In the city of Espanola, New Mexico, Lowriding is very serious business. William George’s clean ’58 Impala is a direct reflection of the style and history of this Lowriding hamlet, a place which is often referred to as “the Lowrider Capitol of New Mexico.” Despite its smaller population compared to Albuquerque and Santa Fe, Espanola has been deeply immersed in the Lowrider culture, making this automotive passion a way of life for many of its residents. Everyone from grandparents to grandchildren can be seen cruising down the Blvd. on a Sunday afternoon. With that being said, it’s hard to believe that William didn’t grow up dreaming about the pulsating sound of hydraulic pumps firing to the cylinders, or fantasizing about the sight of 13 inch rims and candy paint. Admittedly, he was actually more into the Hot Rod style of car customizing. After awhile, Lowriding finally got the best of him, just like it has for the rest of us, and before he knew it, he was sending out parts of his undercarriage to get chromed and shopping for a clean set of 13’s.
When you look at this beautiful ’58, you can see inspirations from different genres of car crafting which have fused together to make a unique car that more than holds its own at car shows and the Blvd. As the project first began many years ago, William wasn’t sure what make and model car he wanted to restore in this hybrid method. After doing lots of looking and searching, he fell in love with and found a ’58 impala 2 door hardtop. Finding a good classic project car is can truly be a mission in itself, but a friend who owned a couple of ’58’s in stock condition saved the day. A deal was struck between he and William, after William traded him a 1950 Chevy that he had previously restored. William had tons of ideas for the car from day one, but these ideas were on a much bigger scale than he could pull off on his own, so he decided to turn the project over to the professionals at Hot Rod Haven in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Jaime Johnson, Jim Johnson, Will Morton, and Andy Barrow took the car all the way down to its bare metal and began an incredible build. Before any paint would even touch the car, William’s design required several body modifications, which needed to be handled first. These included creating custom lower side pipe extensions and widening the front wheel well openings, but the mods didn’t stop there. The front fender was shortened by 6 inches, the rear bumper was narrowed 1 and 1/2 inches, the car’s bumper brackets were shortened by 1-1/4 inches, and the original tail lights were recessed in their original location 3 inches deep. Of all of the Hot Rod-inspired modifications that took place, the grill of the car really stands out in terms of being unique. The grill opening was welded and then smoothed out to support a grill bar which holds the original 1959 Corvette teeth. It was then made from scratch to place each tooth on the grill in its proper location. Turn signal lights have also been placed inside the grill bar, using handmade lenses that perfectly match the shape and angle of the bar between the teeth. Hot Rod Haven also recessed the antenna and removed the original trim, this way the side trim could be modified while new holes were re-drilled in the body for proper alignment. Door handles were shaved and a remote entry was installed. One mod I really liked was the fact that the original roof trim was modified to become a third brake light. The underside of the hood and trunk lid were also skinned, smoothed, and painted along with the firewall to make it look super nice and clean.
Now that all of these body mods were completed, the car was ready for paint. Jaime of Hot Rod Haven happened to be friends with legendary painter Gene Winfield, and after one look at this ’58, Gene offered to give the car a taste of his amazing work. Eighteen hours of spray tie went into the beauty, as Gene perfectly laid down incredible fades, blending the pinks and purples over a silver basecoat giving the car its old school feel and look. After he saw a sneak peek of this high class paintjob, William knew he could not sell the interior short either. Full custom leather and suede was installed and handled by Ron Mangus. Ron made everything custom, from the power seats to the custom panels and headliner. William also topped off the interior with a chrome steering column, and a custom 15-inch original steering wheel which was painted to match the car. The smoothed out dash was also painted to match the car, and given Dakota digital gauges and a clock. For the guests who are lucky enough to go cruising with him, William installed a DVD and CD player with a TV screen in the dash board, and another screen in the rear console. The trunk was also given a complete makeover, as William added four 10-inch subs, 5000 watt amps and a 15-inch screen.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that this car is purely cosmetic, as William can also pop the hood of his car with the best of ’em. One look at this engine will tell you that he means business. The EFI-equipped, Z06 Corvette LS6, fully polished from intake to oil pan, fuel injected motor, will answer any other questions you might have as to the car’s muscle. A 4L460e automatic overdrive electronic transmission also accompanies this wicked engine. William stuck with a Hotrod-type suspension in order to handle his engine, just in case anybody is feeling lucky on a Sunday and wants to race. An 8- inch Ford rear triangulated four link with air ride suspension system was installed, along with a polished stainless front independent suspension. A custom made exhaust system was designed and made, perfectly capped off with bellflower tips.
William has put together yet another fine New Mexico car; this impeccable ’58 will undoubtedly inspire some kid who sees it at his first car show with his parents to chase his own dreams of custom car excellence. This unique build certainly has set a buzz to the area, and everyone is dying to find out what tricks William has up his sleeve for any future builds. He said that he does want another car that can contrast this ’58, and he wants to perform an original restoration on another ’58 as well. William would like to thank his family for all their support on the project. He sends his gratitude out to everyone who has helped out on the car during the build, as well as during show preparation. I wish the best of luck to William on his next build, I know that whatever it is, we certainly look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.