Many people over the years have asked us here at LRM how long it takes to build a custom lowrider that’s good enough for a feature on our pages. For Wayne Dickey of La Palma, California, the answer is a lifetime; a lifetime of building cars and learning along the way since the time that he was just a youngster growing up in the South Bay area of Southern California. “I’ve been building and customizing cars for my friends and I since I was a teenager,” Wayne claims. “I learned how to do everything–body work, paint, engine work, electrical, even interiors–everything that makes a custom car look and run good. The best way to learn is to take a car apart yourself and then put it back together.”
So when the time came for Wayne to choose a car that would show off his lifetime of experience, Wayne went back to the “old school” for inspiration; specifically, his high school days. Back then, the car of his dreams was a ’66 Chevy Impala, and after finding one in North Carolina, Wayne was finally ready to make that dream a reality. “Building ‘Violet Rose’ took three years, which was the way that I would have built the car back in the late ’60s if I knew then what I know now about how to build a championship-quality car.”
The ’66 was built mostly in North Carolina, as well as at Wayne’s shop in Cerritos, California, that he dubbed Wayne’s World (“party on, excellent”). Wayne began by taking everything off of the car, inside and out, including the body panels, and bringing the Impala down to its bare frame. Then everything was stripped, de-rusted, molded and painted in the same violet color that Wayne ultimately chose for the exterior of the car. Wayne had Jaime from WIN Graphics of Oakland, California, stripe roses on the sides, front and back of the frame. Then Wayne worked the suspension by molding the control arms in the front and rear, and installing polished stainless steel hydro, gas and brake lines. All of the suspension parts were first chromed by George Ramirez at Custom Chrome of Long Beach, California.
With the frame completed and waiting off to the sides to be re-born as a high-scoring sweepstakes contender, Wayne could concentrate his skills on the metal work, the body “mods,” the part of the job that he likes the most. A list is needed here to describe the next year and a half of work! The lower front pan was molded into the body, as was a set of ’77 GMC van headlights, the floor pan was molded and smoothed, the door handles and all of the emblems were shaved off, the firewall was smoothed out as was the entire engine compartment, the taillights from a ’63 Impala wagon were Frenched into the body as was a license plate frame and dual antennas on the sides. The rear quarter panels were finned, a custom-made tubular grille was fitted, the hood and trunk was smoothed out, the hinges were reworked and everything was reversed.
When this was done, it was time to get the body massaged into the final perfect shape for the painting stage. Hundreds of hours of block sanding and then even more work was needed until Wayne finally deemed the car ready for the paint shop. Wayne was now “into” the car for more than two years, but he knew that if he was going to compete at the highest levels of the show circuit, he would have to use all of his years of skills and knowledge to attract the eyes of the judges at our Tour shows, and the appreciation of the thousands of fans who would see the car in the years to come.
Then with old school in mind, Wayne chose a palate of various shades of lavenders and candies and purple flakes, and a paint scheme of fish scales, scallops, lace and blow dots, and “went to town” to produce this wild-style look that Wayne has always liked. Brian Garcia at Tazroc created the beautiful murals in candy violets.
With everything ready to go on the outside and the body mounted back onto the frame, the ’78 307-c.i.d. engine was laid into its home and more chrome was added to the radiator. The custom air cleaner, louvered exhaust covers and engraved valve covers were done by EZ of Long Beach. Things didn’t stop there. Wayne’s ideas for the glass etching on the front and rear windshield involved a unique look to match the rest of the car so Wayne first had David from Impressions blast some soft roses into the glass, and then Jaime from WIN Graphics blew in some wild designs all around the roses.
Now it was time to make the interior stand out and match the outside of the car. Wayne has always admired the work of famed lowrider interior expert Juanito, so renaming himself “Wayne-ito,” he went to work by first hand building front seats in the shape of roses and then covering everything in velvet, mirrors and OG angel hair rugs. Some of the same materials and techniques found their way into the engine and trunk compartments. More old school tricks included a cut and molded steering wheel, teardrop-shaped shifter and original ’60s color bar that rocks along with the sounds on the stereo.
The sound system had to be a match equal to the rest of the car, and Wayne knew what to do there, too. Wayne wanted everyone to hear and see Violet Rose so he installed a Boss head unit, two 500-watt amps Frenched into the floor, Sony 4-inch TV , four tweeters, four mids and four woofers. And for rockin’ and rollin’ the car lowrider-style, Wayne installed four custom chrome pumps, four dumps and a 12-switch box to control it and eight batteries to provide the power.
The payoff for Wayne’s hard work came late last year at the Super Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, when Violet Rose finished Third in the Sweepstakes awards. There are some who think that Wayne’s car should have placed higher than Third, but those are the breaks and that’s what makes for competition. We know that Wayne will be back this year, adding more “mods” to his already fantastic mix of metal, paint and chrome, and, maybe one day, the winner of it all will be a car that looks like it came from another time, Wayne Dickey’s Violet Rose.
|Vehicle:||’66 Chevrolet Impala|
|City/State:||La Palma, California|
|Club:||Classic Memories C.C.|
|Engine:||’78 Chevy 307-c.i.d.|
|Setup:||Four custom chrome pumps, 8-inch (front) and 12-inch (rear) cylinders, 3-ton springs, eight batteries, stainless steel hardlines, 12 switches|