Many of you know him as "Stick" from the awesome Redline Garage series now hosted here on Diecast Nutz. Did you know that Robert is a pro pinstriper in the tradition of Von Dutch? Or that he performed design and consulting work for Danbury Mint and Liberty Promotions? Stick has a very expansive and eclectic mix of diecast cars, with over 1200 redlines in his collection. Well known as valued member of the diecast collecting community, we are proud and excited to share this interview with all our friends here. Sit back, grab a cup of joe, and enjoy!

JS: So Stick, how long have you been collecting diecast cars?

RS: Since I was 7 years old in 1968. I still have my first redline, an orange Custom Fleetside. I’ve always collected HW and Matchboxes but my collection is primarily HW redlines. I also have a vast collection of 1/24th scale diecast, along with some really cool Studebaker promo cars.

JS: Where did you grow up?

RS: I was born in Hartford, grew up In Windsor, and now live in Granby, all Connecticut (CT).

JS: Have you always had a passion for cars? When did it hit you?

RS: Yes! I've always loved cars. My dad was always into cars, and back in the 50’s he owned some really cool customs. He was a CPA and CFO of numerous banks in CT while I was growing up. He always had a cool car so we would always be under the hood, or he was always taking my brothers and me to car shows. I remember meeting Richard Petty, and Gary Gabelich (Blue Flame rocket car) at a large indoor show back in the late 60’s.

When did it hit me? As a young boy, I remember getting into a 1955 Studebaker Speedster with my grandfather every Saturday.We would go to the local drug store and Topps department store, and he would buy me a new Hot Wheel and or Matchbox car. I can remember those days like it was yesterday. My grandfather was an engineer, tool and die maker, sign painter and all around master of anything mechanical. He also worked as the chassis engineer for Pope Hartford automobiles, built in Hartford, CT. So he passed that passion to both my dad and myself. I still have every car my grandfather bought me. Some of them I frequently feature in my articles.

JS: What types of things does a chassis engineer do? What was Pope Hartford automobiles?

RS: A chassis engineer designs the frame and suspension geometry of an automobile.  They also work with powertrain location. In early automobile manufacturing sometimes this position would make or break a company. When you ordered a custom one-off car from early auto manufacturers (like Packard, Cadillac, Duesenberg, etc.), you would order the frame and then pick from a body catalog. That’s why most classics have numerous bodies that fit the chassis. Each model could have three to five body styles. Pope Hartford’s were known as open touring cars, which meant then didn’t have fixed windows or roofs. Some history on Pope Hartford: The Pope Manufacturing Company, founded by Colonel Albert A. Pope, produced Columbia bicycles prior to automobiles. Located in Hartford, Connecticut, Pope Hartford began producing vehicles in 1903, and continued until 1914 when entered into receivership.

 

JS: Did you have a favorite car or brand growing up?

RS: Yes. I always was crazy about my grandfather’s Studebakers, along with my dad’s numerous Studebakers and GM cars. As I got older I was drawn to 50’s and 60’s era cars as I considered them to be visual works of rolling art. I’ve always been very passionate about the GM brand, with Oldsmobile and Cadillac being my favorite. I’ve owned numerous Oldsmobile Toronado’s from the 70’s through the 80’s. I’m also a big Chevy Impala fan. As for dislike I really have no attraction for Japanese cars and just leave it at that. I guess I never got over Pearl Harbor.

JS: As a big Cadillac fan myself, I can relate to the “rolling art” reference. Also interesting to me is how the Eldo and Toronado both had front wheel drives in ’69. Not exactly transverse four-bangers!

RS: Yes they were amazing car of the 60’s and really ahead of their time with the front wheel drive setup and sculptured bodies with large fender flares. It appears they took a lot of cues from the early L-29 Cord, which I believe was the first mass-produced front wheel drive car. Cords themselves were amazing cars.

JS: What’s your daily driver?

RS: Sit down for this one and try not to laugh. With four kids it’s a 2005 Town and Country Touring, and a 2011 Volvo CX70 AWD

JS: Ousted as a minvan driver! Had to think about the Town and Country name for a second, then realized Chrysler hijacked it. A far cry from the original! We’ll let you slide on the Volvo!

