Richard Mikami's 1961 Chevrolet
1961 Chevrolet Impala owned by Richard "Froggy" Mikami of Gardena, California. Richard's family moved to Gardena in 1959. Richard started high school in 1960, and in 2016 he told Kustomrama that Gardena had a strong custom car culture at the time; "I grew up looking at dropped 59 Impalas with scavenger pipes, Bonnevilles with scalloped paint jobs, and Oldsmobiles with Candy paint jobs."
Paint by Andersen
Most of the work on Richard's Impala was performed in 1964; "The Black Naugahyde tuck and roll was done first. It was done by Russ and Bess in Compton. Joe Andersen was in Gardena, and he had a special on Pearl paint jobs. Not knowing the exact date, I think it was 1964 that Joe painted my car, Tangerine Orange Pearl, with Candy highlights at his Joe Andersen's Custom Shop. Unfortunately the Candy highlight effect is not visible in photos. The 1959 Imperial grill happened to come by my brother before it was passed on to me. I remember holding the grill up to the front of the Impala and thinking, how kool this would look. I installed the grill a little later after receiving it. The car now had teeth, and a kustom look that set it apart from other 61' Impalas."
Lifts by Hines
After Joe Andersen had give the car one of his Pearl paint jobs, Richard took the Impala to Bill Hines to have hydraulic lifts installed; "The 61' sat at Bill Hines more than a month, before I started going down to his shop every day and night till he completed the hydraulic lifts. The Adel pump was installed in front of the radiator, and the cylinder and hoses were run to the lower A frames. It was a neat and compact set up, that didn't require cutting. Except for the Adel pump, the hydraulic weren't visible from the engine compartment. The hoses were tucked up away from road hazards."
The Ant Killer
The Impala's only car show was the 1965 Tridents Rod Custom Autorama; "A friend of mine had the idea to name this car "The Ant Killer" because it was so low, it was killing ants. The Name stuck. At the Tridents Show, I had a artist vendor, make me up a poster with the credits for the build, and the name, "The Ant Killer". I placed the poster in front of the car. All the cars in the show were placed on the arena floor, my car was the third or forth car after coming down the escalator to the arena floor. This show was exceptional exciting, all the cars were customs, and most all the big name, painters, pinstripers, and custom car builders were there. Under the dash I installed a RCA Record player, and at the time, I especially liked a record titled, It's All Over Now, by the Valentinos. At the end of the show, I had run my single 12 Volt battery down and needed a jump start, to drive out of the show. After the the jump start the battery wasn't strong enough, for the hydraulics to raise the 61', and to exit the arena floor, there was a steep ramp up to reach street level "I had to go for it". I accelerated and when I reached the top of the ramp on exiting, the sparks from metal on concrete were flying from underneath "The Ant Killer" it must have been a spectacular sight, and by chance, there were any ants on that ramp the "Killer" would have done it's job."
- Richard Mikami
- Richard Mikami
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