Bust out Big Ray’s lowriding resume and you’ll soon realize that he’s been in the game for 25 years strong. Far from a rookie, his passion for the scene took him on a journey that includes the creation of many, many lowriders; but ultimately his biggest claim to fame would come as one of the founders of Pro Hopper—one of the biggest hydraulic manufacturers on the globe.
Throughout his term, Big Ray’s claim to fame didn’t end with complacency. Instead he’s taken the lessons learned from building his fair share of lowriders and turned it into a business and lifestyle that has set the tone for many memorable moments—and anyone who’s been around will probably remember a few of his legendary escapades. For starters, who could forget his hopper called “The Flipper”? That car in specific was best known for showing up at numerous Lowrider Magazine Tours, and as a result he became a much-feared competitor and award winner who broke his fair share of hopping records. But his claim to fame wasn’t reserved just for the streets. His last feature in Lowrider was with a two-door 1996 Cadillac Fleetwood, and soon after is when he realized that he wanted to do up a 1959, a vehicle that he refers to as “a real Chevy.”
To get that going, Big Ray didn’t have to look far, as a fellow club member had a 1959 for sale. The 1959 Impala is a car known best for its cat eyes, and it’s also one of the most desired years in the market, regardless of the condition, but this one here was special and in dire need of a major overhaul. The 1959 had no floors, no moldings, no windows, and once you opened the doors up it was missing everything from the dash to the complete interior. In short, it was basically a shell that had been dismantled into pieces.
Busy with work and life, there was little time to do the restoration himself so he dropped the car off at a shop and this is where the story gets familiar to anyone who’s built a lowrider. With high hopes and plenty of promises, Big Ray explains, “The car spent years at a shop that just couldn’t get it done, so I ended up picking it up and taking it to one that could. That shop was Stealth Motorworks.”
Once there, the gents at Stealth dropped in a 1996 Chevy 355-CircleTracker engine complete with Offenhauser valve covers and intake manifold. They also added Speedway air cleaners to the Moon six-pack carb and then laid out the PPG copper paint while Gator Customs laid the final patterns and ‘striping. To get the 1959 properly equipped for action in the streets, Stealth Motorworks then installed a four-pump hydraulic setup as well as the mandatory sound system, which is enjoyed by sitting in the custom interior also done by Gator Customs.
What was originally supposed to be a quick build wound up taking six years to complete, and while he’s happy with the outcome he did mention “the car being good enough to hold [him] over until he gets a 1959 convertible.” As always, the lowrider game is one that revolves around constant inspiration and aspiration and at this point we can’t wait to see what Big Ray comes up the next time around.
1959 Chevrolet Impala
Granada Hills, CA
1996 355-CircleTracker engine with Offenhauser intake/valve covers, Speedway air cleaner/radiator, Moon six-pack carb fuel injection, Jegs water pump, MSD ignition/distributor, SBC headers, and yellow-top Optima battery
ABS disc brakes, Summit Racing master cylinder/booster. The setup consists of four Pro Hopper pumps, four Adex dumps, and 12 Trojan batteries.
CARS Inc. interior kit in copper suede
Pioneer double-din with JL Audio amps/mids and MTX subwoofers
13×7 72-spoke with 155/80R13 Travel Star tires