Libertad is the Spanish word for freedom. That word has a very special meaning to 31-year-old Manny Faxas II of Keansburg, New Jersey. In a generation where fathers are absent in the household, and parents are often working or separated, Manny had a very strong and close relationship with his father. His father, Manuel, arrived in the United States in the 1960's, after moving his family from Cuba with the dream of raising his children in a better place. He purchased his first car, a '63 Chevy Impala, as his primary work vehicle. As Manny grew older, he began watching his father tinker with the Impala, and eventually grew to love his father's car.
When Manny turned 16, his father took him to get his first vehicle. It became an important bonding experience for the two, and led to daily projects like installing stereo equipment and changing oil or spark plugs. Tragedy struck in early 2009 when Manny's father was rushed to the hospital for heart failure. Unfortunately, he failed to make it through the night. Manny was crushed and vowed to pay honor to his father in every way possible.
One month later, Manny searched far and wide and found the perfect '63 Chevy Impala SS Convertible in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He brought the Impala back to his home in New Jersey, and for the next 6 months, he worked continually on what he calls "Libertad." Manny and his friend, Nelson Gonzales, removed the stock motor and rebuilt it. Parts from the Impala were sent out piece by piece to SPS in Miami, Florida, to receive some high quality chrome plating.
When it came to the hydraulic suspension, Manny wanted the car's setup to be efficient, but still classy. He enlisted James Stewart Jr. of Haines City, Florida to undertake the tasks of completing the frame wrapping and hydraulic install. A two-pump, three-dump Hi-Lo setup was added to achieve the efficiency Manny was looking for. A vinyl casing was wrapped around the batteries and throughout the setup, separating the audio equipment from the high powered pumps. Manny pulled out the original interior and replaced it with a re-conditioned, saddle colored leather and cloth mixture. Peanut Butter colored floor carpet was added to complement the newly added interior work.
Libertad took a total of 6 months to complete, and Manny finds it a fitting tribute to his father. Even after his passing, Manny's father continues to be his biggest inspiration, as he has recently enrolled in college to become an engineer like his father. "My Pops meant everything to me, and I know he is looking down on me and is proud of my accomplishments," he says proudly. He adds, "if he were here today, he would be right beside me every step of the way." The loving support from his wife, Mercy, and their four children, Bryana, Nicholas, Manny III and their newest addition Michael, drive Manny to pursue his dreams and succeed in everything he does. The Faxas family's commitment serves as a reminder that the continued legacy of Lowrider enthusiasts will forever endure, as "Libertad" embodies the perseverance, soul, and dedication that symbolizes our culture and movement.