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Comet Pedal Car Custom

10/31/2016
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Hands-down, street rodding has always been about individuality and creativity. It’s from that builder’s spirit that the Speedway Comet Pedal Car Kit was born. Whether hot rod, lead-sled or gasser, the sky’s the limit on how you decide to build it! In the following article I’ll show you how I customized one, both in appearance and purpose, for our youngest son Max.

I must preface that I’ve always felt a pedal car was a relatively limited use item. Once a kid is big enough and strong enough to pedal and steer the car, they’ve almost grown out of it. My remedy to this was to make it into a toy that Max could enjoy and that would adapt to him as he got bigger. Most importantly, I wanted him to be able to use it right now and for it to be totally customized and distinct from all the other kid cars out there.

I started with a freshly unpacked 918-0040 Comet Pedal Car kit. The first thing I wanted to modify were the headlights. My favorite customs all seem to have frenched headlights. It turns out that traditional “pencil tip” decorative exhaust tips fit the bill quite nicely. Shown here being fit into openings cut with a holesaw in the body. I also think a more radical kustom version could be cool with canted quad headlights. (perhaps next winter)

The next kustom touch that I wanted to be sure to incorporate was a traditional peaked and bullnosed hood. For this I formed ¼” steel rod along the center of the hood and slowly spot welded it in place after I got the perfect shape at the nose. The sides of the bullnose were filled with bits of sheet metal and the entire seam was spotted in until continuous, then ground smooth.

The next task to be tackled was to create a chassis that could handle all the tasks being asked of it and supply the required low ride height. All, of course, while remaining as light as possible. In order to achieve these goals the inner structure above the front wheel opening (spot welded inside the body) was removed, allowing the front wheels and tires to nest farther into the body. To keep the framework light and simple, the original steering assembly was retained but welded to a central tube-based frame.

As you can see here, the framework is very simple and features removable floor boards to still allow use as a kid-powered, ride-in toy later on.

Another part of the required functionality was to be able to use the pedal car as both a pulled wagon and a push from behind stroller with minimal changeover time. That was accomplished via the use of a caster that barely lifts the front tires off the ground. This eliminates the need for locked steering or perfect alignment of the front wheels to use as a pushed vehicle. It also greatly reduces the turning radius of the stroller. The caster mounts in the same threaded insert that the pivot point of the wagon yoke does. Simply unpin and remove the push handle, remove the caster, install the wagon handle/yoke in its place and it becomes a wagon.

I’m not going to lie. The body work was a challenge and did require a fair amount of work to make it acceptable for shiny paint. I didn’t try terribly hard to metal finish the body. In hindsight, I probably would have spent more time on the metalwork prior to filler. As it was, Rage filler sands easily and helped make quick work of the custom body work, filled seams and straightening out the roughness left by the stamping and welding processes used to create the body.

My helper thought the primer was a chalkboard.

Once the filler was sanded flat and the block sanding and priming was all done I painted the little car the same color as our street rod. I used Speedway's 728-19023 Titan Spray Gun as well as the 728-19990 holder and finer 728-19100 tip. The paint was Nason Fleet Base/Clear Urethane. Bright Blue.

Basecoat application
Clearcoat application

Once the paint had set-up and final assembly was done, I added wiring and 2” low voltage lights, as well as a horn (bad idea) to the mix. A mobility scooter battery provides power for the accessories. I covered panels for the seat and the floor boards with pleated vinyl for a custom tuck-n-roll interior. The inside of the body was also painted ivory to emulate a white interior. Seat belts were also added to thwart repeated bail-outs.

Following final interior and electrical assembly, pinstriping, airbrushed trim and finishing touches were added. And, like any good car guy in training, a hand wash was naturally in order.

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