Pre-1940s and Steampunk Castings?

Rainsford Thursday, 3/4/2021

Hey all, I could use some help from folks more knowledgeable/with larger collections than I. I've been scouring for all the "old-time" style castings I can find, but it seems some of the 1920s-era cars are either out of production or are produced few and far between. ($7.00 on eBay for a Model A pickup from 2019?!) The Old #3 seems plentiful and I love it, but I already have two and might only get another to paint blue and renumber. What I'm looking for input on now is all the hot rod and fantasy castings that have potential to be steampunk'd.

I've been digging through the "by decade of origin" section on the Hot Wheels wiki, but that doesn't help with sorting through all the fantasy castings. (Speaking of which, is there a similar "by decade of origin" reference somewhere for Matchbox? My Google-fu can't find one.) I just discovered the "Stagefright" hot rod via an eBay lot listing, which is probably the holy grail of steampunking material, with enough space to fit a small locomotive on the front. But - are there others more recent that I don't have to fight my own sense of "collectible preservation" to customize or plunk down $20 for?

Any and all suggestions welcome! I've got a whole organizer bin full of model train detail parts, so even castings with a general shape with some potential would work for my needs! Shoot me your ideas!


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Uncle_Elvis 3/4/21

There was a steampunk based casting last year, motowing I think was the name.

  • Those were all over the pegs by me. Definitely has some steampunk trappings to it. — redlinederby
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redlinederby 3/4/21
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I could probably put in an argument for Bon Voyage. Has that similar "made it in my garage" vibe that steampunk has.

Stage Fright is certainly one to entertain, like you already found. 

I guess a question is are you looking for steampunk-like castings that as-is out of the box, or ones that could be made to look steampunk with a little extra work? Not necessarily modding but paint and stuff.

I think a lot of the late-70s, early-80s castings have that "old-new" feeling to them. Like the's like an old Ford pick-up with an engine and pipes on it.

  • Bon Voyage makes me think of the experimental rail vehicles here: — Rainsford
  • And yes, I'm looking for both steampunk out of the box, and things that have potential with paint and details. — Rainsford

As soon as our new track is finished, Psychedelic Speedway is hosting a "Birth of the Automobile" race.  We're using the 1900-1920s cars that Readers Digest put out in the 1990s.  I've used their Model T in races at Rust Belt last year.  Their undercarriages have room for weight between the wheels.

  • Good to note...the "High Speed" cars I have are the same castings as the Reader's Digest cars, but were sold in box sets by IHC for HO scale railroads in the late 90s/early 2000s. Do you put new axles or wheels on them? Mine won't roll worth anything. — Rainsford
  • Yeah, the bases pop off so easily, that wheel swapping is a cinch. — GenX_VintageRacing

Hey I'm a HUGE steampunk fan! 
There was the "Steampunk" tow truck and this past year Hot Wheels made an Art Car Roger Dodger that says "Steam" on one side and "Punk" on the other. 

The Boneshaker and many of the fantasy cars could easily be steampunk'd, but please do more than just gluing some gears on it and calling it "Steampunk". Also check out the "Erikenstein Rod".

I am working on the rules and other info for a Steampunk themed race this August.  It will be called "The Steam Grand Prix" and will feature cars from noted Steampunks like Dave Lee  of HCS Creates, Steven "The Hatter" Moreira, Thomas Willaford (he's pending, cuz he's "uber busy"), and a few others.  The biggest and most important factor that I will be holding cars to is size: 3.25in. long x 2in. tall x 1.25in. wide.

I hope you build something! Please share some pictures with me when you are finished and I would hope that you would enter it in the race in August!

  • Oh man...I'll have to try and get something put together. And don't worry, my steampunk philosophy is to not just make, uh, a "copper painted chunk of some 1980s junk," as the rest of the song goes. ;) — Rainsford
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RLoRacing 3/4/21

I can't help you with a casting but I picked these up at Walmart the other day (crafts/buttons section) with the intention of using them for a future steampunk custom so hope this at least helps a little in your build 

  • I've got plenty of gears in some craft organizers, but there are some interesting variants in that pack, I'll have to keep an eye out for it! — Rainsford
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Rainsford 3/4/21

A point of steampunk reference: this little short 3D animated film has been inspiring my model railroading, and is guiding my thoughts on a steampunk race car aesthetic, to some extent: Steam Speed

And that video was most certainly directly inspired by Stan Mott's "Les 24 Heures de Choo Choo" from Road & Track magazine, November, 1981, which you can find all the panels of and a blurb about here, including the "Mulsanne Straight-Down," leading to a Hot-Wheels-style loop.

The start of "Les Choo Choo":

  • I don’t know how many times I’ve watched Steam Speed, and I still love it. I even had plans drawn up for a steam locomotive drag strip for my model trains, complete with return track, pit stalls, and winner’s circle (appropriately placed on an open turntable.) Still figuring out the wiring ..... — SpyDude
  • I really need to work up some "Firesteam" and "Texacoal" signage... — Rainsford
  • Look at the movie CARS and look at their signage. They got quite creative. — SpyDude
  • That's a great short! It needs to be a video game too. I guess my fondness of steampunk started with 20,000 Leagues and just stuck. I don't chase it but love the aesthetic and wonder that comes with it. — redlinederby
  • Wow I thought I was the only person who’s seen this video lol — RLoRacing
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RLoRacing 3/4/21

Ps: here's one I bought a while ago with the thought of making something Warhammer 40kish in then cute maybe. I think with some slight mods it can work for steampunk. Casting is named Krazy 8s

  • I like anything with fins, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for this one. — Rainsford

You might find the Gaslands UK Car of the Month from last August interesting:  The theme that month was Steampunk.  Here's the video:

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Coopdevil 3/5/21

Brit Speed is an aero engine in the middle of a car influenced by classic Morgans.

  • My wife wanted some of the cars in the City 5-pack, so I called dibs on the fire brigade one. Popping it apart and painting it up today! — Rainsford
  • Good one. Pretty speedy too if I remember — redlinederby
  • Those wheels could pass decently for older style wheels ..... — SpyDude
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