Yeah, it’s fake, so get over it. The drop-top Tri-Five Chevy presented before you doesn’t have a single piece of original GM sheetmetal, and it never rolled off of a GM assembly line, either. To some hot rodders, reproduction bodies are imposters by nature, but when it’s possible to create something that looks this good, what’s the big stink about anyway? Experi-Metal’s long-anticipated reproduction Tri-Five bodies are finally here, and as Ironworks Speed and Kustom’s crimson ’55 Chevy proves, it was definitely worth the wait. As with most fake bodies, its smoothly flowing lines and voluptuous curves are just about perfect, and things get even hotter beneath the skin. There you’ll find an aftermarket chassis, C6 aluminum suspension, an LS3 small-block, and a 4L60E overdrive. Whether you’re merely admiring it from afar or stomping on the loud pedal like a hooligan, the last thing you’ll care about is that this ’55 started out life incubating in a shipping crate.

At the risk of getting all weird on you in a Laurence Fishburne, red pill or blue pill, The Matrix kind of way, what is and isn’t real is tough to define. Chevy Berettas and Pontiac Azteks rolled off GM assembly lines, for goodness sakes, but no one in their right mind would consider them real cars. Similarly, the whole “if it ain’t steel it ain’t real” line was a clever way to mock fiberglass street rods for about five minutes, but then the aftermarket started making steel kit cars shortly thereafter. Just like the street rod market experienced several decades ago, muscle cars and select pre-’64 machines of today, like Tri-Five Chevys, still fetch more money than many people can afford. The ugly truth in all this is that if you buy a decrepit jalopy just because it’s cheap, the only original parts you’ll have left after restoring it are the cowl tag and VIN number. It just makes too much sense to start with a nice car in the first place, and EMI’s repop bodies enable anyone to live the dream.

Like most good ideas, the direction for this particular ’55 Chevy was conceived in a room full of car guys chatting it up over dinner and several rounds of beer. As Roger Lee of Ironworks (www.IronworksSpeedandKustom.com) and Ed Capen of Goodguys were throwing back some brewskis, the subject turned to the 2011 Goodguys Giveaway car. Ironworks had developed a reputation for building cutting-edge chassis for both race cars and street machines over the years, and just happened to have a new production frame ready to ship for Tri-Five Chevys. All Roger needed was a body, and wouldn’t you know it, the first batch of reproduction Tri-Fives just happened to be coming out of the EMI stamping facility. To make things even more interesting, the dinner party decided that the car had to meet California emissions standards, and be titled and registered in time for its giveaway date in November 2011. It was an ambitious yet ingenious plan for sure, because if you can get a car titled and smogged in California, you can do it anywhere.

Since the ’55 would be built as a giveaway car, and tastes vary wildly from one car guy to the next, the Ironworks crew wanted to build a car with as much universal appeal as possible. “We didn’t set out to build a crazy, over-the-top show car to compete for the Ridler Award. At the same time, we didn’t want a car that was too much like a race car and unstreetable, or a car that was too nice to drive down the road,” Roger says. “Everybody likes red ’55 Chevy convertibles, and we didn’t care if people thought it looked like every other Tri-Five out there. The goal was to make people say, ‘Man, what do I have to do to win that car?’ Since universal appeal was the goal, the guys around the shop starting joking around by calling the car ‘Project Resale.’ ”