Charles Caragan of Irvine has been a dedicated reader for years. As a reader, he would always read about all of these shops that were producing top-notch rides. Today, Charles work has taken him away from the sidelines, and thrust him into that same spotlight to be read about by future feature readers. Having always loved the culture, Charles was happy to tell us the story about purchasing his first Lowrider. "I grew up in Eagle Rock, CA, and had always admired the Lowriders. I always knew that one day, I would have one of my own, but I never realized I was going to go this deep. I bought the car in Vista CA. from a family that had bought it and enjoyed it for most of the car's life, he says. "The car was lifted already and the lady that owned it had a boyfriend who made her sell it. She originally wanted $9K, but by the time the deal was sealed, I was able to pick it up for $1,900. She was pissed, but I gave them the money and took the car," he says with a laugh.

Eager to get to work, the first step in Charles' agenda was to take the car home to see what he was going to do with the car. "As a reader, I would always see a few names of shops that would pop up, and I was lucky enough to see the work at some of the local car shows. It was there that I met "V-Max," and the rest is history." Charles continues; "I made arrangements with Vernon a/k/a "V-Max" Maxwell, and I dropped off the car at his shop Ultimate Hydraulics, knowing that it was going to take some time. V-max's place was a one-stop shop, and I knew he was going to work with me. The car was inspected completely as it was disassembled, and the custom restoration was on its way."

The shop's expert staff went right to work. "The body-work was done by Louie Carillo, who prepared and painted the car in a powder blue," Charles says. "V-Max had an up and coming pinstripper that was doing work for him, so we gave him the chance and he stripped the sixty-nine. While the body-work was getting done, the frame was fully reinforced and powder coated, in order to compliment the exterior of the car," he says with fresh enthusiasm. After this was done, the undercarriage received a touch of chrome.

The last things left on Charles' list for V-Max included designing the interior and installing the sound system. This part was done by V-Max and Brad Rogers, who stitched the interior kit in a two-tone blue finish. Brad also took credit for wiring and fiber glassing the trunk for the audio, while V-max did what he is best known for - building the hydraulics.

Thanks to the shop's expertise, the build went pretty smooth. So smooth in fact, that when we asked Charles what he would change about the build, his answer was "Nothing, besides the wait time." After laughing, he explained that once he was able to get the '69 into V-Max's shop, the build was pretty much turn-key, as V-Max and his staff handled the complete build. Now that Charles has come full circle from reader to driver, he encourages others to do the same. Who knows, maybe one of you reading this story will be the next to be featured in the future!

'69 Chevy Impala

Owner: Charles Caragan
Vehicle: 1969 Chevy Impala
City/State: Irvine, CA

Paint: Sherwin Williams powder blue.

Hydraulics: Three-pump Ultimate Hydraulics set up, powered by 6 31-series deep cycle batteries.

Wheels: 14x7 100 spoke Zenith Wire Wheels

Engine: 2002 LS style 5.3 motor, and 700R transmission was used. To allow the engine to breathe properly, a Weiand intake, as well as a billet air cleaner was used.

Tires: Hankook 175/70R14's

Interior: The interior was done in two-tone stock style