RS: Ahem yes, the Town and Country van was a must have with the family and vacations. It comes in handy for the HW conventions as well, and you can haul a lot of redlines in this baby. You’re correct the name came from the Chrysler Town & Country from 1948. Those cars were amazing and the wood accent body work was top notch.

JS: I always have to ask-which do you like better, NHRA or NASCAR?

RS: Wow I'm into both. I’ve been a big NASCAR fan since the 60’s with Richard Petty as the driver. I followed him until he retired. I then followed Dale Jarrett, and thought he was a class act like his dad Ned. Today I root for Jeff Burton. As for the cars I'm glad the COT finally got canned it was like watching the IROC race all over again. The 2013 cars look like race cars and the cars you see at your local dealer. I think the NHRA is a lot of fun to watch, and it didn’t take long to go super scary fast on the 1/8 mile. I follow John Force’s entire team of drivers. I’ve also been a big Don the Snake Prudhomme fan as well. And who didn’t have a Snake and Mongoose HW race set?

JS: We have a decent NASCAR group on Diecast Nutz (All NASCAR) created by Steven Spahr (thanks Steve)! There is a movie coming out about the Snake and Mongoose legend, cannot wait for that!

RS: Yes that movie will be amazing. I’ve been following the filming and Carson Lev (of HW fame and FOOSE) is also involved and has an acting role as well. It will be really cool to see the final piece. The cars themselves look so cool, and the actors playing Snake & Mongoose are dead-on.

JS: I understand you did some design and consulting work for the Danbury Mint. How did you land that job and what did you do?

RS: Yes that was a great gig. A good friend of mine Jim Ingleese, (famed Ingleese induction system inventor) was doing some consulting work on the street rod line they were making and he asked if I would come on board with the custom line. So it was cool. I was able to consult on what mainline cars they would turn into their custom lines. The one I did the most work on was the ‘55 Ford radical custom. The coolest part was the pinstriping on the hood and trunk. I did three separate color pin panels all on clear plexiglass 12” x18”. They were then made into tampos and printed on the cars. It is so cool to see your work on a model in 1/25 scale.

I’ve also done some HW graphics design work for a few diecast club cars. Liberty Promotions used my art and produced two cars, with runs limited to 250 each. They are pictured in this article, the Passion, and SCOOL Bus. I’ve also done special CVD club promo cars for their Christmas parties. I did the packaging, paint and water slide decals.

JS: Some outstanding work Stick! You are a very talented artist. I am happy to share this work with our members at DN here:

 

JS: Out of all the diecast cars you collect, are original Hot Wheels redlines front and center?

RS: Yes HW redlines are the primarily focus of my collection, and it’s the focal point of my research and writing. Ever since I got my first Custom Fleetside I’ve been hooked. It’s a great hobby to share with all my kids. I also have a large collection of Danbury Mint cars, various European diecasts, and GM dealer promo cars.

How many in your collection? Any rainbows?

RS: I have over 1,200 redlines. As for rainbows I have the following: Ford Vicky, Beatnik Bandit, and the Demon.

  JS: We’ll have to check your Diecast Nutz picture album for the rainbows! Do you collect only Spectraflames? Any Flying Color enamels in your collection?

RS: Its all Spectraflame, I have a few enamels, and I see my collection growing in that direction next.

JS: How much time do you devote to this hobby? Do you meet with other local collectors or clubs?

RS: I’m very active on various blogs and continue to write. I’m working towards a book in the next three to five years. I meet other HW redline collectors at various events and private shows. I’m a member of SNEHW, Southern New England Hot Wheels club, it’s a laid back club. I also attend RIHWC monthly meetings when I can, and I look forward to Summer Smash every August in Rhode Island. My view on clubs is: it should be about the hobby, collecting, FUN, especially if kids are involved! They are the future of the hobby. So “Keep It Simple”. Unfortunately, some clubs are very politically run and those are the ones to stay away from.

JS: It creeps in everywhere, unfortunately. Many members of the redline community know you for your outstanding work on the web, Sticks Redline Garage. How did that come to life?

