Building A Legend: Matt Martinez’ Tri-Five Of The Year


The pictures of this car do not do it justice, and the fact that it was chosen as Tri-Five of the Year at the Tri-Five Nationals is proof of the car’s quality.

What’s dipped in three layers of black, has enough horsepower to make a true street brawler, and can stop even the most seasoned car show judge in his track? That would be Matt Martinez’ ghorgeous, Black ’55 Chevy. “I wanted something that looks good now and will look good a long time from now. I didn’t want anything to look like cars that are already out there,” said Matt.

This mile-deep black beauty was assembled thanks to a combination of fortuitous timing, a lot of help from friends and family, top-quality products, and a lot of hard work. The body was discovered close to home, “I ended up finding what I never thought possible,” Matt says. “A guy had a solid body on a body cart, with no chassis or running gear. I was pretty excited.”


Matt kept the bling to a minimum. The engine features a vintage-style air cleaner and ’57 Chevy script valve covers on adapters from Delmo’s Speed. Hedman Hedders and a Concept One front runner system were also added.

A friend happened to locate a used LS3 engine and six-speed transmission, which was taken to Turnkey Engine Supply for a refresh including MAHLE 10.7:1 pistons, a Comp Cams stick, and Holley Terminator EFI assembly with a single-plane intake. The horsepower jumped from 430 to 540.

The body was not overly modified, but does feature shaving of the door locks and a restyling of the bumperettes. The bodywork and paint was handled by Steve Sheats Sr. and Jr. at True Colors Customs.


When it came time to tackle the interior, the car was taken to Mark Lopez at Elegance Auto Interiors in Upland, California, for a complete leather treatment. Lopez modified seats from a 1962 Impala, and then created a custom console. The dash was fitted with gauges from Redline Gauge Works. Lopez’ shop-neighbor, Carlos Rodriguez, added a premium sound system, neatly tucked out of sight and controlled by a stock-appearing radio.

Handling the steering inputs is an ididit column. “We were really impressed by Matt’s dedication to this build, and his hard work is obvious when you see how beautiful this Chevy turned out,” Marty Waterstraut of ididit said. “A big part of ididit’s success has always been supporting grassroots builders who use and test our products on the projects they are passionate about, and Matt’s Chevy is the perfect example of hard work and commitment resulting in a truly incredible build. With the interior accouterments finished, the car returned home for Matt to finish.

tri five

An ecstatic Matt Martinez as he accepts the Tri-Five of the Year award.

Matt says that his son, Alek, even got in on the act, helping with much of the chassis assembly, installing the windows, and polishing countless stainless steel hardware pieces. The two worked side-by-side in their home garage in their spare time, only farming out things they couldn’t do themselves.

About the author

Randy Bolig

Randy Bolig has been working on cars, and involved in the hobby ever since he bought his first car when he was only 14 years old. His passion got him noticed by many locals, and he began to help them with their own vehicles.
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