1964 Buick Drop-Top Skylark
If you're into muscle cars, you've probably heard of Lou Santiago, ex-host of Spike TV's Muscle Cars TV show. He served as the resident builder/welder/fabricator for two years, and just recently returned to building cars on his own. Lou grew up with hot rod muscle cars all around him. A couple of guys on the block had earlier-model cars that he liked, but it wasn't the same. When he grew up in the late '60s, muscle cars were still pretty new and abundant. His first car was a '67 Impala SS396 with a four-speed. He may have been drawn to the midsize muscle, but the fullsize cars were selling for next to nothing after the pony car craze began. Lou says the car still rocked; the marriage of a big-block motor and a four-speed manual transmission spells fun.

Lou's been building cars ever since he could lift a tool, and he's once again returned to operating his shop. He works on just about any American car he can get a hold of, and that includes this 1964 Buick Skylark convertible for Sidney Johnson of Clarkesville, Tennessee. Sid owns a couple of GM dealerships and has a thing for drop-top Skylarks. He's had a couple in his days, but he wanted one purpose-built that's reliable, stylish, and safe for his grandkids.

The build started out simple enough; he asked Lou to build him a clean car using a set of wheels from Billet Specialties. These particular wheels were fairly large, so a larger brake rotor was necessary to fill them out. With the big brakes, you really should have the car handle well enough to use them, so the whole thing snowballed into a Pro Touring-style build.

Lou builds all of his cars with the same goals in mind: keep it simple and clean. He doesn't like anything to hang lower than the pinch weld along the rocker panel, because it's an eyesore and a ground clearance problem. Lou doesn't like to draw attention to the parts of the car that don't need to be highlighted-just the parts that do.