RS: The Redline Garage started as a print version about four years ago for CVD (Connecticut Valley Diecast Club). I also had a print version for the RIHWC (Rhode Island Hotwheels Club). They sponsor Summer Smash, an amazing HW event every August. When the printed newsletter went away due to print and mailing costs, I looked for another way to share my hobby and views as a collector. So Jeff Glasson of www.diecastaudio.com contacted me and asked if I would do a monthly article for his site. I did approximately eighteen posts, which provided me with really great exposure to the HW redline hobby. Presently I will be working here with Diecast Nutz and see where that takes us. I have to say that this hobby is a lot of fun and you meet some amazing folks along the way. I need to thank a few collectors that have helped me grow my collection and also have made large contributions to my writings with history and information. Scott Jones and Anita Smith, whom without their help, passion and pushing me to keep going I probably would have given up. I also need to send a big thanks to Mike Zarnock. He’s been a big influence on me and also on how I write my articles. The view I take isn’t your typical collectors view. Mike has supported my approach and always said “Stick just hang it out there buddy, love the angle”. Mike is a wealth of knowledge and he’s been very helpful with tips, hits, and info on redlines that you just can’t find anywhere else. I want to thank Jeff Glasson, because without his help and taking a chance on my posts I wouldn’t have gotten beyond the printed versions. Jeff showed us all that this hobby can live and grow via the Internet. Finally, I want to thank Jim Lombari, president of the RIHWC. Jim’s passion for the hobby is amazing, and what he has done for local charities is priceless. Jim is also a very competitive redline racer! I've had my best races challenging him. That’s correct you must race these redlines, don’t let them just sit in a case. Let them get some patina on them!

JS: How many articles are in the archive?

RS: I would say about 23 at this time, mostly redlines. I try to create an individual article focused on each redline casting that was produced.

JS: We are very excited to be hosting your garage here at Diecast Nutz. Seems we’ve been staring at the “coming soon” logo for ages. So glad it’s finally available to all our members!

RS: LOL yes it was posted out there a few months back and it just took some time to build a few articles and collect a bunch of new ones. There’s a lot of work that goes into an article. I usually have to find some info on the 1:1 likeness, or research the one-off custom castings and see what I can find, or just use my imagination. Then there’s the photos and reaching out to other collectors for their rare pieces and information. I put a lot of planning into each piece and try to get other collector’s collections as well-gotta spread the love of the hobby! Actually, I think your partner in crime just hit the link the logo button way to fast when I said I was coming over,LOL The Custom Camaro is the first all NEW article in 2 years, and I promise a new post every six to eight weeks.

JS: Tell us about your current 1:1 rods. What’s in the stable?

RS: I have a radical custom ‘74 Chevrolet Impala that I purposely built taking all the 50’s custom techniques of Barris and Winfield and then applying it to a 70’s car vs. a 50’s car. Chopping and stretching the roof, custom fabricated quarter panels, eight ‘59 Caddy taillights, nosed and decked, zee’d frame, custom paint, and wheel covers. The car was completed in 1987 and every inch has been modified. It looks just as sweet today as the day I finished it.

JS: Both ends of the Chevy are sick! How did you get into car customizing? What are your specialties and passions there?

RS: I’ve always been into cars and you just can’t keep them stock. When I was in college I worked at an auto body shop. I started to pinstripe and paint graphics on customer’s cars, and it helped pay my way through school. It just took off from there, as I began to do auto concept drawings as well. Client were bringing me ideas and asking “can you tell me what this will look like?” if I was to make it a rod or custom. The ’32 Ford art in this article is an example of a concept drawing and the car that was built. I then painted it as well.

JS: Love that '32! Were Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and Von Dutch influences there?

RS: Yes big time! I have all sorts of Von Dutch stuff, magazine articles, pictures of all the cars he’s done, and some of the Barris cars he pinstriped. Dutch’s work as a gunsmyth will blow your mind. As for Big Daddy, yes he was a big influence on my art and also growing up I was really into his work. I have a few books Ed wrote. They are just amazing, how he describes how to get all the cool effects they were able to pull off while pinstriping along with his air brush work.

