The First Lady

Cyn­thia Ca­marena's '57 Chevy Bel Air

Low Rider - - CONTENTS - STORY & PHO­TOS BY BETO MEN­DOZA

The old adage, “Happy wife, happy life,” holds so much weight it’s not even funny. In fact, it’s a golden rule that can lead to lower blood pressure and far less ar­gu­ments, but in the grand scheme of things it’s an im­por­tant rule to re­mem­ber—es­pe­cially when it comes time to buy or build your lowrider.

Real talk, failing to ig­nore this rule, could re­sult in you never get­ting the lowrider you want and the terms of en­gage­ment are sim­ple: She wants some­thing, you want some­thing, but you’d bet­ter de­liver on her wishes first—or some­time soon af­ter she dis­cov­ers you spent more money on your ride. Se­ri­ously, you al­ready know what I’m talk­ing about. But ev­ery once in a great while you’ll hear a story about that one lucky guy who’s mar­ried to some­one who sup­ports his or her lowrid­ing habit. It’s the kind of story that makes the less for­tu­nate cringe, but to make mat­ters worse, this story here is about one woman who not only sup­ports her hus­band’s pas­sion, but rides with him—and we’re not talk­ing about rid­ing shot­gun ei­ther.

For most of us, we’d be happy just to have our wives be our big­gest cheer­lead­ers sit­ting on the side­lines, but imag­ine if your bet­ter half went from spec­ta­tor to player? Imag­ine her along­side you navigating her own ride and help­ing dur­ing the whole process? Pretty dreamy, right? Well for Mario Ca­marena, it’s a real-

ity be­cause his wife’s en­thu­si­asm for clas­sic cars has al­ways been strong.

Know­ing that his wife, Cyn­thia, was fond of the '57 Bel Air, he told her that she’d one day own one. He said it with in­tent and made a prom­ise to ful­fill the re­quest; un­be­knownst to his wife, Mario be­gan search­ing for the per­fect can­vas. He scoured the Net day in and day out un­til he found the per­fect can­di­date on eBay. Not want­ing to jinx the deal, he kept it on the low un­til he won the fi­nal bid; even af­ter win­ning it he re­mained si­lent. In­stead, that same evening, he hooked up the trailer to the truck with Cyn­thia and her brothers and they took a road trip out to Utah to pick it up. It was a hid­den gem that needed a full restora­tion, but the good part was that it was 90 per­cent com­plete.

In need of some se­ri­ous TLC, the restora­tion process be­gan

with Os­car “El Blo­cador” Rue­las do­ing all the nec­es­sary body­work. Af­ter straight­en­ing the pan­els and re­mov­ing any blem­ishes, the car was ready for paint, but the next hur­dle was choos­ing the cor­rect shade of turquoise. To help make sure they got the right color, Os­car came up with mul­ti­ple shades of turquoise, and af­ter blend­ing, test­ing, and spray­ing sam­ple pan­els Cyn­thia found the per­fect one. Once she gave the thumbs up, Os­car had a cus­tom Ax­alta turquoise mix cre­ated that he gra­ciously ap­plied to a mir­ror-like fin­ish. Mike Lam­ber­son then added some of his famed strip­ing while the trunk was shipped to Sal Elias to have a cus­tom com­mis­sion ap­plied to the trunk.

With the body sit­ting void of any parts, the bumpers, full ex­haust sys­tem, con­ti­nen­tal kit, trim, and other mis­cel­la­neous parts were sent to Sam Hur­tado to be dipped in chrome. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, Jamie Cas­taneda was en­grav­ing the Hoppo’s cus­tom air setup along with the Aarms, axle, and cus­tom plate frames. Mov­ing inside, Cal­i­for­nia Up­hol­stery re­vamped the in­te­rior in a turquoise and white mo­tif, and the fi­nal step was to have a cus­tom 283 with all the bells and whis­tles dropped in by En­gine Com­po­nents & Ma­chine.

Af­ter its maiden voy­age, it was

"REAL TALK, FAILING TO IG­NORE THIS RULE, COULD RE­SULT IN YOU NEVER GET­TING THE LOWRIDER YOU WANT AND THE TERMS OF EN­GAGE­MENT ARE SIM­PLE: SHE WANTS SOME­THING, YOU WANT SOME­THING, BUT YOU’D BET­TER DE­LIVER ON HER WISHES FIRST— OR SOME­TIME SOON AF­TER SHE DIS­COV­ERS YOU SPENT MORE MONEY ON YOUR RIDE."

time to ap­point the car a name, and that’s when they came up with “First Lady.” “My hus­band came up with the name ‘First Lady’ be­cause I am his first lady and it is also the ti­tle of one of our fa­vorite funk songs.”

It’s been a minute since the Bel

Air has been com­pleted and since then the Ca­mare­nas have been road trip­pin’ in and out of the state. It’s given them an op­por­tu­nity to make this project car a fam­ily af­fair, and while they’ve got plenty of mem­o­ries to cherish, one of the most iconic had to have been when Cyn­thia used her car in the home­com­ing pa­rade to cel­e­brate her daugh­ter Idalis be­com­ing Home­com­ing Queen in 2016.

The '57 Chevro­let was called by some the "Baby Cadil­lac" be­cause of many sim­i­lar styling cues to Cadil­lacs of that time.

This au­to­mo­bile icon has been used in toys, graph­ics, mu­sic, movies, and tele­vi­sion like no other car im­age.

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