Models from the Shop of David Palmeter

The Making of ‘The Movie Kid’

The California Kid is one of my favorite car movies. This is Chapter 2 in my story of converting a scale model of the star of the movie, ‘The California Kid’ 1934 Ford flamed coupe, to the movie version. This covers the 1:24 scale car. For Chapter 1 about the 1:43 scale car click HERE.

Pete (and his buddy Jake) first got noticed with this magazine cover:


That picture led to a call from a producer of made-for-TV movies:

Above – The real car as modified by the director of ‘The California Kid’ movie. At left is actor Martin Sheen, next to him is Pete Chapouris, and behind them is Chapouris’ trend-setting ’34 Ford three-window coupe. The trio was captured during the filming of The California Kid, an ABC television movie of the week starring Sheen and Vic Morrow. More screen captures of the movie version below:

Above – Side pipes not connected.

Above – Sheriff Roy sees a Ford engine….

Above – ….which magically becomes a Chevy in close-up ( from Milner’s ’32 in American Graffiti)

Above – The unusual ‘Flaming Anteater’ graphic added for the movie. Pete kept ‘The California Kid’ graphic, but not the Anteater…..

Above – Southern California Timing Assn sticker. An authentic racing group from the very early hot rod days.

Above – Love those white shocks with the pin stripes. I did not duplicate them.

Above – Sheriff Roy trying to catch “the Kid” to push him off the road. Note the beefy replacement for the Kid’s original chrome bumper.


Below 4 pix – The original 1:24 scale Danbury Mint 1934 Ford “The California Kid”. It apparently represents the ’34 as it looked when Danbury took the info for the diecast, which was probably 25 or so years after the movie was made.

Below – The donor car for the steel wheels and hub caps, but not tires, a 1:24 scale Danbury Mint 1932 Ford Highboy.

Above – The wheel swap was not simple, a lot of modifications were required to get the ‘Kid’ tires on the Deuce wheels.

Above – The ‘Flying Anteater’ was laid out from a movie screen print and decals were made.

Above – The movie license plate replica was made by cut and paste of several Google California license plates. They were reduced and printed on photo paper.

Above – Same with the SCTA sticker.

Above – The Deuce wheels were finally modified, painted and fitted. You can also see the mounting brackets for the add-on side exhaust below the running boards. The ‘flying anteater’ decal has been added next to ‘The California Kid’ art on the door….

Above – The push bar rear bumper was made from brass channel and chemically blackened with ‘Blacken-It’. The hub caps from the Danbury deuce have also been installed.

Above – Just like the movie car, these pipes are not attached to the engine either.

Above – Overall, more work than I imagined but I am proud.

Above – It is easy to see how the movie folks picked this car to be ‘The California Kid’.

Above – The great stance was retained with the Deuce wheels and ‘Kid’ tires combo.


Above – Yep, the movie side pipes did stick out about that far!


Above – The ugly but functional for the movie ‘push bar’ rear bumper. An expert pointed out to me that the rear window trim should be black, not chrome. I have no immediate plans to correct it since the car is fragile with the side pipes.

Above – I like the black and red scheme for serious machinery. I detailed and modified the Kalamazoo 4-4-0 which is also 1:24 scale.

Above and below – The ‘Kid’ with Milner’s Deuce, the source for the close-up engine shot. I personally wish they had stuck with the Ford engine for the story line.


The Reference Info from ‘The California Kid’ Builder and Original Owner Himself!

Pete Chapouris was kind enough to respond to my questions about the details of the car as modified for the movie:

From: Pete Chapouris []
Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 12:05 PM
Cc: Robert Noriega; Eric Sandoval; Peter Chapouris
Subject: Fwd: ‘California Kid’ Side Pipe Mounting

Hi David,
Thanks for the kind words re: Cal Kid. The side pipes were mounted to the stock Ford running board support brackets that extend to the boards off the frame (2 per side). When you get the model done e-mail us a photo for our web-site.

On Mon, Jul 30, 2012 at 1:10 PM, David & Judy Palmeter <> wrote:

Hi Pete,

Thanks very much for the quick response.

One more quick question, if I might impose. During my many viewings of the Cal Kid movie, it appears that the side pipes just go straight in at the front and are not actually attached to the engine. Is that correct?

Thanks again and I would be honored to have the car appear on your web site.


David Palmeter

From: Pete Chapouris []
Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 4:44 PM
To: David & Judy Palmeter
Subject: Re: ‘California Kid’ Side Pipe Mounting

Hi…That is correct, we put a 20 degree up-kick at the front on both sides. Pete

And finally, the greatest compliment possible, from Pete:

From: Pete Chapouris []
Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 8:10 PM
To: David & Judy Palmeter
Cc: Peter Chapouris; Peter Chapouris; Jason
Subject: Re: The Kid Model Conversion is Finished

Hi David,

Sorry for the delay…crazy around here these days. I must say the model is stunning, really stunning! It is a beautiful piece of work, you must be very proud. I had so much fun building the car and seeing the model brings back the memories of prepping for the movie, that was a thrash as well. You know, it’s like the car is Christmas; it’s always giving and that continues to this day.

Thank you so much for sharing,


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MyModelsC2 — 10 Comments

  1. Hello

    Can you help me i Need the window Sticker SCTA for my california kid danbury 1/24 scale

    And the other die left and eight flying anteater ?

    Gruß Christian

  2. Hi you can Made the original – The ‘Flying Anteater’ Sticker and the SCTA Sticker for my california kid in 1/24 .

    Wegen yes I need 6 paar anteater and five SCTA Sticker.


  3. Hey there,

    Hey there,

    I was looking for some old style model car wheels (found on many models but if you type 40 Merc on Google you will know what I mean) and I was wondering if you had any like these or know someone who would have some. They would need to be in the 1/25 or 1/24 size. Thanks in advance for a timely reply.

  4. i’m glad to see someone recreate the “kid” how it was in the t.v. movie! beautiful job my friend! my try it myself! been a model builder for years too! awesome work!!! r.i.p. pete.

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