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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The (Hot) Rodding Twenties: Hot Wheels Great Gatspeed alongside a '31 Duesenberg and a '35 Packard



We've seen the most typical Hot Rods in America at the beginning of the 20th century usually based on Ford Model T's and A's, and if they were not Ford's the usual basic format, no matter what vehicle it's based on, remains the same for the early hot rods.  This latest design example from Hot Wheels takes a different course: hot rod a higher-end luxury car.  The end result is called Great Gatspeed (similar in rhyme to the movie "The Great Gatsby"), and to show the modifications I also brought in the '31 Duesenberg and '35 Packard.




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Great Gatspeed has that cool hot rod look with a long wheelbase and long length, fenderless body that is low to the ground with a raked rear stance.  Starting off in black and red with Mac Tools on the doors is another great starting point as it really brings out the best of this casting.  The front has the repositioned headlights at the lower part of the bumper just ahead of the grille with smaller driving lamps and all connected by an arched bar.  The engine is an I-8 as what the Hot Wheels package says, but the carb count is seven and the exhaust header count is six; nevertheless the flow of the parts look great, though i'm not sure where the stylish air filter cover on the right-side fits in with this equation.




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The chopped roof features a convertible top that is folded down at the rear, with mounting points around the frame of the roof.  The body has four doors, the rear ones are smaller, that open backwards, while out back the taillight-less rear has just enough room to support a large gas tank.  All four wheels in 5-spokes that look great sit on a base that has leaf springs on all four (and visible on the outside) with the oil pan details in the center.  Inside there's ample room for six people while the driver gets the steering wheel and central gauges in the dash.  Oh, and check out the detail of the front track arms as well.



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While the Great Gatspeed does not have a vehicle it's based on, it probably gets inspiration from the two classic cars shown here.  The final model in the Duesenberg line before World War II put the end to the company was the Model J in 1928.  The classic car featured a split front and rear cockpit which also includes separate windshields, though both fit under one top as show on this red Hot Wheels example.  The front has a large chrome grille (part of the metal base) that feature headlights, driving lamps, and a lower bumper.  Per the usual for Hot Wheels cars of this era the fenders are part of the plastic interior piece as recreating the curves of the external fenders in the metal was a rather difficult task (not to mention the thinness of the fenders would be too fragile to support), so yeah the color is off but the detail is there.  Each side also occupies a spare tire just ahead of the metal exhaust header and intake manifold.  The read body has a silver stripe, while the 5-spoke wheels don't look too bad on this car.  The rear has a trunk that looks more like a last-minute add-on than being a part of the vehicle.



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All of these Hot Wheels classics of the early 20th century have metal bases with some slight suspension details.  The interior has bench seats and a steering wheel.  That's it!  Being bought by Cord the new J series was ready to go after competitors that include the Hispano-Suiza, Rolls-Royce, and Mercedes-Benz.  The Inline-8 featured dual overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, and capable of reaching 119 mph.  Three and four speed manuals were offered, along with a supercharger and various coach-built body styles.  The Duesenberg company collapsed alongside the Cord owner in 1937.




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The other side is the 1935 Packard, which had a much longer life span as a company than the Duesenberg.  This Hot Wheels casting has always arrived in any color as long as it was black, at least until the 2009 Larry's Garage version.  The metal cab is larger and more wagon-like with dual spare tires with hubs that are part of the metal base (not to mention the black fenders look better alongside the black paint), the fenders are more rounded and integrated, and the front grille has fine vertical fins and headlight and horn units to the sides of the grille.  The back end has a separate trunk add-on and taillights on the fenders with a plate holder on the left one.  The interior has three bench seats with the back of the second row facing the front, all accessed by four doors with the rear doors opening rearward.  As usual the metal base shows off a few suspension details.  The powertrain is a V-12 engine, called the Twin-Six, to produce 160 hp. through a 3-speed manual.  Packard was one of the premier companies that started making custom-built automobiles for the rich back in the early 20th century.  By the 1930's it managed to survive the Great Recession under a single line and the addition of a low-priced model in 1935, though it did tarnish the exclusivity of the higher-end models.  Packard would be the only high-end independent U.S. automaker to survive the Recession and continue production well after World War II.

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While lacking the classical finesse of the Packard and Duesenberg, the custom Great Gatspeed still looks great and puts a strong foothold as a unique model in a group of similar me-too hot rods.

2 comments:

  1. Nice review by compare Gatspeed with other similar models Packard and Duesenberg. The Great Gatspeed is based on character of movie Great Gatsby.

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  2. Hi, I designed it, yes I was inspired by Larry's Packard. Also the fact that I was told a 4 door does not make a hotrod.

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