When you're young, it seems that inspiration lurks around every corner. While growing up in Hackensack, New Jersey, it wasn't long 'til Lou Cinque discovered the neighborhood delicatessen had a magazine rack chock full of neat "little books."
It was the early '50s and custom cars were starting to pop up everywhere in print. Fast becoming friends with the owner of the shop, he often let Lou hang out on the stoop and read for hours without spending a dime. This was a time when The Cadillacs and The Platters ruled the airwaves, and the Barris brothers were feeding the bonfire that was lurking in young Lou's mind. Barely into his teens, Lou had already received a calling that would last him a lifetime and he wasted no time following its lead.
By the time he was 17 years old, he had already completed building his first full custom. He drew from obvious West Coast influences when he designed and built a chopped '50 Ford convertible complete with a Carson-styled top and a detailed Cadillac V-8. At the same time Lou was also deep into hot rods and drag racing his '32 Ford coupe at locally-sanctioned NHRA events (he earned his NHRA license in '57). He got the call in '59 to serve a stint in the Army and was stationed in Germany for a few years, and when he returned home, he wasted no time in stepping right back into the custom world.
It was the early '60s and Lou's creative side was kept plenty busy as he worked with a few friends doing custom work out of a local home garage. The long hours spent in the garage wasn't for the love of money ('cuz they did it for free!), it was simply for the passion of customizing. When a local car owner brought his '49 Ford coupe in for some updating, it wasn't long 'til the torches were lit. Being no stranger to restyling, Lou set forth with the guys to create a radical look for the coupe by sectioning it 7 inches and channeling it 3 inches. This dramatically altered the aspect of the car and gave it a fresh appearance that wasn't the norm on the local streets. When the car left the shop it was on a path to becoming a radical custom, but for some unknown reason the owner sold it. Lou never forgot the adrenalin rush the car's looks gave him.
Fast forward to the mid '80s. Lou always wondered what might have happened to the car and, after a long search, he came across it once again. It was still in Jersey and, surprisingly, in identical condition as when he worked on it 20 years prior. Following his instincts, he bought the car and focused on where he had left off.
Working with Phil's Auto Service in Little Ferry, New Jersey, he located a complete '85 Chevy Monte Carlo chassis which would serve as a base for the car. Lou and the team at Phil's tweaked the chassis to fit the '49's body and set out to refurbish all of its underpinnings including the front and rear suspension. When it came time to breathe new life into the tired 350ci V-8 nailed to the 'rails, the engine was given a fresh rebuild, coated in plenty of liquid purple, and topped with loads of brilliant chrome accessories. Linked to a TH400 working through a custom driveshaft ensured plenty of power was on tap for those long highway cruises. To make sure the car would have a neat signature rumble, the team then added a custom-fabbed exhaust from 2 1/2-inch steel tubing combined with Sanderson block-hugger headers and Flowmaster mufflers to complete the deal. At this point you'd think Lou was ready to crank away on the body to wrap up the car, but for some reason, he sold it. You could say "third time's the charm" when Lou found the car once again, still in Jersey in the late '90s, and bought it back for the final time.