The spirit of lowriding is stronger than ever, but what really carries the tradition of lowriding is not just the cars themselves, but more importantly the stories behind their builds. This month LOWRIDER Magazine takes a look at two different Impalas from Los Angeles Car Club that embody the heritage of classic American cars built with a twist.
Hecho en Mexico
When industry tastemaker, Javier “Mexico” Gomez set out to build the car of his dreams, little did he know it would become a family affair. Originally purchased from a friend for a hefty $30,000, the ragtop would consume countless hours of manual labor, but it was the process of building the car that would create memories that could only be told and never sold. Built with the help of his father Don Beto, the most laborious part of the process was the metalwork. “The car required a lot of metalwork to get it back to tip-top shape, but even more time was spent tracking down parts,” said Javier. In total, he spent four years tracking down hard-to-find parts including an electronic eye, vacuum ashtray, litter bag, compass, and a rear speaker switch just to name a few.
In all, a total of $90,000 was spent bringing this historic piece of automotive history back to life and in the end he built a driver — not a trailer queen — that has already taken home numerous awards including Best Original at the Lowrider Super Show in 2008 as well as Best Original in 2009 at the Arizona Lowrider Show.
When we talked more about the culture and heritage and of lowriding, Javier did have some important things to say about the evolution of lowriding. “Nowadays, lowriding is still strong, but I think we’re at a point of transition,” he says. “We’re slowly getting the respect and attention from the hot rod guys and I think that all started with all of the LS motor swaps that the scene has been cranking out. If you were to ask me, I think the next big thing is going to be working more on our suspension setups just to show them that our cars can drive and handle as good as they look.”
That said, we couldn’t agree more. Today, lowriding continues to be one of the most detail-oriented markets of car customizing, and when it comes to paint, candy, and chrome, many of the top contenders in the scene continue to set the benchmark in craftsmanship and quality. As each year passes, we’re seeing builds that could easily compete with the best in concours, but what makes these builds different is the simple fact that a majority of these cars are built and not bought, while being crafted and created with the support of more than just a checkbook. In the end, these cars become members of the family and will serve as a vehicle to carry tradition and family values.
Vehicle: 1958 Chevy Impala convertible
Owner: Javier “Mexico” Gomez
Vehicle Nickname: “Hecho en Mexico ’58”
City/State: South Gate, CA
Club: Los Angeles CC
Engine: 283 four-barrel
Body/Paint: Mexico Collision Center — Honey Beige PPG
Interior: Anniversary Gold interior by California Upholstery
Sound System: Wonderbar radio, Epicenter crossovers
Wheels/Tires: 13-inch Daytons Zenith knockoffs on 5/20/13s Coker Premium Sport tires
The ’58 Chevy Impala has become a crown jewel when it comes to American classics, but what truly makes this car a project for the big boys is the price point. With prices reaching astronomical levels (even for rust buckets), this story could safely be called the American dream. We’ve all heard the tall tales about “barnyard finds,” but the advent of the Internet has made “deals” virtually nonexistent. Nowadays, anyone can find the true value of anything in their home or garage by jumping on the Web, so when we found out that Big Pancho scored this Impala for a mere $5,000, it made us want to end the story and jump out the nearest window.
Truth be told, he came across the deal during a simple stop-off at Mexico Collision Center. After paying Javier a visit, he spotted the ’58 and asked if it was for sale and the response from Javier was, “Yes! You can have it for $5,000.” Now whether that was initially a tease or joke, only Javier knows, but Pancho did what any one of us would have done; he went straight to the bank and pulled out the $5,000. Upon his return, Pancho mentions, “Javier seemed surprised! And he no longer wanted to sell the car, but he gave his word so he had to sell it.” Needless to say, Big Pancho had a new car in his stable and after four years and $50,000 the end result is the car now gracing these pages.
As a construction foreman and casual longshoreman, Big Pancho isn’t new to the world of lowriding. Interestingly enough, he landed his first job at the age of 11 when he went to work for Lalo & Son’s Upholstery. “Lalo was my neighbor and also my father figure,” says the proud owner of The Hangover. “Lalo was also a father figure to me because my own had passed one year earlier. I remember making buttons for some of the most famous lowriders in the ’80s, and I also cut my fair share of mirrors,” he also mentions. Looking back, we’re almost positive that being around lowriders influenced his desire to build a ride of his own and in the same breath it’s safe to say that he now owns a proper ’58 Impala sure to make it’s mark and memories on the next generation of lowrider enthusiasts.
Vehicle: 1958 Chevy Impala,
Owner: Big Pancho
City/State: Lynwood, CA
Club: Los Angeles CC
Engine: 348 built by Safe & Sound mated to a Powerglide transmission with a shortened rearend
Body/Paint: Bodywork by Don Beto of Mexico Collision Center, painted by Javier. Top painted by Leo at DV8. Pinstriping by Curly. Sergio Metal Finishing did the chrome; G.E. Antique Creations completed the anodizing
Interior: Stock Coral interior by California Upholstery
Suspension: Big Frank’s Hydraulics. Wammy pumps; 2-ton springs precut; three Adex Square dumps; eight Prestolite solenoids; Hoppo’s Flat Blocks; boxed frame; molded upper and lower A-arms; molded rear trailing arms.
Sound System: Alpine head unit, Infinity mids and highs; JL Audio subs installed by Jarboe Designs
Wheels/Tires: 13-inch Daytons on Coker Premium Sport
Special Thanks: My family, MCC family, and Los Angeles CC Family