Pocket change is the phrase many people use to describe the small amount of money that’s inside their pockets, not equaling very much. For Vincent Reyes of Ruskin, Florida, he would’ve welcomed any sort of change during his childhood. Growing up as one of eight kids, Vincent and his siblings spent six months of the year in Ohio picking produce with his parents to make ends meet. “We all grew up very poor,” Vincent tells Lowrider, “but because of that we learned how to make do with what we did have.”
When Vincent was 9 years old, one of his older brothers took him to the annual Lowrider show in Tampa, Florida, and for the very first time Vincent felt he now had a purpose. At 9, and with literally no funds to his name, Vincent wasn’t able to begin searching into owning a vehicle, so he settled for the next best thing. He found a Schwinn bicycle at a local flea market and bartered enough to purchase it. During one time he was in Ohio, Vincent found a bicycle shop located in that town selling lowrider parts. His father helped him buy some of the custom parts, and Vincent also used all the extra money he had from working in the fields.
As his passion grew larger and more creative his father did something that every lowrider enthusiast wishes for. For his 17th birthday Vincent’s father purchased a 1960 Chevy Impala for him that he’d found sitting around the Tampa area. Although he hated to part with the bicycle because he had so much time and heart into, he ended up selling the Schwinn in order to purchase upgrades and lowrider parts for the Chevy. One day while driving to school, the wheel bearing on the Impala caught fire, and without a fire extinguisher or any water nearby he was forced to watch his very first car burn to the ground.
Once out of school, Vincent began his own tree farm business and built a shop on the grounds so he could work on vehicles. His younger brother, Ramiro, had a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass T-top that he simply lost interest in. “I felt that the culture of lowriding was phasing out in the family.” Vincent adds. “I wanted to start a project to revitalize the lowriding culture in the Reyes family.” He took possession of the Oldsmobile and brought it to his shop, which he called his home away from home. Vincent, with the help of two of his brothers, took the entire Cutlass apart and started from scratch. The frame was reinforced and his brother, Raskal, had some paint experience so he laid down patterns, gold and silver leafing, and painted the entire body in rich green coats. Mr. Chingon from Apopka, Florida, was brought in to handle all the Florida-themed murals throughout the Cutlass.
He contacted Santiago from Krazy Kutting and sent everything he could possibly remove to him for engraving. The next step was enlisting his friend Darrell of M.D. Upholstery to update the ragtop as well as overhauling all the seats, carpet, and door panels. Raskal added painted fiberglass to the dashboard and door panels to make it more unique.
Vincent and his brothers removed the stock 305 V-8 and upgraded to a 350 crate motor with a 700R transmission. A dress-up kit from Krazy Kutting highlighted the upgrade to the new motor. The next step was adding the three-pump Black Magic hydraulic suspension while Vincent and Raskal added four-link in the rear for a higher lockup, put uniballs in the front, and extended the A-arms.
“Pocket Change” has been a continuous project and since working from the age of 9, Vincent has used whatever pocket change he had for everything he’s been fortunate to own. However, with his Cutlass he had a bit more than pocket change to work with, but by the end of the build he was left with just pocket change in his pockets.
Vincent wishes to thank his parents who made it possible to reach for the stars as well as his seven siblings for helping him throughout the process. He wants to give a special thanks to his beautiful wife, Gina, who has always been supportive and especially his two young sons, Vincent and Jovani, who will keep this culture alive.
1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass T-top
Chrome and gold 350, engraved by Krazy Kutting, billet accessories
House of Kolor Candy Green, flake, Candy Teal patterns, Candy Silver, gold; gold leafing and bodywork done by Raskal Reyes Custom Auto Works and Reyes Brothers; murals done by Mr. Chingon
Full-wrapped frame, gold and chrome suspension, three Black Magic pumps, eight batteries, four switches, gold and chrome engraved arms, and rearend done by Krazy Kutting
Custom suede and vinyl done by M.D. Upholstery, painted and molded fiberglass dash and panels done by Raskal Reyes
Zenith 100-spoke gold and chrome engraved wire wheels, 520 Premium Sportway whitewalls