Rick "Rock" Burell's '59 Chevy Im­pala

Low Rider - - CONTENTS -

As the owner of Low Life Hy­draulics, Rick Burell is a purist at heart and a sta­ple of the lowrider com­mu­nity. For the past 25 years he’s wrenched on some of L.A.’s finest rides—many of them be­ing his own. Aside from his shop, Rick is per­haps best known for his '63 Im­pala that he named after fa­mous Dutch painter van Gogh.

The '63 rag was clean. Fin­ished in dark blue with ghost pearl pat­terns, the Im­pala landed Rick a 2011 fea­ture in Lowrider. No stranger to the spot­light, that very same car had ac­tu­ally been fea­tured in 2002, prior to its trans­for­ma­tion to “Van Gogh.” Yet it still wasn’t enough. After build­ing multiple mag­a­zine-wor­thy cars one would think he’d be tired, but ask any painter or art col­lec­tor if one piece is enough and they’ll gladly tell you no, which is why he broke out with this '59 he calls “Pi­casso.”

Know­ing that his next can­vas would be a '59, Rick thought he had a solid lead. His friend in San Diego had a con­vert­ible one but after failed ne­go­ti­a­tion it was clear that he just wasn’t go­ing to let it go, but in pass­ing Rick was of­fered a '59 hard­top. Anx­ious, and de­ter­mined to get him­self a pair of wings, Rick made a ver­bal agree­ment to pick it up sight un­seen. Once he ar­rived the car wasn’t in the con­di­tion he ex­pected. It was dis­as­sem­bled, the body showed heavy signs of weather­ing, but the fact re­mained that he had already given his word so he had ev­ery


in­ten­tion of keep­ing it.

With the deal done and the car back home he’d shuf­fle through all the pieces of the puz­zle. One part to the next he’d or­ga­nize them neatly, and at one point dur­ing the te­dious process he even con­sid­ered ditch­ing the project to start on a '57 Bel Air con­vert­ible he had sit­ting. But the al­lure of work­ing on a hard­top was some­thing dif­fer­ent for him. Rick had already spent most of his life work­ing on con­vert­ibles and couldn’t wait to pat­tern the hard­top, so he car­ried on with his orig­i­nal plans. “I have an in­fat­u­a­tion with pat­terned tops,” Rick says. “A lot of my pre­de­ces­sors, like Charles Clay­ton and G of Ma­jes­tics, had '59s with roof pat­terns by Doc, and now it was my time.”

In­tent on get­ting pat­terns by

Doc, he reached out to him and

Doc agreed. The only prob­lem was

the car needed plenty of prep work be­fore be­ing dropped off. To be­gin he had Jorge Robles prep the body and spray it with a candy tan­ger­ine paintjob. As the car slowly came to­gether it took a to­tal of two years be­fore it was ready for Doc, but by the time he was ready Doc had fallen ill, so he reached out to Skippy, who in turn did the pat­terns. In­spired by Chris El­li­man art, Rick Munoz air­brushed the mu­rals in­side the molded trunk and hood, and once com­plete he had a 350 dropped in while Ben Me­dian whipped up the in­te­rior.

In com­pleted form, the Im­pala looks more like a piece of lowrid­ing his­tory than it does a week­end cruiser. Its flaw­less lines and pris­tine

paint would make most tuck it away in the garage, but not Rick.

His phi­los­o­phy is that art should be shared, ex­pe­ri­enced, and en­joyed. He summed it up best when he said, “Who wants an ex­pen­sive toy that you can’t play with? Not me. I’d rather get in and en­joy it be­cause se­ri­ously why keep it in a trailer when you can let other peo­ple ad­mire it as well?”

This is Show Time ...

Rick Burell has al­ways show­cased metal rolling can­vases of art.

Art is a lie that makes us re­al­ize the truth.

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