Our surroundings often shape our interests, especially as kids. No one can forget seeing something for the first time, and for one Santa Barbara youth, that something was a lowrider. Mito Villapudua says he was still riding a lowrider bicycle when he caught his first glimpse of the machines that would change his life. While riding, he would see the older Nite Life car club members cruising the Santa Barbara, California, streets where he lived and that was all it took. In time, they became a big influence on him and it inspired him to be a lowrider for life.
Not only was he excited to become a part of the culture, there would be a mentor that would ultimately provide the keys to the dream machine you see pictured here! As a youngster, Mito received many lowrider bike building lessons from a man named Elmer Munoz and the two developed a friendship. Through hours and hours of bike building and working on project cars, Elmer instilled the lowrider values to an impressionable Mito. When he got older, Mito was ready to take on a new project and it was Elmer who got him started. Elmer had a ’79 Monte Carlo that up until about seven years ago, sat at Elmer’s house parked and collecting dust. Fed up with seeing a Monte with such potential not receiving the attention it deserved, Elmer decided to sell it and reached out to his old friend Mito to see if he was interested. With an asking price of just $1200.00, Mito quickly agreed and took on the task of restoring the car, giving it his own personal touch and customization. Three years and over $20,000 dollars later, “El Anaranjado” (the orange one) was born!
The most unique customization has to be the topless modification; a radical idea that really gives the Monte Carlo the convertible look that is perfect for the sunny Southern California weather. A fully chrome plated undercarriage is highly visible when the ride is locked up, thanks to the hydraulic suspension that raises the car’s rear end up by 14 inches. Plating services were provided by the Who Bangers shop in Santa Barbara, as well as by Jerry Villa in Oxnard. Mito’s ride also received an upgrade with a new paintjob, interior, and more chrome plating.
Mito cites his family, friends, and fellow car club members for their support over the years, and especially for lending him plenty of helping hands in putting the Monte together. He says the ride wouldn’t look as good as it does now if it wasn’t for them. He also says now that it’s done, he just wants to cruise and enjoy it as it is―a show car, but an even better street rider!
Owner: Mito Villapudua
Vehicle: 1979 Chevy Monte Carlo
City/State: Santa Barbara, CA
Club: Nite Life Car Club – Santa Barbara
Engine: The stock ’79 Chevy V8 305-c.i.d engine was rebuilt and given an upgrade with a chrome Edelbrock kit. Joe “Feo” of Who Bangers Customs in Santa Barbara was the man in charge of the engine needs and upgrades.
Body/Paint: Mito and the guys of Hanko’s Customs in Oxnard, California, handled all bodywork and paint, starting with the customized chop top for that convertible look. PPG and House of Kolor paints were used in the two-toned “sunset orange” finish consisting of candy and patterns. Leo of Simi Valley added the finishing touch of pinstripes that really add class to the paint scheme.
Interior: Meñas, at Meñas Upholstery in Goleta, California, used a two-tone bone and orange color scheme. Other interior modifications include the molded and painted dashboard and the custom door panels.
Sound System: Mito and Who Bangers Customs also teamed up on the audio system, installing an Alpine head unit, Phoenix Gold amplifiers, Infinity tweeter and mid-range speakers, and two JL Audio W3 12-inch woofers.
Setup: The Who Bangers crew once again came through for Mito, installing a custom two pump hydraulic setup with 8-inch cylinders in the front and a pair of whopping 14-inch cylinders in the rear. Eight batteries power the setup. Jerry Lamm and Mando of Oxnard reinforced the frame where needed.
Tires: 155-80R13 Whitewall.
Wheels: 13x7 spoke rims custom made at Main Tire & Wheel in Santa Paula, CA.