In the world of lowriding, we get to see a lot of really nice rides; some old and some new, some with crazy modifications and some with owners who don’t really mess around with a good thing. The latter school is epitomized by Joe Epstein’s beautiful ’39 Chevrolet Master Deluxe sedan dubbed “Senor Deluxe,” which is fitting since Joe’s knowledge of vintage American metal rivals the best of them. Let’s back track a bit to ’97 when Joe’s last metal wonder, a rare ’39 Chevy sedan delivery called “Mr. Particular” appeared on the scene. The car was the epitome of classic cool; clean bodylines, state of the art hydro system and meticulous detail. The car had a lot of Joe’s (and son Frankie Epstein’s) heart and soul put into that machine and no one thought that he could do it again.
Wrong! In the years since he built the delivery, Joe and his son have had their share of classic rides come and go through the shop, Epstein’s Mufflers, located a stones throw away from Whittier Boulevard in Montebello, California. The place is mostly business, but is also a local “hangout” to friends of Joe’s, who come by to see what Joe may be working on at the time. Well, if you’ve been there and spoken to Joe you know that he’s gotta have his coffee and a bit of breakfast before he starts his day. He’s also known to be a stickler for details on his customer’s cars. “I don’t like to let things pass by me,” says Joe. “I want the customer, old or new, to be happy with their car. I don’t want them to come back to me saying that this or that was wrong. I want them to only come back for little things like maintenance stuff.” So you can imagine how he is on his own cars, right?
The ’39 itself was pretty cherry, a great starting point for something of this caliber. But one thing was for sure, the car had to lay! So arrangements were made to send the ’39 out to Santa Fe Springs, California, where the Drag N Shop reworked the chassis by performing a C-notch and tunneling the frame for the drivetrain to fit right when lowering the bomb. Now those of you who know your ’39s know that the rear end of the car is very difficult to work with because there’s a lot of stuff going on under there, as Joe would say.
That said, it was off to do the suspension work at Joe’s shop, where the “rack” came in handy. As to how the car is lowered, Joe was sold on the current wave of airbag systems. So much so that the majority of his lowering jobs involve H2O, so it was a natural for Joe to use it on his current ride. Lots of time went into dialing in the right combo of airbags, the size of the airline (in this case 3/8-inch), and where to put the hardware for the system. The trunk is the first place that most people would stuff it in, but the Epstein’s opted to tuck everything between the frame rails. That meant using custom air reservoirs machined by a couple of friends, each air tank with a dedicated air compressor, air valves and fittings that connected the hardware together. Nothing crazy as far as moves, just a couple of switches to get the car up and down are all that Joe really wanted. Other details in the suspension included replacing any worn parts and having a set of 3-inch dropped spindles for the front and having Eddie Tovar of Hawaiian Gardens, California, do up the 2-inch “step-downs” to help get the Chevy even lower, but still have enough clearance for a set of 15-inch Pinnacle wire wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich rubber.
Tony Soto of D&S Auto Repair in Montebello was called into play for the engine work done on the 261-c.i.d. vintage 1958. Tony bored over the engine .040 over and installed an RV camshaft for some internal heft. A Mallory electrical ignition and coil gets the converted 12-volt system sparking away while a set of dual carbs Rochester units were also installed. The exhaust system starts out with a vintage Corvette manifold and ends up out of a set of dual pipes.
George Cuellar of Norwalk, California, who used two-stage enamel to cover the bomb from top to bottom in Yosemite green, did the sweet paint job. Stepping inside is like a trip back to 1939 with the beautiful mohair interior recreated by Mike Perez of Epstein’s Muffler. Mike did the interior to the “T” using mohair from Hampton Coach for the headliner and using wind lace via Acme Headlining. The original seats sit just right as you slip behind the butterfly steering wheel. A Hurst shifter commands a Muncie four-speed tranny that sends the rpms to a ’70 Chevy Chevelle 3.08 gear rearend.
The dash has been restored with factory options that Joe has picked up over the years with only a Pioneer Premier head unit mounted under the glove compartment as a reminder of the here and now. The tunes were done ala stealth mode by David Anthony Garcia of the aforementioned Drag N Shop. Joe wanted everything tucked away, so David installed four tweeters, four mids and a pair of woofers and an amp, all Pioneer, out of sight. To keep the California rays at bay, Joe had custom tinted glass cut especially for the sedan; way too cool, Joe. Other touches on the elegant Chevy include subtle pinstripes by “An-Tone” and brilliant chrome and polishing done up by Bumpers Choice in Santa Fe Springs.
Frankie Epstein mentioned to us that this car is originally from Pasadena, California, and it was picked up from a lady who lived in a trailer park. “When she came out she looked like comedienne Phyllis Diller. She even sounded like her!” Wow, a possible connection to a real Hollywood celebrity, huh? Well, maybe not, because we all think that Joe’s latest fantastic ’39 Chevy is quite the bomb. It made waves at this year’s Paso Robles, California, show with many a person whipping out their camera for a hot shot. Man, Joe, we just can’t for your next car; we can only imagine that it’ll be another doozy!
|Vehicle:||’39 Chevrolet Master Deluxe sedan|
|Engine:||’58 Chevy 261-c.i.d.|
|Setup:||Firestone airbags, manual switches, 3/8-inch airlines, two compressors, two custom air tanks, 3-inch dropped spindles.|