Bob Matranga 1955 Chevy

Bob & Elaine Matranga’s “Brute Force” ’55 Chevy wins 2020 BASF America’s Most Beautiful!

Bob Matranga is no stranger to high-quality rides and has built, owned, and shown many over the years. In his own words: “Some people like to play golf, I like to build hot rods. I enjoy showing these cars, I enjoy driving these cars, and that’s what’s driven me all my life.” When it came to his latest vision, the “Brute Force” 1955 Chevy, Matranga wanted to bring everything in-house, hiring the right people he saw fit to create his vision, and formed Matranga Hot Rods specifically for this build.

The team started with a bare-bones Morrison chassis that was modified further and equipped with custom-designed IFS and IRS suspension based off geometry from Kugel Komponents. It was then equipped with a Ford 9-inch differential, custom dog bone half shafts, custom stainless brake rotors and reshaped Wilwood calipers. All suspension components were finished in bronze and all fasteners were custom made. EVOD cut the one-off 18×7 and 20×10 wheels.

Bob Matranga Brute Force 1955 Chevy, Goodguys America's Most Beautiful

Brute Force gets its name from the Mike LeFever-built 540ci Merlin engine that is topped with Arias hemi cylinder heads and force-fed by a pair of Garrett turbochargers through a custom-built Hogan intake. The headers, mufflers, and exhaust were all custom built out of stainless materials. The 1,400 horsepower powerplant is detuned to a drivable 800 horsepower.


Bob Matranga Brute Force 1955 Chevy

The list of body modifications is long, but every square inch of sheet metal was manipulated to perfection without losing the overall style and design of a ’55 Chevy. All the brightwork was custom made including the trim, bumpers, grille, and more. Ryan Rivers and Marcel’s Custom Metal handled the bodywork, Mick’s Paint laid down the custom-mixed Brute Force Blue by PPG.

Bob Matranga Brute Force 1955 Chevy, Goodguys America's Most Beautiful

A great example of enhancing original ’55 Chevy styling while still retaining its identity is seen inside with the hand-built dash that wraps around to the front door jams. It features more custom-built trim, AC vents for the Vintage Air unit, and a set of custom gauges from Classic Instruments. An EVOD-machined steering wheel with built in paddle shifters tops the Flaming River column. Gabe’s Custom Interiors handled the upholstery needs, covering the seats, center console, floor, door panels and trunk in leather. The heavily modified Chrysler Sebring seats feature V-pattern embroidery through the center.

Bob Matranga Brute Force 1955 Chevy

Congratulations to Bob & Elaine Matranga and their team of Matranga Hot Rod fabricators which include Bill Brakman, Chris Brown, Don Derler, Paul Hattrup, and Ryan Rivers for winning the Goodguys 2020 BASF America’s Most Beautiful title! Look for a more in-depth feature on Brute Force in an upcoming Goodguys Gazette and be sure to come see the ride in person at the Goodguys 23rd Speedway Motors Southwest Nationals presented by Barrett-Jackson November 20-22 at Westworld of Scottsdale.

Associate Editor

Steven is the grandson to the legendary Bob Bunker who piloted the green "Folsom Flash" 1955 Chevy from the 70's through the 90's. As a dragstrip kid, Steven started his automotive journalism path by photographing drag racing events and also building drag cars while working in his fathers shop. Since joining our team, Steven has grown leaps and bounds journalistically. He is now artfully crafting stories around the awesome machines at the shows, as well as the men and women behind them. When Steven is not on the road covering events, he spends his downtime out on the water fishing, building his 1962 Chevy Nova, or cruising his 1987 GMC Suburban.