Heres what we call Manuel labor as Mr. Arteche labors over his custom grille.
Heres the Buick in its original state after Manuel purchased the car and lowered it.
Manuel Arteche has spent most of his life building customs in the sleepy little town of Woodland, California, just outside of Sacramento. By most of his life we mean, even as a kid, Manuel would build models and customize them. He would sculpt, chop, paint, and even upholster the scaled-down cruisers. It was a youthful love that turned into a long-term relationship. When he reached working age, Manuel took a job at an upholstery shop sweeping floors and learning the business. As the years passed, he found he had learned it well enough to open Arteches Upholstery in his hometown. He continued to do custom automotive upholstery, as well as home and business upholstery. A number of his own customs have passed through his doors including his 41 Ford custom featured in the September 97 issue of R&C.
About 5 years ago, Manuel was driving in the area of Woodland when he spotted a 61 Buick bubbletopmuch like a model he built as a kidsprouting weeds. He stopped and talked to the woman at the house, asking her if the car was for sale. She said no and Manuel went on his way. Some time later, he saw the car was still there, and he stopped again. This time, a gentleman answered the door, and, as it turned out, he was an old high school buddy of Manuels. They talked about old times and soon the subject turned back to the Buick. The old high school chum agreed to give Manuel the car in exchange for reupholstering their living room furniture. Manuel brought the car home and parked it while work on his 41 Ford continued. In September 1997, Manuel started his next campaign and invited the Invicta to take a seat in his garage.
The body received mostly subtle modifications based on the lines of the carits the way it should have been. The body was shaved, the front bumper was reshaped, and the bullets were frenched, while the hood was extended 2-½ inches. The fenders were also reshaped and extended to blend with the hood. The taillights were customized with bullets and also frenched. Once the body was prepped, it received PPG Candy Red with a hint of mini-flake added to the roof. Underneath, the 401 nailhead was rebuilt to stock specifications and placed back between the framerails with a pair of glasspacks added to the dual exhaust. A complete hydraulic system was also installed to the suspension to really allow the Buick to meet the pavement.
It was now time for the car to return to Manuels upholstery shop, where his abilities truly shine. He started with a pair of bucket seats and a rear seat from a 63 Buick Riviera. The rear seat was modified to fit the spacious rear of the Invicta, while the buckets were a fine fit as they were. Manuel stitched the seats and door panels in his favorite pearl white Naugahyde with 1½-inch rolls. The Riviera console was also modified and placed between the buckets. A Pioneer 10-disc CD player was added, along with a Sony TV and VCR, which fit nicely in the console. The final touch to the interior were the custom teardrop knobs for the dash, which were actually made by Manuels daughters in her high school shop class.
Fewer than six months later, Manuels Invicta was invited to compete at the Oakland Roadster Show, where it won Outstanding Mild Custom. The Buick also took the same prize at the Sacramento Autorama. Just like that young kid on the streets of Woodland long ago, Manuel keeps the custom fires burning. His next project will be a dead-on tribute to Larry Watsons Grapevine! Stay tuned.