Many have left California’s Folsom State Penitentiary with a new look and more attitude than they went in with, but this frosty green ’69 Chevy Impala is no ordinary inmate. Upon sentencing, this ragged rusty Impala was dragged behind the black gates of Folsom for a beatdown by the inmates, and when it was all said and done, the slammed, shaved lowrider was cut loose with time served and a new look.

For most of that watch, Jesse James of Monster Garage fame took on the task of building against the clock. This challenge offered up a new twist, working within prison walls. That’s right, no AutoZone to bail you out in a jam. Working with a limited supply of tools and materials proved to be a challenge that Jesse and his team of inmates confronted all of the way through completion of this shining example of our state prison system. For security purposes, the prison shop had limited supplies. Therefore, most of the tools, machines and parts needed to be acquired on the outside and brought inside.

Forming the build team proved to be the easy part. Since all of the members were inmates it was guaranteed that they were going to be around for a while. Hand selected and ready to work, the team consisted of Eric Schneider, Josue Corral, Falvius Knox, Saul Marquez and Samuel Padgett. Each of these individuals had their own area of automotive expertise and they stretched themselves to the limit getting this ride on the road. The ride was briefly paroled to Long Beach, California, for exterior work at West Coast Choppers and interior touches by Bill’s Top Shop.

Back in Folsom, in the darkest of nights with the square lights burning bright, stands a slammed, trimmed and flaked Impala. This vintage lowrider was built by an unlikely crew led by a master in the art of metal fabrication. All that the builders needed was a chance to shine and they ran with it.

Monster Garage Folsom Prison Lowrider
OWNER: Jesse James
VEHICLE: ’69 Chevrolet Impala
CITY/STATE: Long Beach, California
CLUB: West Coast Choppers
ENGINE/DRIVETRAIN: The stock 350-c.i.d. engine was rebuilt with Sanderson headers and a dual glass-pack exhaust system before being dropped back into place.
BODY/PAINT: The Monster Garage “build team” came up with a custom grille in the style of the ’70s lowrider era complete with square headlights. To slim down the sleek Impala, the dents were filled while the moldings and door handles were removed. Pete “Hotdog” Finlan of West Coast Choppers shot a few coats of frosty green paint at the briefly paroled ’69, then took the roof back a few decades with tape fade fans and ribbons. The flake and patterns were a flawless touch to a picture perfect penitentiary ride, but the infamous “Cartoon” felt it only right that this most recent state pen inmate get tatted upon its departure. So an appropriate Folsom “east gate” mural was created on the Impala’s trunk, complete with a collage of skulls and prison bars to remind onlookers of where this car’s from.
INTERIOR: A mostly OG lowrider look in silver and green with a chain steering wheel was achieved by Bill’s Top Shop in Long Beach.
SOUND SYSTEM: No information
SUSPENSION: The Monster Garage “build team” performed special welds while replacing the front floor pan, custom building the air tank mount and mating adjustable airbags to the frame. Also, tig-welds filled dozens of holes all around the car’s beat-up body, and the rearend was C-notched for differential clearance. An air suspension helps the ’69 lay its frame on the floor and lift up to an acceptable ride height when it’s time to break out. The Firestone airbags with three Viair compressors provide a 9-inch ground clearance when inflated.
TIRES: 15-inch whitewall radial
WHEELS: 15×7 Astro Supreme