A child in a military family never has it easy. They are never in one place for long, so making friends and keeping them is a daunting task. It seems in these cases that just when a child starts to get used to his or her surroundings, it’s time to move on again. Although they get to travel and experience new things, the frequent moves eventually take a toll.
This was the case for self-described “Military Brat,” Michael Wapniewski, who grew up moving from place to place because of his father’s Army career. Michael and his family spent time in Frankfurt Germany, Atlanta, Georgia, Texas, and Northern California before settling in Southern California where he went to high school. Southern California is where he also met his wife of 18 years, Crystal. When their daughter was two years old, they moved to Honolulu, Hawaii for a time before they returned to Atlanta, Georgia, where they planned on staying.
What does the fact that Michael moved so much when he was a child have to do with Lowriding? Well, one of the cities his father was stationed in for a time gave Michael his first exposure to Lowriding. The Wapniewski family was in Oakland, California, when Michael was 11 years old, and this is where he saw his first Lowrider. He vowed one day to own one.
He owned a Honda Civic and a VW Jetta on wires, but he had his heart set on a traditional Lowrider. After Michael and Crystal settled their family in Atlanta, Georgia, it was time for him to build his first Lowrider. He came up on a 1987 Buick Regal Limited that an elderly woman had for sale. It needed work, but it was just what he was looking for. The Regal also had a digital dash, making it even more of a keeper for Michael. As time and finances allowed, Michael would work on the car.
Barry Smith of ATL Customs in Fayetteville, North Carolina, got the body ready for paint and then sprayed it in PPG Paint’s Calypso Metallic Green. Papa at Papa Studios in Powder Spring, Georgia, took care of the pinstriping and leafing that the Regal needed for the perfect accents. After Michael had the outside of the Regal complete, it was time to update the interior. Fred, from Players Image in Tucker, Georgia, covered the interior in white with green accents, including the Grant steering wheel.
Next up for the Regal was an updated in-car entertainment system, and suspension modifications. Michael installed a Sony head unit and two 6×9 speakers in the car. 8-inch cylinders were installed in the front and 14-inch cylinders were installed in the rear of the Regal. 31 8-grouped batteries power the car’s 3-pump Hi-Jacker system. Michael credits fellow Obsession Car Club member, Perry Bunker of Back Yard Boogie in Anderson, South Carolina, for the hydraulic installation.
It took Michael four years to build the Regal, and once he was done, he joined Obsession Car Club and began attending local shows with them. He has done quite well, taking home numerous awards in his class, as well as some Best Paint awards. Michael would like to thank his wife and children for being patient while he built the Regal, and for also being especially patient when he takes a whole Saturday to get the car ready for a show on Sunday! He would also like to thank his Obsession Car Club family for their help, and for voting him Member of the Year for 2009. Additional kudos from Michael go out to Barry Smith for all the hard work on the prep for paint, Perry Bunker of Back Yard Boogie of Anderson, S.C., for the long and hard nights of hydro work, and last but not least, OBSESSION C.C. for the support and love of a winning team. This may be Michael’s first build, but it is not his last.