Markus Lujan is no stranger to building custom cars, so when he set his sights on building a 1961 Bel Air he wasted no time building what would take others a lifetime to achieve. Starting with a rendering, Markus canvassed aftermarket manufacturers to see what they had to offer for his project and he was on the right call at the right time. His 1961 Bel Air bubbletop was in dire need of parts, but after getting the car for a bargain of $2,500 it was to be expected. While talking to Classic Performance Products (CPP) they informed him that they were looking for showcase vehicles for SEMA. They wanted cars that would display their new big brake system, and with the show only 11 months away it gave him enough time to jump on the opportunity.

The body was taken to be sandblasted and then a one-off chassis was constructed by Phat Phabz. It would be a lengthy 8-month process and with only 3 months left till SEMA the pressure was on. Luckily, he found King Kong Customs and that same day the car was shipped over and immediately put on a rotisserie. They mini-tubbed the rear, cleaned up all the metalwork before shooting the pan and flipping it over to shave the moldings, cowl, and custom Kindig It flush-mount handles.

The chassis was sent to Straight Street Automotive where they mocked up the hydraulics prior to powdercoating the frame. In the meantime, Ryan Smith was jumping in where he could and started the interior renovation, complete with a custom center console housing an iPad to control the sound system. Powering the bubbletop is a Mckinney Motors-built 454 big-block Chevy followed by a complete custom paintjob that was laid down by J.R. Nieto, who sprayed the car down with a custom mint green paint and a pearl topcoat. After wet sanding, silver leafing was performed by Joseph Leyba in addition to ghost graphics all throughout the exterior. After all the interior was mocked up, the gents at Gotcha Covered wrapped everything in suede and leather, including custom door panels and bucket seats sourced from a 2005 GTO.

With the body finally back on the chassis, Markus and his friend Al installed the hydraulics, the motor was dropped in, and after many sleepless nights the car was fired up the morning of the show at 5 a.m. and by 9 a.m. it was on a transporter. In the end, the car did arrive a day late, but the attention it received made it all worthwhile. At this point one would think that he’d be able to sit back and enjoy the fruit of his labor, but he’s not one to sit still and with a rendering of his next project it’ll only be a matter of time before we see his next build featured here on

1961 Chevrolet Bel Air

Vehicle Nickname
H8 Me Now

Markus Lujan

Albuquerque, NM

Severed Ties

Chevy big-block 454 with Billet Specialties valve covers, air cleaner, and dress up kit; Edelbrock water pump and intake; Powermaster starter and alternator; MSD Atomic TBI carburetor; U.S. Radiator aluminum radiator; MSD fuel injection, ignition, and distributor; Taylor wires; Hedman headers; Dynomaxx exhaust; Optima battery

Mini-tubbed, Kindig It flush-mount door handles, shaved cowl and shaved moldings, Napa Crossfire mint pearl with fade patterns

Chevy 12-bolt 3.73 and CPP master cylinder, brakes, and booster on a one-off custom frame; two Dice pumps with Accumax solenoids; three yellow-top Optima batteries

2005 GTO bucket seats wrapped in beige leather and ultra suede, Dakota Digital gauges, Lokar door handles, Billet Specialties steering wheel, ididit steering column, custom center console, and door panels

Apple iPad with two Rockford Fosgate amps, four 5.25-inch Rockford Fogate speakers, two 8-inch subwoofers

22-inch Intro wheels, 355/30 front and 335/30 rear Penelli Scorpion tires

His girlfriend Robyn Bruce, son Luciano, stepdaughters Amani and Dalis, Mark Sandoval, Adrian Garcia, Alex Casa, Anthony Cordova, King Kong Customs, all the sponsors