It’s been over 41 years since Led Zeppelin first belted the infamous lyrics, “… and she’s buying a stairway to Heaven.” Since then, their music has continued to inspire countless generations, and for Manny Armendarez, things are no different except for the fact that he wasn’t looking to “buy” a Stairway to Heaven, he was looking to build one—and that’s exactly what he did.
Further inspiration for his build came from Pete Macia’s original “Stairway to Heaven” (SWTH)—a vehicle that graced the cover of Lowrider magazine back in 2012. The 1961 Chevrolet convertible has since become a part of lowrider infamy, and its impact was strong enough to make Manny’s build one that would pay tribute to both the song and Mr. Macia’s creation.
Starting with a 2001 Harley-Davidson Road King, Manny didn’t have to go far to begin his project. As owner of Bonneville Baggers in Idaho Falls, Idaho, Manny and the crew, which included Jared Durtsteler, Paul, and Digger, immediately began tearing down this vicla. First on the list was to rebuild the original 2001 1,550ci engine. He started by adding several custom touches, like diamond-cut barrels, CNC-ported heads, a handmade 42-inch clamshell exhaust, and an accenting air filter cover and color-matching spark plug wires. Manny called upon his longtime friends at Engle Bros. Fabrication to work their metal skills to stretch both the front and back fenders and prep them to receive a custom blend of Axalta candy blues, which was sprayed by the jefe Danny D over a silver metalflake basecoat. Danny also added SWTH’s signature pinstriping, silver and gold leafing. There is a set of 21×3.5 DNA twisted spokes up front and 16-inch units out back along with Carlini 18-inch apes, Arlen Ness controls, and a Universal air-ride suspension. As the fabricator for the original SWTH’s interior, Joe at California upholstery was more than happy to be part of this project. Luck was on their side as Joe still had some of the original material used on the Impala, so he created a similar motif onto the seat shell.
In its full glory, pictures do absolutely no justice to seeing this bike in person. With a high level of attention to detail, this tribute build is one that serves its purpose and pays great respect to not only one of the greatest rock bands to ever exist, but to a lowrider of equal compare. That said, Manny’s build is one that needs to be appreciated in person because photos do little to describe the majestic beauty this bike delivers.
2001 Harley-Davidson Road King
Stairway to Heaven
Idaho Falls, ID
2001 Harley 1,550ci with 42-inch clamshell exhaust
Blue leather with suede insert
Custom blend of Axalta blues with pinstriping and silver leafing
Bonneville Baggers custom air-ride system
21×3.5 DNA twisted spokes up front and 16-inch on the rear