Just a few decades ago, some thought lowriding was a trend and jumped ship. In turn, they went onto “bigger and better” things just to realize that what they had actually done is abandoned a lifestyle and jumped ship to join a trend. But that’s OK. The purists stayed and understood that what we did was a lifestyle. It was akin to our soul, part of our culture, and we did it for the love. On the flipside there were those who have stayed true since the ’70s; Juan Mendoza is one of them.

He got involved with the lifestyle after hanging out with Jesus Soto of El Paso, Texas. “He had a 1962 Chevy and I was his shotgun rider, and he got me interested in lowriding.” Soon after he got himself a 1979 Ford Thunderbird equipped with TruRays and a candy green paintjob with patterns. It wound up becoming one of the most recognized lowriders in SoCal. Since then a few decades have passed and that’s when he decided to build another car worthy of flying the Spirit L.A. plaque.

The ball got rolling when he received a call from his friend Bugs who had a lead to a 1978 T-Bird in fair condition. Juan took a look, bought it, and took it straight to Joe Montenegro to have hydraulics installed. Daniel Gonzalez then shaved the emblems, door handles, parking lights, keyholes, gas door, and side vents before laying out a Candyapple Red paint with patterns but soon after he decided to go with Brandywine candy paint instead and had Daniel repaint it. During the process he also modified the dash and package tray before Mike Lamberson added the graphics and striping, while a custom interior, sounds, and a set of TruRays finished it off.

1978 Ford Thunderbird

Owner
Juan Mendoza

City/State
Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Club
Spirit L.A.

Engine
Stock

Body/Paint
House of Kolor Candy Brandywine with magenta and purple patterns

Suspension
Two pumps and four Optima batteries

Interior
Lexus seats, custom center console, billet steering wheel with woodgrain wrapped in Yorktown oxblood maroon leather with diamond inserts

Sound
Pioneer double-din with four Pioneer speakers and two Kicker amps

Wheels/Tires
14-inch TruRays with vintage Thunderbird 77 Series center caps and 5.20 Premium Sportways

Acknowledgements
Daniel Gonzalez, Joe Montenegro, Joe Hall, Ernie Flores, Mike Lamberson, Tops Auto Glass, Unique Sunroofs, Upland Auto Trim, Mendoza’s Polishing & Chrome Plating, California Collision, The Art of Sound Audio, and Hall’s Auto Tech