Lorenzo "Tito" Martinez
'97 Ford F-150
While Lorenzo "Tito" Martinez was busy being a normal kid messing around with Hot Wheels die-cast cars, his older brother was out cruising the streets in a lowered '94 Chevy Silverado Stepside. Once Tito caught on to the fact that his brother was the cool kid on the block because of the slammed truck, he knew he had to do the same. From then on, he dedicated his time and efforts to getting his hands on a custom truck of his own. At the age of 16, he took a major leap forward in this quest by going to work for his dad at his concrete company. The only catch was that he wasn't working for cash. He was actually working to get this '97 Ford F-150 that his sister was driving.
About a year after Tito started working for his dad, his sister was away at college and driving a brand-new BMW. Since his sister was no longer using the F-150, Tito asked his father if he could have the truck. By this time, he had labored enough hours after school, on weekends, and during holidays that his father deemed he earned this truck. Though the truck was used and stock, it was a start and he was very proud to drive it.
From there, he kept on working in order to progress on his truck. He started it in a mild manner by lowering it over a set of 22s, but after he had attended Texas Showdown, he knew the truck needed more work. Going lower meant that the Ford would have to be hooked up with an air-ride system to be able to lay frame and raise it up to drive. Tito went to a local custom shop in the Houston, Texas, that wound up modifying the suspension to drop the truck on the pavement and added a set of airbags for adjustability.
With the truck able to sit low, Tito knew the next step was shaving the body and spraying a new paintjob. For this, he enlisted the help of Pat's Autobody. There, the truck was shaved of the door handles, antenna, fuel door, and tailgate handle, while a roll pan eliminated the stock rear bumper. After these filler pieces were welded on to shave the truck, it received some body filler to make the transformation seamless. Once the body was sanded straight, it was coated in a two-tone of House of Kolors Orion Silver and Antifreeze Green.
The truck was looking better than ever, but Tito soon received the ultimate test of his dedication. The first test was when the motor blew due to his sister not performing the regular maintenance like changing the oil. This was fixed by replacing the old 5.7L Triton V-8 with a new one that received a few performance mods. Then, the second test came when the rear two-link suspension gave out on the freeway and caused the rearend to get shoved up into the bed floor. Not only was this a major setback, but it was also a very embarrassing and stressful situation. However, Tito kept rolling on.
Since the suspension gave out, he went looking for someone new to fix it, and took the truck to Innovative Designs of Spring, Texas. There, Joey made a new two-link with a track bar for the rear and a set of custom tubular control arms for the front. Because the truck was already on jackstands, it seemed like the perfect time to body-drop the truck while it was out of commission. So, Tito instructed the shop to perform a stock-floor body drop as well as add a new set of 24-inch Boyd Coddington Septor wheels.
Lying lower with bigger wheels, the truck needed to be finished with an interior to match the rest of the body. For this, Tito took the truck to Louie of Bullet Industries in Houston, where all the interior plastics were removed for paint. On the dash, Louie shaved the radio and placed a 10-inch monitor in its place. A PlayStation 2 was mounted on the passenger side of it. Then, the door panels were cut out and reshaped in fiberglass. A custom center console was made out of fiberglass as well. With all of these pieces smoothed and prepped, they were then painted. Afterward, the seats were cut down and reupholstered in gray ultra leather.
To the average person, this truck comes across as a vehicle that was given some attention by the owner. In actuality, it was received a lot of work that took more devotion than most are able to give. Besides collecting the necessary funds to build this truck, Tito had to overcome many setbacks during the process. Instead of giving up during the bad moments, he remained motivated and pushed this build farther than initially imagined. For all of the effort spent, this feature of his truck is one that is well-deserved.