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10 minute read

#8Modders Project: Custom Ford Maverick

Three months ago, Diecast Racing Report’s official track, Psychedelic Speedway, was still being constructed, but we took a few days to run a race on the Box Canyon Loop. In that race, we had 8 cars. All of those cars were Rodger Dodgers that had been put together by eight of the top customizers from around the diecast racing world.

That race came a week after a photo essay article just like this one. A fact which may lead you to believe that we’re about to see some of the best in the world go head-tohead again. And, we are. That race will hit the Diecast Racing Report YouTube channel next week. For now, though, we should take a look at what’s really important: the way these folks do just what they do.

For so many in the racing world, it can feel like we’re elusively chasing speed. How do we learn to get faster?

Well, there’s a lot of bumps and bruises along the way if you take the path of the school of hard knocks. Another way to learn? See what other folks are doing, and steal their ideas. Steal from the best.

Now, not everyone is just chasing speed. Some place looks as high on their list of importance. Some even feel that’s more important. There are lessons to be learned from these modders, too. In fact, not all modders race, but they have techniques that may come in handy for those of us who do. Learn what you can where you can.

This installment of the #8Modders Project moved on to a different casting: the Custom Ford Maverick. Whereas the Rodger Dodger was a classic casting, the Maverick is a newer casting of a classic compact muscle car.

The modders invited this time are exceptional. Their names populate the leaderboards of almost any serious race in the world. We’re thrilled to have them here.

The Car

The Custom Ford Maverick has only been around for three years. Its first casting was in 2018. This isn’t the first time Ford’s other late-60s/early- 70s muscle car has been put forth by the good folks at Mattel. The first Maverick casting was released in 1970. That casting was called the Mighty Maverick (also released under the name of Street Snorter, for some reason). The Mighty Maverick was based on Ford’s 1969 model.

In 2010, the ‘71 Maverick Grabber made its debut as a mainline casting. It has been released in some form almost every year since (exempting a twoyear hiatus in 2015 and 2016). It is a faithful representation of the Ford production model.

The casting that our modders were assigned at the beginning of this project was not only based on the 1972 model, but on a very specific 2016 customized car created by Sung Kang: the UDog.

In 2020, Hot Wheels released the Custom Ford Maverick in three colors, all of which were part of the HW Flames collection: black, red, and powder blue (a Kroger exclusive). We sent each of our modders the light blue car to work with.

Unlike our Rodger Dodger modders three months ago, not a single Maverick modder left the paint job as they received it. Three did incorporate blue into their finished product, but it’s safe to say that the modders did not let their creativity be limited by what they received in their initial package. Clearly, the Custom Ford Maverick is agreeable canvas for their art.

#8MODDERS -- The Participants

Robby Comeford (Diecast 64):

Robby started modifying cars for racing around 2014. In the beginning it was just some basic modifications, but through the years he picked up lots of tips and tricks and the speed of his cars improved dramatically over those first few builds. Comeford built cars for many races over the years, mostly for races at Redline Derby, Diecast 64 (which are mail-in races that he hosts) and the Hot Wheels Downhill Racing group. He built lots of cars that he’s proud of. One that stands out is his Redline Derby Rookie Race Champion Dieselboy, which provided one of Robby’s first big wins in 2015. Another is his D64 Heavyweight 2020 winning car. Those two cars remind him of the progress he has made. But Robby’s not done yet. He knows there is more speed left out there to be found, and he’s excited to find it!

