Route 66 Rendezvous in San Bernardino, California

Thousands of cars are on display and cruising in a blocked-off area in downtown San Bernardino. The four-day event ends today. Here are three photos showing just a few of the amazing variety of vehicles there. Among those being inducted into the Hall of Fame at the annual event were Jim Wangers, of GTO fame, and West Coast Kustoms.

Outstanding Willys street rod

I see a lot of cars but when I saw this one on Saturday it really shows what’s what. Every Saturday morning from about 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. a very informal group called the Donut Derelicts show up with their cars at a large strip mall parking lot next to a donut shop. It’s in Huntington Beach, California at the corner of Adams and Magnolia. There are no rules, no judging, and hardly any spectators. Well, maybe there’s one informal rule: unless it’s a non-running hulk that you’re trying to sell, you’d better be driving your car in (no trailer queens). The group attracts an amazing variety of cars that can range from a brass-era classic to a full-race off-road truck. Just in the top photo you can see a restored ’30s Ford sedan, a tri-five Chevy street machine and a Shelby Mustang behind the Willys.

This ’33 or so Willys was engineered to the nth degree. Everything from panel fit to it’s overall design is 10 out of 10 in my opinion. There isn’t an inch of wasted space or an excess ounce of weight. Somehow, a blown Hemi was shoehorned under the hood without any bulges in the side panels. The attention to detail and the exercising of restraint is impressive. The body is perfectly sprayed in one color with not so much as a pinstripe or decal on it. The grille was expertly restored and has the Willys emblem nicely painted. Nothing looked like the car was assembled then someone discovered that some part didn’t fit so a modification was needed. Whoever built this knew what he was doing.

Here’s a bit of trivia: Willys is pronounced “Will-iss” and not “Willies.”

Freeway Fotos: Alaska edition

"Ice Road Trucker" on the way north
"Ice Road Trucker" on the way north

These are probably going to be the northern-most pix to appear in the blog. However, this isn’t on a freeway (I don’t think there are any in Alaska outside of Anchorage) and I wasn’t driving. Instead, I shot the first two from a tour bus on the Park Highway a few hundred miles south of Denali National Park this past Sunday. Many things are bigger in Alaska than in the lower 48, and big rigs are no exception. From the moose bars and extra lights on the front to the double 40-foot trailers, it’s ready for the adverse conditions found in the state.

That "65" is not 'shopped!
That "65" is not 'shopped!

Trucks aren’t the only big thing up in the 49th state. While there are construction zones with lower speed limits up there, in remote areas the work zone limit is the same as the regular speed limit except that the fines are doubled if you’re caught.

Ready for anything
Ready for anything

While there are a lot of “regular” cars and pickups out in Alaska during the summer, many are modified for winter use, too. Here’s one in a parking lot just outside Denali National Park.

Aftermarket bumper – check.

Raised suspension – check.

Never washed – check.

Spikes on top of hood – what the?

Bryan Johnson to get his trophy as the Maisto “pick” at the Diecast Super Convention

In February, CJ and his dedicated crew from put on the fantastic Diecast Super Convention in Las Vegas. He was kind enough to invite folks from Maisto along with a bunch of celebrities in the toy and real car world. Three of us, Ralph Benitez, Eddie Casto and yours truly, Charles Hepperle, attended the events, autographed posters and picked our favorites in the customizing contest. Bryan Johnson’s entries were our favorites — we couldn’t just pick one of them because they were all so good.

Here is a photo of one of his entries as well as a picture of the master himself soon after his selection was announced at the awards dinner. You can see more photos of his customized 1:64 diecast in Castro’s post on July 9 here.

Here is the handmade trophy that we made for Bryan — he’ll be receiving it soon. The die-cast on it is the Maisto 1:64 AllStars Knuckle Dragger with special paint and a drag chute added on the back. The base paint is the original liquid orange color but the pad print decoration was removed. Then, several coats of flat clear with silver flakes were sprayed on followed by several coats of flat clear without flakes. When it dried, the paint was carefully sanded and polished to eliminate the roughness of the flakes and a few more coats of flat clear were applied. The drag chute was hand-shaped from styrene plastic then painted silver.

The car on the trophy is nothing compared to the detail that Bryan puts into his contest-winning cars but it’s our tribute to his skill.

1:18 scale car cover

Here’s a clever item sent to us by the fine folks at The Diecast Magazine.

The car cover shown on our 1:18 scale 1967 Camaro is made from a stretchy material that fits very well. The covers are made in several scales and a variety of colors and materials. For more information, go to — the site is in German but at the bottom of each page is a button to translate it into any of several languages.

You can find out more about The Diecast Magazine at and see the free online edition at

1955 Buick Highway Patrol car in Fourth of July parade

Here’s the car that inspired me to get the Maisto 1955 Buick 1:26 die-cast made. Gary Goltz drove it in this year’s Independence Day parade in Claremont, CA ahead of the children’s judo class that he leads.

Gary is a big fan of the 1950s TV show Highway Patrol so he bought an old Buford and had it rebuilt into a cop car. Unfortunately, he discovered too late that the actual California Highway Patrol car used on the road and loaned for the TV show was a 2-door sedan and not the 2-door hardtop shown here. We got the model right, though. It’s stock number 31295. You can see Gary’s Highway Patrol website at .

Donk Chevy rolls out of the Maisto closet

It’s been a while since we’ve shown some of the things hiding in our deep, dark closet of prototypes and one-of-a-kind new product ideas. Several years ago, Brad (aka skidkid) built this donk from a Maisto 1:18 1972 Chevelle convertible. He installed wheels from one of our R/C cars and custom made the suspension and Lambo-style double-hinged doors. For extra bling he added monitors and speakers and he made decals for the upholstery pattern. At the time, Maisto made a line of 3″ East Coast Ryders cars in this style but we didn’t expand the idea into the larger scales…but we were ready in case the need arose.