Die Cast Diaries – Chapter 5
Hello to all my family, friends and followers!! Welcome to the next chapter of Die Cast Diaries.
In this chapter, I will be introducing you to one of the most creative and unique customizers of Hot Wheels and other die cast cars and trucks in this amazing hobby culture. His designs speak for themselves and they clearly are out of the box customs. He has an incredible background with real cars and with Mattel. Some of his designs and custom flame paint jobs are on so many Muscle Machines. His story is incredible and so are his customs. I hope that after reading this chapter, that you will go and check out this man’s creations and get in touch with him about getting one made for your collection. Please enjoy this chapter of Die Cast Diaries starring Larry Salazar.
Me: What is your name and where are you from?
Larry: My name is Larry Salazar and I’m from the great state of Colorado.
Me: How old were you when you started playing with Hot Wheels?
Larry: I purchased my first redline when I was in elementary school, 4th grade, at that time you could purchase redlines right off the pegs at any Duckworths or grocery store. I couldn’t walk in fast enough to get to that isle even though there were plenty of them hanging on the pegs. Then I started collecting the orange track….oh man how fun was that racing these little guys down that track.
Me: How old were you when you started collecting Hot Wheels and other die cast cars and trucks?
Larry: I started collecting again in 1995 when I went to my first Hot Wheels convention in Anaheim, CA. That’s when I experienced my first Hot Wheels custom car contest. A whole new world in the die cast world…..everything had changed…..no more red lines.
Me: When did you start customizing Hot Wheels and other die cast cars and trucks?
Larry: After the 1995 Hot Wheels convention I decided to try my hand at customizing the little guys, it gave me a chance to become even more creative and a challenge to work on such a small scale.
Me: What got you interested in customizing die cast cars and trucks?
Larry: My passion for cars and real 18 wheelers, that’s when I started building my first custom rig and trailer and my first big challenge by using what was available back then. To enter the Hot Wheels custom contest all customs had to be constructed from Hot Wheels, no other brand of die cast.
Me: Who was your inspiration or influence that got you into customizing Hot Wheels and other die cast cars and trucks?
Larry: The custom Hot Wheels at the 1996 Hot Wheels convention even challenged me to take my customizing to the next level. I flamed my first VW Bus and sold it on Ebay for $94. That’s when customizing got really exciting. I couldn’t wait for the next convention, the people, the events and the excitement was beyond measure.
Me: Do you have a background in working on cars and trucks which helps make customizing Hot Wheels and other die cast cars and trucks easier and helps with your creativity on them?
Larry: Yes, my occupation was restoring and painting real muscle cars. I apply the same techniques and body tools to the little guys as I do the real cars. I started messing around with frisket paper and the #11 exacto blade, that’s where the excitement continued, taking the flames and graphics to the next level on the little guys. Creativity comes from within “a minds eye” being able to change something unleashes a person to recognize ideas and alternatives from an original idea.
Me: How long have you been customizing Hot Wheels and other die cast cars and trucks?
Larry: I’ve been customizing the little guys for about 25 years, on and off of course.
Me: What is your specialty in customizing Hot Wheels and other die cast cars and trucks?
Larry: Being able to create, taking certain body panels off one car and making them fit on another….making it flow. Building rigs and trailers are my specialties.
Me: What makes your customs stand out from most of the other customs out there?
Larry: Technique…in 2001, I was working for a company called Bodylines owned by Bruce Shultz. We did a lot of work for Mattel and Muscle Machines. Painted a lot of paint samples and applied a lot of decals. Also, enhanced my skills in working with styrene. I participated in building “patterns” a 1:24 scale prototype of Muscle Machines. Muscle Machines were invented and designed be Steve Metz, the owner of Staging Lanes Productions. Also built my first 3rd scale ’41 Willys that eventually was on display at the Toys R Us in Times Square in New York. Fun times, etc….etc.
Me: Is customizing Hot Wheels and other die cast cars and trucks a hobby or a full time job for you? If it’s a full time job for you, what is the name of your business? If it’s a hobby, what are your social media outlets where people can view and possibly buy your customs?
Larry: It’s just a hobby. I’m connected to Instagram…..email@example.com and on Facebook as Larry Salazar.
Me: How much success have you had selling your customs?
Larry: People have an interest in my customs, I still have customers from 1996.
Me: Is selling your customs a second income stream or just a way to fund your customizing passion?
Larry: Customizing can get very expensive, the cost of wheels and certain die cast cars and trucks can get very expensive.
Me: Which casting is your favorite to customize?
Larry: I don’t know that I have a favorite casting. I like to scratch build and modify almost anything on the current market.
Me: Finally, what are your top 5 Hot Wheels of all time?
Larry: I would have to say….VW Bus, ’67 Camaro, Dairy Delivery, Chevy Silverado and scratch built rigs and trailers.
Me: Thank you so much for telling your story in this chapter of Die Cast Diaries. Thank you for helping spread the world of customizing Hot Wheels and other die cast cars and trucks to the general public. I appreciate you, your time and your customs.
In closing, I just want to say that what you’re about to see is going to prove that customizing die cast cars and trucks is an art. Some of the concepts that you will see below, were completely built just using styrene, plastic, pin heads and the best paint on the market. This man’s talent and creativity are, in my opinion, at the top of the customizing world of die cast cars and trucks. So, for your viewing pleasure, here are some pics of Larry’s customs.
If you see anything on Die Cast Diaries that interests you, please feel free to contact me or any of the contributors to the Die Cast Diaries. We would love to hear from you about the customs, the stories and backgrounds of each contributing customizer, and any feedback you may have regarding the content on the website. You can reach me, SRQ Diecast, directly on all my social media outlets. You can also leave a comment or feedback here at srqdiecast.com.
Thank you for joining me for another exciting chapter of Die Cast Diaries. Stay tuned for upcoming chapters with more great interviews and pics of some incredible custom Hot Wheels.