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Elvis of Lowriders Gets 'Timeless' Tribute at Legends Auto Exhibit

Pablo Martinez spent 14 years and tens of thousands of dollars to make his 1964 Buick Regal an award winning lowrider. The car is now on display as part of the Lowrider Legends of San Diego exhibit.

When Gaspar Martinez passed away in 1998, dozens of lowriders from car clubs across San Diego were part of the funeral procession.

"You would have thought Elvis Presley passed away the day of the funeral. That's how many people and car clubs turned out," his brother Pablo said.

Gaspar, an original member of the Amigos Car Club, purchased the magenta candy colored car about two years before his death.

""He was a brother, a father, a friend to the whole family. It was four brothers and five sisters and he basically took care of all of us," Pablo said. "Before he actually passed away we started working on the bottom, cleaning it and trying to prep it for the paint, and then soon after that he got sick," he said.

Pablo inherited the car and spent 14 years adding chrome, a velvet interior, neon lights, lava lamps, an embroidered bumper and a whole lot more to the car now named "Timeless."

The car is one of about a dozen now on-display as part of the Lowrider Legends of San Diego exhibit at the San Diego Automotive Museum.

"Timeless," which has hydraulics and sits two to three inches off the ground, has won first place awards at car shows in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and at the San Diego Convention Center, Pablo said.

The car's interior is far beyond what Pablo or his brother envisioned, but modifications he had made to the car, Pablo said, are a tribute to this brother. The cross on the trunk and "38 TEARS" license plate were particularly done in Gaspar's memory.

"It means a lot to me. For my brother it means a whole lot, for me too, but more for my brother because, like I said, I really did all this for my brother. To have it in a museum is a really big accomplishment because this car has been in lowriding originally since the early 70s," Pablo said.

Someone suggested he name the car "Mass destruction," and that may have fit the car's bigger-than-life style, but that doesn't capture the car's real essence, Pablo said. That's not smooth enough.

The car is named Timeless and is considered a legend because it has been lowriding for decades and through multiple owners over the years it's always been a hit, Pablo said.

Other lowriders may look good, but they may also look stuck in a particular time period, Pablo said. "Timeless" has changed colors and had dozens of changes made to keep it looking current and keeps it value no matter how old it gets, he said.

Pablo said he felt pressure to keep it up to date and more than classic.

"It's always been an up to date car. It needs to be," Pablo said. "You want people to remember it."

"I had to keep up with the standards that my brother had and tradition, plus I had to do a car and make sure that it got the same type of attention it got back in 1985, 1976, 1973."

Pablo lives in Imperial Beach and is a member of the Imperials Car Club who often cruise in Chula Vista and other parts of South San Diego. The Lowrider Legends of San Diego exhibit, which includes several cars from South San Diego, will be on-display until June 6.

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