Cecil Espinoza’s Journey in Building a 1937 Buick Special

Cecil Espinoza used cars as a distraction on his road to sobriety

Life is an unpredictable journey filled with twists and turns. It will test your patience, try your mental fortitude, and in the end it is how we react to its ever-changing coordinates that ultimately dictate whether it was worth the ride. Some will flourish, others will fail, and the fight for self-preservation is won by those with a survival mind-set. Just ask Narciso “Cecil” Espinoza.

His journey is one that begins in a South San Gabriel garage. Amidst the backdrop of this mechanical safe haven, he found himself wrenching alongside his father as he worked on a slew of classic cars, but little did he know that the informal education would be his saving grace and lead him back onto a path to redemption.

As with most kids, Cecil’s childhood was bright and promising. He was filled with passion, hope, and fascinated by the potential of life … but that was short lived. His trips to his father’s garage were replaced with lengthy stays at various correctional facilities, and soon his world would be turned upside down. There seemed to be no end to the cycle as the repeat offender continued down a path of destruction, until an old friend introduced him to Cri-Help/Socorro—a treatment center that would get him back on track.

Looking to sign a new lease on life, Cecil had to find a new socially acceptable form of addiction and that’s when he went back to the basics. By applying what he learned from his father during those garage visits, he began working on cars. From repairs to flipping rides, Cecil used cars as a distraction, and it worked. Though the process was slow and arduous, he ultimately found his way to sobriety and has accomplished much. Since then Cecil has graduated from college, served on the Board of Directors at the Lincoln Heights Chamber of Commerce, but his greatest accomplishment yet came by way of an unconditional pardon that came directly from California Governor Jerry Brown back in 2014. “I’m grateful to have been given another opportunity at life,” Cecil says. As he speaks about his triumphant return he mentions that he has taken an oath to continue to aid those in his community suffering from drug addiction.

In the end, the building of his lowrider was one that brings back many fond memories but it also serves as a physical marker of the reward for staying on track. “Not everyone has their lowrider to escape to,” Cecil says. As he spoke about his build he did mention one very important fact we can all learn from, that no matter what we’re going though, “we all have the choice to redeem ourselves from our past.”

1937 Buick Special




Narciso Espinoza

Car Club

Hills Brothers


Norwalk, CA.


Original 1937 Buick 263 with three-speed transmission


Mohair replica materials, stitching, and colors


PPG Gunmetal Gray by Alberto in South Gate


All original refreshed with black powercoating


16-inch artilleries with Firestone 2-inch-wide whitewalls