Being the “King of the Streets” is not an easy name to live up to, but Vernon Maxwell’s ’63 Chevy Impala convertible cruising out of Norco, California, really fits the bill. Vernon’s one-year frame-off project started just like any other, but by the time all was said and done, this black ragtop would prove to be one of Southern California’s top street rides.
Vernon owns Ultimate Hydraulics in Norco and he got the ball rolling on this project by dropping the frame and swapping it out with a fully reinforced Canadian X-frame. It didn’t stop there as Vernon and “Tee” started designing a four-link rearend. This custom one-of-a-kind rearend was equipped with 20-inch cylinders that allow the rear to lock up higher than the average car. Once the frame was finished, it was powdercoated and put back on the car.
The ’63 was then shipped to James of Classic Auto of Montclair, California, who took the body the down to metal and painted a three-stage orange pearl finish. The bright orange color scheme was laid out evenly throughout the car and was followed with a few coats of pearl and buried by several coats of clear. The paint was then rubbed out and the car ended up with a mirror-like show finish. The engine and engine compartment also received a touch of paint to match the exterior of the car.
With the engine out of the car, Vernon shipped the stock 327-c.i.d. V-8 to George at Arlington Machine Shop in Riverside, California, where they went over the stock engine block. Once Vernon got his engine back, he added a few upgrades, including a newer-style HEI distributor, and a few bolt-on chrome accessories like an Edelbrock dress-up kit, chrome alternator, water pump and a polished-out intake manifold. The engine compartment also received chrome fenderwells and fan shroud, which were taken care of by Danny of the Bumper Shop in Los Angeles, California.
With the future king coming together nicely, Vernon did not want to cut corners so he transported the ’63 to Gordo at Auto Restyling in South Gate, California, who did up the interior. Gordo stitched up a real tan leather interior kit with cloth inserts. Gordo also took care of installing the white convertible top with a tan headliner instead of the traditional black one. While the car was at the shop, Vernon had Gordo install a stereo system. The convertible received three Rockford Fosgate Punch amplifiers that power Alpine mids and highs along with 12-inch Fosgate woofers.
Vernon then brought his baby back home to Ultimate Hydraulics, where they got busy installing a custom hydro setup. After creating a custom battery rack which holds 14 Trojan 31-series batteries, Vernon and Tee hooked up four steel pumps. The Max pumps were custom made with many secret tricks which help the car perform to the max. For precision control, Vernon used two OG Adel square dumps for the rear and a Monster dump to control the front suspension, with the fluid running through #8 Parker hoses. After tuning the hydraulics, the ragtop was ready to hit the streets and swing on anybody that called it out.
Vernon’s King of the Streets earned its name after winning out at the Majestics C.C. New Year’s Day picnic in Harbor City, California, where all of the street riders and lowrider circuit guys from all over come out to compete. In fact, Vernon’s upstart entry topped Victor Ortiz’ radical ’62 Impala and Team Hi-Low’s “Mr. Bounce” ’63 Impala. We’re anxious to see long how Vernon’s reign on the streets lasts as everybody is now gunning for prestigious street braggin’ rights. Until then, we bow down to Vernon and his King of the Streets.