MOTORING: Chulo 63 – 1963 Chevrolet Impala
Featured in Freestyle Volume 07 2009. Story by Nathan Luck. Photography by Dean Summers.
Some of you may remember this lolo from back in the day when petrol was under a dollar and Freestyle was first established as a street press mag. For those of you who don’t know, let us re-introduce to you one of Australia’s finest examples of lowriding with Chulo 63, back by popular demand.
“How much did I pay for it…? C’mon man, that’s like asking a woman her age…” Roger De Gois might be a bit cagey about the size of the purse required to land this freakishly outstanding ’63 Impala convertible, but you can be sure it wasn’t as hefty as the investment required to build it.
This big Chev is a classic example of what can happen when a modder gets so caught up in what they’re doing that they don’t even realise that their once totally harmless passion has covertly morphed into a categorical obsession. This is a mystical but masochistic state where things can get mighty expensive, not to mention time consuming. A place typically associated with serious discontent from bank managers, accountants, wives…
But what is life really about? Good fuel economy? Solid resale value? A harmonious household? Now where would be the fun in that! Building a car of this stature is about commitment, but not the kind that you have to make to your boss, or once again, your better half. You have to make a living or you’ll starve, and you have to have a girl or you’ll end up with one arm much larger than the other. But you don’t have to have a dream - such shit comes from a higher power. A gift from above, wherever that is.
It’s the sort of compulsion that draws from deep within. Compelling and unrelenting, like an elite athlete chasing a gold medal or a porn producer chasing the ultimate money shot. For the true purist, when something like this ’63 really grabs you by the nuts, you just become a helpless passenger on the Desire Express. If you happen to throw into the bargain an unrepentant disposition for attention to detail, there really is no saving you.
If you’ve ever completely rebuilt a car from the ground up, you’ll know that it’s a damn sight easier, and cheaper, to just buy one that has already cost some other poor bastard endless hours, heartache and coin. In this case Roberto Rueda from San Jose in Cali is that poor bastard, and we reckon, as demonstrated by this immaco American dream, he has well and truly done his time. Two long, grueling, character-testing years of it, to be precise. Roberto just had to do justice to this Yankee classic with the most insane overhaul ever, and probably doesn’t even really understand why. It just had to be done, and done properly.
Roger De Gois happened across Roberto Rueda at the Lowrider Tour in San Francisco in ‘05, and as it turned out, possessed the same level of commitment to owning the car that Roberto had for building it. Before his financial advisor could even reach for the red flag, Rodge was shipping the car back to Australia.
“I’ve always loved the Impala and the ‘63 is my favourite.” Rog told us. For further proof that Roger is a certifiable hopeless romantic when it comes to the ’63 Impala, you should be made aware that he threw another two of
the iconic sleds into the shipping container while he was at it. Now that’s walking the walk!
So, where do you start when trying to explain the indecent level of modification this SS-model has been subjected to? Have you got all day? We’ll try to condense it for you but there’s no limit to the pages you could run on this car, such is the divine build quality and presentation. And let’s not forget presence, this is frontin’ and keepin’ it real. Sounds like an oxymoron, but if being noticed is your gig, your chariot awaits. The first thing to dispel your indifference is the Chevy baby blue paintwork with pin striping and silver leafing laid over the silk-finish bodywork. But that’s just an appetizer when compared to the undercarriage – a decadent, optic feast of chrome and colour-matched components. Even the simplistic but svelte interior indicates that the Chulo ‘63 wears its heart on its sleeve.
The tuned-port injection 350 Chev was extricated from an ’86 Corvette and mated-up to a 2-speed Powerglide ‘box, generous lashings of chrome and all. Nothing in the bay escaped the mirror finish, and down the other end, even the diff, gas guard and fuel tank got a look in with the shiny stuff. But this is where the ensemble of detail touches gets way out of hand. Intricate engraving adorns the control / trailing arms, rocker covers and manifold. Why stop there? How about the door handles, headlight and taillight covers, the rims and even the glass!
The entire chassis came in for some due re-enforcing, fortunate when you consider the inherent flex generated by the mental, and rare around these parts, hydraulic set-up. It’s a schmicko job too, consisting of a 3-switch module for four high/low pumps and Waterman dumps, with 6-inches of love in the nose and eight inches in the tail. There’s also a neat fold-out pump rack, and keener eyes may even pick up on the engraved Eminence logos. There are those classy little touches again.
Strength is a theme reiterated throughout the car, right down to the 6-inch limmy and custom tail shaft. It’s strength with shine - check out those meticulously detailed suspension components, you can spot sesame seeds in your teeth from 20-feet away! Nothing but chrome Zenith hoops would suffice with this show-star, these in 14 x 7-inch with gold studs, no less. Incidentally, it takes a mere four Exide Orbital batteries to keep the old girl humming.
You may previously have witnessed the car in such esteemed company as Snoop Dogg and Naughty by Nature (the car was formerly affiliated with the highly-regarded Eminence Car Club), or locally in film clips by Anthony
“The Man” Mundine and Bliss and Eso. Smooth…
About the club
The other side sounds like a pretty cool place to be. The small but dedicated crew based in NSW consists 1960, ’62, ’63, ’64 and ’70 Impalas, ’74 and ’88 Lincolns, a ’72 Holden Statesman and a ’79 Ford Fairlane.
This lowrider club is all about ‘tude. Fortunately for society, not ‘tude in the traditional sense. “We strive to uphold a positive image in the community and change the negative stereotypical image of lowriding. We endeavour to show the community what we really are - a fun, family orientated club….” Roger told Freestyle Magazine. “We plan to get involved with charity work and team up with Tafes and apprenticeships in the near future, to pull together and keep the youth off the streets…”
Noble and productive. Man, if these guys keep carrying on like this, they are going to give hoons nationwide a bad name. The modifying industry can use some good press at the moment, so we’ll be sure to refer the Otherside CC to the next current affairs program that calls us for some sensationalist quotes on the subject.
Owner. Roger De Gois
Vehicle. 1963 Chevrolet Impala SS Convertible
Engine. Tuned-port 350 Chev from a 86 Corvette.
Gearbox. 2-speed Powerglide
Suspension. Hydraulic suspension, Four pump Hi-Low pumps, waterman dumps, 6" front 8" rear, Three switches, Four Exide orbital batteries, fold out pump rack.
Custom work. Custom tailshaft with 6 inch slip, reinforced chassis, entire undercarage painted and chromed, chromed engine bay, chromed suspension, chromed fuel tank, chromed diff. engraved: control arms, trailing arms, rocker covers, manifold, headlight covers, door handles, gas gaurd, tail light covers, wheels and glass
Rollers. 14 x 7-inch Zenith / gold caps
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