Young Edmontonian makes Top 40 in North American vehicle building competition

A 20-year-old Edmonton man is celebrating after a strong finish in a vehicle building competition that pitted him against some of the best designers on the continent. Matteo Medoro used two trucks and a whole lot of welding to create what he calls “Old Coal."

‘I left it a little bit rusty looking, which is the way I like it,' Matteo Medoro says

Matteo Medoro poses with "Old Coal", a truck he built from the frame up. His work resulted in a top-40 finish in a U.S vehicle building competition. (Submitted by Matteo Medoro)

Matteo Medoro is not the type to toot his own horn but the 20-year-old Edmonton man is feeling pretty good about his top-40 finish in a North American vehicle building competition.

Medoro used two trucks to build "Old Coal", which he entered into the Specialty Equipment Market Association's (SEMA) Battle of the Builders.

Despite being one of the youngest competitors, he finished first in the regional competition, top 10 in the Young Guns competition and top 40 overall.

His competitors are considered among the best vehicle builders and designers in North America.

"It can be any vehicle you want, they're basically just looking for you doing the work," Medoro told CBC News. "My truck was a 1947 Dodge truck cab and body on a 1991 Dodge frame."

Medoro went for a vintage look and while the truck wouldn't have seemed out of place during Alberta's coal mining boom, it's sure turning heads now.

"I left it a little bit rusty looking which is the way I like it," he said. "I did everything from frame to the top, I built the whole thing from scratch."

Matteo Medoro impressed the judges with this vintage looking welding truck that he built using parts from two different vehicles. (Submitted by Matteo Medoro)

The project took seven months and his success is even more surprising given Medoro was up against builders with six-figure budgets.

"I'm quite young, I don't have tons and tons of money," he said. "I build a lot of the stuff myself, it keeps the price down … it's a good way to prove myself."

This is the second time Medoro has entered the competition and he improved on his top-60 finish last year. 

"I'm pretty happy, I think it's a good accomplishment," he said. "It's recognition that what I'm doing is making an impact."

Ira Gabriel, vice-president of marketing, PR and communications for SEMA, tells CBC News that Medoro did extremely well, especially considering he had to present his build over a video conference call due to COVID-19.

"For a young builder, you've got to be really strong with your confidence and your ability, and he was," Gabriel said. 

"Matteo is somebody who has really wanted to own that craft, somebody who is a student, who wants to learn more, who wants to do things, and really wants to innovate and push the envelope."

Many of the entries to the contest are newer model vehicles with shiny paint jobs so Medoro's rusty looking 1940's truck really stood out.

"It's rare when you see a young builder become a student of the past and really try to get inspiration from what has occurred before the young builder was born," Gabriel explained.

"There's a lot of celebration with that, I think it stops a lot of the judges and the other builders and makes them look."

Matteo Medoro's decision to go with an older vehicle and a vintage look set him apart from other competitors. (Submitted by Matteo Medoro)

Medoro's interest in building vehicles began in junior high and continued when he took the auto body program at St. Joseph High School. He's now hoping to turn it into a career and he's already got two new projects on the go.

"The one's a '56 Chevy pickup truck and the other one is a '38 International," he said. 

Medoro's dad, Angelo Medoro, who gave his son his first welding lesson, couldn't be prouder.

"I think it's great," he said. "It's a lost art at the end of the day, so to see somebody have passion in it and love doing it. If I can support him in any way I can, I will."

There are also some pretty good benefits when it comes to being the father of a custom vehicle builder.

"I drive it actually more than he does," the elder Medoro said. "It's funny. He just loves the building part of it. He does drive it but not as much as I would."