Let’s face it, Fords don’t exactly dominate the scene and we don’t get to see as many as we’d like on the pages of Lowrider. Many might regard something like a ’73 LTD as nothing more than some CHiPs bad guy car. The reason why lowrider Fords are comparatively fewer than Chevys makes for interesting debates, but one thing is for sure — if you want to build a Ford lowrider, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Aftermarket support is considerably less for Fords and some parts aren’t reproduced at all, but when you put in the work you definitely have something unique.
Those who want a challenge welcome the extra work it takes to make one of these early ’70s LTDs into a show car. Scouring junkyards, having parts custom made, and searching swap meets are just par for the course if you’re going to take on the task of making a clean lowrider out of one. Rudy Sandoval is one of those guys who loves the building process and this Ford is definitely built, not bought. “Who’s going to go that far with a car like this? So many people build a car with a resale value in mind,” he says. “I wanted a car that took thought and effort to find stuff, not just buy parts out of a catalog.”
For the suspension, Rudy went to Mario’s Custom in Montebello, California, who did a full aircraft setup with 280 pumps, four stainless Adex dumps, 8-inch cylinders in front and back, a custom tank, and all hardlined. Any visible piece was either polished or chromed. Rudy made sure the trunk wasn’t dominated by the hydraulic apparatus and still had some aesthetic appeal. The factory 400 V-8, an original A/C car, was all rebuilt by Rudy and mated to the rebuilt stock transmission.
Rudy entrusted the paint and body mods to his pal Danny D of La Puente, California. All trim, moldings, antennas, and emblems were shaved. Rudy consulted with our friends at Axalta about a custom one-off color and combined with Danny’s leafing and striping it’s quite a head turner; it should be — it took about eight and a half months. The front clip came off a ’76 model and the trim is from a ’74. The Grand Marquis bumpers and grille were shaved, but blend into the aesthetics as if they were there to begin with. Electric doors, an electric trunk, and even a hidden electric Groupe plaque are enough to make a lowrider out of James Bond.
How ’bout that interior? OK, you asked for it. Rudy approached Joe at California Upholstery in Bell Gardens, California, about doing something he hadn’t done before and pretty much gave him creative license to go to town. The stock interior was gutted and dash cut off. The Auto Meter gauges were all moved to the center of the custom dash and a custom center console holds the controls for the other components. Lexus seats that were cut and molded straddle the console and a one-off backseat was also created.
The A/C and headlight setup was hidden under the dash and all inserts were painted and molded to match the exterior. Fabric was ordered in white and dyed to match the exterior. The rest of the material is all leather and suede. A custom headliner was made to complement the seats with inserts made to match the patters on the roof. Door handles on the inside were replaced with poppers to open the doors. LED and fiber-optic lighting is meant to accent the interior, not “light it.” Every piece is custom CNC’d except for the dome lights. Alpine components keep the tunes lively.
Although this car has appeared in Lowrider before, Rudy says it’s still not done. He’s still thinking of putting a Mustang motor in it and doing the undercarriage in all billet. Although LTD stands for “limited” this car is definitely unlimited in terms of its ongoing level of detail. When it comes to thanking those involved, Danny D and Joe from California Upholstery definitely get props as well as Rudy’s wife and his friend Sal. We can’t wait to see what Rudy’s project ’76 LTD turns out like.
Vehicle Year/Make/Model: 1973 Ford LTD
Vehicle Nickname: True Blue
Owner: Rudy Sandoval
City/State: Los Angeles, CA
Engine: 400 V-8 and original trans
Body/Paint: Custom paint, leafing, pinstriping by Danny D. All trim, moldings, antennas, and emblems were shaved.’76 front clip, ’74 trim. Shaved Grand Marquis bumpers and grille were shaved.
Suspension: Full aircraft setup by Mario’s Custom in Montebello, California, with 280 pumps, four stainless Adex dumps, 8-inch cylinders in front and back, a custom tank, all hardlined. Four batteries, four switches, four solenoids.
Interior: Full custom dash, console, and backseat. Lexus front seats, fabric dyed to match the exterior. Custom headliner was made to complement the seats with inserts made to match the patters on the roof. Door handles on the inside were replaced with poppers. LED and fiber-optic lighting.
Sound System: Alpine
Wheels/Tires: 14-inch 72-spoke cross-laced Envious Touch wheels / Premium 5.20s