words: George Achorn, photos: Always Late Customs
Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in the Q1_2021 issue of quattro Magazine. If you would like to subscribe to quattro Magazine, please join Audi Club here.
Let’s face it; the toy aisle at the local Target may be intended for kids but we’re not 100% sure about the Hot Wheels section. Over the last few years, Mattel’s diecast toy cars division has been upping its game, licensing and selling 1:64 variants of some of the coolest cars. As car enthusiasts of all ages find themselves wandering into the toy aisle in greater number, more and more of them are discovering that modifying them are a great way to create something unique, all at an affordable price. Take for instance this Sport quattro S1 E2.
Diecast aficionados will tell you that the Sport quattro has been sold in various forms for over a year now. The most recent iteration was a premium version (metal base, premium wheels, rubber tires) as part of a motorsport-themed Car Culture set. Based on the livery and the sponsor placement, it’s basically a tribute to Michéle Mouton’s 1985 Pike’s Peak-winning S1… easy for Mattel to do since it’s largely a paint scheme change from earlier Sport quattro releases.
We dipped our toe into Hot Wheels customizing before (full story quattro Quarterly Spring 2018), but the wheel swap and color change on an old ur quattro Matchbox car was pretty basic. What if you could build the more radical wedge-shaped S1 E2? It’s been done by Always Late Customs. Better yet, they’ve posted a pictorial of the process online and even sell water transfer decals just like the old plastic model kits you used to build so that you can build one too.
When Audi wanted to go even more radically into Group B, it overhauled the S1 with more radical engine tuning and radical bodywork. It was wider and featured an enormous rear wing. To recreate that, fenders were built up over a freshly stripped Sport quattro body with epoxy putty and styrene panels for a flat surface. Next, plenty of sanding and filing is employed to get the shaping just right. Support for the front splitter was also applied to the model base using another piece of cut styrene.
The distinctive wing may have been one of the biggest challenges. Here again, styrene was used. It was heated and bent to shape, then smaller cut pieces were used for uprights and end pieces.
When the body was complete, an undercoat of white paint was sprayed. Then, it was taped off to recreate the yellow striped portions of the bodywork. Black touches were hand painted, and Always Late Customs’ water slide transfer decals were applied. Finally, handmade rally lights were also added.
Of course, there are other tips and tricks to be learned on modifying Hot Wheels. Custom axles, sourcing just the right wheels whether from a donor car or 3-D printed by the cottage industry of custom Hot Wheels suppliers. Google and YouTube are great resources in trying to learn it all.