My Favorite Ride: Merced man’s 1970 Impala’s history still being written

12/26/2013 8:06 PM

12/26/2013 10:43 PM

The car: 1970 Chevy Impala convertible

The owner: Mauri Mendoza, Merced

1. What are the key features of your vehicle? The murals, custom engraving, hydraulics and paint job. Also, my cross-laced wire wheels, custom gray-green interior and fully chromed 350 engine.

2. What did you have to do to get it in its present state? I replaced both quarter panels, half of the trunk floor and floor panels. After replacing the rusted metal, I powder-coated the undercarriage, rebuilt the suspension and put in a rebuilt 350 cid engine with a 350 turbo transmission. I blocked the body for the green mist original color with custom graphics by Rico’s Pinstriping and murals by Mario Bonilla of Fresno.

3. What else do you want to do to it? Replace my bench seats with bucket seats and add a custom console, and also change the paint job to a green candy two-tone color.

4. How did you acquire your vehicle? On Craigslist out of Vallejo.

5. Why did you pick that particular vehicle and what do you find appealing about it? Because I owned a hardtop in high school and I always wanted another one like it, but this one is a convertible. I was attracted to 1969 and 1970 Impalas because of the body lines and front ends, but 1970 was always my favorite year.

6. What started your love affair with cars? I used to watch my father work on cars, and saw those type of cars going down the street. I would always say one day I will have a car like that. So I went to college to further pursue my dream and slowly self-educated myself to being able to do all the custom work.

7. What advice would you give others about starting such a project? Have the time, resources and support of family and friends.

8. Do you have any other collector vehicles or project cars? My son and I are in the process of restoring a 1973 Chevy Caprice convertible that we plan on completing in a couple of years. We also have a fully customized orange/gray 1980 Chevy Silverado pickup truck with suicide doors, hydraulics, custom taillights, molded suicide tailgate and complete chrome engine compartment.

9. What’s your favorite memory about this ride? The day that I purchased it – on our way towing it home, we broke down for about five hours. That is the day that my son, friends and I will always remember.

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