Steering toward the cruising zones in Fresno, California, is the father and son team of Louis and Alex Cruz. Together they have long discovered that building lowriders has created a bond better than when the rubber meets the road.
Meeting up with the family duo in an industrial part of the city near railroad tracks always provides for a clever backdrop for mean street images. The gritty story emerging here is how 22-year-old Alex tells about his early exposure to classic Chevys from his dear old dad. “My pops has always owned lowrider cars (bombs and Impalas),” he says. “Even before I can remember, he’s owned low lows because of the stories I’ve heard from my mom. The first lowrider my dad had that I remember was a ’53 Chevy pickup bomb.” Indeed the ride that stands out with the most hardware is Louis’ silver ‘62 Chevy Impala.
Louis, a 41-year-old electrician, works for Berg Electric and mentored Alex into the company as an apprentice. “He got me my first electrical job,” Alex says. “I actually love [working] with my pops even though some sons hate [working] with their fathers. He teaches me a lot and is cool but at the same time keeps me in line and lets me know what’s up.” The ragtop ’62 rolled in under a smooth-sounding motor with barely a puff of dark exhaust coming from the glass packs. “We came across this ’62 convertible by trade. The bomb we traded for was a show car (trailer queen). We basically drove our bomb there and pushed our deuce back to its new home, and the rest is history.” Louis explains he bolted, greased, and oiled the eight cylinder himself in his garage under the soft glare of green fluorescent tubes. Still other master-crafted details under the hood show that the A-arms (not extended) are modified with a squared “c-notch” cut that allows the yellow cylinders vertical clearance when pushing and lifting the front end upward. When you reinforce a frame like Louis did on the rag, you’re doing it to add structural strength. Adding stronger steel collars compensates for the extra weight from the number of batteries and pumps (mounted in the trunk) that have a great tendency to flex the frame a bit when in action. Reinforcing also led to grinding down the welds and, as the final touch, spraying the frame a flat black.
It’s detailed lessons and techniques like these that Louis passed onto his son. Take the cool interior dressed in a new vinyl with a sporty multi-pattern fitted by pro installer Mr. Rico, from Fresno, California, and under the equally colored dashboard is the stereo, stylish brim, and tissue box on the passenger side. Finally the custom-colored vinyl ragtop with a plastic rear window fits via solid chrome polished latches and a painted frame. With the top down and the wind tossing their hair, Louis and his wife Norma lead Alex in yet another episode of the ’60s lifestyle.
Alex hit the brake and parked his black ’67 Chevy right next to his dad. He bought the sporty low in his junior year of high school. “We found it in a junkyard [about five years ago] in Merced, California. It had been sitting in that yard for 10 years before we picked it up for $1,000,” Alex says. “It had dents and dings here and there, and on the back passenger quarter panel there was a dent about the size of my 13-inch wheel.” He says they made time for Jesse Fierro to work his year-long bodywork magic by not “gooping up” the car with Bondo. As any car builder knows, it takes great preparation to get the Jet Black paint to floss and gloss, and that again is Jesse’s special department. But paint alone can only do so much. Further adding to the car’s lustful chrome appeal were the guys at Meclec in Fresno who blinged out most of their engine parts and pieces.
While not every lowrider hugging the road today can be expected to be a turntable glamor puss held together with lint-free cloths, it’s the founding connection that brings a family together both in the garage and in their relationships. And that’s what this piece is about-lowrider cars bolted together by the love of a familia.
Owner: Alex Cruz (son)
Vehicle: Black ’67 Chevy Impala
City/State: Fresno, California
Engine/Drivetrain: Powdercoated V-8, 350-cid block with a four-barrel, chrome polished Edelbrock carburetor, an automatic 350 turbo Powerglide transmission, and a Flowmaster exhaust for minimal sound volume and interior resonance.
Body/Paint: Freelance body and paint man Jesse Fierro made the body so smooth you’d think it came fresh from the factory’s assembly line. Also, the proper paint spray stroke is in its consistent thickness and shade.
Interior: Updated black vinyl with cornered edge tubing and standard upholstery foam keep his passengers super comfy while cruising to cool tunes. The black textured dash and gauges have also been restored to green light readiness.
Sound System: Alex toiled into the night installing a digital Sony AM/FM detachable head unit, which sits under the steering column connected to Sony and Lanzar speakers, amplifiers, and a Sony 10-disk CD changer.
Setup: No setup, just a nice big trunk for tools and ice coolers.
Tires: 155/80/R13 with fat white walls
Wheels: 13-inch, 100-spoke chrome Kool Ds with two wing knock-offs
Owner: Louis Cruz (father)
Vehicle: Silver ‘62 Chevy Impala convertible
City/State: Fresno, California
Engine/Drivetrain: Louis tested and tuned the V-8, 350-cid powerplant himself. The engine block is powdercoated with chromed-out engine essentials and accessories. The ride also features an automatic 350 turbo transmission and aftermarket glass pack exhaust tips to ease engine back pressure.
Body/Paint: With years of experience, Louis magically restored the body’s unsightly blemishes to lowriding perfection and aligned the body’s quarter panels to factory specs. The gleam with a slick Silverado Silver paint scheme was dawned by Lil’ Sammy of Mastercraft in Fresno, California.
Interior: Matching the paint in silver vinyl complements on the inside with custom-ordered carpet and accessorized polished foot pedals.
Sound System: It has a Kenwood AM/FM digital stereo component system with two 400-watt Punch amplifiers, Kenwood speakers, and two 12-inch Planet Audio woofers.
Setup: The setup is Showtime hydraulics with 10 switches, six 12-volt batteries, and 8-inch (front) and 10-inch (rear) cylinders in a specially (fully or partially) reinforced frame, along with chassis work completed at Molinas in Fresno.
Tires: 13-inch Premium Sportway all-season whitewall radials
Wheels: 155/80/R13 Kool Ds