Have you ever given something away knowing that it would be in better hands? Sure you have. We’ve all done it and that’s essentially what happened when a close friend of Richie Valles sold him an Impala for a measly $2,000.

His friend gave it up for such a good price knowing that Richie would do something special with it, which is exactly what went down. To start, the car needed a lot of work but first Richie had to create a game plan. As he sat back contemplating the theme of his Impala, he saw beyond the rust and imperfections, and that’s when he came up with a Motown theme. He wanted to pay tribute to the record company that captured the soul of the ’60s, and he hoped to do the same for this build.

The first order of importance was to get the body wrinkle free, so it was removed and sandblasted. With a naked canvas void of bondo and paint, Richie was better able to see what he was working with, so he and Tavo Hernandez got to work. Along the way the boys chopped the top, threw in a 44-inch sunroof, a custom cowl, shaved door handles, shaved emblems, (hold your breath now) hideaway headlights, as well as a custom phantom grille and a celebratory coating of a custom mix of PPG golds—and that was just a start.

Inside, the laundry list of modifications is intense and the devil truly is in the details. The thought process behind the vehicle was so masterfully crafted that he continued the theme through and through. To capture the ’60s vibe, he carried the color palette from the exterior onto the inside. Among the list of modifications is a custom dashboard, custom center console that stretches to the rear deck, custom door panels, a rear ashtray, as well as a steering wheel from a 1962 Oldsmobile. Along the center console, a variety of Motown Records have been melted to take on the shape of the center console—or at least that’s how it appears since those records are actually airbrushed by Joe Montana.

Moving out back, it’s safe to say that you’ll find no junk in this trunk. Once popped, you’ll find the work of Miguel Zarape who installed the two-pump setup as well as some of the audio components from the custom sound system.

An impressive build, to say the least, popping the massive hood may be a journey, but what waits inside truly is the destination. Nestled into the engine bay is a built 327 with a sick side draft setup. Whereas most side draft setups traditionally shoot the velocity stacks straight up, Richie ran two different lengths of velocity stacks, which creates a visual orchestra that could only be described as art.

Completed earlier this year, “Motown” made its debut at the highly coveted Grand National Roadster Show where it was nominated for Custom of the Year honors. It’s a visual masterpiece that has been executed to perfection and a vehicle that pays homage to the essence, spirit, and soul of Motown.

1963 Chevrolet Impala


Richie Valles

Burbank, CA


JH-built 327 engine with side draft intake, Weber carburetor, and Hooker headers

Chopped top, 44-inch moonroof, custom cowl, shaved handles/emblems, and hideaway lights with tubular grille; mixed PPG gold and candy

ABS brakes/master cylinder with two ProHopper pumps and four Ultima batteries

Custom dashboard, console, rear tray, and door panels with gold vinyl

Pioneer stereo with Arc Adio amps and subwoofers

14×8 Zenith wire wheels and 5.20 Premium Sports