In the summer of 1990, four friends decided to start up a car club. Robby Quisol, along with his brother Sonny, and friends Bubba and Phillip, served as the founding members of this aptly named club. This name came easy to the four men, who all carried keys for the same make of automobile; the legendary Chevy Impala.
The Impalas Car Club was born, and the initial chapter was called Nor Cal to represent a broader area, even though all of the members were from San Jose. The club’s foundation was based on one common principle, a principle which it still adheres to today; every member must own an Impala. About two months into the venture, Phillip and his family moved to Colorado. This is about the time that Pete “Kiki” Rodriguez came into the fold. Kiki’s motivational skills and dedication served as a driving force behind the club’s success.
Rodriguez founded the Modesto chapter in the late 90s when he moved his family from San Jose to the Valley in favor of a better cost of living. Many other people followed suit during this time period, and the area bubbled with fellow Lowrider enthusiasts. Rodriguez, along with Tony “Bones” Torres and Martin Carranza, started a chapter that is now one of Impalas’ largest, with a membership upwards of 30 members.
“I remember going to my first meeting and not making it,” said Saul Cordova. “I blew my engine due to a careless mistake on my part, and I called Kiki to let him know what had happened. I told him I would probably be down for a while now and being in a car club without a car just didn’t seem right. The next day, he called me and told me to get a truck because he found an engine. The following weekend, we drove to San Jose to pick up a motor from another member, and my ride was up and running in a week. That was the turning point for me, and membership was not only mandatory, but also a no-brainer because of the help and love that was directed towards me by the family.”
Now with 20 years under the club’s collective belt, the founding members are in awe of what has transpired. Most of them only figured that the club would last a few years, before ultimately fading out as most things do with time. Thanks to the family bond that this club has, and the commitment of its members, fading away will never be an option for the Impalas. Family is the one thing that really bonds the club together, and Impalas works hard to ensure that this focus is never lost.
“The Impalas are also doing their part to help rid the stereotypes that plague all Lowriders in general,” said Cordovo. “That destructive stereotype that we’re all gang members or drug dealers, and that’s how we get the money to build our cars has haunted our culture for decades. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears that go into building a nice ride.”
The club also tries to do their part with local schools by helping to organize small car shows for the kids and their parents, as well as by holding fundraisers to raise money for school supplies. Donating turkeys at Thanksgiving, and giving toys to needy families during Christmas are tasks that this club also actively participates in.