The Ballad Of Li’l Red

Little Red CurbsideIt was another typical Saturday night.  No loud music, no champagne being puked up everywhere by drunk college kids, no clubbing.  It’s just me, a cold beer, and my computer. I had just discovered the link to Nissan’s live feed of this year’s Bathurst 12hr race and McLaren is kicking ass! As is the typical setting, I’m in a chair paying no attention to whatever house flipping show was left on the TV. Out of nowhere, I’m brought back to reality from my digital trip to Mount Panorama when I hear the intro to some new show talking about flipping “Zombie Houses” in my current hometown of Orlando FL.

There it was. This awesome looking red Dodge.  Wood trim, chrome badge, and STACKS!!!  It was owned by the show team’s Project Manager Justin.  Thanks to Facebook, I got lucky and managed to get in touch with Justin and his friends.  Over several beers he shared with me this, the story of Li’l Red:

“When we started the show [Zombie House Flipping] I wanted something that would stand out that wasn’t my Acura.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my Acura, but I wanted something that would be a symbol of what I want to do for Orlando.  I want to put Orlando on the map! We are so much more than just Disney World.  I’ve hustled to get where I am now and I think Li’l Red is a perfect symbol of that hard work; that mentality of hard work and quality that America stands for!  

Little Red Interior

I’ve always liked the Li’l Reds.  I found this one after searching the internet.  The guy that I bought it from lived in Live Oak (FL).  I apparently contacted him minutes after he posted the ad.  When I got to it, it had been sitting for 10yrs and didn’t run. I took it to my buddy Seal. He had just found out his wife was pregnant with their first kid and I wanted to do something that would help him out a bit.  I called him and told him I needed work done to Li’l Red.  We agreed that I’d pay him hourly and cover the supplies.  Everything would go to him and his son.  We worked on Li’l Red during nights, which helped to ease Seal’s nerves a bit too. 


We spent the next 6 months going over everything and got it running well , except for the carb.  We had help from Rick at Wrench Connection here in Orlando figuring that thing out.  Apparently it’s super touchy and even when you think everything is lined up it’ll still bog down. Rick figured that out. He also helped out by installing a new A/C system and updated the cooling system as well.  It worked out perfectly.  Right about the time Seal’s son was born we had finished the truck.

I have some upgrades in the works, Edelbrock carb, headers, new intakes etc., but the thing doesn’t really need it, you know?  Back in ’79 it was the fastest American production car 0-100mph.  They put a high performance engine in a commercial vehicle which helped give it some performance while keeping it exempt from the emissions regulations of the ’70s and ’80s.  

Air Cleaner

I don’t have any plans on selling it. In fact, when Seal’s son graduates from college I plan on giving it to him. It’d be cool to give him a cool truck that his dad worked on. It’s meant to be an heirloom, something that he’d keep in the family.  

Right now I use it every day. It is most definitely a work truck. For my business and the show I have to haul lumber and supplies around to job sites and Li’l Red is the perfect truck for that. Just the other day I had probably close to 1000lbs in the bed and she hauled it with no problem, spinning the tires even!  It’s really nice to hop in with my dog Marley in the seat and cruise through the neighborhoods with the windows down. I love this truck it gets so much attention and it looks so damn good!

One of the first times we drove Li’l Red after getting her running, my friend Stormy hopped in it and decided to lay down some rubber. It’s what you do after you finish building a truck like this. She ended up losing control and fishtailed down the block. Stormy got it stopped just in time, right before a fountain.  Had Li’l Red’s rear end stepped out again it would’ve met the fountain and we’d have a ton more body work to do.

Also during one of our days filming for the show, I blew my AC and radiator hoses off while we were rolling. Li’l Red turned into a steam machine on camera and we had to get it towed back to Rick. We ended up bombarding him with cameras and he filmed with us and fixed it ASAP.”

Big thanks to Justin for sharing his awesome truck with us!









