We are all born with the desire to accomplish our dreams, no matter how big or small. While life may get in the way, it is perseverance and the will to succeed that separates the dreamers from the doers. Over the past ten years, San Diego, California, native Albert Ramirez proved he was the latter after facing many obstacles that tested his sanity and even threatened his life.
Albert, the proud owner of a 1967 Chevy Impala convertible, remembers spending long days at his compadre’s auto shop as a kid. He was obsessed with the car culture that surrounded him in his Chula Vista, California, community, so he focused on learning the ins and outs of building custom cars. While his parents acknowledged his passion and supported him, it was Lalo, his future father-in-law, who pushed him to make his dreams a reality. Lalo encouraged Albert with five simple words, “Never quit when you start.”
So, he kept going. At 16 years old, he purchased his first car, a 1982 Buick Regal. Then a year later, he replaced it with a ’72 Impala. Over time, Albert’s first project cars were sold and he married his childhood sweetheart, Luz, who was Lalo’s daughter. With her support, Albert began restoring his ’67 Impala, which he nicknamed “Big Bird ’67.” The car was a passion project for Albert; it served as a route to escape from the traumatic events he was experiencing in his life including multiple trips to the hospital for back and knee surgeries.
He fitted the ride with a 700-R transmission while keeping the original engine intact. Albert took the Impala to Mr. Rabbit, a car club friend, to install hydraulics that featured eight cylinders, three-ton coils, five switches, four dumps, and four batteries. When the bodywork was completed by Apex Auto body in El Cajon, California, Albert chose the legendary Sal Manzano to apply a custom candy butterscotch gold to make the Impala shine under the sun. The custom pinstriping by the Riviera Brothers was the final touch on this two-year project.
Not long after the car was completed, Albert desperately needed a kidney replacement. Fortunately, his twin sister, Celia, was a match, so they both went under the knife in November 2018. The first thing Albert wanted to do once he was out of surgery is play with the switches of his Impala and take it for a spin. He was given another chance at life and wants to use his bonus years to focus on his passion alongside his wife and four kids. He’s thankful for the endless support he receives from his family and the lowrider community of San Diego.
1967 Chevrolet Impala Convertible
Big Bird ’67
Albert “Big Bird” Ramirez
Impalas Car Club
San Diego, CA
Original 283 with chrome accents and upgraded 700-R transmission.
Custom blend of candy butterscotch gold applied by the legendary Sal Manzano with pinstriping by the Riviera Bros
Two-tone custom brown vinyl pattern on original seats
Two-pump setup with five switches and four batteries
Alpine stereo, Power Bass equalizer and two 5.5-inch Power Bass speakers
Custom center gold Zenith wire wheels with radial whitewalls