Often times, car builds mean much more to us than anyone could ever understand. Sure, passersby and show spectators may appreciate and admire them, giving us a thumbs-up or a mark of approval on a scorecard. Grocery store parking lots can also be full of kind words from complimentary folks who happen to park next to us or see us pull into the driveway. The fact of the matter is some builds are much deeper than what you can see on the surface or on a jack stand. In 1999, Eddie Cano purchased a stock white ’94 Lincoln Town Car. Within a short amount of time he added rims, hydraulics, and candy paint to his new ride. “I just wanted a cruiser car, I wasn’t planning on going all-out with it,” explains Eddie. His first-born and only daughter, Jilean, loved the car as well, especially when Eddie would hit the switches. “She would start laughing and when we used to cruise; she would say “daddy” and point to the switches with her eyes,” says Eddie as he wistfully remembers those moments with his little angel. The memories would prove to be some of his last, as two years after buying the Lincoln, Eddie lost his daughter in a horrible car accident.
Little Jilean was only three years old, and Eddie woefully recalls the tragedy. “We were coming back from a family vacation in Mexico when the van had a blowout and we flipped three times,” he says. The accident happened while Eddie and his family headed West on the I-10 in Arizona on September 15th, 2001. “It was a few days after 9/11 happened,” says Eddie. The van flipped with Eddie, his wife Mayra, daughter Jilean, and his newborn, Jesus, all inside the vehicle. “After it happened, I was going crazy; I didn’t know what to think. I never thought something like that would happen to us.” In the accident, Eddie and Mayra lost their first-born, Jilean, who was only beginning to live life, but their six-week-old son Jesus survived. “It was a miracle that he survived,” says Eddie. Still having his wife and newborn gave Eddie the strength to move forward in life. “I had to keep going to support my family,” says a determined Eddie. The struggle is something that continues to take its toll on Eddie and his family, and they have found a variety of ways to cope with this devastating loss. “Every Sunday, we take Jilean balloons or flowers, and we haven’t missed a single weekend of going over there,” he explains. With so many memories tied to his lost daughter, it was difficult for Eddie to even drive the Lincoln without thinking of her and the way her eyes used to light up when he would playfully hit the switches as they rode together. One day during one of those rides without his daughter in the passenger seat, he was overcome with a notion; if he was going to keep the car that made his daughter happy, he needed it to become a rolling tribute to her memory and a sign of love and strength in the face of tragedy. “That’s when I decided to dedicate the car to her and decided to go all the way with it (the car build),” Eddie says with a newfound smile. After making that decision, Eddie went full custom on his car and never thought twice about stopping.