Sometimes best intentions go unrewarded. Take the case of Richard Rodriguez, Jr., an employee at the Santa Clara School District in San Jose, California. Aware that he always turned heads in his 1953 Club Coupe, Richard thought it might be a good idea to take the Coupe to some of the schools to show the kids. He envisioned it as being a motivational tool for them, hoping to use his classic car to show them that with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible. Richard’s positivity and optimism was instead greeted with cruelty; the beloved coupe that he used for road trips to Santa Cruz and San Francisco was vandalized in the parking lot of the school by some of the students. Fraught with frustration and dismayed by the violence, Richard did receive a blessing in the fact that his insurance ended up paying for all the damages done to the classic car. With this blessing in disguise, Richard began to channel his experience into a more productive light, as he began tearing the car apart and preparing for the ultimate rebuild! “I just went crazy on it, from top to bottom, and from inside and out; I did everything,” explains the bomb enthusiast with vigor.

No stranger to the Bomb scene, Richard actually has quite a few builds under his belt, including a ’46 Plymouth, ’40 Buick, ’51 Coupe, the ’53 Club Coupe being featured here, and a few others. “This is my fifth or sixth car with full undercarriage,” a proud Richard boasts. Beyond the Bomb scene, Richard’s love for the culture of Lowriding stems all the way back to his childhood days, where he watched and helped his father in several builds, finding the passion in himself in the process. Among those builds were Bombs and Impala’s and one particular ’62 holds a special place in Richard’s heart. An eight year-old Richard cut his teeth on the ’62 Impala alongside his father and the work they did on that car was nothing short of epic. “We showed the ’62 convertible at the San Jose Fairgrounds and got first place,” says Richard in an excited tone. “It was the last show that was done at the fairgrounds.”

While the Impala served as his initial proving ground, his love for Bombs is unmatched, and all of his builds have been within those model years. Currently he’s got a frame off project going in his garage as well. “That one is bone stock original,” says Richard, intending to keep it that way. During the build of “El Muerto,” Richard found out that his ’53 Chevy wasn’t just another Coupe; it was a ’53 Club Coupe. “The Club Coupe was and upscale business coupe,” says Richard. This news served to fuel his curiosity and after doing some research on the car, he found out that his Club Coupe needed a piece of trim that went above the quarter panel window. What he thought was a complete exterior wasn’t, and Richard set out to find the missing piece. “It’s a one year only trim” says Richard with a grin. Realizing the scarcity of the piece, he knew he had an uphill battle ahead of him, and wondered if he was ever going to find the missing puzzle piece to his Club Coupe. “It took me five years to find that trim, and once I found it, it cost me a lot of money,” says an exhausted Richard. “If I would have known the rarity of the car, I would have probably gone all original on it.”

Richard would like to thank Cario Delgado and Peter Campos, and would like to give a special thanks to his wife, Victoria, and the kids for putting up with him at the swap meet and letting him spend late hours in the garage.

Tech Specs
“El Muerto”

Owner: Richard Rodriguez, Jr.

Vehicle: 1953 Chevy Club Coupe

City/State: Sunnyvale, CA

Club: Parliament

Engine: The inline 6 was painted to match the car and the engraving was accented with chrome and gold from Speedy’s Chrome in LA.

Body/Paint: Cario Delgado of DC Customs in San Jose, CA., painted the Club Coupe House of Kolor Oriental Blue. He also took care of painting the frame and the intricate patterns, as well as the stripping found on the roof of the Coupe.

Setup: Mikey from the Hop Shop in Fremont installed the whammy setup, which includes three batteries, four switches, four solenoids and hard lines.

Upholstery: Tony from Tony’s Customs in San Jose, CA., stitched the custom interior with a touch of a stock style.

Sound System: Peter Campos from Bird’s Customs in San Jose, CA installed the Zapco Amp to push two JL Audio 10’s, 6×9’s and 6×5’s.

Tires: 5.20’s.

Wheels: 14×7 72 Crosslaced Zeniths.