Friday, October 15, 2010

How To Make a Replica of Walt Disney's Car

So, here's all you have to do.  First, drive up the 5 Freeway to Walt Disney Imagineering to request the original blueprints for Walt Disney's personal "Runabout" (making sure you have a valid project job number or you will get nowhere). After a full day spent searching their computer data bases, flipping through slide binders and rifling through old folders, try not to be too downhearted when you discover there isn't a single blueprint of Walt's car anywhere to be found.

Next go track down Bob Gurr, the retired Imagineer who, when only in his twenties, designed all of Disneyland's Main Street vehicles, Autopia cars, monorails, submarines, bobsleds and omnimovers, and buy him dinner and drinks, during which you strategically steer the conversation to be all about blueprints.  Try not to be too downhearted when Bob explains there never were any blueprints drawn for Walt's Runabout (because back then they could just build things without blueprints because they were all geniuses.)  But prepare to cheer up quickly when Bob magically brings forth a tattered piece of vellum with a beautiful pencil rendering of the car that he drew in 1960!

Bob's rendering and photos of Walt and Lillian Disney, and their grandchildren.
Notice the car's fringed roof was sometimes on—and sometimes off.

Now, head on down to Disneyland to study Walt Disney's car in person.  There were actually four of them built, and two still reside in Anaheim.  They don't appear in public much anymore, although when Bob Gurr received his Window on Main Street last year, he was escorted to the event site in one.  Make sure you are at that event, too, and take tons of pictures.
Realizing you need to get much more personal with the thing if your replica is going to turn out any good at all, hunt down the car in its parking spot backstage and photograph every detail you see.

If possible, climb up onto something really tall, like an electrical parade float or something, and photograph the car from above.

Special things like headlamps and tail lights should be photographed from every angle. Front, back, sides, top.

Crawl under the car and photograph the entire undercarriage, axles, drive chain and shaft, and those crazy old-fashioned shock absorbers.  (Gasp in amazement that the tires are actually from Italian motorcycles!)
After taking almost 100 photos and taking measurements of everything with the measuring tape you almost didn't remember to bring with you, go back to your desk and create a whole book of diagrams that explains everything you saw.  Don't leave anything out except for the details that are too miniscule to sculpt.
That goes for the paint details, too.  

Finally, go back to Bob Gurr and ask him what color you should make your replica since, after all, there were four cars with four different color schemes. He will tell you that his personal favorite was the maroon version seen in the 1960 photo below.  (Thank you, Daveland.)

So you make your little car maroon. 
And you think it looks real snazzy.

Our "Walt's Car" replica was released on October 16, 2010 for Disneyland's 55th Anniversary.  Bob Gurr himself joined us at the signing event at the Gallery on Main Street.  It was a fun, nostalgic morning at Disneyland that we'll never forget.


disneynorth said...

I absolutely love the items you and Jody create! I bought the Soda cup and Popcorn box on my recent trip to WDW, and it was my favorite purchase from the entire trip. I wish I had access to all of the items the 2 of you create. Just amazing stuff.

Donnie said... that all I have to do????

Keith said...

Kevin - Any way to purchase the items Disney is releasing tomorrow without being in the parks? I was able to purchase the Rocket to the Moon online, but I have not seen any info on these new items. Thanks!

Kim said...

Do you know when the Mine Train release is? We don't want to miss that and we worry about it. We thought it might be with this lot but it seems it isn't. Any word?

Chris Merritt said...

Good Lord. And I thought I was obsessed with details!

Daveland said...

I am anxiously awaiting the post that details your Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship research adventure!

Matt said...

I don't think you have enough images in this post, only 37, couldn't you have squeezed in 3 more for an even 40? Geez ;)

Amazing doesn't begin to cover this post, and of course the final product. Hope we get to see it when we visit next month!!

gerG said...

...oh, and you guys nailed WDI. Exactly.

Kevin Kidney said...

disneynorth - Thank you very much!! We love Walt Disney World too, and are currently working on several 1970s-nostalgic collectibles for WDW's 40th next year.

Donnie - LOL. No, there's more actually. I forgot to mention the sculpting and revision phase which takes months, and also those sleepless night where you worry that the manufacturer in China won't be able to get all the pinstriping straight.

Keith - If you're not able to attend the event, you can call Disneyland Merchandise Services at 800-362-4533 and mail order anything that is currently available.

Kim - The Mine Train release is currently scheduled to be released on November 13. Things change, but that's the current goal. The Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship will be released in January 2011.

Chris - You ARE just as obsessed with details as we are, and you know it.

Dave - That will be a long post...

Matt - Can't wait to see you next month!

gerG - Yes. ;)

Joke said...

If there was an RC version of this, I would have sold my mother's kidneys on eBay for airfare to Anaheim.

Joke said...


1 - Disneynorth...that's where I got mine. We'd taken a trip out to Disneyland a couple of weeks after their release and they were all sold out. (Surprise.) We went to WDW for Labor Day and there they were, at the Art of Disney shop in EPCOT! At retail, instead of the deranged prices we see on eBay. VERY happy.

2 - WDW stuff? VERY cool. I'll drive from Miami to Orlando for the release dates just to make sure I don't miss out.

DizWiz said...

Absolutely wonderful!

Brother Bill said...

So do you have to take into consideration any manufacturing requirements there may be for reproducing these for sale, or do you just worry about making "the one" as perfect as you can?

RealMe@42 said...

Thanks Kevin! I want one of everything and two of the Mine Train! Since we are both unemployed, I just have to hope they don't sell out before I can get a job. :(

You do such wonderful work!! Only Disney stuff worth getting.

Major Pepperidge said...

Very very neat, thank you for this!

Imagineering Disney said...

Great post. Could one of the four cars be at WDW in Hollywood Studios? I snapped this photo (and a few others) today having just read your post earlier this week. The car looks identical.

Sector12 said...

I recently purchased the Mine Car and Amazon Belle. Your work is amazing. Can you share any details regarding the pieces that you are working on for the 40th anniversary of WDW or the anticipated release dates?

John Rudy said...

So... you included your scale dimensions on the drawing... Any measurements of the *real* dimensions in case someone wants to build a real version someday... #dreams

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Unknown said...

Wow! This is amazing Kevin. I could only dream to make one myself here at my Philippine house