While attending 2009's 10-day progressive "Cruise Paradise" on The Big Island of Hawaii, local "Hilo Boy" Herman Ludwig rolled up with this brand spankin' new, Ramjet 502-powered, orange and silver '55 210 sedan. Everybody was flat blown away.
"This car is entirely Hilo homebuilt," says the commercial building contractor. "In actuality, it is a tribute to fellow Hawaii Classic Car Cruisers member, the late Chucky Fields, who started building the '55 way back in 2000. Unfortunately, he was unable to finish the car before he passed away in 2005, so my son Herman T, my wife Tracy, and good friend Larry Hernandez Sr. picked up where Chucky left off. It was built in his memory, and think it would have made him proud."
Anybody would be proud of this Tri-Five.
The foundation is a highly-modified '55 Chevy chassis that was built in two phases. While still in Chucky's care, the back half was narrowed 6 inches by local fabricator Ben Akamine and upgraded with the addition of a Moser ladder bar-equipped 4.11:1 9-inch outfitted with Wilwood disc brakes, and a pair of Ride Tech airbags.
After Herman acquired it, he and Larry Hernandez, Jr. replaced the car's stock front suspension with a Fat Man Fabrications Mustang II IFS, complete with Flaming River rack-and-pinion steering, Ride Tech airbags, and Hurst Line Loc-controlled Wilwood front disc brakes-great for doing burnouts. Then the chassis was sprayed by Kona's Fia Fia Body Shop in Dupont Orange. With the exception of slightly enlarged rear fenderwells, everything else on the '55 is stock. All new exterior trim was required and it came from Danchuk.
Wheels and tires on Ludwig's tribute Tri-Five consist of Budnik billets and Mickey Thompson radials at all four corners.
Powering this silver and orange beauty is a four-bolt-main GM Performance Parts Ram Jet 502-that's 502 hp at 5,100 rpm and 565 lb-ft of torque at 3,200 rpm. Bolted between the lifter valley is the heart of the beast, the MEFI controlled, 11-inch tall, Ram Jet single throttle body fuel injection system. Aftermarket items include a Be Cool polished-aluminum cooling module, and a set of Hooker headers and Flowmaster 50 series mufflers. Transmitting all that power back to aforementioned 9-inch is a TCI TH400 equipped with a 3800-stall speed torque convertor.
Inside, the '55 makes use of a Dakota Digital-equipped dash, an ididit six-way-tilt steering column, and Colorado Custom billet steering wheel. A pair of Glide Engineering front seats and a modified version of the stock Chevrolet rear bench-to clear the rear wheeltubs-are covered in two-tone tan Ultra Leather, as are the headliner, door panels, etc. (all handled by Kailua-Kona's Big Island Upholstery).
In the trunk, you will find a 22-gallon Rock Valley mirror polish gas tank and single battery box surrounded by more of "Big Island Ron's" upholstery work.
This is one incredible "Hilo homegrown" Tri-Five-so nice, in fact, that the car was invited to sit center stage at the grand opening of the Classic Car Cruisers Queen's Market Place Auto Museum in Waikoloa, Hawaii.