Breaking tradition is what this “Wanted ’37” Chevy Cabriolet is all about. The Tovar brothers of Hawaiian Gardens, California, have been building classic vintage Chevys with lowrider flavor for years. Their style has always been about totally restored Chevys and they always make sure that the rides lay on the ground with the help of a hydraulic suspension and wire wheels. With that being said, Michael Tovar decided that with his next project (after he finished his ’39 Chevy convertible, “Varrio Style”), he would totally break with Tovar tradition and create a vintage Chevy convertible; he just didn’t know what he was going to build.
With this in mind, Michael knew that he had to make a call to someone who could pull a rabbit out of his hat. Michael called his good friend and vintage car collector Don Peralta, and it just so happened that Don was at a car auction back East. Don told Michael that there was a pair of Chevy convertibles (a ’37 and ’38) coming up for bidding on the auction block the next day. Michael had to make a quick decision if he wanted to bid on either of the cars. He was reassured by Don that both cars were very clean and unrestored. Michael knew that the ’37 Chevy was a really rare car, only 1,724 were built, so he opted to bid on that bomb.
Now with the clock ticking and only Don’s word to go on, Michael thought to himself, “La vida loca” (it’s a “crazy life” so live it to the fullest) and he told Don to do it. Don called Michael the next day and told him that the car was his. It took about three weeks for Michael to actually get the car and when it was delivered it was better than he could have imagined. Michael had read a Chevrolet collector’s book and told himself that one day he would buy himself a car like the one in the book. Well, when he got the car home, he found out that it was one of only four such vehicles known to exist and that the one that he had purchased was the exact car pictured in the book!
Now with the car in front of him, Michael described to brother Eddie what he wanted to do to this special vehicle. First, he wanted to lift the car. Second, they would totally chrome plate the car from top to bottom. Third, and this is where Michael started to break with tradition, he said, “I want to candy and flake the car with some murals.” Eddie told Michael that it would be a sin to cut a car that’s so rare, but Michael replied that it’s only a car and there are a few more out there.
Michael and Eddie started on the rear suspension, which was “C” framed with step-downs. The floor was tunneled, and up front they replaced the straight axle with a ’39 Chevy coil spring suspension with modifications. As for the hydraulics, Michael asked his old friends Anthony and Richard of Homies Hydraulics to build him an old school Pesco pump setup.
With the suspension done and the vehicle totally disassembled, Michael called upon another family on the lowrider scene, the De Albas of Mario’s Auto Works, to paint the car. Although a little surprised by Michael’s choice in paint, not being the typical Tovar-style “original stock,” Mario completed Michael’s choice of SEM Color Horizons candy apple red with flakes. The three-stage paint job comes closest to the traditional lacquer finishes from back in the day when lacquers were legal in California. The fenders and running boards were flaked out to appear as a solid color from far away but give the body a two-tone look when you walk up close to the car.
Michael next asked John Kennedy to hook him up with legendary muralist OG Abel to do some murals on the car. The firewall mural done by Abel features a wanted dead or alive poster that reads “Tovar Brothers wanted for destroying and butchering GM production vintage automobiles in the Los Angeles area.” This was one of three mural jobs that Abel did in 2006 and the trunk includes two sexy charra bandidas (outlaw girls) done in pearls and candies who are ready to take you for it all. Javier and Jose at Bumper Choice handled the chrome plating.
The Tovar family experienced some difficult times during the four years required to build this car. Michael and Eddie’s mother, Mary, suffered a major stroke that left her totally disabled. Michael devoted the next year to getting his mother well again, placing the car on hold. The Tovar family believes in life. They feel that you have three priorities: first is family, second is career and third is your toys. Michael told us that he would like to dedicate this article and build to his mother. Our hats are off to Michael and his crew for putting together such a sought-after ride.
Wanted ’37Owner: Michael TovarVehicle: ’37 Chevrolet CabrioletCity/State: Hawaiian Gardens, CaliforniaClub: Tovars C.C.
Engine/Drivetrain: The 216-c.i.d. engine and transmission were rebuilt and painted candy red to match the car by Victor Melgoza. Leonard at Lou’s Mufflers in Hawaiian Gardens installed the custom exhaust system.
Body/Paint: Mario’s Auto Works in Montclair, California, used SEM Color Horizons candy apple red paint with flakes. Legendary muralist OG Abel added a firewall mural featuring a wanted dead or alive poster that reads “Tovar Brothers wanted for destroying and butchering GM production vintage automobiles in the Los Angeles area,” while the trunk mural includes two sexy charra bandidas (outlaw girls).
Interior: Lupe Sandoval of Ultimate Auto Interiors used a combination of leathers to stitch up the hot-rod style interior.
Sound System: The stereo and TV monitors in the glove box and rumble seat were installed by “Gordo” at 562 Customs in Paramount, California.
Setup: Anthony and Richard of Homies Hydraulics in Paramount, California, built an old school two-pump Pesco setup with two Adex chrome dumps and two Optima red top batteries. Vincent “Bird” Villagrana bent all of the hard-lines.
Tires: 5.60 Premium Sportway
Wheels: All-chrome 88-spoke 14×7 Dayton wires