We know what you’re thinking. Surely that’s an impressive stat sheet, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary when compared to your typical high-end Pro Touring muscle car. While you’d be correct in your assessment, it takes actually spending some time cruising around in a Tri-Five in order to realize how they excel where the average muscle car falls short. In addition to the aforementioned front legroom, there are real backseats big enough for a real family with three Happy Meal–fed little ones. Even A-bodies don’t have that kind of real estate out back. The front occupants are treated to a dashboard and instrument panel layout that’s just so much cooler than anything from the muscle car era, with body-colored accent pieces, chrome inserts, an analog clock, real metal switch gear, and air vents that mimic jet engine nozzles. In comparison, Camaro and Nova interiors just seem vapid and utilitarian. Then there’s that view. With enormous panes of glass everywhere and those sweet wraparound windshields, the visibility is panoramic, and it’s one of the few instances in life where the view from the inside looking out is better than the view from the outside looking in.
Mac has built his share of street rods over the years, and as such, that same fastidious attention to detail that’s required for survival in the indoor show scene carries over into all of his creations. It takes a lot to impress Mac, but that’s exactly what happened when he least expected it. In an interesting twist of fate, Mac and his wife, Shelley, found the Tri-Five of their dreams while on vacation in California, and the car’s owner fell in love with a ’32 Ford Mac had just finished a few years prior. “The first time we saw the ‘Double Nickel Express,’ we were blown away by its engine, powertrain, interior, and overall appearance,” he says. “As things turned out, the owner of the ’55 had been lusting after our ’32 Ford. After a lot of haggling, we struck a deal. The ’32 roadster went to California, and the ’55 Chevy came home to Texas.”
Granted that the unique qualities Chevy engineered into the Tri-Five from the factory make them inherently cool rides, but a long list of subtle tweaks is what elevates Mac’s ’55 far above the status quo. “Right after we got the car, I told Shelley that it needed nothing and was ready to go. She rolled her eyes and said ‘yeah right’ because she’d been through many of these encounters before,” he says. The first order of business was fixing a number of minor nuances, such as various fluid leaks and faulty gauge readings. With the boring stuff out of the way, Mac couldn’t leave well enough alone and took the car to the next level. He sent the car off to Painthouse (Cypress, Texas) to re-clear and wet-sand the paint to perfection. Other standout features include a front bumper that’s been flipped upside down, a reshaped front pan, a filled Nomad rear bumper, and shaved trim pieces. All these subtle tweaks add up to one of the most functional and coolest-looking Tri-Fives around. It just happens to haul and pitch itself sideways in the process.