The story of “Don’t Cry Over Me” is one that is best told by the owner of this black ’68 Chevy Impala beauty, the one and only Robert “Beto” Espinosa of Pueblo, Colorado. Anyone who knows or has met Beto knows that he is someone whom you don’t soon forget, so we’ll let him tell it. “It’s a true Impala love story that started in 1994 when I purchased this ’68 Impala convertible from Lafayette, Colorado,” says Beto. “Immediately after purchasing it, I completely restored and customized the ragtop, which included paint, interior and other things. Soon after all of the work was completed, I started to show the ’68 at the local car shows.”
Beto continues the story by telling how he sold his pride and joy. “I sold the car to a friend in El Paso, Texas,” he reveals. “Because after seeing it at a show in Texas he just had to have it, so we made a deal and I sold it to him. Part of the deal was that if I ever wanted to buy it back he would give me the opportunity to do that.” Of course, you know that this kind of machine would remain under Beto’s skin. “After a few years, I went back looking for the car. When I found it, it was wrecked and destroyed, but there was no deal to be had at the time.”
That’s when George Ramos of Imperials Car Club of El Paso (who had previously built “Street Tattoo” a ’59 Impala hardtop) comes into the story. George was going to take ’68 to the next level with a complete frame-off restoration. He first did a 100-percent factory restoration on the motor, everything brand new, powdercoated, balanced and blueprinted. Albert Gallegos painted the car jet black using DuPont paint. Before that was done, though, a set of Chevy Caprice hide-away headlights were found in a Hemming Motor News and George added them to make the car really stand out. Emilio at Black and White in El Paso did the interior with factory triple black vinyl and mohair.
After finishing the car, George kept it for a couple of years and after many conversations, Beto finally got the ’68 back and started adding his own touches, which took him to Los Angeles, California, for more aftermarket accessories. Mike Lopez at John’s Exports added almost everything possible including spotlights, bumper guards, power seats and windows, and power vents. Next, Anthony Fuentes at Homie’s Hydraulics in Paramount, California, added a new setup featuring two show pumps with Marzocchi motors, 10-inch cylinders front and rear, 2-ton coil springs and six batteries. The rearend was narrowed 3 inches so that the 13×7 black and gold 88-spoke Daytons would fit when the car was totally laid out. The Daytons have a set of 5.20 Premium Sportways on them. The paint was later touched up and cleared by Mike Diamond at Diamond Aero Sports and then cut and buffed by Beto and some of his friends.
After N.O.S. stickers, more undercarriage clean-up, powdercoating, painting and detailing, the ’68 was ready for a full turntable showing. It was at the local Colorado car show that the car was named “Don’t Cry For Me” when it started taking best of show awards. “Some of the full-custom and radical-custom car owners who lost were mad that this car beat them when they had full chrome undercarriages and such,” Beto explains. It was then that his friend Tyrone Carter made a comment to one of them, “Don’t Cry Over Me.” The name stuck and the ’68 that was all over the Southwest rolled into Lowrider Magazine. We’ll let Beto have the last word, “I would like to thank my family, Camille and the kids, George and Benny Ramos and Imperials C.C. for their continued support.”
|Don’t Cry for Me|
|Owner:||Robert “Beto” Espinosa|
|Vehicle:||’68 Chevrolet Impala|
|Club:||Imperials C.C.-South Colorado|
|Engine:||N.O.S. factory restored balanced and blueprinted 327-c.i.d.|
|Setup:||Two pumps with Marzocchi heads, three dumps, 10-inch cylinders, six batteries, six switches|
|Tires:||5.20 Premium Sportway|
|Wheels:||Black and gold 88-spoke 13×7 Dayton|