Tats Gotanda's 1959 Chevrolet

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The Buddha Buggy at Mickey Thompson's The World of Speed at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, December 1962. Note the "For Sale" sign next to the car.[1]
Another photo from Mickey Thompson's The World of Speed in 1962
Custom by Paint - Made in Bellflower - A tribute to traditional custom cars of the 1950s. Bodywork by Barris. Paint by Larry Watson. Lifts by Bill Hines. Long live Kustomland! Price: $19.99 - Check availability on Amazon.om.
Bill Hines painting the restored version of the Buddha Buggy
The Buddah Buggy at the 2008 Grand National Roadster Show. Photo by Howard Gribble

1959 Chevrolet Impala restyled by Bill Hines for Tats Gotanda of Los Angeles . Tat's Impala is also known as the "Buddah Buggy". Bill Hines restyled the car by placing scoops in the rear quarter panels and at the sides of the headlights. He also added the stiffener ribs atop the front fenders. Perforated metal was used in all scoops to give finished appearance. The left rear quarter panel features sunken twin antennae. Lakes pipes emerge from the tunnels in the lower rocker panels. The grille was from a 1959 Imperial backed by plated tubes, obscuring the view directly into the ducts. Split bumpers were used front and rear. Once completed, the car's limited yet perfect metalwork was painted Candy Blue over a white pearl base coat on the main fuselage and powder blue Metalflake was applied to the canopy.

November 16 - 23, 1961, the Buddah Buggy was shown at the 2nd annual Tridents Rod and Custo-Rama at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California. In the souvenir program from the show, Tats Impala is listed as a semi custom owned by "Tats Galanda".[2] After meeting Ron Aguirre and his X-Sonic Bubble Top Corvette, Bill got inspired and installed a full hydraulic lift system on Tats' Impala. Tats' car could be raised and lowered 8 1/2 inches. Chrome shields were made for the wheel wells to look good in high positions. The wire wheels were from a Buick Skylark. This car may have been the second low rider, the first being the Aguirres' X-Sonic. The X-Sonic was also shown at the 2nd annual Tridents Rod and Custo-Rama, so chances are that this was where Bill saw the X-Sonic.

In the souvenir program for the Tridents Rod and Custo-Rama, Tats' Impala is shown with a more traditional interior. Sometime after this Eddie Martinez upholstered the car in blue frieze and white pearl Naugahyde. The carpets were done in fur. The rear seat was contoured to match the front swivel seats. The interior also featured luxuries such as a TV, a hi-fi stereo system and a telephone. Plastic door and dashboard knobs were made by Bob Hirohata. A Pontiac steering wheel topped the column.

The stock engine was retained, but it was equipped with a Duntov cam and an Edelbrock manifold supporting a pair of four-barrel carburetors.

In the 60's the car was sold to a school teacher who drove it for a while before he decided to park it. Around 2004 the car was dug out and brought back to Bill Hines for a full restoration.

Magazine Features

Spotlite Book 534 Custom Headlights & Fenders
Car Craft February 1964


  1. The HAMB - Vintage Hot Rod Shows....picture thread
  2. Tridents Rod and Custo-Rama 1961 Souvenir Program


Bill Hines MySpace Page
Rik Hoving Custom Car Photo Archive
The HAMB - Lost Custom Found! with pix!
Howard Briggle's pictures from the 2008 Grand National Roadster Show


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