"Low 'n' slow, baby!"

Preamble: Mattel's Cars toy line has endured far longer than most toy assortments based on summer movies usually do,  much in the same manner that Toy Story merchandising managed to hang on for years after the first movie was released.  I think it's probably due in part to collectors gobbling up every new Cars vehicle that's released (for some reason, I envision most of them as also being Hot Wheels collectors), but there's also a certain innate appeal to the characters.  They're just so darned cute.  Anyway, there are lots of project ideas I had for this toy line that I was surprised to see Mattel eventually pick up on and run with (my vintage-style Mater among them; I also had early plans, at one time, for a Cactus McQueen project), but this is a characters concept I don't expect to ever see in stores.  Besides giving himself a new paint job every chance he gets, Ramone also has special hydraulic lifts that enable him to reach the ground as a lowrider or raise his entire chassis to ridiculously high proportions.  (He could probably wear monster truck tires if he wanted to.)  Ramone shows off this feature several times in the movie, and I thought it would be fun to build a toy showcasing this gimmick.  (Mattel did release a toy called "Hydraulic Ramone" this year, but it's just a variant on the Red Ramone, and I suspect they were just using that name to help differentiate one Red Ramone from the other.)

Construction:  After studying some publicity shots as well as footage from the movie, I figured the best way to build all the pistons was to use the parts tree from a model kit (I wanted the hydraulics as shiny as possible, and the parts tree was already conveniently vacuum metalized).  I drilled holes into the bolts holding Ramone together so I could disassemble him.  I cut his wheels off at the axles, keeping the tips of each axle and gluing them inside the wheels.  I built a new rear axle and differential, gluing the rear wheels in place and adding a line shaft made from a paper clip, which is attached to the undercarriage and helps to support Ramone's weight (I used plastic-coated paper clips so that the super glue would more readily bond the plastics together).  The front pistons are pieces from the model kit parts tree into which I drilled holes so I could slip sections of paper clip inside them.  I had to paint parts of the new assembly silver, but I tried to retain as much of the original chrome finish as possible.  I also painted Ramone's teeth, a detail that was omitted by Mattel.  

Comments:  I created this project in order to sell it on eBay, but I haven't gotten around to selling it yet.  I like to think that one day it will end up in the hands of a collector who appreciates Cars as much as I do, though I suppose it's equally possible some little kid will just play with it and demolish it.  (I have no control over such things after these projects leave my hands, of course, but I certainly hope it will be the former.)

Four years after I came up with this project, Mattel finally came up with an official version, which once agan was named "Hydraulic Ramone."

Ramone (Hydraulic Lifts) Kitbash

Ramone CGI Model: Lowrider (Left) and Highrider (Right)

Ramone Kitbash (Left) and Original Toy (Right)

Ramone Shows Off His Hydraulic Lifts

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This Page Created 11/18/2007
Uploaded: 12/18/2007
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©2007 Inspiration Studios
Cars and all related characters are ©2006 Disney/Pixar