When John Torres of Temecula, CA first started cruising, the 45-year-old never imagined that one day he would be featured in LRM. John told us how he has owned his share of street cars in his lifetime, with one of his favorites being a '79 Cadillac that he used to drive around and enjoy. After selling that car, he figured that he could build something even better, with the ultimate goal of one day gracing the pages of LRM.
Today, John is definitely in the "Best Position" to do just that, with his '69 Caprice, a truly one-of-a-kind, show quality daily driver. John found this amazing car after receiving a phone call from good friend "Rollin'", who mentioned to him that he had seen a '69 Caprice that was for sale at Shell Happy in El Monte, CA. After taking the drive over to Shell Happy and negotiating the price with the owner Gus, a deal was struck, and a happy John jumped into the car drove it home. The low price of John's happiness was just $6,700!
Everything was in working order at the purchase time, however, about a month after he bought the car, the engine began making a tapping noise. John loved the car, so he decided that he would merely fix the engine. Every great Lowrider is born behind this familiar "I-just-wanna-fix-this-one-thing" mentality, and of course, in true Lowrider fashion, one thing led to another, and John decided that he would drop off his car with the Toma brothers of Top Notch Customs out in Riverside, CA to give the car a complete overhauling.
After pulling out the engine, John made the decision to fully restore the Caprice, thus a complete tear-down of the car was necessary to realize John's ultimate vision of the perfect street show car. With the engine pulled out, the frame was unbolted, and taken to be powder- coated, which is a usual first step to achieving a full, frame-off custom restoration.
Since the car was originally in great shape, it was decided that it would be painted black. The car was shipped to Danny's of Pomona, CA, who stripped the car down to the bare metal and reworked the body, leaving it ready to be sprayed in a flawless, two-stage PPG black finish. The car needed some extra paintwork to highlight the body lines, so naturally, Danny called in pinstripe guru Mike Lamberson of Draggin Lines to pin stripe and silver leaf the body. After several hours of fine line stripping, the car was ready to be shipped back to the Toma brothers for assembly.
By this point, the Toma brothers had decided to powder-coat the frame in an oriental-style candy blue, in order to tie in the pinstripping work that was used on the exterior of the vehicle. With that done, the frame also received a touch of pinstripping. Since the stock frame was hooked up, the assembly of the frame was done rather quickly. The suspension featured engraving by Hernan D'Aloia and Jaime Castanedos, and was prepared and chromed by the crew at Speedy's plating.
Since the car had originally been taken in for engine work, John wanted to make sure that he would have a reliable engine. The first step towards achieving this was to have the carburetor intake removed, and replaced with a first generation TPI system. The rebuilt small block was dressed up with a Street and Performance chrome serpentine kit. The crew also designed a ram air system that would allow the car to run more efficiently, and also allow the air mixture to be burned at a cooler temperature. With a reliable performance engine, the Toma brothers made sure that the brakes worked properly, as this heavy machine was going to need to have plenty of stopping power on the heavy cruising days.