Oh, to have been a fly on the headliner as famed Hot Wheels designer Larry Wood and his wife, Shirley, did a recent cross-country cruise of historic Route 66 in a modern hot wheels ride, one of the Shelby GT-S rental cars produced by Shelby American for the SIXT rental car company.
“When I began planning my dream trip along Route 66, I had a few stipulations,” Wood is quoted in the Shelby American news release. “First, we needed a very cool car with plenty of horsepower for the trip. And the exhaust note had to rumble so we could make an exciting entrance.
“Since my personal hot rods are orange, I really wanted one in that color. Most of all, the car had to be purely American so the connection would be genuine and personal. The vehicle that really fit those parameters was the SIXT edition Shelby GT-S.”
“Wood and (Carroll) Shelby have a long and very deep connection,” Shelby American noted. “Not only did Wood know Carroll Shelby, he memorialized many of the Texan’s famous cars as part of the Hot Wheels lineup.
“Then in 2009, Wood was tapped by Shelby to work with the company’s chief designer, Vince LaViolette, on the 2010 Ford Shelby GT350. The company built the Shelby GT350 for four model years and those cars are highly coveted collectibles, just like many of the Hot Wheels that Wood designed.
Larry Wood sparked many life-long connections with the automobile though the Hot Wheels die-cast cars that he created. In fact, Larry designed the ‘first car’, even if it was 1/64 scale, for most of us.”
“Now years later, Wood is driving a new Shelby GT-S that LaViolette designed and built at Shelby with input from SIXT.”
Wood was a designer at Ford and in 1968 was offered the job as chief designer for the new Hot Wheels toys that Mattel was producing. He and Shirley drove to their new home in California along Route 66. Their drive in mid-July was a re-creation of that experience.
This time, the Woods picked up their supercharged SIXT Shelby GT-S at the Hot Wheels Legend Tour stop in Romeoville, Illinois, just southwest of Chicago, and followed the Mother Road, visiting with Hot Wheels and Shelby fans along the route.
“Lately, some experts claim that America’s love affair with the automobile is over,” Shelby American president Gary Patterson is quoted in the company’s news release. “Larry Wood sparked many life-long connections with the automobile though the Hot Wheels die-cast cars that he created. In fact, Larry designed the ‘first car’, even if it was 1/64 scale, for most of us.
“His tour was the perfect opportunity to determine if the passion for high performance cars and trucks is still alive.”
Along the route, noted Tracey L. Smith, executive vice president of Carroll Shelby International, “Larry connected with fans of every generation who shared his passion for the automobile, regardless of its scale. Everyone enjoyed swapping stories with Larry and Shirley along the journey.”
As part of the trip, Wood designed a tour logo and hand built a Hot Wheels SIXT edition Shelby GT-S that will be auctioned for charity later this year. Team Shelby plans a party with Wood and a SIXT car during the Hot Wheels convention in Los Angeles in October.