Leon Rodriguez of Ontario, California, is a very nice, down-to-earth, and humble guy. At first glance, he may look like one tough lowrider as he sits in his super-clean ’63 Chevy Impala, known as “Tha Lowdown.” While his presence may initially come off as intimidating, once you start talking to him; you’ll see that his true persona becomes evident immediately.
Leon actually grew up in Ontario and as a child of the ’80s, he can recall seeing the Terrones Family across the street from where he lived. Five brothers from the family lived in the house there and they all owned lowrider cars; which made quite an impression on the young Leon. Even better, they would let Leon come over and hang out with them while they worked on their rides. As he grew older, so did his appreciation for the time, money, blood, and sweat that goes into building a top-notch ride. While Leon ended up owning a few lowered rides over the years, he never took them all the way due to personal funds being low.
Once he hit his late 30s Leon decided it was finally time to fulfill his childhood dream of building the lowrider he always wanted; a ’63 Chevy Impala SS. With the ease of the digital age, a few clicks on the mouse was all it took for Leon to see what was out there and available. Searching near and far, Leon looked through hundreds of listings and even personally went out looking at cars all over Southern California. Six months into his search, on the Fourth of July 2010, Leon woke up and found a gem on Craigslist which had been posted five minutes before he went online. The car appeared to be in very good condition for being over 45 years old and Leon found out why it was in such great shape. Leon quickly called the seller and learned that the seller was only the second owner of the vehicle and that he had purchased it from the original owner, who was the seller’s next door neighbor. The original owner had the car sitting in the garage for about 25 years before selling it, so it was no wonder the car was in great shape.
Leon wasted no time and immediately setup up an appointment with the seller to go see the car. When he did; Leon simply fell in love. Sure, the ride’s paint was a little dull and the car a little dirty, but it ran and it was complete! Leon even found the original dealer’s paperwork and owner’s manual inside the glove box. The dealer’s license plate frames were still attached and the original radio still worked.
For the next year, Leon drove the car everywhere. Also during that time, he began personalizing his ride by adding some of the optional accessories such as the rear skirts, a grill guard, rear bumper guards, rear window blinds, Flarestat hazards, tissue dispenser, Autronic eye, and a Bowman color bar. After that first year, Leon made the decision to give the ride a complete makeover; giving the ride’s exterior a brand new paintjob in the same stock color. Leon and his friend, Scott McCall, carefully removed the stock engine, transmission, and suspension. The belly was undercoated and the frame coated in a semi-gloss. Albert DeAlba from Cal Blast in Upland, California, blasted away the years of grime on the suspension and engine parts. Leon and Scott also went through the drive train and suspension and made it as good as new. Lastly, a custom-built bolt-on airbag setup was installed, allowing the ride to sit low on a set of chrome True Spoke rims and whitewall Premium Sportway 5.20 tires.
Leon gives big thanks to his wife for supporting him throughout all those long hours in the garage, and he thanks his Style Car Club family for their support. He gives special thanks his friend, Scott, for all the help he provided for this project. Most importantly, Leon thanks God for all of His blessings.
Owner: Leon Rodriguez
Vehicle: 1963 Chevy Impala SS
City/State: Ontario, CA
Club: Style Car Club
Engine: Stock 1963 GM 283-cid. V-8 with two-speed powerglide transmission.
Body/Paint: Rully’s in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, handled the paint necessities, laying down a fresh paintjob over the Impala’s body. Leon chose to stay with the stock color; an azure aqua metallic. All chrome that needed a re-dip went to Victor of Millennium in Ontario.
Interior: The original stock interior still looks great. The only thing replaced inside was the carpets.
Sound System: Although the stock in-dash radio still works, Leon did add a side upgrade, adding a hidden JVC head unit in the tissue box and three full-range three-way 6.5-inch speakers.
Setup: Leon decided to go with a custom-built bolt-on airbag setup for a smooth ride and the available option to remove the setup if he chooses to return the car to a stock ride later. Andy Diaz over at MIC in Montclair, CA, installed Firestone bags, two Viair air pumps, a 5-gallon tank, four solenoids, and half-inch hoses.
Tires: Premium Sportway 5.20
Wheels: True Spoke 14×7 chrome 45-spoke crosslace