For decades all throughout the world mules were used to transport not only goods, but the teams of individuals who were exploring foreign territory. In essence, mules were the heroes of the American West and as a result were often referred to as the workhorse of the animal kingdom. So when Orlando, Florida, resident Jose Morales first purchased his 1965 Chevrolet Malibu wagon he knew it was going to be the mule for his family, and rightly so gave his car the name “La Burra,” which means “The Mule” in Spanish.
Born in Tepatitlan, Jalisco, Mexico, Jose was just 9 months old when his father brought him to Los Angeles for a better life. As Jose became acclimated to the California lifestyle, he began to take note of the automotive culture that was present in his community. That lifestyle was lowriding, and the impressions it left were permanent; he was hooked.
So when the time came for Jose to get off the sidelines, he decided he wanted to be a player in the game. He couldn’t wait to navigate his own ride and his platform of choice was an imposing 1965 Malibu wagon. As fate would have it, he found his dream car while scouring the Pomona Swap Meet. It was there he spotted a stripped-down Malibu wagon. It was void of a motor and transmission but the body was straight so he made an offer and closed the deal. “I knew everyone around here was cruising around in Impalas,” Jose tells LRM, “[but] I wanted to be different and come out with something nobody else had yet.”
The process of building La Burra was no walk in the park and it took time, but then again what modern reinterpretation of a classic masterpiece doesn’t? While taking the car apart, Jose located the original color of the vehicle under the primered tailgate molding and he took the wagon to Edgar at Diamond Touch to bring the Malibu back to life. The wagon was dipped in its original color and then sent to Edgar from Maxima Imagen to have some OG pinstriping done. Moving to the interior, he contracted Fermin Ruiz to transform the once-empty cabin to best mimic a factory-fresh, off-the-showroom-floor look. With a beautiful rolling shell, the last phase was to address the engine bay where he threw in a new powerplant that was performed by Randy Wilson, also known as Mr. Chilly.
As the car was coming in its final stages before release, a life-turning event occurred when Jose’s brother presented him with an opportunity he couldn’t resist. His brother, Erik, was going to open a shop in Florida, so he jumped on the opportunity, packed up the family, and made the move. The end result was the opening of a shop called G.M. Works, in Apopka, Florida, and it was there that La Burra would be treated to a full air-ride system.
Today, La Burra is used as a daily driver to and from work but gets treated to its fair share of family functions and car shows. Many would say that his Chevy is used very much like the workhorse it’s named after, and Jose would agree. In the end, Jose wishes to thank his lovely wife, Jackie, for supporting him during the build, as well as his children, Angel, Erik, Angelina, and Dalia. A special thanks also goes out to Edgar from Diamond Touch, Edgar (Maxima Imagen), Fermin, and his brother, Erik, for all their help and support in helping create a vehicle they can all be proud of.
1965 Chevrolet Malibu wagon
Classic Lowriders, Orlando
406-cid small-block V-8 built by Rodney “Mr. Chilly” Wilson, Sporting Corvette camel hump heads, solid cam, ’60s Sanderson headers, two-chamber Flowmaster exhaust, 350 turbo transmission, stage 2 shift kit, 12-bolt rearend
Axalta Aqua Green with silver pearl; Glasurit clearcoat done by Edgar at Diamond Touch Body Shop in South Gate, CA; Edgar Maxima added old-school pinstriping; OG Fox Craft fender skirts; stainless steel luggage rack; front bumper guards from a Malibu SS; chrome plating by Bumper Boys in Los Angeles
Full air ride with two ViAir 444c compressors, 5-gallon stainless steel air tank, 3/8-inch airline done by Erik Gonzalez at G.M. Works in Apopka, FL
Aqua Green leather and Surf Green headliner; seatbelts dyed Aqua Green by Fermin Ruiz in Lennox, CA; aqua carpet from OPGI in California by Fermin Ruiz
Alpine head unit, Kenwood six-band preamp, reverb by Colorbar Pal, two Hi-Fonics amplifiers, two 8-inch JL Audio components and tweeters, JL Audio W3 12-inch subwoofer
14x 6 N.O.S. Cragars, 14-inch 5.20 Sportway