The media, especially film, has played a great role upping the visibility of the lowrider community. Many aspiring car owners have seen custom cars in movies or music videos and it has catapulted them into fulfilling their own creativity. For thirty-eight-year-old Marc Benkoff of Birmingham, Michigan, the movies that motivated him were “Boyz ‘N’ The Hood,” and the movie “Friday.”
“From the minute I saw “Friday,” I knew I had to have a ’61 rag,” Marc tells us. “It was the symbol of style and respect.” Although it seemed nearly impossible for him to find a bare canvas and a reputable shop to help craft his masterpiece, Marc started his building career with muscle cars. Years later at a local hangout, Marc met Tommy Cavataio, who owned the memorable ’64 named “Next Episode.” With a vehicle like that in the area, Marc realized there were shops locally that could build a vehicle up to the standards he wanted to meet. Knowing that, Marc began the search for his dream car. It took a couple weeks but Marc found a ’61 Chevy Impala convertible in Los Angeles and had it shipped to his doorstep in Michigan.
The Impala was completely stock and in perfectly restored condition. Immediately, with the help of Tommy, Jimmy Raudabaugh, and the crew at Show & Go Customs, the frame was removed from the body and reinforced, molded, painted, patterned, leafed and pinstriped. With his knowledge of muscle cars, Marc decided to upgrade the Chevy motor for the rugged Detroit streets. The next step was lifting the Impala, giving it an aggressive look at different altitudes. The Chevy was reassembled and the final touches were done.
Within eight months of receiving his Impala, Marc used his creativity and the help from others to make the masterpiece he always dreamed of. “I need to give special thanks to my close friend and club brother, Jimmy Raudabaugh, whom I was fortunate to know and was taken from us when he was far too young. Without him, my dream would not have come true. I also want to thank Tommy Cavataio who handled all the mechanics and assembly, as well as the Show & Go Customs crew, Pops, Tutti, Dave, Clayton and K, who all did their part in fulfilling my dream beyond my wildest expectations.”
“1 of a Kind”
Owner: Marc Benkoff
Vehicle: 1961 Chevrolet Impala convertible
City/State: Birmingham, Michigan
Club: USO Detroit
Engine: An ’81 Corvette 350-cid turbo 350 added to boost the Impala was installed by Tommy Cavataio. Walter Prosper built the custom air cleaner. Dynamic Plating handled most of the chrome plating and the air cleaner and valve covers were chromed by Advance Plating.
Body/Paint: The late Jimmy Raudabaugh of Show & Go Customs added Medium Marblehead Metallic base clearcoat, Silver leafing and striped. The trunk and wheels were painted by Kandy ‘N’ Chrome.
Interior: Marine vinyl with stock ’61 hardtop inserts, suede headliner with Impala and crossflags embossed over chrome convertible top rack. Dakota Digital gauges, power windows, vents and seats. Autronic Eye and Dinsmore Compass.
Sound System: Car Tunes Advanced from Allen Park, MI, added the Alpine IVA-W505 multimedia DVD player and integrated iPod located in the glovebox. Two JL Audio amplifiers power the JL Audio components and three Kicker 8-inch L7 subwoofers.
Setup: Tommy Cavataio installed the three-pump Pit Bull setup with one Adex dump and two Delta dumps to the rear. The backing plates and battery tie-downs were custom made by CCF Customs. A four-switch panel on the dash is powered by eight Interstate Workaholic batteries. A-arms extended 1 inch reinforced and chromed, chromed Ford 9-inch rear end.
Tires: Uniroyal Tigerpaw 155/80R13s
Wheels: 13 x 7 100-spoke chrome Dayton Wire Wheels painted