The Maverick has a unique width. It’s a challenge to find a perfect fit to swap axles straight across, so I look at other Mavericks for a good set of wheels. This one wasn’t bad, but I found some wheels and axles that I felt would be a bit faster.
Instead of a custom paint job I decided to strip the paint and go bare in a shameless (or perhaps shameful) promotion of the D64 Bare Metal Half- Mile coming up in 2021.
To get as much speed as we can out of this baby I need to polish the axles. A good set of polished mainline axles can be just as fast as nickel plated Faster Than Ever axles that a lot of racers swear by.
When gluing in axles, it's important to make sure they are parallel to one another. Using an axle jig can be helpful. I've made a lot of different versions over the years. This is a 3D printed custom D64 jig.
I removed some of the interior to add some weight. When racing on fat track I try to keep the weight as low as possible and toward the center of the car.
Custom Ford Maverick by Robby Comeford (84.3 grams)

Matt Allen (Mattman213):

Matt started his obsession with Hot Wheels like most, at a very early age. This obsession quickly led him down the road of modding and altering. First, with a hammer, but when modeling skills and abilities came around more constructive modding came about. The flame has since been rekindled by Matt’s two-year-old little boy, Luke. Now there is a wildfire ablaze and its most often quenched in the form of modding and racing diecast cars and restoring old Redline castings. What started as a childhood passion has become something they both can enjoy in so many ways.

Fresh start.
All the parts sourced and ready to put together.
Paint stripped. These castings are horrible under the paint. I stripped 3 bodies and all were equally pitted and had odd runs in the casting.
Polishing up to attempt Spectraflame style paint.
Not entirely digging the Spectraflame. Metal is dull despite the mirror polish and would take too much work to get smooth. Going back in the stripper. After 3 trips to the stripper, I finally got some silver undercoat and yellow top coat and called it done.
Custom Ford Maverick by Matt Allen (91.7 grams)

Jon L Soffa (Voxxer Racing):

Jon L Soffa is one of the most dominant forces in downhill diecast racing, and Voxxer Racing’s trademark style is so distinctive that his cars are instantly recognizable at races around the world. A resident of Parker, Colorado, Soffa travels regularly to the Annual Hot Wheels Convention as both a competitor and presenter. He presents on topics such as aerodynamics in downhill racing, and what are the best wheels to use. He is the reigning 2020 Champion of the Diecast 64 Open Modified Division and the Modified Street Division. Voxxer is in the top three in every tracked category on Redline Derby Racing’s website.

Interior, glued in only on the bumpers, since all the rest will be removed.
Filling in the windows. You can see the sections of the interior that were left after removing the rest.
Grinding down.
Now, fill and sand: I usually have 10 cars in various stages. It takes me about 10 days to do just the body.

Sanding’s done. Off to paint...

Custom Ford Maverickby Jon L. Soffa (72.9 grams)

Warwick Rule (Chaos Canyon):

Having never had kids, Warwick has had the toys all to himself. He’s raced 1/10th RC cars and collected and modified 1/24 scale cars for years but it was early 2020 when the 1/64 racing bug bit him. He carried over his love of modifying and building into this new hobby and started with simply repainting cars but soon that wasn’t enough and began adding body modifications, wheels swaps etc to his vehicles. Warwick leans towards the patina style and likes his vehicles to be unique and generally rat rod in style and if they run well, that’s a bonus.

The wheel flares had to go and it needed bigger shoes so some body sculpting was in order. At this point Guru felt we could squeeze even bigger shoes onto it. So it was back to grinding.
The body off, you can see the new, bigger shoes. These wheels were mounted onto polished steel pins. The pins go into a small tube and are then bent along the chassis and glued down.
The body gets mounted onto the chassis to check for fit before Guru and Spanners get to work with bonnet scoop and lowering the roof. The wheels are close to the body but still rotate freely.
A shot of the new rear, custom wing. The paint has been stripped off the whole chassis here as well.
First look at the bonnet scoop (from a tooned Chevelle) and the chopped roof. You can also see on this angle that pretty much all of the fender flares have been shaved off.
Mav by Warwick Rule (39.3 grams)

Heather Harmon (LionHawk Racing):

Heather "Sweet-Tea" Harmon is a new diecast racer, having only joined the community in 2020. For more than 20 years she has been active in other geeky tabletop strategy and wargames, including most recently games such as Gaslands and Warhammer 40K. Heather's favorite Hot Wheels casting is the classic T-Bird (or "Tea-Bird," as she calls it). Her modding style is still evolving, as she learns more about what works well in this new hobby. Today's submission is heavily influenced by "Orktober," which is an annual event Heather participates in to celebrate her favorite Warhammer 40k faction. You can catch her in racing action on the LionHawk Racing channel and on the Rustbelt Diecast Racing channel.

