Over a few sloppy burgers at a fast food dive, lowrider builder Victor Charels was already wiggling out of saying just how much he spent on styling his ‘62 Chevy convertible. One thing that can be certain, however, is that behind his garage door lies a pretty penny of a cruising machine.
We asked him to meet the photo crew in Hollister, California, which was an interstate away from his Sacramento digs. The location was clearly worth it; a top choice background like the Cantina Grill warranted the drive as well as his crew’s follow up wipe-down of this beautiful automobile.
Victor, in a white “Impalas” t-shirt, was anxious to drive the money hungry six-two, spinning out the wheels in a quick u-turn, displaying a mean three wheel stunt from the polished show car. Born in just three months, the car was impressive to say the least and definitely well worthy of being in the top 10% of well designed high-dollar riders coming out of Northern California, an area whose busy builders have been gaining top ranked respect and notoriety lately. It’s worth restating that no part of the bodywork including the hood, doors, or trunk opens in a odd manner. In fact, they close up excellently for a traditional ride. Looking down the side of the body, it’s also clear that there’s nothing out of place, thus keeping the car’s resale value something to think about. Attention to detail as the top priority would be an understatement, considering the exquisite work that body men David Garcia and Victor at Charels Auto Restoration (Woodbridge, Ca.) did. They soaked the car like firefighters with a deep and darkened-tasty candy Brandywine color, nicely offset by chrome polished and gold plated bumpers, emblems, insignia, body moldings, mirrors and a genuine rear sixty-two Chevy trunk and taillight trim. When on a shoot in public, this car often attracts and satisfies a small crowd, giving them much to see and appreciate.
With the weather being plenty hot enough, we decided to settle into the comfortable interior. Rojas Upholstery (Stockton, Ca.) slipped on a stylish convertible top that was cut from the same roll of material used on Mercedes Benz cars. They continued the upgrade by fitting the same vinyl over the dash, doors, seats, center console, and speaker kick panels. The floor itself received a facelift thanks to a new complementary brown carpet. It was all music to Victor’s ears when he approached Sergio at Dynamic Car Audio (Lodi, Ca.) to be his architect for the stereo system. Sergio worked his magic, making a full-custom, five window sound enclosure for the trunk which helps to rain down mucho trophy points on the local show circuit. The trunk also encapsulates, by default, the hydraulic system, which deserves its own championship-level credit.
Throwing up a three wheel motion should give you some indication of the power Vic’s six-two was built to muster. Utilizing the help of tool technician and building buddy Raul Valenzuela, the two men installed a two pump system on the firewall where the air conditioner used to be. This leads to chromed cylinders in the front suspension, leaving the extended A-arms sealed, yet uncut (minus c-notches) to pull-off sufficient lifting duty whenever they were called upon. Two rear pumps were outfitted in the trunk and can be clearly monitored under an enclosured window. The rear cylinders also work in tandem with the springs, while the axle swivels via chrome wishbone trailing arms. More design elements meant that the X-frame had to be fully wrapped and molded to combat metal fatigue. Once you go this far to build one of the baddest rides on the street, you might as well complete the job if you wanna roll with the big boys. So Vic and Raul trudged ahead, spending many late nights burning the midnight oil by bolting in and lubing up a tilt- steering column, a 605 gear box, electric fan, aluminum radiator, chrome tie rods and, finally, polished hood latches.
When we were finished at the burger joint, Victor alluded to some additional modifications that may have been added, but was quick to give credit to San Joaquin Chrome, Inc. (Lodi, Ca.) for taking care of business, and Best Chrome for the gold enhancements. In the end, we’re sure it took a mountain of cash to build this painstakingly designed, yet street-friendly show car. However, when the garage door opens, Victors’ “Hidden Treasure” certainly speaks for itself.
Hidden TreasureOwner: Victor CharelsVehicle: 1962 Chevy Impala convertibleCity/State: Sacramento, CaliforniaClub: Impalas, Stockton Chapter
Engine/Drivetrain: ’93 crate V-8, 350 c.i.d. (painted block) with chrome 600 Edlebrock carburetor, chrome distributor, taller valve covers, oval-shaped air filter, hardline tubing, Billet Specialty’s Serpentine pulleys and turbo 350 candy Brandywine painted transmission. Twenty-two inch glass packs were outfitted on the exhaust pipes.
Body/Paint: Unblemished convertible bodywork, with nothing suicide or reversed. Four coats of foundation House of Kolor blue base were used under a candy brandy wine finish.
Interior: Peanut butter colored vinyl accoutrements with upholstered sun visors, custom dashboard edges, indented door panels with metal appointed styling, stereo mounted center console and finally, a CLK Mercedes style vinyl top with a plastic rear window.
Sound System: Pioneer AVH-P5900 stereo receiver and DVD player with a full array of ARC audio systems. Ready for action are two, 1000 watt amplifiers and 1, 4-channel amp, KEQ5 crossovers and ARC speakers like 5.25″ tweeters and midrange and 12″ Flat line sub woofers.
Set Up: An impressive design and trunk installation of four chrome Sinister pumps (two are mounted where the air conditioner used to be lifting the front), dumps, precision aluminum blocks, solenoids, deep cycle 27 batteries, polished hardline tubing and 8″ (front) and 12″ (rear) Sinister cylinders with _ ton spring suspension.
Tires: 155/80R13 Champion
Wheels: Gold 13×7 Sinister Wire Wheels