My mother-in-law, Kath, is a treasure hunter. She digs through flea markets, estate sales, and thrift stores in search of buried treasure. She relies not on maps nor legends, but a keen eye and a head full of unusual information. She will destroy you in a game of Trivial Pursuit, and then take your money on ebay.
Kath has dug up her fair share of booty. She has an uncanny ability to pick a sterling silver spoon out of a drawer full of stainless, spot a rare antique doll at the bottom of the thrift store plush pile, or grab a first edition To Kill A Mockingbird hardcover out of the used book bin – all true stories. Most of her wares end up on ebay where bidders frequently add a zero or two, and once in a while three to her original purchase price.
Every now and then Kath will cross a tool box or something automotive in her travels and give me a ring. When she came across this vintage taxi cab pedal car though, she didn’t pick up the phone. She tied a bow to the steering wheel and saved it for my youngest son’s birthday.
Alex was thrilled with his new wheels, and I was excited to see my little boy with an old car of his own. He cruised the cab unrestored for a few weeks, but the patina was crossing from rustic to rusty. Alex’s favorite hot rod at our local Saturday night cruise-in was flat black with traditional flames so we decided to transform the taxi into a flamed hot rod pedal car.
We disassembled the pedal car and then stripped the body down to bare metal. I started with a cheap media blaster from Harbor Freight, but it proved to make more mess than progress so I finished the job with my trusty old power sander and hand sanded the tight contours. I skimmed the pits and deeper scratches with a thin coat of body filler, let it harden, and sanded everything smooth. Then I laid down a couple of coats of primer topped with a few more coats of rattle can satin black and let it sit to cure for a week.
The next weekend I taped off the body with blue painters tape and sketched my flame design on the tape. Once satisfied, I carefully cut along the lines with a razor blade and removed the tape from the area to be painted. Next, I painted a nice even fade from yellow to orange, carefully removed the rest of the tape, and outlined the flames in Reflex Blue One Shot with a pinstriping brush. No hot rod pedal car is complete without some chrome, so the windshield frame, grill, bumpers, and bezels were shot in a rattle can metallic finish. Then you’re ready to fill in the details and reassemble the pedal car.
The hot rod pedal car project does not rank among Kath’s most profitable treasures, but it sure has been the most fun!