Step 1: Inspiration. Think about concept and come up with something I find exciting. In this case: ORKtober!

Step two: Strip the paint and get a clean canvas to begin the creative process.
Step three: Dry fit the bits. Play around until it looks good. Try new things.
Basecoat! (After an all-over primer). First green. Then silver bits. Then the red (because red wunz go fasta!)
Graphite and balance the wheels. And then add bits before reattaching to the model.
The WAAAGH Machine by Heather Harmon (43.6 grams)

Mark Heisler (Jackson Pass Speedway):

Mark Heisler, along with his son “Gnocchi” Jack, operates the Jackson Pass Speedway Track and YouTube Channel. They claim to be virtual novices at modding Hot Wheels, as this was only their second complete drill, strip, and paint mod. The first was Jack’s entry into the Cavalcade of Calamity Custom Contest going on currently on the Jackson Pass Speedway channel. Like almost everyone in the hobby now, they got into it with their hours of free time from self-isolation and lack of entertainment. It has been a great opportunity for father and son to bond over a shared love of cars

I wasted a few cars practicing drilling and then tapping the screw accurately. Once confident enough to work on this I drilled, separated and stripped the paint down to the bare metal.
Next was a coat of grey primer, and I almost left it grey and tried some rust, but Jack wanted a slick paint job.
We found a really nice blue metallic spray so we experimented. I had to strip it and re-prime it twice, because I was too impatient and got thumb prints in the wet paint.

Painted the seats, steering wheel and stick shift for some details and then added weight and balanced the frame so it wasn’t too front or back heavy.

Painted some detailing on the head and tail lights and Blue Steel was ready to race.
Blue Steel by Mark Heisler (52.3 grams)

Romy Rivera (Rivera Racing):

Born and raise in Boyle Height, California, Romy started collecting Hot Wheels in the late 80's and by the mid 90's he had his own collectible business specializing in Hot Wheels. Since then he attended most of the Hot Wheels Conventions in the last 25 years. Rivera started to race Hot Wheels at conventions. Downhill racing has been a highlight for him and his whole family. Over the past few years the HW Convention started a new racing class, Hot Wheels Modified, and he’s been racing modified cars at conventions ever since. At the conventions is where he met people like, Jon Soffa (Voxxer Racing) and Michael Mathis (MDG Racing) along with many other modders. Ever since then he stayed in contact with the others and eventually started racing online with them. Romy seriously loves modding cars and racing them. “I honestly couldn't do it without the support of my family,” he says.

Through the process of taking off the tampos, I used Acetone and a Q-tip.
The car with all the flame tampos removed. A clean blue canvas.
I used spray cans for paint and topped it off with clear paint in the end.
Originally, I was going with FTE Wheels in axle tubes.
I ended up switching them to Redlines at the last minute. I liked the look, thought it would be a little different, yet the function or speed stayed the same. Hidden inside is a square carbide piece of metal used for counter weights.
Blue Ashes By Romy Rivera (74.0 grams)

Frank Kline (Red Pill Racing):

Frank Kline runs the races at Red Pill Hill in Georgia. He is listed at Redline Derby Racing as the top racer of 2020. His custom build dubbed “Mad Catter” was one of the heaviest cars to ever race at 3DBotMaker’s King of the Mountain series, weighing in at 200 grams. Red Pill Racing’s signature flat back paint job and red highlights is well known at all the major tracks in diecast racing.

Taking a look at the original, unaltered car.
After adding some weight inside and doing some wheel work, put the car back together using 2-56 screws.
When sending cars to races, label the underside to identify your car. It helps everyone.
Black out the windows. It hides the weight inside and matches the look of the putty in the open ones.
Give the car a test drive. Run it down the track to see how it turned out.
Custom Ford Maverick by Frank Kline (109.9 grams)