Eddie Martinez was a legendary upholsterer from Lynwood, California. He started doing upholstery work while he was in school and worked his way up becoming one of the most sought-after custom upholsterers in Southern California.
Renting Space From Barris Kustom
December 7, 1959 Bill Whetstone of Detroit, Michigan took delivery on a brand new 1960 Ford Starliner. Days later he was on his way out West to have a custom interior installed. "At that time, the guy that was probably the most famous of all was Eddie Martinez," Whetstone told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in 2020. Bill remembers Martinez being phenomenal with little one inch pleats. "If I could have afforded him, he would probably have done the interior. At that time, his interiors were probably 300 dollars, so I ended up going to Tijuana, Mexico." In Tijuana Bill had to pay 125 dollars for an interior all done in pleats.
In December of 2020 Keith Christensen told Sondre Kvipt that he remembered Eddie running his business out of a little shop on Park Street, close to Keith's shop Gene's Mufflers. "He was always super busy," Keith recalled, adding that he loved to do trade outs from shop to shop. "He had a tiny shop, and it was crammed with upholstery material." Keith always wondered how the heck they could get work done so cramped for space. "He was doing car dealer cars as well and there was a glut of cars every time I visited his shop. I do know he did the finest of work. Innovative and quality prone. He had one man that did nothing but repair the springs inside the seats as a lot of the cars were classic cars and the seats were antique and tired. They even had wood frames inside the seats and his worker had to repair and reinforce them before upholstering them. Quite a task and a lot of talent. I always saw the same workers there so he had a loyal crew."
Gene "Clean Gene" Sadoian moved from Fresno to Southern California in 1960. "Our Fresno cars and boats were being customized by George Barris. Eddie did most of the custom upholstery jobs for George," Gene told Sondre Kvipt in December of 2020. Chuck Krikorian's Emperor was one such car. "We also had Eddie do our boats, Larry Johnson 1962, Tom Simonian, Phil Sweet in 1964, Don Lokey 1966. Eddie also did my Minibike seat in 63-64. My job was to "ride" Eddie to get the jobs finished! Eddie was an artist, we had to keep him motivated." Gene spent many hours with Eddie at his shop watching him do things that none of the others could do. "I watched how Eddie, with a homemade plywood curving machine, made the seatbacks on roadsters and boats. He used steam and made gradual curves in one piece of wood!. In 1964, I watched him make a vinyl padded cover for my 57 T-Bird top with portholes. He also made a full zippered tonneau cover, snaps and all, no wrinkles on top or cover. He used a hairdryer and steam on the corners for perfect curves."
Keith Christensen remembered Ed complaining to him that he had to compete with the upholstery work that was done down in Tijuana, Mexico. One time he showed him a car he was tearing apart and redoing. "It had been done in Tijuana, and the pleats were filled with straw rather than foam, and they had flattened out and looked like heck."
In 1966 Gene Sadoian moved to Las Vegas. "Eddie used to visit me on quarterly trips selling Jaguar XKE's. He was putting in Ford motors, new interiors, and paint." Gene remembers seeing at least three of them.
Sharing a Shop With Bill Hines
In December of 2020 Mitch Hines told Kustomrama that Eddie once shared a shop with Bill Hines in Lynwood. "When gramps moved the shop to Bellflower Eddie followed and setup right across the way. Gramps didn't have a bathroom so me and my brothers would run across to Eddies to use his. He always yelled at us."
Still in Business
Eddie Martinez' Cars
Cars Upholstered by Eddie Martinez
Chuck Krikorian's 1929 Ford Model A Roadster - The Emperor
Ed Roth's 1930 Ford Model A Tudor - Little Jewel
Ed Roth's Outlaw
Ed Roth's Beatnik Bandit
Larry Sanford's 1940 Mercury 4-door Convertible
Stone Woods Cookie 1941 Willys Coupe
Earl Wilson's 1947 Studebaker - The Modern Grecian
Richard Torres' 1951 Chevrolet
Steve Lininger's 1951 Ford Convertible
Dave Robertson's 1956 Ford F100 -Lil Nugget
Dean Jeffries' 1956 Porsche 356 Carrera
Larry Watson's 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham
Don Fletcher's 1957 Chevrolet 210 - El Capitola
Phil Curry's 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air
Pinky Richard's 1957 Chevrolet Corvette
Teddy Zgrzemski' 1957 Chevrolet Nomad
Barris Kustom's 1957 Ford Ranchero
Gene Sadoian's 1957 Ford Thunderbird
Joe Previte's 1958 Chevrolet Impala
Ray Strappazon's 1958 Chevrolet Impala - The Wild Cherry
Jim Seaton's 1959 Chevrolet El Camino
Tats Gotanda's 1959 Chevrolet Impala - Buddha Buggy
Joe Burgasser's 1959 Chevrolet Impala
Howard Hiyama's Jaguar XKE
Did you enjoy this article?
Kustomrama is an encyclopedia dedicated to preserve, share and protect traditional hot rod and custom car history from all over the world.
- Help us keep Kustomrama and history alive. For as little as 1 USD a month you can become a monthly supporter. Click here to learn more.
- Subscribe to our free newsletter and receive regular updates and stories from Kustomrama.
- Do you know someone who would enjoy this article? Click here to forward it.
Can you help us make this article better?
Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have additional information or photos to share about Eddie Martinez.
This article was made possible by:
SunTec Auto Glass - Auto Glass Services on Vintage and Classic Cars
Finding a replacement windshield, back or side glass can be a difficult task when restoring your vintage or custom classic car. It doesn't have to be though now with auto glass specialist companies like www.suntecautoglass.com. They can source OEM or OEM-equivalent glass for older makes/models; which will ensure a proper fit every time. Check them out for more details!
Do you want to see your company here? Click here for more info about how you can advertise your business on Kustomrama.