Saturday, July 10, 2010

Walt's Car

Walt Disney loved to show visitors around Disneyland.  Imagineer Bob Gurr designed four little electric "Runabouts" especially for Walt to use when touring the Park with family, friends and celebrities.  Bob recalls, "Walt was always smiling happily when he was at the tiller of "his car."

This replica (one of five nostalgic attraction vehicles in honor of Disneyland's 55th Anniversary) will be released later this summer.  Stay tuned for more information!

Walt and Lillian Disney in the 1960s.


Disney On Parole said...

This is Amazing!
Thanks for bringing back true
"Classic Disney"

Tom Slick said...

Kevin, you outdo yourself each time! These are SWEET! I hope I can acquire one. And do you know what happened to the originals?

Major Pepperidge said...

How the heck do you guys do it?? Seriously! I'd love to see a little series of photos on how you made some of these items, this car is amazing.


Kevin & Jody:

If I had to select some item I would love to see reproduced from Disneyland that I KNEW would NEVER EVER be produced by the park, these electric 'Tourabouts" would be in the top five........and yet here it is soon to be available!! Amazing! There were four of these little cars --one is at WDW and two were still backstage in the parade warehouse. Does the fourth exist? And what were the other ORIGINAL color schemes??

Jason Schultz said...

Kevin: Amazing, as ever.

Mike: I asked Bob about this in 2000.

Q: Now we have some questions about the Electric Runabouts. What were the four colors [of the Runabouts] and where are they now?

Bob Gurr: I picked out four colors--a combination of the seat upholstery, the body color, and the striping color--making them really nice, elegant colors. There was one that was kind of a very soft yellow, there was a dark maroon one, there was a dark green one and I think one was a blue one with a very pale yellow stripe. The green car--the last time I saw it--is sitting over at the Walt Disney office display. I’ve lost track of where the other cars went. That job was really a favorite job to do because Walt wanted a car to run around Disneyland in because when he walked and took people around the Park, he walked so fast he’d wear everybody out. Several years before I had designed a little car for him to run around the Studio in for exactly the same way in which we built a little car that didn’t cost anything (because there was no project job number for it). We went to the junkyard and bought an old Crosby for the main parts and we rigged up an Electric Car—real cute—and Walt used it. He liked that and said, "Now I want one for Disneyland." So we designed that car in 1960 with the idea that it looked like a curved-dash 1901 Oldsmobile, but have an electric battery in it, but be very faithful to a copy of an Oldsmobile. It had an all-aluminum body. We made a lot of our own castings for wheel spindles and the little chain cover in the back. The little tires were racing tires from Italian motorcycles. We made our own hub, and then the rims were Ikle Churchill motorcycle racing rims from Italy. The whole thing was made so that it was very authentic, but of real modern materials.

Q: Is it true that Walt put VIPs in the Runabout with the color that was most appropriate to their native land?

Bob Gurr: Now that I’ve never heard. We had the four colors…see, a lot of times the Art Department has to choose colors, like John Hench always chooses colors for everything. In the case of vehicles, I always got to choose my colors and Walt let me do that.

Kevin Kidney said...

Great story! There are two Runabouts still at Disneyland, but both have been repainted (one is blue and white, and the other is white and blue!) They are in the parade warehouse under a big plastic tarp, and Jody and I crawled all over them to photograph every inch. We even managed to replicate the battery box on our model.

Bob gave us lots of help with this project, as he did with our Monorails and the Omnibus models. We left it up to him to choose the color, and he picked the original maroon version which was his favorite of the four.

Ironically, when Bob was honored with his DL window awhile ago, he was chauffeured up Main Street in the white Runabout. That was the day Jody and I decided we absolutely had to do this replica.

Gregory said...

Kevin - you and Jody are amazing. You create EXACTLY what I want to buy. My wallet hates you two.....but I love your work. Can't wait to see what other vehicles you are doing in this series.