Vintage Hot Wheels

These articles and pictures are used by permission of the author, Mike Painter.
By Mike Painter. Send comments to:

Beatnik Bandit

The Beatnik Bandit was designed by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth and was the second of his creations to tour with the International Championship Auto Shows (ICAS), in the 1960-61 season. The Outlaw was Roth's first ICAS custom, but the Bandit was the first Roth car created by their Show Car Division specifically for the show circuit. The Beatnik Bandit started out as a project car for Rod & Custom magazine and was built using a '55 Olds frame which was shortened, then covered n plaster to create a mold for the all-fiberglass body. The twin carbureted blown Oldsmobile mill sits ahead of a handmade bubble top created by softening a plastic sheet in a large pizza oven. 

 The Bandit's one-arm steering stick, mounted between the gold trimmed white naugahyde seats, also controlled the throttle and shifting of the car. The Beatnik Bandit toured all over the country in the Sixties, and by 1970 had been repainted green. The car was sold to Harrah's in Reno, who restored it back to its original condition. The Beatnik Bandit can currently be seen at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada.


The candy apple red, all steel-bodied Sillouhette was hand formed and built by Bill Cushenberry starting with a modified '56 Buick frame. The car was completed by the summer of '62, and sported a fuel injected Buick engine and wire wheels. These were later replaced with a dual quad 429 Ford and slotted mag wheels in 1963, when it was purchased by Ford to tour the with the ICAS events as a featured car of the Ford Custom Car Caravan. The complete half of the windshield in front of the integrated roll-bar is hinged at the base to tilt forward. The steering column also raises to allow for easy access into the red and white leather interior, which features a "floating" instrument panel and bucket seats.

The Car Craft Dream Rod is now more commonly known to us redliners as the Python. This car was commisioned to Bill Cushenberry by Promotions Inc. for the 1963-64 ICAS tour. The car is based on a drawing that appeared on the cover of Car Craft magazine in October 1961. It was built on a high performance sports car chasis which utilized a 289 Ford engine. The asymmetrical body was built using fiberglass and individual sheet metal panels from Pontiac and Studebaker. Note that for the Hot Wheels car, Mattel designers decided to omit the headlight pod protruding out of the front grille -- which I think was a good choice.



The Dodge Deora was designed by Harry Bradley and commissioned in 1964 to show-winning customizers Mike and Larry Alexander. It was then unveiled in their home town during the Detroit Autorama in 1967, where it won the coveted Riddler Award. The Deora is based on the mid-engined Dodge D-100 which was chopped, sectioned, and channeled to create the fully functional, futuristic pickup. Entrance into the candy gold painted custom is achieved by lifting up the windshield and entering through the front. The truck continued to tour with the ICAS tour and racked up numerous awards on the way.
Demon / Prowler

The Li'l Coffin, also known to Redliners as the Demon or Prowler. Was custom built by Darryl Starbird for Monogram models and went on tour with the ICAS in 1963-64. This chopped and channeled '32 Ford sedan features a cantilevered roof and a "floating" windshield. It's powered by a 426 Hemi, "6-Pack" (six single barrel carburetors), and has a fully pleated white naugahyde interior.


Paddy Wagon

The Hot Wheels Paddy Wagon was fashioned after the Tom Daniel's design for the popular Monogram plastic model kit. However, Daniel was no doubt inspired by the original Paddy Wagon which was designed and built by Carl Casper. Casper took nearly four years to construct this wild custom which toured with the ICAS during the 1968-69 season. The hand-built body and "passenger" compartment features highly polished wooden trim and brass plating. The 1910 Ford fenders surrounding the blue and white pearlescent body sit on top of a fully chromed customized chassis, which is powered by a 427 cid Ford with four 4-barrel carburetors.
Red Baron

Reversing the usual procedure of developing plastic models from full size vehicles, the Red Baron show car was inspired by the Tom Daniel's Monogram model kit of the same name. Commissioned to custom car builder Chuck Miller by the Show Car Division of the ISCA, it was unveiled at the Detroit Autorama in January 1969. The Red Baron was originally designed by Tom Daniel for Monogram Models, and converting the design to full scale was much easier said than achieved. For instance, Daniel incorporated a 1914 Mercedes aircraft engine to power his Baron. However, due to its improper scale, (hey, Daniel is an artist, not a car builder!) Miller had to improvise, powering his Red Baron with a Pontiac overhead-cam, 6-cylinder. 
One other non-cost-effective situation were the custom wheels conceived by Tom Daniel: Miller was forced replicate these by using metal sheet, cut them to resemble the wheels in the model kit, paint them black, and attach them to chromed steel wheels. The hand-formed, all steel body, equipped with replicated machine guns, sits atop a custom built frame and is topped off with a large fiberglass German WWI helmet. This is where another problem arose for Miller. Although Daniels' kit featured a chrome plated helmet, Miller was unable to achieve this with his car, as no companies at the time had large enough plating equipment. Miller was forced to settle for a silver metal flake paint job instead.


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