Danny Ochoa of Mesa, AZ has very deep roots with the Lowrider culture. His extensive history with Society Car Club of Mesa, Arizona is certainly a testament to this. In fact, aside from his brother, Richard, who founded the club in 1980, he has had the longest tenure of anybody in Society. Danny held the office of Car Club President from 2000 to 2006, and has played an integral role in the overall success of this incredible Arizona club. Danny’s service is not limited to the car club he has helped to build; he has also been involved in car show judging since 1983. That year, he judged the Mesa Car Show and hasn’t looked back, as he is now the head judge for Lowrider Entertainment. Of course, there is a big difference between judging Mesa’s first show of 50 entries twenty-seven years ago and the over 800 entries that signed up at the Las Vegas Super Show this past year.
As the head Judge for Lowrider Entertainment, Danny has been fortunate enough to travel the country and see the nation’s top Lowriders. Danny’s job is not the easiest in this industry, as his job consists of criticizing and judging other peoples’ personal creations. It is a constant learning experience, much like life itself. Just when you think you have seen it all, a car will break out of the woodwork and prove to be built beyond current standards. Danny’s job is very beneficial to him as a builder himself, however. Imagine seeing the top innovations and builds on a day-to-day basis; you could transfer all the genius you see into your own creation! With that said, take a look at Danny’s ride, as he shows us his latest seven-year project.
With the car on its third build, Danny knew that he had to create something that would represent Arizona as Danny does when he is on the road. It’s tough competition in the land of his beloved D-Backs to the sometimes hated Phoenix Suns, so this car had to be a build that could hold its own while being parked next to the same cars that he has to judge and critique.
The first thing on the agenda was to take the pristine-box Chevy and take it apart, in order to get it ready for its new paint job. With all of the components off the vehicle, there was plenty of room to shave and mold the firewall. The car received bodywork by Big John, who then dropped off the vehicle to Bugs, of Bugs Auto Art, in Chandler, AZ. After consulting with Danny, the decision was made to repaint the car in different shades of reds with accent colors to complement the paint scheme. In order to effectively tie in the paint design, Bugs pinstriped and gold-leafed the car before it was completely cleared and buffed out.
While the car sat, Danny moved onto the engine department. With a shaved firewall, the engine compartment looked huge and allowed the small block to shine with all of its accessories. The engine featured an Edelbrock carburetor and intake combination, which is able to breathe through a Flowmaster exhaust system. Steve Shmitz, who took credit for assembling the engine, also bolted on the billet valve covers and breathers. As the build progressed, Danny accessorized the engine compartment with an aluminum radiator. The fender wells were custom painted with flames to tie in the name “Caliente ’64” to the car.
With a busy schedule, Danny had to make time to assemble the car and put the trims back on. Danny also took advantage of the disassembly time and chrome plated some of the parts while they were off the car, before sending them over to Metro Plating in Mesa for the complete chrome job.
The end of the build was finally near for “Caliente ’64.” As the hardtop was completely assembled, all that was left to do was build up the interior and install the hydraulics. The exterior of the paintjob dictated the design and color combination that was used by Richard of Vega’s Customs from Chandler, AZ. The results showed an exquisite interior with the same color combination inside the Chevy. This was accomplished by using different suede and vinyl, giving the car an elegant-yet-sporty feel. By this time, Danny visited Todd Land of Street Life hydraulics, who installed a whammy tank, which was mounted on a custom tubular rack. With tubing and pressure gauges, Danny’s setup was made to look like a million bucks without spending anywhere near that number.
The ’64 was ready to roll, and you can see Danny’s love for Lowriding every time he turns the key on this pristine Chevy. As common as ’64 builds are within the Lowrider Nation, Danny knew he really had to deliver on this build, and he has done so beautifully. His ’64 started out as a perfectly restored version, and gradually manifested itself into the full custom you see before you today. “Caliente ’64” has flown one plaque in Danny’s lifetime, and continues to do so while making its way through the local show circuit.
Owner: Danny Ochoa
Vehicle: ’64 Chevy Impala
City/State: Mesa, Arizona
Club: Society Car Club
Engine: Stock 327 and Powerglide transmission
Interior: Red leather custom interior with a painted dash to accent the interior.
Setup: Two Street Life Hydraulic pumps, four dumps, two Parker slowdowns, powered by four 31-series batteries.
Wheels: 13×7 Roadster Wire Wheels
Tires: Premium Sportway 5.20’s