After moving to Salinas, California, at the age of 14 from his native Mexico, Santiago "Chago" Hernandez, became fascinated with lowriding. His first job after graduating from high school was at an auto body shop, and he soon bought himself a '79 Cadillac Coupe DeVille. Chago's dream was to build a convertible DeVille, and he worked hard on his Caddy, first chopping the top and then starting on the bodywork.
But then the 19-year-old Chago became ill and was diagnosed with leukemia. His family had other priorities in dealing with this devastating news, but managed to post Chago's story on Layitlow.com, where it was read by the lowrider community. People from all over began sending Chago cards and gifts in the hospital where he was laid up.
Chago even received hospital visits from local car club members, and people began to learn more about the car that he was building and the car club, Sons Of Mexico, that he was starting up. After getting the blessing of Chago's mother, a group of local lowriders came together to finish building Chago's car for him. A "build team" was formed and donations from everywhere started coming in. Fellow "Layitlowers" sent in money and every kind of part needed to finish the car.
Doing a total frame-off build in three weeks, "Chago's Dream" was fast becoming a reality. Soon after the car was complete, it was delivered to Chago on Mother's Day. "That was a day that I will always remember," says Pauly from New Style Car Club and "project coordinator" (and who also supplied the information on which we base this story). "To see Chago's eyes and his smile the first time that he saw his car... there were tears from everyone that day."
Emotionally overwhelmed, Chago got into his car and went for a cruise around town to proudly show off his car. Later that evening, Chago was rushed back to the hospital, and a week later, he lost his battle with his illness. "Chago's Dream brought unity to a big part of the lowriding community, from all over the world," Pauly puts it perfectly, "something that a lot of people have been trying to do for years."
For his contributions to the project (you can see the car at local shows) and to the story, Pauly gets the last word. "To everyone involved with Chago's Dream, be it through donations of money or parts, or the physical building of the car, or even just moral support, Chago's last wish was to make you all honorary members of his club, Sons Of Mexico. Let's keep Chago's Dream alive!"
Chago's DreamOwner: Santiago "Chago" Hernandez
Vehicle: '79 Cadillac Coupe DeVille
City/State: Fremont, California
Club: Sons Of Mexico C.C.
Engine/Drivetrain: The stock 4100 engine was rebuilt and treated to some candy paint by Ricky, Wally, Jason and Sam at Backyard Bounce in Hayward, California, the same city where JR's Mufflers added the exhaust system.
Body/Paint: After Miguel, Shane, John, Victoria and Harry of Backyard Bounce all worked on the convertible Caddy's body, including adding a custom-cut convertible top and shaving the doors, the car was delivered to Custom Mike's in San Leandro, California, where Lalo shot the candy green paint and Ray put down the pinstriping.
Interior: Jose and Mario at New Hank's Trim Shop in Alameda, California, contributed the spotless white interior featuring the stock patterns on the seats.
Sound System: Mario and Tim teamed up on the audio installation, which features a Sony head unit and 10-disc CD changer, and four Pioneer 6x9 woofers.
Setup: Back at Backyard Bounce, Harry Nieves put the bounce in the ride with two chrome Red's Hydraulics pumps, four square dumps, 8-inch (front) and 10-inch (rear) ShowTime Hydraulics cylinders, six 31-series batteries and four switches. The frame was given a full wrap by Tom, Vino, Bert and Pauly at T&W Hydraulics in Hayward. John and Sal at Bowtie Connection in Artesia, California, supplied the chrome plating on the A-arms and trailing arms.
Tires: P155/75-R13 Remington
Wheels: 13-inch wires with green powdercoating provided by Keith Pea