As a long time Lowrider and member of Southern California’s Our Style Car Club, Rafael Nieves knows what it takes to bring home trophies and garner second looks when cruising the streets of his hometown of Lakewood, California. When it came time to build his latest project, he came upon a convertible 1968 Chevy Impala at the Long Beach Swap Meet one Sunday morning, and instantly knew he had found his next project.
A deal was made with the seller in exchange for cash and the keys to Rafael’s 1983 Chevy El Camino for the ragtop sixty eight. Once Rafael brought it home, it was time to come up with a plan. The first order of business was to get the body cleaned up and prepped for paint. Rafael had Javier from JM in Paramount California prep the body for paint. Javier sprayed the ‘68 with a Candy Green hue from top to bottom. The frame was also sprayed in Candy Green after Rafael had it reinforced, making for a very complementary combination. After the Impala was sprayed by Javier, Curley from Curley’s Pinstriping in Paramount, California added his touch throughout the car; including the striping and leafing on both sides of the body and the leafed “Our Style” logo in the engine compartment. Mario from Riverside, California added some murals on the underside of the hood and trunk.
When it came time to upgrade the suspension, Rafael decided against cutting up the classic Impala for hydraulics, so he opted to have Javier from JM install an air bag suspension setup that allows him to adjust the ride height at a flip of a switch. The air tanks for the setup that are mounted in the trunk have been chrome plated to add to the overall custom look of the six eight’s trunk.
Rafael decided to pull the Impala’s power plant and add a 1968 GMC 327 to the engine bay but before he did that, he had the engine block painted to match the color of the car and added a slew of chrome accessories like the air cleaner, valve covers, and brake booster. Rafael added chrome inner fender skins to the engine bay to combine the large amount of chrome under the hood. The final addition to the engine bay was the custom ceramic coated exhaust system. In keeping with the chrome paint and pinstripe combination, Rafael had the suspension pieces of the Impala chromed and the gas tank painted Candy Green and pinstriped as well. The Impala was fitted with 14-inch wire wheels that are pinstriped and matched to the color scheme with “Our Style” wheel chips.
When it came time to upgrade the interior and the rag top, Rafael took on both tasks himself, covering the interior in black vinyl and green tweed while dressing up the trunk in the same combination. Rafael redid the top in a black fabric that matches the interior. Rafael also installed the Audio system in the Impala. He added Kenwood, MTX, and Punch audio components throughout the Impala for a crisp clean sound.
With most projects, the final addition to the project is the car club plaque. This was the case with Rafael’s Impala. He put the “Our Style” plaque up and hit the streets and the shows with his club. Since building the Impala, he has won numerous awards at the shows he’s entered, including the very competitive Imperials show, Lexanifest, and the Old Memories show.
Rafael would like to thank his wife and two sons for their support of his Lowriding, and would also like to thank Javier from JM and Curley from Curley’s Pinstriping for all of their help and guidance during the two years it took to build the Impala. Rafael once again succeeded in building a head turning show winner.
“Dirty Money Green”
Owner: Rafael Nieves
Vehicle: 1968 Chevy Impala
Club: Our Style Car Club
City/State: Lakewood, CA
Paint: Candy Green by JM of Paramount, CA. Pinstriping by Curly’s Pinstriping Paramount, CA. Murals by Mario of Riverside, CA.
Interior: Owner covered the interior in Black & Green Tweed & Vinyl.
Suspension: JM of Paramount, CA., installed a custom Air Bag set up.
Wheels: 14×7 Wire Wheels.
Tires: 14-inch white wall tires.