When John Torres of Temecula, CA first started cruising, the 45-year-old never imagined that one day he would be featured in LRM. John told us how he has owned his share of street cars in his lifetime, with one of his favorites being a ’79 Cadillac that he used to drive around and enjoy. After selling that car, he figured that he could build something even better, with the ultimate goal of one day gracing the pages of LRM.
Today, John is definitely in the “Best Position” to do just that, with his ’69 Caprice, a truly one-of-a-kind, show quality daily driver. John found this amazing car after receiving a phone call from good friend “Rollin'”, who mentioned to him that he had seen a ’69 Caprice that was for sale at Shell Happy in El Monte, CA. After taking the drive over to Shell Happy and negotiating the price with the owner Gus, a deal was struck, and a happy John jumped into the car drove it home. The low price of John’s happiness was just $6,700!
Everything was in working order at the purchase time, however, about a month after he bought the car, the engine began making a tapping noise. John loved the car, so he decided that he would merely fix the engine. Every great Lowrider is born behind this familiar “I-just-wanna-fix-this-one-thing” mentality, and of course, in true Lowrider fashion, one thing led to another, and John decided that he would drop off his car with the Toma brothers of Top Notch Customs out in Riverside, CA to give the car a complete overhauling.
After pulling out the engine, John made the decision to fully restore the Caprice, thus a complete tear-down of the car was necessary to realize John’s ultimate vision of the perfect street show car. With the engine pulled out, the frame was unbolted, and taken to be powder- coated, which is a usual first step to achieving a full, frame-off custom restoration.
Since the car was originally in great shape, it was decided that it would be painted black. The car was shipped to Danny’s of Pomona, CA, who stripped the car down to the bare metal and reworked the body, leaving it ready to be sprayed in a flawless, two-stage PPG black finish. The car needed some extra paintwork to highlight the body lines, so naturally, Danny called in pinstripe guru Mike Lamberson of Draggin Lines to pin stripe and silver leaf the body. After several hours of fine line stripping, the car was ready to be shipped back to the Toma brothers for assembly.
By this point, the Toma brothers had decided to powder-coat the frame in an oriental-style candy blue, in order to tie in the pinstripping work that was used on the exterior of the vehicle. With that done, the frame also received a touch of pinstripping. Since the stock frame was hooked up, the assembly of the frame was done rather quickly. The suspension featured engraving by Hernan D’Aloia and Jaime Castanedos, and was prepared and chromed by the crew at Speedy’s plating.
Since the car had originally been taken in for engine work, John wanted to make sure that he would have a reliable engine. The first step towards achieving this was to have the carburetor intake removed, and replaced with a first generation TPI system. The rebuilt small block was dressed up with a Street and Performance chrome serpentine kit. The crew also designed a ram air system that would allow the car to run more efficiently, and also allow the air mixture to be burned at a cooler temperature. With a reliable performance engine, the Toma brothers made sure that the brakes worked properly, as this heavy machine was going to need to have plenty of stopping power on the heavy cruising days.
Even though John didn’t want a traditional, hopping hydraulic system, he knew that he had to step the build up and get the car lifted. Paul took on the task of designing the trunk, which would feature a huge sound system and custom hydraulics. The chrome Billet series pumps featured tubing and Adel dumps that were complemented by molded panels, and an extreme audio system that could be seen upon popping the trunk. The panels were then painted and pinstripped to give an even greater detail to the setup. To accent the trunk even further, Paul added neon lights, which really gave the paint and chrome in the trunk compartment an intricate look.
With molding in mind, Paul molded the package tray and dash so that they could be painted to match the exterior. Paul’s partner Ed “the Material Man” found a clean vinyl and suede that tied-in the design of the interior with that of the exterior. The car was then shipped to Max of Discount Upholstery in Riverside, CA, who worked his magic, by wrapping and stitching the interior.
The car was pretty much finished, but Paul wanted to give the car some final details, so after a week of brainstorming, he made a custom grill for the car. The grill started off from 1/8 flat aluminum stock, which was cut and bent into shape. Paul gave the grill round contours and tig-welded the stock into the shape that he wanted. After three long weeks, the grill was finally done, and so was the Caprice.
Now that John’s car is finished, he is ready drive his car, just like he did when he first debuted this car at our San Bernardino show. We will definitely have to follow up with him to see how many miles he puts on this amazing street show car. John is definitely in the “Best Position,” as his Caprice graces the pages of Lowrider Magazine, and his dream is realized. Congratulations John!
Owner: John Torres
Vehicle: ’69 Chevrolet, Caprice
City/State: Temecula, CA
Engine: Stock GM 1985 Camaro TPI top end, ’69 350 engine with a 350 transmission combo
Setup: Custom build billet setup, 4 Adel square dumps, and 10 batteries
Tires: Hercules 175/70R14 radials
Wheels: 14×7 Galaxy Wire Wheels