Model: Tina Marie
Those of us lucky enough to have had family members introduce us to Lowriding remember how much of an impact it had on us. At the tender age of three, Ben Vasquez can remember his older brother having a '66 Impala lowrider. "He had that car for fourteen years," Ben recalls. "It was lifted on Supremes, had candy orange paint and it had a tuck and roll interior. He used to cruise Cooper Road and Saviers Road in Oxnard." Eager to join him, Ben was finally able to join his brother on a cruise when he was nine years old and by thirteen, he had his first lowrider. "My first car was a '70 Chevelle," says the resident of Somis, California. Unfortunately, Ben ended up totaling the car just two years later. Still, it began his car building career, and Ben went on to own a couple of Impalas in the following years.
Those classic Chevys were a lot of fun for Ben, but what he really wanted was a convertible. He had gotten a lead on someone that had a '57 rag, and went to go check it out. "The guy also had a '61, and I ended up trading the '63 hardtop I had at the time for the '61," Ben says with a smile. "The '61 was in decent shape, but I started a full frame-off restoration on the car after I bought it." The car came with a factory 283 engine with Turboglide and Ben's initial intention was to restore the car back to its original state. "Once I did the research on the car, I found out the original paint was burgundy, with a white top and grey interior, and I didn't like that color combo," he says. Once he had made the decision not to go with the original color scheme, he decided to change everything else as well.
When it came time to install the engine, he wanted something different. "I went with the LS1 because I knew it was a reliable engine and when I installed it in 2005, there wasn't many Lowriders that had that engine." He now drives his car with confidence anywhere with the A/C blasting. "I'm done with carburetors; any other car that I build will always be fuel injected—whether it's an LS or RamJet." Ben is very happy with how the '61 came out, and his family feels the same way. "I would like to send a special thanks to my wife, Veronica, and to my son, Ruben, for always helping me to clean the car and encouraging me to always take it out."
Owner: Ben Vasquez
Vehicle: 1961 Chevrolet Convertible
City/State: Somis, CA
Engine: Jim Bassett from Bones Fab in Camarillo, CA, installed the LS1 engine with 4060 Transmission.
Body/Paint: His friend, Beto, did the bodywork in his garage and then the car was taken to a local paint booth to be painted.
Interior: Jose, of JB Customs in Camarillo, CA, installed the Cars Inc. interior kit, the convertible top and the custom trunk.
Sound System: Alpine deck, two 10-inch JL Audio W6's, JL Audio amps and speakers.
Setup: Jim Bassett also installed the Currie rear end with 373 posi and disk brakes all around. The air ride setup was fabricated so that it could be hidden in the trunk.
Tires: Copper 155/80/R13
Wheels: 13-inch Daytons