Legends of the Quarter Mile: L.A. Hooker, Don Garlits from Auto World
March 14, 2013
Product: Everything in the racing world just seemed better in the 1970s — and in the drag-racing world, Funny Cars were all the rage. They looked, well, funny — sort of like souped-up street cars with much longer hoods and an air scoop sticking out of the windshield. |
For race fans, these were full-sized Hot Wheels cars with monster nitro-powered engines that made them fly (sometimes literally) down drag strips. Like any racing series, the NHRA Funny Cars had their legends, including the Hawaiian, L.A. Hooker, Bounty Hunter — and Big Daddy Don Garlits, whose namesake made a name for himself in a variety of dragsters over the years.
Here, Round 2’s Auto World brand comes with a new series, Legends of the Quarter Mile. We reviewed two, the L.A. Hooker and Garlits machines. Back in the day, these dragsters had fiberglass bodies fashioned to at least somewhat reflect the street models’ appearance. The L.A. Hooker was made to resemble a 1971 Mustang and the Garlits a ’71 Dodge Charger.
Dave Condit drove the Hooker Mustang and later won the 1974 World Funny Car Finals while the team, appropriate to the car’s name, was based in Southern California. Condit and his brothers ran and worked on L.A. Hooker and are cousins to John Force, a 15-time Funny Car champ. Condit died in 2011.
Gary Bolger drove the black Garlits/Bud Richter Charger in ’71. The car started with a Mustang body but switched when Chicago-area Dodge dealers backed the team. However, it only ran part of the season before the deal fell apart and the team put its Gold Digger Mustang body back on.
Performance: No matter the history, these wild looking dragsters are simply way cool to look at, whether you prop open the plastic body to see the innards or leave the body down. Auto World uses more than 150 parts here, and it’s clear that most are in the engines, suspensions and die-cast chassis.
These are solid models, thanks to the metal chassis, but they feel light because they are molded in plastic to reflect the look of the real cars’ fiberglass bodies, which kept the cars’ weights to a minimum when racing.
The Hooker body is a gorgeous metallic red and orange with a giant white Coca-Cola decal on the rear window. The Garlits machine is a glossy black with a red, white, black and gray roof that appears airbrushed like the original.
Both cars have rubber Goodyear labeled slicks and attractive chrome wheels. In back are small wheelie bars with wheels that rotate. Inside is the stark dragster cockpit with a long steering column and tiny steering wheel, along with a low-slung racer’s seat and seat belts. There are even a couple red fire extinguishers.
Yet it’s the giant supercharged engines that are the real heroes here, with a giant air scoop sticking out of the windshield and full plumbing and wiring. There are plug wires, injector lines, fuel lines, and both throttle and steering linkage that are well-executed. These models display well.
If your customers prefer to leave them in the three-window display box, there’s a window on the bottom to reveal the highly detailed undercarriage. The boxes themselves are impressive, with timing tree lights on top, along with a photo of the real dragster in action, plus a historical photo collage on the back panel.
Marketing: What’s not to like? Not much. These are priced at $89.99, but that’s well below many 1:18-scale die-casts with this much engine detail. In addition, your customers will be buying something fairly rare in the die-cast world: fully detailed legendary Funny Cars.
Put these in a special display in your store window or just inside the door. Visually, they’re traffic stoppers. They’ll stop your customers in their tracks. You'll also want to display one or two in acrylic cases to encourage add-on sales, and you could stir further sales by surrounding the Funny Cars with some of Auto World’s fine value-priced 1960s and ’70s muscle cars.
Product: Legends of the Quarter Mile: L.A. Hooker, Don Garlits
Maker: Auto World
Stock number: AW1106 (Hooker), AW1107 (Garlits)
Availability: Round 2
• Super detail for price
• Popular Funny Cars
• Flashy box with three windows for easy viewing