When most lowriders think about building a new project car, what immediately comes to mind are cars like Chevy Impalas, Monte Carlos, those old Deluxes and anything else that came from General Motors. But what about Mercury? No, not the planet, the automobile brand. You know, the car that your grandpa or grandma drove to church or to the local bingo parlor on Sundays.

Well, that was exactly what was told to Armando Torres of San Jacinto, California, when he told his friends and family that he was going to buy a worn-out ’68 Mercury Montego. “Why, Armando?” was the cry from friends and family. That didn’t change Armando’s mind, and he bought the car anyway.

The old Mercury had some wear and tear on it, and to the normal car builder, it had some potential, but unless you’re a hardcore Ford fan, why build one? Well, for one thing, the car is a ragtop and how many ’68 Mercury Montego ragtops have you seen cruising the freeways lately? Let’s rephrase that. How many ’68 Mercury Montegos have you seen period? That’s exactly why Armando wanted to build one.

Armando is no stranger to building custom cars. You might remember his immaculate ’58 Chevy Del Rey from the February ’05 issue of Lowrider, which had the most incredible blue paint and killer interior. You might also remember that Armando is a custom upholster by trade, and along with his brother Jorge and their father, Armando Sr., they own Armando’s Upholstery in San Jacinto. Armando, Jorge and Armando Sr. all had a hand in creating something on this ride with a lot of the work done in house.

What can you say now about this old Mercury Montego? It’s definitely not your grandma’s church-going car anymore. In fact, it’s actually quite a hot custom ragtop. Armando did tell us, though, that on occasion the car does have a tendency to pull hard to one side as he cruises by the local bingo hall.

M Is For MontegoOwner: Armando Torres

Vehicle: ’68 Mercury Montego

City/State: San Jacinto, California

Club: No affiliation

Engine/Drivetrain: The stock ’68 390-c.i.d. Ford powerplant was cleaned by Armando and attached to a Flowmaster exhaust system by Advanced Mufflers.

Body/Paint: After shaving the door handles and smoothing the sheet metal, Joe Lopez of Lopez Enterprises in Hemet, California, broke out his spray gun and laid down a killer DuPont Blazing Copper paint job.

Interior: At Armando’s Upholstery in San Jacinto, Armando stripped the old interior and prepared to transform it into a work of art. Armando took ’94 Honda Accord seats and covered them with custom tan leather with lizard inserts. He dyed the lizard skin to match the paint on the body and it looks cool. Armando also created a custom fiberglass center console and armrests.

Sound System: The console holds two 7-inch Alpine monitors for front and rear passengers’ viewing pleasure. An Alpine head unit is the “brain” for the Pioneer 6×9 midranges and 5.5-inch tweeters. Two-10-inch Rockford Fosgate subs bring up the rear and two Kicker amps regulate it all for some heavy duty ear-blowing jams.

Suspension: Max at Bio Kustoms in Hemet, California, lowered the mighty Merc utilizing drop coils and springs. He also added shortened shocks and tweaked it with new bushings.

Tires: P235/40-ZR18 (front) and P255/35-ZR20 (rear) Falken

Wheels: 18-inch (front) and 20-inch (rear) Boyds