Those who grew up in the '50s and '60s will tell you that they built hot rods to go fast, and crafted customs to attract the ladies. Times may have changed, but a recent poll seems to indicate that women still prefer the long, smooth lines and comfy cabin of a custom to the loud pipes and cramped quarters of a rod.
At least that's the case for Alisa Potestio, the only woman we surveyed. Alisa's husband Eddie is an upholstery guru, car builder, and owner of Eddie's Rods and Customs in Pueblo West, Colorado. When he told Alisa that he'd let her pick the next shop project, she immediately knew she wanted something custom-oriented. After seeing a friend's '66 Caprice she narrowed her focus on what that car should be.
A nationwide search for the perfect starter vehicle led Alisa and Eddie right back to Pueblo, where a "good from far, but far from good" Caprice was found and purchased. John "Large" Largent then whipped up concept art for the project, kicking off a whirlwind eight-month buildup to get the car ready for its debut at the 2002 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas.
Despite the short schedule, Eddie and Alisa didn't cut any corners. They separated body from chassis, had the frame blasted and coated by Sentry Powdercoating in Canon City, then set to work assembling the suspension using Energy Suspension bushings and a Ride Pro airspring system from Air Ride Technologies. Master Power disc brakes--complete with drilled and slotted rotors--found their way onto all four corners, along with 17x8 Colorado Custom Slotted Slater wheels and BFGoodrich rubber. Meanwhile, Performance Associates was busy rebuilding the '86 TPI engine and mating it to the original Turbo 400 automatic. A Fluidyne radiator and MagnaFlow exhaust also made it onto the chassis before all was said and done.
The Caprice's crisp, clean lines were what attracted Alisa in the first place, so there was little reason to radically alter them. The biggest change was recessing the headlights a few inches and adding a one-off grille from Carriage Works. Thurman's Paint and Body then removed the door handles and excess trim, filled the cowl vents, and repaired rust and damage with patch panels from Classic Industries. D&S Paint Center mixed up the striking PPG paint--a custom hue that Eddie and Alisa call Huntress Orange in reference to the car's new moniker.
Eddie's primary business is upholstery, so it's no wonder he pulled out all the stops when it came to the Caprice's cabin and trunk. Starting with a quartet of bucket seats from Interior Supply and Service, Eddie custom crafted just about everything else, including the full-length console, door panels, and dash extension. All of it was covered in chamois-colored UltraLeather and wheat-colored UltraSuede, with Palomino wool carpet laid below. Body-matched paint added some contrast to the dash, along with Auto Meter gauges and a Colorado Custom steering wheel. Painless Wiring supplies juice to the many accessories, including the Hot Rod Air climate controls and killer sound system (Pioneer stereo, Kicker amps and subs, Infiniti speakers) built by Al's Creative Auto Sound. The entire interior was insulated using materials from Bonded Logic, the company that also provided the car's display space at SEMA.
Alisa's Caprice made the indoor show rounds before hitting the street in the summer of 2003. Needless to say, she's thrilled with it. "I love the look--the custom-mixed color, the beautiful interior, and the fact that I had a huge part in the design and building of it," Alisa said. That's great, but we're curious to know whether cool threads and stunning paint can attract guys in 2004 as well as they lured girls in the '60s. Hmm...we may have just answered that question ourselves!