  JS: That is some killer work! I know that you customize Hot Wheels and other diecast cars. Which cars have you painted or finished?

RS: I’ve had a few redlines that I’ve customized, there’s the El Nomadino, which was an original redline Nomad. My brother smashed the rear portion of the roof with a hammer when we were kids. I found it a few years ago and cut off the roof and reworked it into a pickup (see pics). I’ve done a lot of 50’s custom HW, there’s a Shoebox that I painted candy red. I removed the roof posts, did a custom moon wheel cover, and a few other custom touches. I also have a dozen or so Purple Passions that I’ve modified, and about six different projects in the shop. Any redline that I’ve customized or restored starts with a car that’s beyond saving.

JS: Loving that "El Nomadino"! Do you clean up cars and upgrade the wheels?

RS: Yes I try to refresh some redlines if they need wheels or parts that are missing. I have a pile of original wheels and parts. If a redline needs better wheels or is missing anything I probably have the parts. Other collectors send me cars that need cosmetic rework. It’s all about keeping them original.

JS: Do you collect new diecast cars?

RS: Yes I'm always looking for new interesting castings and variations. I mainly collected wheel variations.

JS: What’s your favorite redline?

RS: Well I've got two.The Turbofire, it’s a really cool casting and a neat concept car. And the Python, the Car Craft Dream Rod project car.

JS: Have any “amazing find” stories?

RS: Yes you see a Silhouette in a blister pack (see pics)? Well, that Silo is from my childhood. I took it out of the blister very carefully and along with the button put it in an old desk drawer at my parent’s house back in 1970. About five years ago my mom calls and said she was cleaning out some boxes and found this cardboard thing with a HW logo button on it. So I asked her to put it aside. I went to visit and was shocked that I had saved that card, and somehow it never was trashed. So as you see I've reunited the pieces!

JS: That is a great story!

RS: Yeah it was so cool to put it all back together after all those years.

JS: How do you display your cars? Any pics of your display?

RS: I just display at national events and club meetings. I have a show display that will hold 85 redlines and then I run a supercharger with cars around the display. I have various other redlines inside the oval, the Sweet Sixteen, Spoilers, and Club Cars fill the infield. (see pics)

JS: What are some common pitfalls for collectors? What’s the best advice you can give a collector that is shopping on eBay or at a flea market?

RS: Know your prices and get Mike Zarnock’s field guides. Those books are the best for hunting. Be very careful, as there are some sellers on eBay that will take you for a ride. Pay attention to sellers that are trying to pass off restos as original redlines. Do your homework, get with a group of collectors that are in this hobby to collect and share the passion, who like to help each other. Also, find blogs and website groups there are a bunch of great redline collectors right here on Diecast Nutz, So join up today. As long as you do your homework you will be OK. I get a lot of emails from people that bought a redline car who are so thrilled and man it’s worth big bucks. I hate having to tell them they paid way too much and its only worth X, or it’s a restoration and not an original.

JS: Do you see the redline collector community growing, staying flat, or declining right now?

RS: I think there’s some slight growth-it’s all about what the market will hold as for selling, trading, and buying. I hope that more people get into the hobby and that more kids get in. I’ve met a great bunch of young kids that are getting into redlines, so there is some growth with them and hopefully that will keep the hobby alive. Like I mentioned previously, “Keep it Simple” as the kids are the future of this hobby.

JS: How about the diecast collecting hobby in general-is it morphing?

RS: I think that most collectors will see that redlines have some value and history and the newer cars are cool, but will never get the cult status that redlines have. It all depends on what you like. I like all HW, but I'm passionate about redlines as they allow me to remember my childhood. It’s all what you like to collect, and what you enjoy. Generally speaking all diecast cars can’t be put into one lump bucket. There’s so many different avenues in the diecast world, as a collector you just have to find your niche.

JS: Production costs seem to be affecting new Hot Wheels, for example, as more and more cars are assembled with plastic bases. Do you think this will have an impact on the decisions diecast car collectors make regarding what they focus on?

