The lowrider hobby began in California during the 20th century and defined a car guy culture with strong Chicano overtones.

The Mexican community is a major component of southern California’s population and inspired its car guys to customize their vehicles by lowering them closer to the ground.

Jim Sutherland

The original lowrider cars inspired many traffic cops to issue tickets to their owners because their lowered stance violated ride height statutes and became a ticket waiting to happen until the debut of hydraulic and air suspensions that raised the lowrider back to a legal height at the flick of a switch.

The most popular vehicle choice for lowrider enthusiasts is the Chevy Impala, a popular domestic car that was a solid base for a custom build.

A 1959 Chevy Impala 2-door hardtop lowrider caught our attention last summer when it arrived with other classic lowriders at a major car show. However, the car was held in a city in British Columbia, Canada’s Okanagan region and the slammed ’59 Impala’s owner was neither Mexican nor American.

Instead, he was a young Canadian car guy named Dave Obrand who was always a big fan of the classic lowrider style and its most popular model, namely the Chevy Impala.  

The 1959 Chevy Impala is arguably one of the most outlandish cars ever built by General Motors and looked like a custom ride straight out of the factory, a style design that attracted Dave to the ’59 Impalas in a big way. Dave told MyStarCollectorCar “I love fins and wings”, particularly the unique horizontal fins on a 1959 Impala, referred to as “bat wings” by many car guys.

In fact, Dave has owned five of them (1959 Impalas) in total because he loves the cars that much, including his lowrider that Dave bought in California and brought back to his Okanagan home.

Dave’s Impala still has its original 348 cubic inch engine, but the car’s original 2-speed automatic tranny has been replaced by a 700R4 transmission that has an overdrive gear to drop the RPMs on the car.

GM is famous for making powertrain swaps easier than other domestic car builders, so the compatibility factor is a big reason for car guys to use their engines and trannies in a resto mod build, even a subtle swap like a transmission upgrade.

The Impala has a few other changes, including stylish fender skirts that are blinged-out and are period-correct, enhancing the car’s old school cool custom style. Another unique feature is the rear window blind in the ’59 Impala, a retro custom add-on that really looks at home on the car. 

The net result is a cool California lowrider that found its way to Canada and is now owned by a young car guy from BC who thoroughly enjoys his latest ’59 Chevy Impala. The fact he lives in the Okanagan region, an area known for its moderate climate (by Canadian standards), means Dave can “drive his car right into November”, in his words.

The car may be a long way from California, but it has the right owner in Canada.  

Jim Sutherland

BY: Jim Sutherland

Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.