THE NOVITIATE

Hot Rod|May 2020

THE NOVITIATE
For a First-Time Build, This Camaro Sets a High Bar
John McGann

“He just wanted a nice driver, but that didn’t happen.” Obviously not. That is the reaction to anyone who hears that explanation while in the presence of the Camaro that Jesus Lopez just built. “It was supposed to be a simple build, but it escalated from there,” he offered as a way to justify how a relatively simple refresh turned into an 18-month endeavor that both exceeded the original budget, and also exceeded the expectations of Jesus and the owner of the Camaro, who is a long-time friend of the family.

For Jesus Lopez, this is his first start-to-finish build of a car, and the first for his fledgling business, Lopez Customs. He’s no stranger to the industry, however, being the son of Gabriel Lopez, owner of Gabe’s Custom Interiors, the go-to interior shop for dozens of high-end show cars. He grew up in the shop, steeped in tradition, with gasoline in his veins and work ethic tighter than the stitching he and his dad lay down on a daily basis in their San Bernardino, California shop.

Being a young builder, it is helpful that Jesus is so well plugged in to the industry through his family’s connections. Gabe’s has appeared in a number of episodes of American Hot Rod, they do the upholstery for many of Pure Vision’s car builds, and they’ve recently collaborated with SpeedKore, designing the interiors for their recent cars. His family’s deep Rolodex helped open some powerful doors for this young builder when the scope of the build took a hard right from “nice driver”.

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May 2020