Reading the tech sheets for writing these stories can sometimes become an exercise in the mundane. There are only so many ways to write about a ’63 with a setup, etc. But every once in a while, in the space provided for “interesting stories about the building of the vehicle,” the story is unusual.
Lee and Bettie Cordova’s is certainly not one of the normal stories that we hear by a long shot. Most of the time, we wind up having to say a big “thank you” to the wife and kids for putting up with what becomes a real obsession and money pit for most of us.
Lee’s story veers from the straight and narrow because it was actually Bettie who had to talk her husband Lee into getting this ’63 Chevy Impala. While cruising one Sunday, they came across this ’63 with a for sale sign on it. While Lee at the time wasn’t really interested in taking on a project, Bettie was excited with the prospect of her husband owning the ’63.
We guess that lowriders really do get the women excited as Bettie had one of Lee’s friends, Ricky Salazar, go back to check out the car a short while later.Ricky gave the thumps up on the car, telling Bettie that the ’63 was in good shape and the price was fair. Bettie had the unusual task of having to convince Lee to get the car; certainly not your average lowrider conversation by any stretch of the imagination. We’re sure that there are plenty of guys reading this right now quite envious of Lee’s position and wondering if Bettie has any sisters. Lee finally caved in and bought what later became “Bajito ’63.”
The project that ensued started out as just building a street car, but in typical fashion grew into a six-year project, and one that took on the relative expense of building something of this caliber. In the end, Lee and Bettie are one happy couple when they’re cruising down New Mexico roads in Bajito ’63. They’re a relatively patient couple, too, since it took a while for us to get you their story, but we thank them for the story and their patience.
Owner: Lee and Bettie Cordova
Vehicle: ’63 Chevrolet Impala
City/State: Fairview, New Mexico
Club: Uce C.C.-Espanola, New Mexico
Engine/Drivetrain: The original 283-c.i.d. engine resides in the engine bay dressed with chrome valve covers, fan shroud, alternator and fenderwells. The transmission is a two-speed Powerglide unit and Lee and Mr. Martinez AKA father-in-law prepared it all. Chrome and gold plating were provided by John at Duke City Plating and Reese Tatum at Adobe Gold, respectively, both located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Body/Paint: The car was prepped for paint by Charlie, Davey and Nelson in Espanola, then sent to Anthony Naranjo for the application of the Arrival Blue paint. Tom Stepson of T-Step Paints in Phoenix, Arizona, painted the mural and Mickey of Mickey’s Pinstriping in Phoenix laid down the striping and silver leafing.
Interior: Jose Espinoza of J.B. Upholstery in Espanola put a white leather interior into play. The original patterns were retained for that factory fresh look and are complemented by the original gauges.
Sound System: Cruising is enhanced by an all-Kenwood system. A Kenwood head unit supplies the amp with a signal that in turn powers up two sets of 6x9s and two 10-inch woofers. Bobby Romero in Espanola performed the install.
Setup: The heart of any lowrider is its setup. Lee and Bettie’s setup is comprised of Red’s Hydraulics components. Chrome 8-inch cylinders front and back and two Red’s Super Competition pumps are set up for front, back and pancake moves. Willie Trujillo of Willie’s Hydraulics in Chamita, New Mexico, installed the setup.
Tires: P155/80-R13 Remington wide whitewall
Wheels: 13×7 gold-center Dayton with engraving by Hernan’s Custom Engraving in Albuquerque