What Happend to Chuck Miller’s Red Baron?
If you were a kid in the 1960’s you probably day dreamed of driving the Red Baron. This was a car that you built models of and bought the Hot Wheels car of to add to your collection. The Red Baron is one of the most iconic hot rods of all time, it was popular on the car show scene during the 60’s and 70’s. The car became a rodding icon thanks to it’s wild appearance and it’s following among the youth.
The story of the Baron began in 1968 when designer Tom Daniel was asked by Monogram to design a new model kit. Daniel wanted to design a hot rod but not an ordinary hot rod, he wanted to make something wild and unique. He found inspiration for his design within Southern California rodding and surfing culture. In the 1960’s So-Cal hot rodders and surfers wore German WWI helmets as a symbol of rebellion. These helmets were produced and sold by hot rod legend Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. Daniel took one look at those helmets and knew one would look great on top of a T-bucket.
He designed the Baron as a C-Cab T-bucket with a helmet for a body, and a WWI German inline six aircraft engine as the power plant. When the model debuted in 1968 it sold like hot cakes, young boys all over the country saved their dimes to purchase a kit of their own. The model was so popular that in 1969 Monogram worked with car show guru Bob Larivee to have a full scale version built. Larivee commissioned Chuck Miller the owner of Detroit Styleline Customs to undergo this project.
To construct the Baron, Miller used a Model-T frame and fabricated the helmet-shaped body over it. He then gave the car it’s red paint job, added cheater slicks tires and threw on a pair of machine guns in front of the cockpit. Since the power plant of the model was a German Aircraft inline six, Miller didn’t want to use a V-8. Instead he found a 1968 Pontiac OHC Inline Six to use as a substitute. He then attached a zoomie header, as well as a helmet-shaped air cleaner and thus the Red Baron was born.
After it was completed, Miller and Monogram then took the car on a cross country show tour. It was on this show tour that the Baron became a huge hit among both hot rodders and model builders, it’s popularity would sell 3 million Monogram kits by 1972. The car remained on the show circuit throughout the 70’s until it mysteriously disappeared. For years it’s whereabouts were unknown, however, today the Baron can be found in the Smith Collection Museum of American Speed in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Was the Red Baron amongst one of your toy cars or model kits when you were growing up? What other model kits do you think would make a great full-size car?