My First Beater

  Ask most people what their first car was and they’ll tell you it was some beater that their parents got them during high school or worked all summer to buy.  It was the car they used to go to their first jobs with. They sped through the high school parking lot with it. It was what they used to go to parties. They used it to go on roads trips and to escape and hide from their crazy teenage world. My first beater wasn’t any of those things.  My first beater cost me $0.96 and I bought it in a grocery store.                                      I can’t resist glancing at those shiny little miniatures every time I go into the grocery store. Friends get embarrassed and people stare and smirk but I love every minute of it. Its how I hold onto my fleeting youth. If I look like a creeper hanging out in the children’s toy isle of a department store, your kids are safe as long as they don’t touch one of the cars I’m looking at.

“I don’t care if you’ve been saving all month for that boxed set I have more money and bigger muscles than you kid!”
    The Hot Wheels dealerships, known to outsiders as grocery stores, have been around since 1968. I’ve been on the market for these hot little rods since I can remember but for arguments sake let’s just be safe and say 1992. The story is a little different for my brother, father and uncles. I remember hearing stories (to this day even) about bending axles and waxing wheels so that my father or uncles could beat a rival sibling. I still have many of these original heirloom cars in a cardboard box somewhere in a closet all dinged up and chipped, signs of good use and unfair play on the racetrack no doubt.
My brother, the primary reason why I’m as auto-obsessed as I am, has probably the oddest collection of chipped cars in this aforementioned box of autotopia. During my automotive formative years, when most big brothers were thrashing and crashing there G.I. Joes and cheesy-made Matchbox cars, my big ol’ bro was stripping, sanding and painting his cars. In a sense he was showing me a different kind of appreciation for cars. Not an appreciation for their power and go-fast abilities, but rather an appreciation for their aesthetics.  There should to find out whether or not the die-cast car thrashing gene skips a generation or not. Although my big brother’s affinity for miniature auto body was respectable and should’ve been lauded, my 7 year-old self didn’t think so. I thrashed and chipped and “off-roaded” and crashed and dropped not only mine but his beautiful works of art all over the back yard and living room.
    Encouraged by my father, my brother and I had tracks and would build our dream garages out of Legos and/or wooden blocks in the living room that would rival Mr Leno’s collection and grandeur. There were afternoons that blocks, Legos and track weren’t needed to have a good time with our little cars. I would often use the outlines of the rug in the living room as a track and would let my imagination go rampant with the result being the red car winning Indy all of the time.
    My brother would sit in his room painting his cars up to whatever he felt was better than Mattel conjured up at the design studio. I still have one of his masterpieces, a 1970-something Chevrolet Van painted black with a big red “BULLS” painted onto both sides of the vehicle.  This was inspired by his obsession with the 3-peat championship era Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan.
    Today I still buy these little cars mainly for memory but partly from addiction and partly because let’s face they’re really cool. Now more importantly though we need to share this love of cars with the coming generations and Hot Wheels is a perfect place to start. Every car-nerd, grease monkey, and gear head I know has some deep enriching (okay maybe not enriching) story of how Hot Wheels was the beginning of their love of cars whether that love be large or small. My family is already initiated my young nephew into this auto-club of Hot Wheels. The love of cars and beaters, much like Hot Wheels, is an heirloom that should be passed down from generation to generation. What are you doing to help spread the word?

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We want to hear YOUR stories!

Welcome To Beater Life!


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Every car has a story. Not just the pretty ones.

Lamborghini’s, Ferrari’s, and Porsche’s.  They’re all beautiful cars. They are considered to be some of the best marques in the world. They adorn bedroom walls, locker doors, and are plastered all over television. Magazines write ceaselessly about these exotics. TV shows are made exclusively for showing them off.  They are truly great cars, but what about the others?

What about the cars the every-person drives?  What about the cars you see every morning on your commute to and from work?  Certainly those have stories that should be shared! That’s where we come in.

Welcome to Beater Life!  A blog about the stories behind all cars; common and uncommon, clean and dirty, normal and abnormal.  We believe every car has a story.  Not just the pretty ones.

We will be searching for these stories about your daily-driver and your beater car, whether it be a 1987 Honda Civic, a 2004 Jaguar X-Type, or even one of those pretty exotics from Lambo or Ferrari.  If it has a story, we want to share it.

Please send us your stories about your daily drivers to

If we like it. We will get it posted.