Friday, July 29, 2011


Mat Irvine takes a less than serious view:
Zingers date back to the 1970s, and are caricatures of cars and trucks. The vehicles have oversized engines, mounted on undersized bodies, an effect which gives them an original look, to say the least. Zingers originated by a roundabout route, as the idea actually came from model maker Dennis Johnson, as his entry in a competition run by the original MPC company in the early 1970s. His entries created such an impression that MPC decided to produce them as kits, coming out with eight-strong collection.

They haven’t been available for 30 years or so, but now they have all been reissued by Round 2 models, the Indiana-based collectibles company that includes MPC among its group of brands.

Detailing for a hot rod finish
The Zingers are simple kits, though details can be added, just as you might with a more ‘normal’ kit. Drilling out the exhaust pipe ends so they look hollow is a good idea, as is carefully dulling the slick tyres with liquid cement to give them a worn appearance. Going further, you can really make a Zinger sparkle by adding wiring to the engine block - and given that it is a large block, this is a very straightforward task. 

Parts layout. The windshield isn’t clear - instead, it’s opaque back

Dodge Little Red Wagon on the dragstrip.

What’s in the box?
The one shown here - the Little Red Zinger - is an obvious play on Bill Maverick’s Little Red Wagon dragster (though the Zinger is actually a different, newer pickup model). It shouldn’t take too long to assemble, as there are just 44 parts in the box. The plastic is moulded in black and white, plus lots of chrome plating. As Zingers are tooned and exaggerated versions of the real thing, scale is perhaps somewhat academic, but as a guide, the vehicles are basically 1:32 scale, with the engines approximately 1:20. So they would look pretty good next to, for example, a straight-laced group of true-scale machines, whether from Airfix or Scalextric.

The finished thing. Note the engine wiring.

Chuck and Steve
But that’s not the end of the Zinger story. For, having started out as kits, six of the eight were built to ‘full-size’ 1:1 scale, by car customizers Chuck Miller and Steve Tansy. In fact Chuck and Steve worked backwards with their scale creations, by giving them real engines, mounted on reduced-size bodies. As you can see in the pic below, the results were ace. The vehicles were commissioned by Promotions Inc, an outfit that ran custom car shows in the USA throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Ironically, the Little Red Zinger was one of the two vehicles that weren’t included! 

Visit Round 2 here.

There's a mini-history of the Zingers at Hot Rod magazine. Note HR’s comment: ‘We dig the chick’s threads’ - SMN too! Click here to visit.