When Embarrassing Presidential Relatives Got Model Kits: Billy Carter's Redneck Power Pickup!
Last month, while I was judging at the Arse Freeze-a-Palooza 24 Hours of LeMons, a team with a Billy Carter-themed Ford Fairmont Futura handed me something I’ve been trying to find for years: a gen-yoo-wine Malaise Era 1:25 scale Revell model kit of Billy Carter‘s customized Chevy Stepside. I am so happy!
I was 10 years old when Billy’s big brother, Jimmy, was elected President of the United States, and the beer-swilling, quasi-street-smart Billy made quite a positive impression on me and my peers (remember, Northern California in the mid-70s was all about the celebration of dissipation and substance abuse, preferably involving a Chevrolet truck). Billy posed in a suit of chainmail made from beer-can pull tabs and scammed the Libyans out of a half-million bucks while his wholesome, atomic-scientist, turn-the-other-cheek-Christian big brother dropped a big wet blanket on America by telling us we couldn’t have everything we wanted all the time. Yes, chronic screwup Billy was a big embarrassment to straight-arrow Jimmy, and I’m sure there was some head-clutching in the White House when Jimmy learned that Revell was going to turn a generation of American model-building boys into Southern-fried drunken gearheads in the Curtis Turner mold. Hell, Revell might as well have included a couple of Lynyrd Skynyrd 8-tracks, a church key, and a pack of Zig-Zags in every kit.
Some of the younger racers at Buttonwillow had no idea who Billy Carter was. “He was sort of like the Roger Clinton of the 70s, only more flamboyant,” I told them. Anyway, when the Redneck Power Pickup model came out, I was more into building models of sissified, moral-backbone-weakening European cars like the BMW E24 and never did pick up Billy’s truck at Alameda Hobbycraft (I would have ended up blowing it up with an M-80, fate of most of my kits, so it was just as well). I haven’t built a model kit since Max Tork’s Hooptie-Ass ’70 Impala 20 years ago, but I’m definitely going to assemble the Redneck Power truck real proper-like.
The Redneck Power Fairmont Futura of Team Billy Beer Malaise Forever Re-Election Racing looked great on the race track, and its million-mile 200-cubic-inch L6 engine lasted longer under race abuse (12 hours) than anyone expected.
The guys on Team Billy Beer Malaise Forever Re-Election Racing scanned the decal sheet from the Revell kit and had full-size versions made for their race car. Now that’s historical accuracy!
Check out the custom features included with the Redneck Power kit. It’s like a laundry list of truck fashion trends from Plains, Georgia, circa 1978.
I’m pretty sure the real Billy Carter wouldn’t have had cases of “soft drink can” in his truck bed. Maybe I’ll modify this kit to include a few dozen Pabst empties instead.
Perhaps Revell could revive this concept with a full line of Embarrassing Presidential Relatives scale models. How about a 1:25 kit of Onyango Obama’s Mitsubishi Montero, for starters? Jenna Bush’s college-student car (I’m picturing an Explorer, but maybe it was something Infiniti J30-grade cool) and the luxury machine Donald Nixon probably bought when Howard Hughes “loaned” him all that cash for his “Nixonburger” operation?
I’ll definitely be a big cheerleader for the Embarrassing Presidential Relatives Series, but for now I’ll be content to have a Redneck Power Stepside parked next to the collection of weird diecast cars that fills my office.
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"No way. The plood has to stay for that authentic ’70s feel. Just needs some wood-grain piece of paper glued in the bed." My sentiments exactly!
I'd leave the kit intact. I just don't think you can improve on something that has been kept in its original condition for so long.