he installed a four-link, 9-inch rearend airbag suspension fitted with stainless steel hard-lines to transfer the air from the compressor to the air reservoirs to the airbag. The original frame is not so original since Terry added the C-notch to the rear, incorporated a Ford Mustang II front end, disc brakes, rack and pinion steering and new chassis hardware.

Tires: Firestone whitewall

Wheels: 15-inch artilleries painted to match the car