Plenty of car enthusiasts want nothing more than to grow up to be car designers. On the latest episode of Hot Rod Unlimited we meet designer Larry Wood, a retired Hot Wheels designer, who tells us about his career at Mattel as well as what real cars he’s got in his garage
Like many enthusiasts, Wood began his obsession with cars after picking up a magazine. Wood doodled hot rods all through high school, and afterward applied to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where he studied automotive design. While working at Ford, Wood ran into a Mattel employee dissatisfied with his job designing toy cars. Wood offered to take his place, and scored an interview shortly after. While at Hot Wheels, Wood designed such classic toys as “Purple Passion,” a chop-top ’49 Mercury, and “The Boneshaker,” a hot rod with a skull for a grille.
Wood wanted to keep using his hands after retiring, and naturally began building custom cars. His first project was a 1932 Nash Ambassador sedan, which he pulled from the mud and restored from the wheels up. Next, he built a 1938 Ford cab-over truck and trailer, which he customized to his own specifications with a lengthened truck body and hand-built wood interior. With Wood’s latest project, he takes a different approach, pretending to be a Ford designer in the 1950s tasked with building a competitor for the Chevy Nomad wagon.
Check out the full episode below to learn more about Wood’s creations.