Fi­nal Score

EN­GI­NEERED BY DE­SIGN

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

Chris Roark's '58 Chevy Im­pala con­vert­ible

Most are en­am­ored by the glitz and glam­our of own­ing an award-win­ning show car, but very few un­der­stand or even think about the sac­ri­fices it takes to get there. There’s the sleep­less nights, the ar­gu­ments, the tight bud­gets, the ris­ing prices, the list goes on and on. In re­al­ity, build­ing a lowrider is a rit­ual and right of pas­sage in it­self. It’s the process that builds friend­ships, and the pains that build char­ac­ter, and be­cause of that it makes lowrid­ing so much more than just per­sonal.

Our lowrid­ers be­come a part of the fam­ily. They are keep­sakes to be handed from one gen­er­a­tion to the next. But imag­ine hav­ing your beloved lowrider vi­o­lently taken away from you in a split sec­ond. Now imag­ine be­ing wit­ness to it. This is what hap­pened to Chris Roark, and in re­sponse he turned a ma­jor set­back into a pay­back.

The name Chris Roark echoes in the world of lowrid­ing. Known for build­ing award-win­ning—and highly con­tro­ver­sial—cars he’s def­i­nitely no one-hit won­der; his record speaks for it­self. Among the ve­hi­cles in his small fleet is a sil­ver '57 Bel Air con­vert­ible (Sil­ver Legacy) that took Orig­i­nal of the Year, a black '58 Im­pala hard­top (Dark Side) that was three-time Tra­di­tional of the Year, and of course the aqua blue '58 Im­pala hard­top (Per­fect Score) that won Lowrider of the Year three con­sec­u­tive years.

You see, while on his way back home af­ter win­ning his third ti­tle for Lowrider of the Year he was in­volved

in an ac­ci­dent, and as a re­sult Per­fect Score was to­taled. The years of hard work, money, and pa­tience were gone in a split sec­ond and he was at a loss for words. But not all tragedy ends in fail­ure, and Chris is proof of that. Shortly af­ter the loss, Chris de­cided that the best form of ther­apy was to go out and build yet an­other car, but not just any car. He wanted one that would re­place Per­fect Score, which is when he de­cided to pull the cov­ers off of a '58 Im­pala he had pur­chased and left to sit some 20 years ago.

“When I set out to build it, I wasn’t look­ing to build it to com­pete with any­one other than my­self,” Chris ex­plains. To be­gin with the car was in sham­bles. It needed a full restora­tion and the floors were rot­ted, so af­ter break­ing the car down they started on the frame, which he had molded with en­graved inserts. All the sup­ports were re­lo­cated from the bot­tom of the frame and moved up top. The orig­i­nal axle was molded with the pump­kin from a '62 Corvette, the frame was candy painted and pat­terned, while An­gelo Maisano was called in to stripe the frame. Tubu­lar A-arms and wish­bone were then in­stalled, along with disc brakes. Once the cus­tom alu­minum gas tank was in­stalled they moved onto the en­gine com­part­ment where an all-alu­minum LS1 and trans­mis­sion from a Corvette were in­stalled. Sev­eral af­ter­mar­ket parts were added to the en­gine, but what re­ally stands out is the cus­tom-built Y-pipe cold-air in­take.

With the un­der­car­riage and en­gine built at C&C Cus­toms, the body was sent out to Matt Seret for the met­al­work. When the met­al­work was done, it came back to C&C where they be­gan adding mod­i­fi­ca­tions, such as a one-off grille, sin­gle piece front bumper with frenched in li­cense plate, mold­ing the con­ti­nen­tal kit to the rear bumper, shaved door han­dles/cowl/ em­blems—and that’s just a start. The car then left C&C to go to Tekni Kolor Kus­toms. It was there that Tommy and Gil fin­ished off the body­work and

prepped it for Steve San­tos who made a cus­tom candy mix with sun­shine gold and pa­gan gold can­dies that he laid all over the car. He then laid out mul­ti­color pat­terns that ran from the body and in­ter­con­nected with fire­wall, dash, cen­ter con­sole, door­jambs, door pan­els, and trunk. Strip­ing was then laid out by Rory and Ar­mando Ser­rano. Sammy De Leon was brought in for his air­brush­ing skills. De Leon added mu­rals on both sides of the con­ti­nen­tal kit, un­der the hood, un­der the trun­k­lid, in­side the fender walls, and on the back of the front seats. He also added the leaf­ing to the car and paint to mul­ti­ple parts in the en­gine, un­der­car­riage, and trunk com­part­ment. C&C then built a one-off, four­pump setup that had 92 cus­tom-made pieces. ABC Uphol­stery paid them a visit to wrap the '67 Buick Riv­iera seats they are us­ing in fine leather with dyed alligator inserts. All the en­graved parts

were sent out to Her­nan D’Aloia for the fi­nal touch.

In all, the build process took four years and that’s when it re­ceived its moniker “Fi­nal Score.” Since then, Mr. Roark has proven once again that he's no fluke—es­pe­cially when one con­sid­ers that he just re­cently came home with his third con­sec­u­tive Lowrider of the Year for Fi­nal Score.

As the in­ter­view came to a close, I couldn’t help but think of what he’s amassed. In to­tal, Chris has won 10 sweep­stakes ti­tles in three dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories and mul­ti­ple Sec­ond and Third Places with other ve­hi­cles, so I just had to ask if be­ing com­pet­i­tive was in his na­ture, and al­most im­me­di­ately he replied with, “I don’t see my­self as com­pet­i­tive. I am al­ways look­ing to im­prove and outdo my­self. I’m an en­gi­neer, so when I vi­su­al­ize some­thing, I cre­ate a game plan for it, a de­sign, and then cre­ate it. That gives me the abil­ity to not have to rely on much out­sourc­ing and I can cre­ate most of my vi­sion in-house.”

So, will there ever be a fifth ti­tle­con­tend­ing car for Roark? I guess only time will tell. In what could be the most ap­pro­pri­ate end­ing for this story, I’ll leave you with the words of for­mer Dodger Mike Mar­shall when he said: “Vic­tory is in the qual­ity of the com­pe­ti­tion, not just the fi­nal score.”

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