Much talk between Billy and Chapouris ensued as the pair figured out exactly how the scallop paintjob would be finished. After deciding on gold highlights that would follow most of the car's major bodylines, DR Design's Dennis Ricklefs laid out the tape and filled everything in with House of Kolors Zenith Gold.

It was determined the interior of the 'Bird would have just as much impact as the exterior, so Gabe's Street Rod and Custom Interiors got the call to begin working on the highly modified factory seats and adding black and gold Ultra Leather to the buckets. SO-CAL's Evin Veazie modified the stock wiring loom and Dynamat insulation was used throughout, as was square-weave carpet.

The dash is stock, except for a simple but effective stereo system, created by Alan Hickman at Audio Shoppe in Riverside, California. When looking at the dash, you see the factory radio in its stock spot, but it's just a facade. Upon opening the ashtray, there is a plug-in device for Billy's iPod nano, which is a fifth-generation unit from Apple that includes an internal FM tuner to go along with the hours of music he's downloaded to his iPod.

A pre-amp is located in the glovebox that also has the tone and fade controls. The system then runs to two Arc Audio amps-one to drive the four Arc Audio high speakers (two 5-1/4-inchers up front and two 4-inchers in the rear) and the other for the twin 8-inch Arc Audio subwoofers found in a special-made (16 hours!) fiberglass enclosure. Hickman explains: "It isn't a thumper type of stereo system, but it delivers more performance-per-dollar than other systems."

The engine, an all-stock 352, was detailed and dressed up with a set of chrome valve covers and air cleaner, but is otherwise your basic Ford V-8 connected to a factory Ford-O-Matic transmission.

Once the low-slung Thunderbird was finished, it was time for a debut, and the car was shipped to the Moon Eyes show in Japan, and then formally unveiled in the United States at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. As Chapouris explains: "The Mexican Blackbird demonstrates what customizers have known for years. With the right platform it doesn't take much more than paint, upholstery, a good wheel combination, and slamming it to the ground to have the baddest ride in the valley."

We couldn't agree more.