Lowriders and custom rides are known for their unique, aesthetic beauty—all of the colors, patterns, engraving, and many other details that bring the car together. We sometimes forget that the story behind a build can be just as intriguing. Gilbert “Gil” Lara was in need of a new project and purchased a 1965 Chevy C10. The Chevy had been sitting in his friend’s backyard collecting dust, so Gil offered to take it off his hands. The car seemed to be in good shape and Gil was excited about this new project. However, once he took a closer look at the truck, Gil soon realized this “runner” needed more work than he originally thought. The brakes were non-existent and the body had more rust than what was visible.

At the time Gil purchased his Chevy, he was a volunteer at Cerritos College. One day while he was on campus, he met the head of the automotive department. While they were discussing donations for materials and equipment for education, Gil came up with the idea of taking his truck to the students of the 2012 class of Automotive Collision Repair Program at Cerritos College. To give the students the opportunity to challenge themselves and get some real-life, hands-on experience. The best part of it all is it would debut at the 2012 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. No pressure, right? In fall of 2011, the truck, which was then called “Project Lower Learning,” was taken to Cerritos College. The students will be able to learn how to truly rebuild a custom car from the ground up. As soon as the ’65 was dropped off, the class—under the direction of their instructor—had completely dismantled the truck; and so, it began.

While the Cerritos college students worked on the bodywork of the cab and the bed, Gil took his suspension parts and frame to Primo Powder Coating in Huntington Beach, California. On his return with the finished powdercoated products, he brought them a full Porterbuilt suspension. The students were definitely eager when it came to learning about new products and the installation process. Gil continued to bring the class new parts to build and install for “Project Lower Learning”: Rearend and custom Panhard bar for the chassis assembly, Firestone airbags, KYB shocks, a manual rack-and-pinion steering system, an upgraded ABS power brakes/disc brake conversion, a set of Wheel Pros/American Racing chrome smoothies with six-lug spider caps, and Coker wide whitewalls.

Next on the list was the engine. Larry’s Performance dismantled the 327 engine and sent the block to Team C Performance Center to machine and bore to a 350. He then started the rebuild with Engine Tech components, headman headers, Tuff Stuff alternator, water pump, and starter. He also installed a set of genuine Mooneye’s valve covers and air cleaner with K&N filters. After the engine was ready, Gil took a trip to Jerry’s Transmission in Norwalk, California, where the Chevy’s 350 transmission could be rebuilt with a B&M kit along with a shift kit from American Shifter. Finally, Gil brought the completed engine and transmission back to Cerritos College where the students of the Automotive Collision Repair Program mounted them both to the chassis.

Once the students and instructors completed the bodywork, it was time for paint. The Chevy was sprayed with House of Kolor Bright White Platinum Pearl and Blue Pearl, and a Candy Apple Red and Brandywine roof. Gil asked Tom McWeeney, of Kustoms Inc., to visit the students and give them some insight into pinstriping. He completed the truck with some gorgeous red lines. Once the exterior paint was complete, the students were able to gain some practice painting the interior a candy apple red and then it was ready for upholstery. The Chevy was taken to Hymies Upholstery where they installed Classic Industries red carpet and a two-tone seat cover. The final touch was a 15-inch Mooneye’s metal flake steering wheel.

With SEMA quickly approaching, the group had to buckle down and ended up spending a few late nights finishing “Project Lower Learning’s” assembly. After mounting the cab and bed to the frame, the class installed pine wood flooring from Bed Wood & Parts, new glass, front and rear bumpers, headlights, taillights, and chrome grille and door handles all from Classic Industries. Despite cutting it a little close, Gil was able to make it with “Project Lower Learning” to the 2012 SEMA Show. He says that the most challenging part of this build was not only staying on schedule so that the Chevy could be debuted at the show, but also making sure that everything was ready and available. The best moment of it all was debuting “Project Lower Learning” and being able to share that moment with the teachers and students of the Automotive Collision Repair Program at Cerritos College.

Once the truck returned home, there were a few finishing touches to finalize the build. Gil took his Chevy to Starlite Rod & Kustoms in Torrance, California where they installed a painless wiring kit, plumbed the air-ride system and installed Viair compressors. Of course, you don’t want to cruise your ride without a nice sound system. So, he dropped off the truck to Sound Scape in Downey, California to have a Pioneer audio system installed with Memphis Audio wiring. Gil showed his Chevy as “Project Lower Learning” for two years, but eventually decided it was time to give the truck “some soul”. He brought the Chevy back to Tom McWeeney where he did a terrific job giving the truck new life. He gave her some new patterns and laced her with beautiful roses—hence the Chevy’s new name, “Rosie”.

1965 Chevrolet C10

Vehicle Nickname

Gilbert Lara

Whittier, CA

Relaxed Atmosphere

Turbo 350 with Tuff Stuff water pump/alternator, US Radiator aluminum, Holley carburetor, K&N filter, MSD ignition/wires and Hedman exhaust.

Classic Industries bumpers and mirrors. House of Kolor Bright White with Platinum and Blue Pearl on the body with Candy Apple Red and Brandywine patterned roof.

ABS power disk brakes/master cylinder, Helix steering column, and 8-inch rear notch. Firestone airbag setup with two five-gallon tanks and two Viair compressors.

White and red vinyl seat and a Mooneyes 15-inch steering wheel.

Pioneer stereo with two Pioneer speakers and a 10-inch subwoofer.

15-inch American Racing smoothies wheels with Coker wide white tires.

Cerritos College