Espanola, located about 25 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is called "The Lowrider Capital of the World." It is also William George's hometown. Growing up exposed to every type of modified vehicle, William acquired the desire to own a customized car long before he acquired the funds. Now, as an adult, he is able to drive cars that were out of reach during his childhood.

Despite the pervasive popularity of lowriders in his town, William didn't grow up dreaming about hopping hydraulic suspensions, skirts, airbrushed graphics, and 13-inch spoked rims. His taste leaned toward customs. Several years ago, after gathering inspiration from local car shows, hot rod and custom magazines, and a few earlier project cars, William fell in love with the '58 Chevy's body style. Finding the right raw material was probably the most challenging part of the project, but a friend who owned a couple of stock '58s eventually found an Impala hardtop and swapped it for William's restored '50 Chevy.

William had plenty of ideas for the car, but his experience as a builder couldn't keep pace with his enthusiasm as an owner, and he conceded that if the car was going to get built the way he really wanted, it would have to be built by a pro. He eventually hooked up with Jamie Johnson at Hot Rod Haven in Albuquerque, who took over the buildup.

After talking to Jamie, we found out the '58 was modified by a previous owner. The EFI-equipped LS6 crate engine from Street & Performance was already in place, and the suspension had been built up but needed redoing. Other modifications, including dummy spots, a Continental kit, and enough cheap bolt-on gewgaws to fill a pile of swap meet milk crates, had to go.

The guys at Hot Rod Haven-Jamie, Jim Johnson, Will Morton, and Andy Barrow-took the car down to the bare metal and redid the whole thing, smoothing the panels, finessing the gaps, modifying the wheelwells, converting the roof's rear contour to a third brake light, and filling the grille opening with bars and teeth from a '59 Corvette. Jamie is friends with legendary custom builder Gene Winfield, who saw the Impala and offered to paint it-on the condition that they section the car 4 inches. Jamie and William declined, but Gene shot the paint anyway. Who else could've blended those multiple tones so well?

The Impala was completed in January, just hours before William had to leave to get to the Grand National Roadster Show. The kid from the lowrider capital is riding high now, enjoying the car he always dreamed about. With that accomplished, William is now talking about finding another '58 he can restore to original condition as a contrasting partner to this outstanding custom.

William GeorgeHernandez, New Mexico1958 Chevy Impala Custom

ChassisThe stock frame was modified with a Mustang II IFS and stainless tubing in the front, and a Hot Rod Haven triangulated four-link with a Ford 8-inch in the rear. Both ends ride on an Air Ride Technologies ShockWave spring/shock system. Brakes are 11-inch discs in the front, with drums in the back.

DrivetrainWhen it came to choosing a powerplant for the '58, William decided to keep the Street & Performance LS6 package that was already under the hood as an unexpected contemporary contrast to the exterior's '60s custom look. The EFI Chevy features polished heads, a polished Weiand intake manifold, and an S&P air cleaner. The headers feed into custom side pipes built at Hot Rod Haven. The electronic slushbox is a GM 4L60E controlled by a Lokar shifter.

Wheels & TiresWhen William found the Chevy, it was rolling on a set of jumbo 20-inchers. To stay consistent with the Impala's period appearance, those oversized wheels were replaced with 15x7 Radirs mounted with Coker P215/75R15 wide whitewall radial tires.

Body & PaintHot Rod Haven made numerous changes to the 48-year-old body, but most of them were low-key modifications to clean up the stock sheetmetal or remedies to the "improvements" made by a previous builder. The dummy spots and Continental kit were the first items to go. Following that, the gaps around the doors, hood, and trunk were redone. Sheetmetal was added to shorten the front wheelwells approximately 6 inches. A set of '58 Impala taillights are recessed where Cadillac lights had been. The grille was created using three grille bars and 21 teeth from a '59 Corvette, with fabricated plexiglass turn signals integrated into the bars. A one-piece California bumper was narrowed and pulled into the body for better proportions. The same treatment was used on the rear bumper. Advance Plating (Nashville, Tennessee) did a great job of making the old reworked bumpers look like brand-new pieces. The side trim was dressed up with engine-turned inserts. Finally, but most noticeably, Gene Winfield stepped in to apply his spray gun talent to the car, shooting the hard-to-miss mix of purple and pink House of Kolor paint.

InteriorRon Mangus built the custom seats and stitched up the purple and lavender shades of suede. The leather extends the length of the custom console and across the width of the car underneath the dash. The entire dash was modified with Haneline engine-turned panels, filled with Dakota Digital instruments, and painted to match Winfield's exterior design. The 15-inch Impala wheel was finished to match the rest of the interior, and Vintage Air was added to provide cool comfort. Painless Wiring feeds juice to everything electrical, including the Alpine touch-screen sound system.

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