Brunik Mendoza was born and raised in East Los Angeles, California, and he takes pride in still dwelling there. A supervisor for the LA Unified School District, Brunik will tell you that he has come a long way in life and as a car builder. Brunik has developed his own unique style of lowrider using a ’76 Chevy Impala “glasshouse” as his canvas. Brunik told us that he bought the glasshouse from his compadre and “road dog” Anthony Barreras AKA “Bronson,” a fellow Lifestyle C.C. member, and Bronson got his hands on the ’76 through another club member many years before. “The car was basically in the right club (Lifestyle) since day one,” says Brunik. “So when it was time for Bronson to sell the glasshouse, I thought to myself, why let it go to someone outside of the club?”
Doing everything possible to save up money in order to keep the car in the club and in good hands, Brunik gave up drinking for a day or two. He also gave up paying for haircuts by shaving his head. He even took up recycling, taking empty beer cans down to the recycling center for some extra cash. Eventually, Brunik saved every red cent that was needed to get the car. Once in his hands, the spirited ’76 started a unique transformation from a blue Impala with T-tops into a passionate patterned-out purple glasshouse equipped with a Hollywood top for those Sunday drives.
Already being at Bronson’s house/paint shop, Brunik hitched a ride over to Community Paints in East LA where the two worked on the car’s bodywork. They removed the glasshouse’s exterior hardware, including all of the car’s emblems, door handles and keyholes. Once the minor body modifications were done, Bronson suggested a custom Hollywood top using a ’76 Impala convertible windshield instead of the hardtop one to give it a sleeker look and leave the car’s custom roof channel looking like a factory dealer option.
With the bodywork done, it was time to move on to the car’s paint scheme. Fortunately, Bronson’s not just a skilled body man, but a custom paint mixer as well, so he stepped into his shop and mixed some colors together to create a custom purple that suited the car just right. With paint in hand, Brunik drove over to see his amigo “Mexico” at Mexico Auto Body in Paramount, California, who handled laying out the color throughout the massive ’70s “land boat.” Mexico left the purple glasshouse looking as rich and tasty as a freshly picked plum. Brunik made one more stop in the “Valley” before the paint was officially done, sojourning to Walt Prey’s shop in Sherman Oaks, California. The master pinstriper mixed some more custom paints before laying out fine lines throughout the car with a bit of gold leafing to complement the color.
Bringing back the four-wheeled beast to Community Paints, Brunik had his colleague John Herrera come in and install the hydraulics setup (having previously been cut out for hydraulics by the previous owners proved to be a time saver). Already having all of the hardware in hand, John got to work on the Impala, installing two Red’s pumps, four dumps and four solenoids into the Chevy, with two 6-inch cylinders up front and a set of 8-inch cylinders in the rear for optimal stroke. Brunik desired four 2-ton coils on all four cups. John juiced the ride with six batteries and operates the setup off of two six-prong switches that let the brute go up and down with ease.
With Brunik’s private “yacht” all juiced up, it was time to hit the upholstery shop. Already having his mark picked, Brunik shipped his ’76 to the one and only Bob Mercado of Bob & Son in Pico Rivera, California. Bob took one long look at Brunik’s ride and began to visualize what needed to be done. He ripped out the glasshouse’s front bench seat and replaced them with a set of Chevy Camaro bucket seats. Bob also fabricated a custom center console that later would house a CD player, along with a handcrafted dash that matches the rest of the car’s ensemble.
Using plenty of purple tweed, two different shades of purple vinyl and a few yards of purple carpet, Bob stitched up one of his greatest works yet. With sewing machine in hand, Bob started on all of the stitch work, leaving it as tight as factory GM stitching. Brunik watched as Bob progressed though the car’s interior, making a mental template for the car’s interior in custom tweed and vinyl. Bob took the concept all of the way to the trunk, where he hid the hydraulics to give it a stealth look. All that was left for Bob was to stitch up a set of custom floor mats, requested by Brunik, who told us, “The dealer never threw them in.”
It was almost time for this ride to hit the streets of East LA, but not before Brunik made some more stops, one being at Oishi’s shop (the owner of the “Poison ’59” Impala) where the hydro nut created a phantom grille that makes other glasshouses quiver in their boots. Brunik’s next stop was Haro’s Racing in East LA, where master mechanic Memo reviewed the ’76 Chevy 350-c.i.d. block and transmission. The V-8 engine had to pass all of the mechanic’s tests to get a clean bill of health.
Once diagnosed healthy, Brunik stopped at A&G Audio in, you guessed it, East LA. Brunik needed sounds and wheels, and being a one-stop shop, A&G had him covered. The A&G guys placed a set of Alpine speakers for highs, Alpine 6x9s for the midrange sounds and two 10-inch JL Audio subwoofers for the hard-pounding bass. The speakers run off of an Alpine CD player with power provided by two Rockford Fosgate Punch amps that enable Brunik to listen to any type of music that he wants, from Led Zeppelin to Cypress Hill. About to pull out with his new tunes, Brunik realized that he almost forgot his wheels, so he threw the car into reverse to buy a set of 14×7 Dayton wire wheels along with Premium Sportway 5.20 tires.
Brunik’s ride was now complete and ready to get the Lifestyle C.C. committee’s approval in order to fly the prestigious plaque that many strive for but fall short of. Brunik, however, received the club’s consent without a problem. Brunik has come a long way with his car, but he has plans for another facelift. The owner realizes, though, that the next time around is going to be a little more difficult because of the recent passing of his life-long friend Bronson, may he rest in peace. Though it’s going to be challenge, Brunik knows that he’s always going to have the support of his loving family and the help of his fellow Lifestyle C.C. members to make it happen.
|Born In East LA|
|Vehicle:||’76 Chevrolet Impala|
|City/State:||Los Angeles, California|
|Club:||Lifestyle C.C.-Los Angeles|
|Setup:||Two Red’s pumps, four dumps, 6-inch (front) and 8-inch (rear) cylinders, 2-ton coils, four solenoids, six batteries, two switches|
|Tires:||5.20 Premium Sportway|