Tats Gotanda's 1959 Chevrolet Impala - The Buddha Buggy
1959 Chevrolet Impala restyled by Bill Hines for Tats Gotanda of Los Angeles . That Impala is also known as the "Buddha 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". 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 Buddha Buggy Damaged in a Deadly Fire
May 18, 2023, tragedy struck as a carport caught fire at Warren Loo's residence in Los Feliz, California. The fire claimed the life of Warren, damaging the Buddha Buggy and two other cars. According to Mitch Hines, the actual car didn't catch fire, "just the car cover that was on it."
Sold to the Hines Family Collection
- The HAMB - Vintage Hot Rod Shows....picture thread
- Tridents Rod and Custo-Rama 1961 Souvenir Program
- CBS Los Angeles - Body found after firefighters extinguish carport fire in Los Feliz
- Mitch Hines
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