Some people are lucky enough to grow up around the Lowrider culture. Jimmy Gustamantes Jr. of San Jose, CA is one of those lucky people. The young Jimmy started Lowriding when he was only ten years old, after receiving the proper introduction to the culture from his father and godfather. Jimmy Gustamantes Sr. was already into custom cars, and Jimmy Jr. can remember his godfather, John Jordan, taking him to car shows when he was in elementary school. Jimmy would ride in his godfather’s ’53 truck to the legendary car shows at the San Jose Fairgrounds in the early ‘80’s. “Ever since then, I’ve had a Lowrider bike,” says a proud Jimmy.
The ’53 came into the family when Jimmy was just twelve years old, and Jimmy purchased it from his father shortly after graduating high school. His quest to rebuild it began, and he definitely had his work cut out for him. “When I first got it, it had a blown rear end and blown transmission because my dad used to beat it up,” says Jimmy, laughing about it. “The motor was on its last leg so I had to redo everything on it.” It took him a few months to get the truck running but when he did, the ’53 became his daily driver.
While the ’53 is pristine, it is far from Jimmy’s first car; he’s had a few others, including a ’51 Suburban that he sold to someone in Arizona, and a ’36 Packard that he sold over to Japan. Currently Jimmy has the ’53 truck and a ’47 Chevy Convertible in his garage. During the build of his ’51 Suburban, he saw another one in a magazine from the L.A. area and decided to get in contact with the owner. “There were no old school Suburbans in NorCal at the time, so I contacted the owner and it ended up being Crazy George from Viejitos.” That was almost nine years ago, but Jimmy remembers it like it was yesterday. He and Crazy George really clicked and even though Jimmy was only 23 years old at the time, he got the green light to start up the first NorCal chapter of Viejitos in San Jose, CA. Since then Salinas Valley, East Bay, San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento and Reno have all started up chapters under Jimmy’s leadership, as he is currently the club’s regional officer for the area. “Since we started up my chapter, the club has annual toy drives and picnics,” Jimmy says proudly.
As far as his truck is concerned, Jimmy takes just as much pride in it as he does his club, and five years ago, Jimmy decided to take it off the frame to powder coat and chrome everything. This ’53 is a show winner, with a sweepstake award from the Lowrider Magazine Super Show in Las Vegas, but Jimmy enjoys cruising it down Story and King to prove his point that cars and trucks are meant to be driven, not trailered. “People ask me why I cruise it when I have a chrome undercarriage and I tell them that it’s just a truck,” he says with a grin. Jimmy certainly put in a lot of blood, sweats and tears into the build so he has every right to ride it and cruise it. “I didn’t build it for shows, I just built it for myself and I don’t consider myself a competitor or else it would have been torn down again,” says Jimmy while laughing. Jimmy would like to thank his engraver, Benny Padilla from Oregon, his friends and family members, and all his Viejitos car club members for the support over the years.
Lock Down ‘53”
Owner: Jimmy Gustamantes, Jr.
Vehicle: 1953 Chevrolet 3100 Pick-Up
City/State: San Jose, CA
Car Club: Viejitos
Engine: Wrenching away at the ’83 Corvette 5.7 engine was Jose Ayala of San Jose, CA. Jimmy sent everything that needed chrome to Speedy’s Polishing in Los Angeles.
Body/Paint: Eddie Tapia of Newark Collision in Newark, CA., spray-painted the step side with a PPG Calahari Beige after he finished the bodywork. Angelo Mason added some stripes and leafing to the truck, and Freddy Alfaro of Alfaro Designs in San Jose, CA., added the Lowrider/Prison Art murals on the molded firewall.
Interior: Wesos of D & A Customs from East Side San Jose, CA., stitched the tuck and roll with black vinyl.
Sound System: Amador of D & A Customs in East Side San Jose hooked up the 18 band Zapco, two 1000-watt Kicker amps and 12-inch Kicker subs.
Suspension: The ’77 Camaro front clip was installed by Jimmy Gustamantes Jr. and Sr. and the suspension was chromed by Apolonio Barbosa at AB Polishing and Chrome in Montclair, CA. Danny Torres of D & A Customs from East Side San Jose hooked up the two-chrome Pro Hopper setup with three batteries.
Tires: 155/80R13 Hankook
Wheels: 13×7 OG Wire Wheels.