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.
To enhance the driving experience of the Hot Wheels Caddy, the factory 6.0L Vortec engine was blessed with a Whipple supercharger, along with Gibson headers and exhaust. A K&N air filter further increases optimum airflow when Amy plants her right foot and the supercharger spools up. Every custom ride needs a little go to match all the show, and Amy has more than enough power under that Escalade hood to fry the hides. Now that the Escalade was hammered on the ground, rocking big wheels, and fitted with exceptional engine and braking performance, it was time for West Coast customs to put its custom moves on the body.
As you can imagine, the fresh Escalade skin needed little massaging, so a few hours was spent in front of the paint cabinet to decide what hue to lay down on this contemporary custom. Professional painter Jim Bastoli of Bastoli Autobody in Inglewood, California, mixed up a custom mica blue mauve to seal the envelope of the Hot Wheels Caddy and rolled it into the paintbooth to begin the transformation. The Escalade was covered from roof to rocker and grille to back bumper in the unique color, and Hot Wheels graphics were ghosted on the body to draw additional focus. Once the paint was tacked up and adhered securely to the Escalade skin, the new hue was color-sanded and buffed to a mirror shine. The Hot Wheels Caddy's outward appearance was complete, and the time had come to put the custom smackdown on the stock inner confines.
Matching the interior looks to the exterior styling was last on the list to complete this four-door, switch-hitting contemporary head-turner, and the pros at West Coast Customs definitely brought their A game when it came time to alter the interior and toss some audio and video amenities into the mix. The seats were upgraded with suede inserts, front and rear, and personalized with Hot Wheels and West Coats Customs logos stitched into the headrests. Purple piping rounds out the seat's edges, while the headliner, door panel inserts, front and rear consoles, and interior pillar plastics now wear suede to match the seating surfaces. Custom embroidered floor mats wearing the Hot Wheels and West Coast Customs logos spice up the floorboards.
For sights and sounds, a host of hard-hitting audio components and crystal-clear TV monitors were placed throughout the Hot Wheels Caddy to provide passengers with plenty of entertainment options. Starting up front in the dash, a 10-inch Directed Electronics monitor was molded in for front seat entertainment. An Alpine IVA 900 head unit with a 7-inch motorized monitor and an Alpine 12-disc CD changer help Amy play and organize her musical selections, while an Alpine navigation unit keeps her pointed in the right direction. A host of other TV monitors were placed throughout the interior including two 10-inch DEI flip-down units mounted in the headliner, a 10-inch monitor molded into the back of the console, two 7-inch monitors molded into the rear door pillars, and two 10-inch monitors molded into the rear door hatch. A total of ten 6.5-inch mids and separates are split up between the four doors and rear hatch, while four 12-inch H2 Orion subwoofers rest in a custom-built enclosure. Two Orion 2500 D amplifiers and two 800.4 Orion amplifiers power this impressive list of audio artillery. Surrounding the subs is a completely custom fiberglass enclosure to enhance sound and looks, while a custom turnstyle logo plate wearing the West Coast Customs name lets everyone know who labored over the custom work, creating this impressive interior arrangement. Custom lighting was also wired into the mix to give the audio gear some more bold styling.
West Coast Customs has built one sensational Escalade in the Hot Wheels Caddy and made Mattel Vice President Amy Boylan look good on her way to work. Special thanks goes out to Jim Bastoli, Mike Martin, Quinton Dodson, Mike Megdal, Shane Roberts, Abraham Medina, Whipple Superchargers, Cooper Tires, Giovanna Wheels, SMACadillac.com, Gibson Exhaust, K&N Air Filters, Directed Electronics, SmokedLamps.com, Mega Metals, and Brembo Brakes. Mattel has made a die-cast Hot Wheel out of the Escalade so youngsters can experience all the trick modifications on a smaller scale. Parents should get ready for their kids to roll the kitchen countertop with this slammed SUV on 24s, as they recreate sound effects from the bumping sound system that exists in the life-sized version. For those Hot Wheels collectors out there, this Escalade will be just one more scaled-down automotive dream to add to the collection