Lowrider blends disparate parts into a harmonious whole
People encountering Mike Landry Jr.’s lowrider for the first time might suffer a little dissonance. On the one hand, it has the familiar sweeping, elliptical silhouette of 1950s American passenger car. But even with all the digits of the other hand, it’s impossible to put a finger on exactly what it is.
That’s because what it is is one of a kind.
“It’s a true custom, with a K,” said Landry, 36, who lives in La Marque, but was born and grew up in Galveston.
Landry’s lowrider project isn’t an act of automotive restoration, it’s an act of artistic creation.
“I want this to be perfect,” he said. “I want it to be unique. I want it to be a masterpiece.”
This work in progress began three years ago when Landry bought the body and frame of a 1950 Chevrolet Deluxe coup for $300.
Landry and a group of mechanically inclined friends have spent most evenings and weekends since then working on the car, he said.
He chopped the roof 3 inches in the front and 4 in the back, he said.
More significantly, he cut off the frame’s fore end and replaced it with the front-end clip from a 1980 Camaro.
The engine is a GM LS2 from a 2005 pickup truck, as is the automatic transmission. That’s driving a rear differential from a 1984 Monte Carlo SS, Landry said.
The suspension springs are gone, replaced by an air-ride system with which Landry can adjust the car’s stance on the fly. In true lowrider fashion, he can even set the whole thing on the ground.
“It’s like a parking break,” he said. It also keeps the car true to its 1950 “Kustom Tail Dragger” roots, he said.
It’s in the details that Landry’s creativity really shows. The front bumper is from a 1954 Chevy Bel Air; the back bumper from a 1955 Pontiac. The taillights are from a 1949 Buick Roadmaster; the headlights from a 1954 Ford. Landry fabricated the grill from a 1969 Camaro rear bumper.
Even the paint comes from afar. It’s “Candy Blue,” a factory shade Ford used on its 2004 Focus models.
It’s impossible not to hear Johnny Cash singing “One Piece at a Time” as Landry runs down the list of makes and models that have contributed something to his lowrider.
But while the protagonist in that old country tune created something surreal, discordant and misshapen, Landry’s quest is to blend many disparate elements into a sleek, harmonious whole.
“I love 1950s cars,” he said. “They’re the most beautiful. The design is classic and timeless and I want everything to fit into that style.”
Landry is keen about the look of the car, but he’s not building a trailer queen.
“I love to drive it,” he said. “I drive it every chance I get and it drives great. I drove it to Austin just the other day. I was out there cruising with the BMWs and everybody was waving.”