Abel Zavala, a restaurant owner in Roswell, New Mexico, always used to checkout the cars in Lowrider magazine and in the music videos of the ’90s and he told himself that one day he would own one. He began his search for a ’64 Impala convertible. “I came up empty handed in my search for a convertible ’64, so I settled for the next best thing: a hardtop ’64 Super Sport.” He found his dream car in Indiana. When he brought it back home to New Mexico, the car was a little rough and it had a hot rod look. Abel slapped some wire wheels on it and installed a hydraulic setup. He cruised it like that for a few years.

One day when he was coming home from work, he opened up his garage to find out his pride and joy had been stolen. “They stole the car in the middle of the day when I was at work. I thought I was having a bad dream when I didn’t see my car in there,” Abel recalls. He called the police to file a report, but they told him that he was never going to find the car. A dejected Abel was crushed. Everyone in the know began speculating about the car’s whereabouts; some said it was probably in a chop shop in pieces, others said it was probably across the border. The only people that believed that it was still in town were Abel and his mother. They started spreading the word of the missing ’64 in hopes of it turning up. Luckily, their combined efforts weren’t in vein because within a few weeks of the car’s disappearance, one of Abel’s friends was approached by locals to see if he wanted to buy it. He was able to get Abel’s car back without paying for it and immediately called the car’s former owner to convey the news. “He didn’t want to tell me who it was, so I wouldn’t go looking for them to confront them. I couldn’t believe that he had it, I went straight over there after work and I found it there in one piece.” Abel had caught a double break; not only did he get the car back, it was in one piece solely because the guys who stole it didn’t know much about cars, so they were trying to sell the entire car, as opposed to breaking it down for parts.

“Once I got my car back, I felt like it was a sign for me to fix it up,” says Abel. Later on, he met Orlando Cobos and the rest of the Imperials guys and decided it was time for him to build himself an Imperials-material car. “I never expected it to come out the way it did. It was meant to be streetcar.” What you see here is five years in the making and many hours spent working at the restaurant to raise the money to complete the project.

Abel would like to thank his mom, dad, brother, Jorge, and sister, Margarita, Imperials car club, Carino Auto Restoration, and everyone else who was involved in the build.


“El Robado”

Owner: Abel Zavala

Vehicle: 1964 Impala Super Sport

City/State: Roswell, New Mexico

Club: Imperials

Engine: Carino Auto Restoration in Roswell, NM installed the 350 with Edelbrock carburetor, Tru-Trak serpentine, Billet Specialties valve covers & air filter, A&M aluminum radiator and Optima battery.

Body/Paint: Mike Cobos of Carino Auto Restoration stripped it down and did the bodywork. Orlando Cobos and David Fieros, also of Carino, used a red metallic paint, gave it pinstripes, and David “Shadow,” also of Texas, added murals. Cruz Rodriguez put the car back together.

Interior: Victor from The Stitch in Roswell, NM, used a new stock white interior kit.

Sound System: Orlando Cabos of Carino’s installed the two Kicker amps, 12-inch Kicker subwoofers and Rockford Fosgate mids.

Chrome: Electro Plating of El Paso, TX, did the chrome. Carlos Salas, of Azusa, CA, engraved the pumps and Ezekiel of Dallas, TX, engraved the wheels.

Setup: Carino Auto Restoration installed a four-pump setup that includes one double whammy tank and four batteires.

Tires: 5.20s Premium Sportways

Wheels: 72-spoke Daytons