By Zan Martin
My second job after graduating college was working for an advertising agency in Nashville that specialized in providing marketing assistance for automotive aftermarket manufacturers. I worked my way up to Vice President handling major accounts like Warn Industries, K&N Engineering, Rancho Suspension and more. In 1993, my husband Randy and I formed our own marketing firm, Martin & Company (M&C), with a specialized focus on the automotive aftermarket. Both at the prior agency and at M&C, we assisted many of our clients with high profile builds that were frequently featured with full spreads in top publications like Car Craft Magazine and Hot Rod Magazine, in addition to major cable TV shows like PowerBlock and Stacey David’s Gearz with great success.
After a decade of doing this for our clients and attending many Hot Rod Power Tour events, we felt inspired to build a project vehicle of our own, and the idea of a Martin & Company Hot Rod was born. We found a 1957 Chevy Wagon shell and a 1957 Chevy Belair shell languishing in a field in Virginia, bought them, and began debating which one to start on first.
I was in favor of the Belair, but Randy ended up convincing me to start with the Wagon as they are more rare and frequently sought after by collectors. First things first, we had to name her. Combining our two names, we christened her the Zandy Wagon; a perfect combination of Zan and Randy.
With so many contacts in the industry, and clients who chose to donate parts, we were convinced that we could do the builds affordably. Oh, the best laid plans! Ha! Years later, after the wagon’s completion, we sold the Belair. But that’s a whole other story and one that anyone who has ever built a project car can relate to.
Deciding what brands we would use was fun, and we were in basic agreement on everything until deciding on the transmission. Automatic or manual? Randy was totally in favor of automatic. Easier on the legs he said. On this subject, I put my foot down. “As key influencers in the aftermarket,” I said, “We are not building a hot rod without a stick shift!”
Our client, American Powertrain is the number one dealer of Tremec Transmissions, and with all our publicity plans for this car, we also recognized that this would be a great way to also build their brand. Luckily, he acquiesced to my logic.
The Zandy Wagon’s maiden ride was the 2010 Hot Rod Power Tour. Shortly on the tour we broke down while heading out from Coker Tire in Chattanooga. Not long after that, she gave us a wonderful ride during a Rumble from American Powertrain in Cookeville, TN with a number of stops across Tennessee, and we did make a later Power Tour without issues. Since her completion, she has been on display at the SEMA Show in Vegas, featured in Hot Rod Magazine and made an appearance with Courtney Hanson on PowerBlock TV, in addition to being displayed for five years at a weekly Concert Cruise-in held at Fontanel in Nashville. We continue to enjoy our Sunday cruises around town and watching all the people giving us a thumbs up as we drive by, and every single time I start to head out for a drive, I smile as I grab the stick shift, put her in gear and smoothly cruise down the road!