The tri-five years have yielded some of the most coveted model year vehicles ever to be desired by automobile enthusiasts. They have been turned into hot rods, customs, and in the case of this mean machine, a killer Lowrider. Raymond Vega of Lompoc, CA., was one of these tri-five enthusiasts, and when the opportunity to purchase one presented itself, he jumped at the chance and snatched up this classic Chevy.
This self-contractor purchased the Bel Air as a survivor car, which he rebuilt in a five-year time period. With most of his work in the Los Angeles area, it was easy for Raymond to find the right body shops to hook up the ’57. After talking to Javier a/k/a “Mexico” from Mexico Collision Center in South Gate, Raymond agreed to let the MCC crew get started on the project. The car was completely disassembled, as the team began the restoration by going over the light body work which had to be addressed in order to get the car back to its mint condition. With the car ready for paint, it was sprayed by master painter Javier, who shot the car in an original tone.
It was time to switch gears at this point in the build, and the frame and suspension were completely removed and shipped over to Chico from M&M Hydraulics of Ontario, CA. Chico sent the frame to the powder coat shop where the frame was coated in a protective coating of semi-gloss black. Chico then rebuilt the suspension with several parts bought from a few ’57 outlets including Danchuck, Cars Inc., and everybody’s favorite, the Pomona automotive swap meet! The engine was sent out to Raymond’s buddy, Rene, of Goleta, CA., who detailed the stock 283. The rolling frame and engine were then reunited with the car’s body, moving the project along closer to completion.
The Bel Air needed to have the refurbished trim which was finished by Universal Metal Plating of Azusa, CA., reattached in order to allow it to be sent to the interior shop. The interior was masterfully reworked by Adam, of Adam’s Upholstery, who installed a Cars Inc. interior kit that matched the exterior. The interior boasted options which included an original Wonderbar radio, a compass, a plug in spotlight, and matching floor mats, keeping the original feel of the car intact. These were just a few of the options that were found and bought over the five year span of the build.
Raymond, who originally purchased the car from a retired CHP officer, was quick to let us know that he couldn’t have put this car together without the help and support of his wife, who was there when he wasn’t. This build is just the icing on the cake for Raymond, as now that it is complete, he can spend more time with his family and his car club, Los Angeles. He definitely represents the club with the class of a Lowrider and an unbelievably stylish car.
Owner: Raymond Vega
Vehicle: ’57 Chevy Bel Air Convertible
City/State: Lompoc, CA
Club: Los Angeles Car Club
Engine/Drivetrain: Stock 283 c.i.d Chevrolet small-block engine with 3 on the column manual 3-speed transmission.
Interior: Cars Inc. red stock interior kit.
Body/Paint: PPG stock 1957 Chevrolet Red
Suspension: Stock rebuilt suspension, powder-coated to match the chassis.
Wheels: 13×7 reverse L.A. Wire Wheels
Tires: 13-inch Premium Sportway 5.20’s