For any niche car culture to survive it needs to have more than just participants. It needs competition, creativity and the craftsman to execute the perfect plans and this is exactly where Topo Villafana comes into play.
As a seasoned veteran in the lowriding game, Topo was first introduced to the world of candy and chrome by his neighbor Martin Sanchez. As a child, he would spend hours gazing over at the neighbors driveway and living vicariously through everyone who had passed by. For this youngster, lowriders became an escape at an early age, and Topo admits that his addiction to lowriders came quick. As he learned more about the craft and the lifestyle, he began to realize that this was more than just a simple passing of time; this was something he wanted to live and he had big dreams of one day building and driving his own lowrider.
“I learned a lot from Mark”, says Topo, “and after spending a few years around the scene and soaking everything I knew that I wanted to be more than just a spectator in the game. I wanted to be a player.” The fulfillment of his desire to become more involved came with the perfectly timed opportunity when he happened to befriend Anthony Fuentes – the owner of Homies Hydraulics. That opportunity landed him a job at Homies and in just a few months he went from spectator to player really quick. “I learned a lot about hydraulic lines and all the basic necessities of a lowrider, but the most valuable lesson I learned from working there was that attention to detail was the key to any top build. That’s one of the traits that I learned from Anthony and I’ve carried it with me since.”
The following years would subsequently serve as an informal education that would teach him the skills necessary to get ahead and once mixed with his own ingenuity, confidence, and hunger for perfection, it would eventually lead to him build his own dream vehicle – a Cadillac two-door big body. “I had been sketching concepts of a Cadillac two door big body for a while,” says Topo, “but after months of staring at the plans I decided that it was time to act on my dreams and either build it or burn the plans.” He further adds, “There were a lot haters saying that I couldn’t build this project so this is how I got to working.” So after about three short months of cutting, welding, and fabricating, this one time four-door sedan became a coupe that even Cadillac officials could envy. The beast was complete, the paint was applied and there sat not only the car he had always envisioned but also more importantly a new chapter to the game of lowriding.
Topo designed the big body coupe “to separate himself from the pack” and once it was unveiled at the 2002 Las Vegas Super Show, it was an instant hit and was received with open arms. But when asked about how he felt about the debut of his Caddy his response was simple, “I built it, I drove it but I never thought much more of it than just the car I had dreamed of building. Now don’t get me wrong, I was more than happy, but to me it was just the close to one of my goals and time to turn up the heat and reinvent the wheel.” Upon further discussion Topo did mention that the defining moment of the car wasn’t when it was done but when Joe Ray (Lifestyle C.C.) came by to check out the car not once but twice. “It was an honor for me to have him come by and check out the car. To be honest, I had been a fan of Joe’s work for years so getting his attention meant a lot to me. In all honesty Joe’s got a huge name and for him to come by just to look at the car was major and the equivalent of Jesus coming down to kick it with the Pope.”
Far from the high point of the story, this is simply where the story gets better. The car had already been an instant hit, received more than it’s fair share of glory and press, but it didn’t leave Topo complacent or big headed. For Topo, the success of his first build meant that he had to work harder to bring out something that would top his first creation, and after a few months of debate he came to the conclusion that the only way to top what he had created was to remove the top and create a convertible version with working glass and an automatic top. “I was happy that the first car was received so well,” says Topo, “but now it was time to turn up the heat just to let people know that I wasn’t some one hit wonder.”
A special thanks goes out to my mom Josenfina Fernandez as well as my wife Martha.
Special Appearances Of His Vehicles:
1. Chrome & Paint music video.
2. Wayne Newton aka “Mr. Las Vegas” drove the car at the AutoRox Show in Las Vegas.
Topo’s Most Significant Contributions:
1. The undisputed champ and originator of converting 1993 through 1996 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham’s into two-door big body coupes.
2. The first to create a convertible version (with an automatic top and working glass) of his highly acclaimed, “Two door coupe conversion”.