Story: Evan “Evo” Yates
Photography: Will Stern
When referring to classic cars, the term “original” represents diverse ideologies to different people. Some say that an original old-school should literally not be touched at all, sitting as it would have on the dealership floor decades ago. Others subscribe to the notion that as long as the original parts are retained—no matter how custom—then the vehicle is original. And while the definition is unambiguous on the auction block at Barrett Jackson, down in the land of prismatic paint and flamboyant fiberglass, the term is perceived a bit different.
When this 1973 Caprice convertible was entrusted to local builder Alex “Chino” Perez of Miami Gardens, Florida, the car was undeniably original—bone stock with extremely low mileage. “When he brought the car to me, it was burgundy with a white interior, white top and 7,000 original miles,” explains Chino. “Nothing had been touched and the car didn’t need anything.” As Chino explains, when the Caprice’s owner delivered the car, he had hopes of making a legit run in the heavily saturated South Florida Donk game. Chino continues, “He wanted everything close to original, just with lots of chrome and candy.”
Needless to say, if any single aspect can make or break a Donk, especially in South Florida, it’s the paint, so extra attention was paid to the process. Ricardo and Mario of Miami Hialeah Paint (MHP) were enlisted to tackle the project, taking the car’s owner’s ideas to the next level. “He just wanted root beer, but the painter talked him into the orange fade, and when he saw it he fell in love,” says Chino. “You don’t see too many cars with that type of tone to it.” In fact he’s right: The unique and flawless transition from burnt orange to root beer brown gives the vibrant ’vert a glow unlike any other Donk. To match the exterior, the guts received an O.G. brown tweed makeover by the famous Joey from Classic Upholstery in Medley. “It’s a clean look and the tweed is easy to work with, and the owner specifically requested tweed,” says Chino.
The drive train and suspension, which are Chino’s specialty, were also kept original in terms of numbers-matching equipment, even though they received their fair share of upgrades. Chino removed various suspension parts—such as the control arms, springs and a few steering components—and had them chromed. Chino also added larger Baer brakes painted to match the car, and he upgraded the rotors, as well. Under the hood, Chino refreshed the factory 400 small-block, upgrading it to a 406 and converting it to a roller motor with a roller cam and roller rockers, aluminum Edelbrock heads and a Holley 750 cfm double-pump carburetor. “That thing will move, and you can still drive it every day with the A/C on,” proclaims Chino. To complete the package, a set of 26-inch Forgiato GTR wheels were added, a wheel never seen on a Donk at the time. “It’s a good wheel because it’s open, so you can see all the suspension and brakes really well,” says Chino. Now that the car has been on the street for almost a year, it’s proven time and time again that it’s worthy of the boulevard and the podium.
Spec The Technique:
Year/Make/Model: 1973 Chevrolet Caprice convertible
Performance: 406 small-block roller motor; roller cam; rebuilt and upgraded 350 transmission; 3000 stall converter; aluminum Edelbrock heads; Holley 750 CFM double-pump carburetor; MSD ignition; Moser Engineering axles; narrowed rear end
Exterior: House of Kolor Kandy Orange paint with root beer fade; billet grille with Forgiato emblem; chrome suspension and header panel; brown top
Interior: Brown tweed interior; custom center console; billet steering wheel
Ice: Four MMATS Procast Series P3.0 15-inch subwoofers, M3000.05D amplifier; eight Beyma Pro Neo 6-inch speakers, four AST 05 tweeters; Pioneer AVH-P4400BH head unit; two Alpine PDX-F4 amplifiers; Audio Control 6XS electronic crossover; Dakota Digital dash and LED taillights
Wheels/Tires: 26-inch staggered Forgiato GTR wheels; Pirelli tires, 275/25/26