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Auto World unveils Funny Cars

L.A. Hooker, Don Garlits racers show their muscle
By Mark Savage
Published: January 17, 2013
Garlits Funny Car
Don Garlits 1971 Charger Funny Car
L.A. Hooker Funny Car
Steve Condit L.A. Hooker Funny Car
Everything in the racing world just seemed better in the 1970s, and in the drag-racing world Funny Cars were the rage. They looked, well, funny, sort of like souped-up street cars with much longer hoods and a giant air scoop sticking out of the windshield.

For race fans, these were full-sized Hot Wheels cars with monster nitro-powered engines that made them fly (sometimes literally) down drag strips. Like any racing series, the NHRA Funny Cars had its legends, including machines like the Hawaiian, L.A. Hooker, Bounty Hunter and Big Daddy Don Garlits, who made a name for himself in a variety of dragsters through the years.

Round 2's Auto World brand comes with a new series, Legends of the Quarter Mile, including all of the aforementioned vehicles. Our review floppers (a common nickname) were the L.A. Hooker and Garlits machines. These dragsters had fiberglass bodies fashioned to at least somewhat reflect the street models' appearance. The L.A. Hooker was made to resemble a 1971 Mustang, and the Garlits machine a 1971 Dodge Charger.

Dave Condit drove the Hooker Mustang and later won the 1974 World Funny Car Finals while the team was based in Southern California. Condit and his brothers ran and worked on L.A. Hooker and are cousins to John Force, a 15-time Funny Car champ. Condit died in 2011.

Gary Bolger drove the black Garlits/Bud Richter Charger in 1971. The car had started with a Mustang body, but switched when Chicago-area Dodge dealers backed the team. However, it only ran part of the season before the deal fell apart and the team put its Gold Digger Mustang body back on the racer.

No matter the history, these wild-looking dragsters are simply way cool to look at, whether their plastic bodies are propped open to see the innards, or you leave the body down. Auto World uses more than 150 parts here, and it's obvious that the majority of those parts go into the engines, suspensions, and diecast chassis.

These are solid models because of the metal chassis, but feel light because the bodies are molded in plastic to reflect the look of the 1:1 cars' fiberglass bodies, which kept the cars' weights to a minimum when racing.

The Hooker body is a gorgeous metallic red and orange with a giant white Coca-Cola decal on the rear window. The Garlits machine is a glossy black with red, white, black, and a gray roof that appears airbrushed like the original.

Both cars have rubber Goodyear-labeled slicks and attractive chrome wheels. In back are small wheelie bars with wheels that rotate. Inside is the stark dragster cockpit, with long steering column and tiny steering wheel and the low-slung racer's seat and seat belts. Yes, there are a couple of red fire extinguishers too.

Yet it's the giant supercharged engines that are the real heroes here, with a huge air scoop sticking out of the windshield and with full plumbing and wiring. There are plug wires, injector lines, fuel lines, and both throttle and steering linkage that are well executed. These models display well.

If you prefer to leave them in the three-window box the cars come in for display, there's a window on the bottom to reveal the highly detailed undercarriage. The boxes are impressive, with timing-tree lights on top, along with a photo of the 1:1 dragster in action, plus a historic photo collage on the back panel.

These are priced at $89.99, well below many 1/18 diecast cars with this much engine detail. Plus, Funny Cars are fairly rare models in the diecast world, so it's fun to see something different, and so well executed.

Vital Stats
Cars: Legends of the Quarter Mile: L.A. Hooker, Don Garlits
Maker: Round 2 (Auto World)
Scale: 1/18
Stock Nos.: AW1106 (Hooker), AW1107 (Garlits)
MSRP: $89.99 each
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Visit www.savageonwheels.com to read 1:1 car and truck reviews by Mark Savage.
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