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Car craftsmanship highlights local creativity

By Jessica Priest
May 7, 2014 at 12:07 a.m.

Calvin Greathouse primarily takes his 2005 Lincoln Aviator out for weekends and car shows. He will be driving the vehicle, which features hydraulics, televisions and Lamborghini or "Lambo" doors, in the May 17 Art Car Victoria parade.

When Jay Perez drops his four children off at school in Port Lavaca, you'll most likely hear and see him coming.

The 33-year-old cranks up the volume while out and about in his lowrider, a 1993 Chevrolet Suburban.

With an eye-popping orange and white paint job, seven TVs and a hydraulic system to boot, it's affectionately dubbed Orange Crush.

You'll find Perez family members on the weekends washing and shining it up, and May 17, they'll be strolling through downtown Victoria at the third annual Art Car Victoria Parade.

"This is something I really take pride in," said Perez, who works as a supervisor for the Port Lavaca Housing Authority. "It's no trailer queen. ... You've got some people who put so much money in these vehicles they're afraid to put them out on the road. I figure, why build it if you're not going to drive it?"

About 53 cars from all over the U.S. will embark on a route that starts at the Victoria Public Library, winds down to Church Street, takes a right on Bridge Street and ends near the Nave Museum, 306 W. Commercial St.

That's when residents can wander through an exhibit by New York-based artist Irv Tepper.

The Manhattan Art Program will also set up tables for kids outside to hone their creativity, affixing baubles to miniature cars, said organizer Magdalena Kuykendall.

"Oh, they love it. Are you kidding me?" Kuykendall said, chuckling. "They can glue on macaroni, a bean or a blade of grass. ... It puts a big smile on their face when they see a big, old, crazy art car that's not something they see every day."

Some art cars will be returning favorites, such as a large rabbit that sits across from the Harley-Davidson dealership on Moody Street or the Longhorn Limousine. Houston will be wrapping up its art car parade, so some who participate in that event drive or have their art car brought in on a tractor-trailer to delight those in Victoria, Kuykendall said.

Calvin Greathouse has wowed crowds with the Blue Gator, a 2005 Lincoln Aviator he built six years ago.

It has 10 TVs inside, rims that jet out, a hydraulic system and a bright blue paint job that shines in the sun.

Greathouse, 45, works as a self-taught mechanic in a shop just outside his Victoria home. Working on a car requires problem-solving skills, which he enjoys.

"I have a lot of returning customers or people that I try to help out. I don't charge that much," he said.

Greathouse's latest project is a 1965 Impala, but like the Blue Gator, he doesn't know where he's going with it yet.

"I didn't really start that out as an art car, but then, I got so many crazy designs on it that Maggie (Kuykendall) really liked it," Greathouse said, chuckling.

He's been participating in the parade since day one.

"I like doing stuff for Victoria," he said.

Perez, who is president of the South Texas chapter of the Strictly Business Car Club, said this event gives kids something to strive for.

"When my oldest son brings in his A's and B's, he gets parts for his vehicle and his bicycle," Perez said. "Kids see gangs and street life, but if we show them something positive to do with their time, it'll help them out in the long run."



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