Like most people who have been involved with the Lowriding culture for a long period of time, Mario Hernandez got his start as a kid, looking up to an older sibling. In Mario’s case, it was his older brother, Juan Jose Hernandez, who had built model cars and then moved on to full-size rides. Back in 1976, Juan owned a 1963 Impala that he would let Mario wash and even drive up and down their street. Mario would fantasize that he was actually cruising it on Broadway, the big cruise strip in his town of Santa Maria, California. While that dream tided him over briefly, the bigger dream for Mario was to one day own his own Impala.
At age 15, Mario moved out to Olmito, Texas and continued to have love for the lifestyle, building up custom Lowrider bicycles there. When he got a little older, Mario moved back to Santa Maria and got himself a ’76 Impala “Glasshouse.” He finally got to cruise on down Broadway with his cousin, Ramon Hernandez, and his good friend Raymond Enriquez.
Since Mario’s first car, he has gone on to buy, build, and sell quite a few other Impalas, all along the way learning everything there is to know about these classic cars. It wasn’t until a fellow New Crowd Car Club member told Mario about two Impala wagons that were for sale on a VW website. Mario called the seller, got more information, and decided to buy both and take them on as his new projects. Mario eventually sold the ’63 but did fix up the ’64 enough to get it running. This wagon was definitely a project ride and needed quite a bit of work. Since it was in running status, Mario tried to sell it on a Lowriding website, but didn’t get any worthy offers. Mario had a wife and kids and the family was growing, he soon decided it might be a good idea to just totally restore the wagon and sell his other custom ride, “Killer Korona,” a ’64 Impala convertible that was dubbed the “Gold Digger” (featured in the July ’09 issue of LRM).
Just about every nut and bolt was restored and/ or replaced on this wagon. Mario had “Big Dave Wave” and Mike from Santa Maria Powder Coating do all the powder coating in the engine compartment, and also enlisted them to do the same on many of the interior pieces. Refugio “Alex” Gil, Mario’s father-in-law, performed the engine compartment painting and dash.
Mario’s wagon sports every available option that was available from Chevrolet for the Impala wagon back in 1964, including the power windows, power brakes, and window visors. There is no doubt that this ride looks like it was bought brand new in its premier year, stored in a time capsule, and then brought out in 2011! Mario left no detail overlooked and the word “clean” is simply an understatement for describing this wagon known as “Family Mint.”
Mario says he wants to give a very special thanks to his wife, who has put up with his Lowriding obsession, and he thanks his kids Martin, Marcelina, Mario, Marco, and Marcelo for their emotional support. Lastly, Mario thanks his big brother Juan for getting him into Lowriding way back in the day!
Owner: Mario & Mariaelena Hernandez
Vehicle: 1964 Chevy Impala Wagon
City/State: Santa Maria, CA
Club: New Crowd Car Club
Engine: Mario got his “backyard boogie” on by building up the engine in the comfort of his own home. The 327c.i.d. V8 was restored to look like new and the 350 transmission was built up by Shamrock Transmission in Santa Maria.
Body/Paint: Manuel “Pupp” Baru of Manuel’s Custom in Santa Maria handled the bodywork and paint preparation before laying down a unique coat of PPG 2006 Kia Jade Green.
Interior: Nieves Enriquez, the owner of Upholstery by Nieves in Santa Maria did all necessary restorations and upgrades to the interior, including installing the Cars 1 kit (purchased from Brent “Mr. Impala” Reese in Covina, California).
Sound System: Armondo, Rolan, Eric, and Danny over at Atlas Custom Sound in Santa Maria all helped out with installing a hidden Pioneer head unit, a Lightning Audio Strike amplifier and a 10-inch Infinity woofer. Kicker mid-range speakers provide the tunes throughout the wagon.
Setup: Although the suspension is considered stock, Mario and Juan Hernandez rebuilt and restored the undercarriage to look like new.
Tires: 155/80R13 Hercules white wall.
Wheels: 13x7 100-spoke (powder-coated Green).