For our final installment of behind-the-scenes content of the Hot Wheels Hi-Po Hauler build, we’ll take you through how an old 1963 Ford Econoline pickup became a badass hot rod that was approved to be a Redline Edition car for Hot Wheels’ Red Line Club (RLC).
As seen on Fast N’ Loud, the Monkeys disassembled the base Econoline pick-up and stripped out anything and everything, minus the body. Once the existing frame was cut away, the Monkeys added a chassis back half built by Chassisworks and combined it with a custom front frame designed by Jeremy Cheatham. The cabin fabrication included moving the driver’s position from the left position to the center steer position and reconstructing the inner floor around the center drive seat. The dash is a great example of Monkey teamwork. Jeremy Webster cleared away the existing dash early on, Jason Aker created the dash supports and Jeremy Cheatham cut out and recessed the lip for the fiberglass panel that sits flush on the dash that supports the gauge cluster that Charles Cimino designed and created.
For the new bed, Cheatham created custom finishing panels and Aker and Cheatham cut and fabricated the custom rear wheel tubs to cover the massive tires. The outer bed panels were completed by Aker and the front wheel tubs were designed and fabricated by Jeremy Webster and Tony Cano. Phew – did you get all that?
THE ENGINE AND DRIVE TRAIN
Because this is a race truck and a Hot Wheels RLC car candidate, we needed an impressive looking and scarily powerful engine. The Hi-Po Hauler engine started as a Ford 460 and it was bored out to 520 cubic inches. It was then mated to a monster C6 transmission complete with V-drive. This contributed to keeping all of the mechanical aspects of the engine driveline at the rear of the vehicle to ensure there was enough space to go with our center custom steering and center drive position – ensuring no parts ran into each other.
As many of you know, the engine on a typical Econoline is positioned up front where our new driver position is now. Moving the engine to the rear not only helped make the truck more drivable, it also added much needed weight for more grip when the truck takes off at the start line. The V-drive technology also allowed us to reverse the gearing, since the engine was turned completely around, not losing any engine performance whatsoever.
Once the vehicle was mocked up, the Monkey’s then fine-tuned the design for the custom bracketing, custom motor mounts and custom transmission cross member. The rear end assembly also features a chrome housing and billet accessories. The Hi-Po Hauler has Wilwood Brakes, featuring two calipers piggybacked (two for each wheel) in the rear for extra stopping power as well as undersized single calipers on the front wheels to accommodate the racing package.
The Monkeys took great pride in some of their own customization ideas such as hiding the fuel tank under the passenger mid-body and running a clear filler hose up to a custom plate so the truck can be filled at the side. The one-off steering design by Aaron Kaufman was a thing of beauty as was the custom tailgate created by Mike Coy featuring a nice finish on the sheet metal fabrication. All fuel and power lines have been hidden and everything around the engine is tight and colored black to contribute to a nice clean look.
As you all know, once this car was assembled, the Monkeys took it all back apart so it can go back to paint and all the shiny hardware could be installed. Thankfully during the rebuild, all the parts and pieces assembled nicely as it did the first time around. To put things into perspective and to illustrate the level of skill needed to pull off a build of this caliber, the Monkeys had to put six 24-hour days to complete the build from the time The Hauler left the paint booth.
Hopefully this article sheds additional light on what an amazing accomplishment this build was in the timeframe that it was completed. Gas Monkey Garage and Hot Wheels couldn’t be happier with how the Hot Wheels Hi-Po Hauler turned out and we can’t wait to see the Red Line Club version of this vehicle.