Sometimes you’re chosen and other times you choose. Many in the lowrider scene are chosen just by being born into the lifestyle. Coming up around friends and family who cruise down the block hitting switches and waxing up that paint job on Saturday evenings is bound to leave a lasting impression on what’s cool for you.
Robert Garcia came up through that route, being exposed to lowriders in his youth. His father cruised in a ’64 Chevy Impala and an uncle kept heads turning with a ‘62 Impala. In Robert’s words, “It just runs in the family.” A resident of Oxnard, California, some 60 minutes from the hubbub of L.A., Robert has been down the lowrider-building road a few times now. With two previous projects under his belt, Robert learned lessons from each of them and took away an understanding of what it takes to build a quality car.
Robert’s fortune was to come about by way of someone else’s misfortune. Robert always had a thing for ’61 Impalas and this car was sitting in the yard of a friend’s house. Everyone knows the drill-you buy a car looking to build the ride of your dreams and sometimes life gets in the way. Kids, house and work all tend to rob you of the precious time that it takes to devote yourself to a project. Robert’s friend found himself in this position and Robert asked him about the car and ended up purchasing it from him.
Now it’s time for Robert’s vision to come into focus. He envisioned this ’61 being done with more of a restoration feel behind it, rather than going the chrome undercarriage route. “I’ve already been through the candy and chrome phase,” Robert says. “Now I’m into the vintage, but gangster style.” Combine that with the fact that Robert had never really seen a “one” done the way that he would do it and it was time that he sprang into action.
Robert took matters into his hands, literally. He did much of the work on the car and we’re sure that being an electrical technician helped. You see, Robert works on forklifts by trade and, along with his past building experience, he knew how to tackle the project. With a construction time of a mere 18 months, Robert had no intentions of making this into a life-long project.
Raise the hood, though, and you can see that Robert stayed true to his original restoration theme. His attention to detail harkens back to the year 1961. Much of the car sports options like a tissue dispenser, power steering, power brakes and an aftermarket A/C system available at the time. Laid out with skirts, you know that the rearend received some much-needed attention to make that happen.
Like many projects, there are plenty of people to thank. Robert’s wife gets a big thanks for putting up with all of those late nights, along with Jesse Rosales, the Barba brothers and the rest of the Premier Car Club family for helping make Robert’s ’61 the “Chosen One.”
Owner: Robert GarciaVehicle: ’61 Chevrolet ImpalaCity/State: Oxnard, CaliforniaClub: Premier C.C.
Engine/Drivetrain: Chosen One runs a Chevy 350-c.i.d. small-block with a RV crank and cam. The engine compartment received a full restoration, including red paint for the block and replacing all of the decals with repro items. Robert performed all of the engine work in his home garage. The Powerglide transmission was rebuilt by Steve’s Transmission in Oxnard, and the dual exhaust was done at Kenz Muffler in Oxnard.
Body/Paint: Armando at Amigos Body and Paint in Oxnard handled the bodywork and paint. The straightened body was covered with PPG Tuxedo Black. A set of dual antennas complete the look and the bumpers were re-chromed by The Bumper Shop.
Interior: Jesse Rosales recovered the stock interior in his home garage in Oxnard, using a CARS Inc. interior kit featuring black vinyl with off-white, gray and black cloth inserts. Other parts include a tissue dispenser and aftermarket under-dash A/C.
Sound System: A JVC head unit located in the glove box plays the CDs of Robert’s choice, while a Blaupunkt component set resides in the kick panels and a 1,000-watt Crunch amp supplies the power to 12-inch Orion subs. Robert performed the work and made sure that everything went in just right.
Setup: The trunk houses a two-pump Black Magic Hydraulics setup that receives the commands from two switches, activating a combination of Adex and Italian dumps. Two batteries flank each side of the setup and 8-inch (front) and 10-inch (rear) cylinders provide the action. The rearend was shortened and the frame received a mild wrap. All work was performed by the owner.
Tires: P185/80-R13 Cornell radials
Wheels: 13-inch wires