Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Bringing One Back From the (Mostly) Dead

In that great cinematic epic, The Princess Bride, we found out that "mostly dead" means "a little alive." I'm reminded of this fact sometime when dealing with vintage items. The biggest question, however, is how "dead" does something have to be to warrent a push to the "mostly alive" side? You see, certain collectors will NEVER restore an item, preferring to allow it to tell its own story of a hard life.

All of that is well and good, but what if the item is just beat to death? And what if you can really make it look new again? And what if the value really isn't affected all that much? Well, in my world, you go for it!

Such is the case with this Hot Wheels Torino Stocker from 1975 that I found years ago in the car bin at Good Will. You see, many years ago, Good Will would throw all of their die cast cars into a cardboard box, and you could dig through them and purchase anything for fifty cents each. Unfortunately, someone decided that they could make more money by putting the box in the auction case, where it would go for many times what it was actually worth. Now, you won't find die cast at all at Good Will. In my mind, greed did them in.

Anyway, as I was saying before I interrupted myself, I grabbed this Hot Wheels out of the box...

Beat to death Torino Stocker
At first glance this thing is a real dog. The tampo (decals) are all gone. The paint is completely shot, the "glass" looks fogged, and the wheels are worn.

However, upon closer inspection, one notices that nothing is actually broken, the "glass" is actually just really dirty on the inside, and the wheels are, of course, redlines. So, I stuck it in a drawer and literally forgot about it for about twenty years.

I dug it out recently and decided that it needed a second chance. I found a guy on eBay that sells replacement decals for many Hot Wheels (Vince at scredlines) so I ordered some. Now it was time to paint!

The 1975 redlines had enamel paint, so regular "rattle can" paint would do. There are two ways to repaint a car. You can do a "frame on" paint job, or you can drill the posts out on the bottom of the car and take it apart. You then glue it back together. I decided I didn't want to drill the car, since that can cause its own problems. Therefore, I started without the drill!

 First I rubbed the car down with paint thinner (being very careful to not touch the plastic parts). After I wiped everything down, I went over it with sandpaper to get any remaining rough spots off. In the end, about two thirds of the paint was removed, and the rest was smoothed out.

Next, I masked everything off with regular masking tape. Even though the car is small, it took a couple of hours. There are a lot of tiny places to cover (or make sure you don't cover). The hobby knife is your friend here, since it allows you to trim the tape to exactly the right shape.

Next, came the paint. I always do a very light "dust coat" to start out. This gives the other coats something to stick to. The last of about three regular coats is the thickest, to give it a good shine.

One of the most fun parts of the process is taking all of that tape off (after allowing it to dry for several hours). The transformation already looks pretty good!

Next, I touched up the chrome. Hobby Lobby sells some stuff called "Liquid Chrome" by Molotow. It's a paint pen that writes in chrome! Talk about handy!

Before....almost no chrome on the base...

After! A newly chromed base...and grill...and bumpers...and wheels!
I had to wait a couple of days for the decals to get there, but not too long. Now I had to decide how to apply them. Since they went down the whole side of the car, around fenders and stuff, I decided to cut them into three parts and then fit them together. This was a huge mistake! As it turns out, all of the pushing around and messing with them tends to destroy the extremely thin decal.

However, Vince was more than nice when I contacted him and soon I had replacements in hand. The trick was to put the whole side on as one decal and then work out any wrinkles with a paper towel. It's a slow process, but patience will give you great results! Then you hit it with decal sealer (I used Testors brand) and there ya go!


And at home in the redline case!
So there you have it! Sometimes "mostly dead" just needs a little TLC to come back to life!

Until next time, keep searching for treasure!


  1. I had this same car. Seems to me there was also a yellow car in the set, possibly a Monte Carlo.

  2. I think you're right. Actually this car was also released in yellow and in black in later years as well!


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