Built by: Mike L. Scott in West Allis, Wisconsin
This model is the culmination of years of research and scratch-building time and energy.
The interest in wild show rod cars started when I was about 6 years old and was taken to the Starlight Drive here in Milwaukee to see The Great Race staring Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. Other stars included Natalie Wood, Peter Falk and Keenan Wynn. The featured cars from that movie struck a cord that has remained favorite designs of mine all these years.
I guess I have wanted someone to offer these as a diecast or a kit most of my life and since no one has take up the challenge looks like it was up to me again.
Like most of these one-off custom cars, finding reference photos on the design is half of the battle for a large percentage of the time, front 3 quarter shots are all that are published and as a pattern maker you want straight-on drafting shots.
Fortunately I visit many car shows and have stumbled on a few good sources. The first was an old Rod and Custom car mag from April 1965 that did a feature on the Warner Brothers studio shop scratch building a few antique movie cars for the up coming feature "The Great Race". This was the start of a long building process using the photos from this article. They even had shots of a few large scale working models used to build the real deal--wonder where they are today?
That set my imagination in gear! I could almost see myself handling these models and I knew then that I had waited long enough and had to have them for my collection.
Starting with the frame for the Hannibal 8 which was shown in the article, I found I could duplicate the scissors action of the real car. As it turns out this element was a big part of the car's character and duplicating it faithfully pushed the project along.
Since the Fate car was a design not based on a vintage vehicle, the whole car had to be scratch built. The frame and struts which lift the car were built using sheet styrene and tapped for screws so the scissors action could be a working system.
The body it self is made from sheet Styrene with thin gauge strips to form the raised panel detail. The model was then covered with plastic filler and cleaned up with fine sand paper primed and painted. I found that when I scraped the edges of the thin white plastic I used for the raised detail I could simulate the pin striping that went along the entire car--this was a real time saver when finishing the paint job.
The running boards are formed from brass strips with the same plastic detail while the railings, wind shield, roof frame, cannon and headlamps are built from brass tubing and soldered. Some of the peripheral pieces like the baggage and trunks were molded and cast up to make multiple parts.
Decals were "screen grabs" from the movie put into Adobe Photoshop and then painstakingly redrawn and reduced to scale and fit into the door panels. The middle pole which holds the wrapped up top like an umbrella is just fabric saturated with glue and draped to look like its been tied down while the flag is printed paper.
The front wire wheels were photo etched to get a real scale feeling since most castings looked chunky and unrealistic. The "Arctic heating element" is wired and does light up!
Its was my goal in the beginning to be able to offer this piece as a built-up scale model and the entire pattern you see here can be disassembled for casting up production pieces. I hope to have this available before summer 2007 over 40 years since the movie premiered.
Its about time right?
Click on the image above to SUPERSIZE it!
Yes, Fate's Arctic ice-melting element works!