Joe Melendez of Fresno, California, is not your “average Joe,” nor is his ’62 Chevy Impala Super Sport, AKA “Dragonfly,” your average lowrider. Joe had to overcome several obstacles on the road to getting this car built that would have had many builders throwing in the towel. But then, growing up around lowriders probably prepared Joe for the ups and downs that often go with the lifestyle.
“I was introduced to lowriding by my father, whose vehicles were featured in Lowrider back in the early ’80s,” says the 28-year-old member of Carnales Unidos Car Club. “I’ve had this car for 12 years, but only got serious three years ago.” Getting “serious” would take on a new meaning for Joe.
Car builders who become intimate with their vehicles will tell you that each car seems to have its own personality, and this ’62 was anything but compliant during its makeover. “It fought me the whole way,” admits Joe, who went through two separate painters. “Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Just three weeks before this photo shoot, while on the way to a show, the motor blew.”
But all’s well that ends well, right, Joe? He dropped in a new crate motor and is now happy to report that “everything’s working fine.” Helping Joe through the trials and tribulations associated with this project were his wife, Esperanza, and his parents, Joe and Sylvia Melendez, as well as Eli and “Bird” Padilla for “finding the parts and doing all of the work,” and Carnales Unidos C.C. Way to go, Joe.
Owner: Joe and Esperanza Melendez
Vehicle: ’62 Chevrolet Impala SS
City/State: Fresno, California
Club: Carnales Unidos C.C.
Engine/Drivetrain: Now powering the “deuce” is a 350-c.i.d. crate motor hooked up to a 350 Turbo transmission and dual glass-pack exhaust system.
Body/Paint: “Bird” Padilla shaved the emblems and keyholes, and installed a moonroof, before PPG Vibrance candy cinnamon paint was sprayed over a gold base by Dino at Finish Line in Fresno, whose finished work includes skulls and fireballs. Pinstriping was provided by Talley’s in Fresno.
Interior: The custom comfort zone featuring a custom center console, billet trim, Colorado Customs steering wheel and Impala emblems in the door panels was handled by Mario Morales at Pro-Touch in Fresno. Bird Padilla equipped his friend’s car with power locks and windows.
Sound System: Bird Padilla didn’t lay an egg with a sweet-sounding system consisting of a Pioneer head unit, Rockford Fosgate amplifiers, and Kicker speakers, including a pair of 10-inch subwoofers mounted in the custom trunk.
Setup: Joe teamed up with his father, Joe, Sr., on installing a hard-lined two-pump Fenner Stone hydraulics setup that was originally in one of his dad’s classic lowriders. The old school setup includes two Waterman dumps, cast iron blocks, three switches and eight batteries.
Tires: P155/80-R13 wide whitewalls
Wheels: 13×7 Zenith wires