Most of us automotive enthusiasts spent the better part of our childhood surrounded by cars. Our dads wrenched on their pride and joy in the garage, and we paid close attention, learning speed secrets and how to combine the right components to build a winner. While parents have a way of shaping their kids' interests, for us car nuts, our childhood would not have been complete without the scaled-down versions of our favorite rides known as Hot Wheels.
These Hot Wheels classics have provided kids with non-stop entertainment for years, and many adults still collect these micro-sized automotive dream machines. Hot Wheels allow kids to experience the freedom of the open road and the joys of cruising and tire frying, years before they are legally allowed to climb behind the wheel of fullsize automobiles. Pairing certain cars up against each other in a drag race and using their small voiceboxes to recreate the sounds of the exhaust and screeching tires, real-world custom truck and car builders have been shaped from their childhood experiences of collecting Hot Wheels.
Mattel has produced Hot Wheels toy cars since they were introduced in 1968 and never seems to surprise us with the creations it brings to life. The company's Vice President, Amy Boylan, calls herself the Hot Wheels Mom, as she makes her daily commute in her totally tricked '03 Cadillac Escalade ESV, slammed on airbags and rocking 24-inch rims and rubber. Inspired by a die-cast model concept, this life-sized four-wheeled example of elegance began to take custom shape over at West Coast Customs in Inglewood, California, where the WCC crew created the slammed stance, trick paint with ghosted Hot Wheels graphics, and stuffed the inside with a host of audio and video amenities along with some eye-catching threads.
Rolling low was a pre-requisite for this project, as Amy wanted to be able to hit switches in Mattel's employee parking lot, so West Coast Customs' owner, Ryan Friedlinghaus, put together an adjustable air suspension system that would retain the ESV's cushy ride, but enable the rocker panels to sit closer to the asphalt. Firestone 226C airbags were mounted forward and aft to adjust her Escalade's show and driving height. A total of six Thomas 317 air compressors and four air tanks replenish and store air for Amy's touchy trigger finger - you know she can't resist dropping it down at stoplights and watch as other motorists turn their heads. Plumbing the system are SMC 1/2-inch electric air valves and 1/2-inch air lines linking up to APC white-face air gauges mounted into the console.
For rims and rubber, Giovanna could not pass up the opportunity to use this eye-catching sport utility to showcase a few of its popular wheel designs. On the driver side, 24-inch Giovanna Gello wheels convey an elegant and rich look, while the passenger side wears 24-inch Giovanna Gianelle Milo wheels. Low-profile rubberbands measuring P295/35ZR24 from Cooper Tires round out the attractive rolling package. Concealed behind the bling-bling rollers is a high-performance Brembo brake package featuring an eight-piston caliper and 15-inch rotor, front and rear. After the WCC suspension experts finished altering the scene on the undercarriage, the factory powerplant was massaged with a few trick bolt-on performance additions.