RS: Yes I think it will. To me a HW has a metal body and chassis. I know the industry has to keep the cost down but to me, it’s cheapening the collectability and market desire.

JS: This is where I think a company like M2 Machines plays a role. The level of detail, real metal, and quality is even better than the old 100% Hot Wheels adult collectible line.

RS: Oh yeah M2 is blowing away the collectors with all the cool stuff they have coming out. I have a few cars, the one I really like the most is a David Chang (EVO fame) stretch limo ‘49 Merc custom with crazy flames on it.

JS: I have that one! It’s definitely a buyer’s market in today’s economy for collectors of just about anything right now. Do you see a time when redline values will go up or have they peaked?

RS: That’s a tough one. You might have to assemble a panel of redline collectors for this question. I think there are always bargains out there you just have to look. And then there are some collectors that just want their cars to go to another collector. I’ve acquired most of my cars at a good value. With some cars, I’ve promised sellers that they will stay in my collection and not be resold. Then there’s guys that will pay sick money for a redline. So with market flex it’s really tough to put your finger on where prices will be two years from now.

JS: I agree it’s either dead mint top dollar cars, or everything else is up to whatever you can get for it. eBay is more hot and cold now than it ever was.

RS: Yes it is you have to really watch it. It’s better to actually get a group of collectors you are comfortable with and buy and sell among each other. I’ve bought a bunch of cars from the group of redline collectors at Diecast Nutz.

JS: How did you come up with the name Stick for your internet presence?

RS: Well it’s short for my last name. As a kid growing up I was always called Stick or Big B. And I’m not built like a stick. LOL.

JS: I realized that was a dumb question after asking it! Any other hobbies or interests?

RS: Yes I collect vintage pedal cars. I have built a custom pedal car for each of my children too (see pics). I also coach youth sports and that’s just a blast. If anyone is interested in the art of pinstriping or art in general, I'm always open to teaching or sharing my passion. Every May I return to visit my 5th and 6th grade art teacher. I spend a day teaching her students how to pinstripe, along with the steps involved in completing auto renderings. (Yes she still teaching some thirty-plus years after having me as a student, and she was an influence on my career path).

 JS: Can we be Bobby in the pedal car for just an afternoon? Thanks so much for your time Robert. I look forward to sharing this interview with the collector community, and unveiling Stick’s Redline Garage at Diecast Nutz!

RS: Hey anytime it’s been a pleasure.

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Replies to This Discussion

Very Cool....Excellent Read!!! Love that you are taking the time with the Kids to keep pinstriping alive!!

Great article!! Love all the pics! :)

John, thank you so much for compiling this interview, and composing its article.

It's a fabulous composition with and about a fabulous diecast historian / collector.

All those amazing images offer a special view into Robert's realm of automotive fun.

 

Glad to have this opportunity to "know" you better, Robert.

CHEERZ ...



Reverend Jeffrey Roberts said:

John, thank you so much for compiling this interview, and composing its article.

It's a fabulous composition with and about a fabulous diecast historian / collector.

All those amazing images offer a special view into Robert's realm of automotive fun.

 

Glad to have this opportunity to "know" you better, Robert.

CHEERZ ...

 

Ditto  Jeffrey. Well said ..... your turn next eh!?

Gary

Great stuff John ..... an excellent article. It's a real eye opener reading these profiles. One gets a preconceived vision of someone on a site like this simply from the odd comments and postings etc.

Robert, I have always thought of you as a great guy with obvious talents, but I had no idea how far they extended. Thanks so much for sharing with us. Gary  

I echo what Gary said ... it's a marvelous education to learn

so many special things about a long-admired person in our hobby.

 

Yup, Robert ... you really have oustanding talent and skill in many venues.

members thanks so much for the feedback, i enjoyed the interview with John. John Saric you did an amazing article thanks again members for allowing me to share my passion and hobby. Jon W without your vision of this cool site non of this would have been possible. I have plenty of new projects in the shop so in the next few months i will share as i complete them.

WOW...

Speechless...multi talented to say the least...dayum!!!!!

nice  here is my pedal car i restored a few years ago

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