In 1964, Walter Pettit had his pompously named company, INTERNATIONAL ENGINEERING, based in Redondo Beach, California, steal many of the proprietary designs of AMT, JoHan , MPC and Revell static kits as the basis for crude molds, for its line of clear plastic bodies. This was later expanded with a line of stamped brass and aluminum chassis parts, and a few accessories such as guide flags.
This was followed by a few RTR cars, their main fame being that their vacuum-formed bodies were painted by famous slot car artist, “Bob” Kovacs.
After the famous “Tijuana Taxi”, a contraption sure to be placed at the altar of the Politikally Inkorrekt church du-jour, there was a “Piranha MKII” (don’t even ask what the MK1 looks like, it’s even freakier). The last two models used more evolved technology, these being issued shortly before International thankfully collapsed. The “Super Sportsman” and the “Furious Fiat” used the same running gear.
Thanks to buddy Karpo, I was able to complete my Super Sportman, by far the cutest car in the line. I had a perfect chassis but… no body! Karpo found one in very good condition laying on the bottom of a box.
|A shape that only its mother
could love, but I find it cutesy.
|The wheels were sourced at Riggen, the guide is by International, the motor from Classic, a CM450 (a Mabuchi FT26 motor painted in a shade of orange) and the gears were by Spacific. It actually ran quire well with its suspended front wheels once adjusted properly.|
|The all-important (and rare) clear-film self-adhesive sticker that identifies this chassis as an “International”.|
International also produced other models in very limited quantities, sold unboxed at their own raceway in Redondo Beach. Of the models known to exist (all painted by Kovacs), we know of a few Kurtis 500 roadsters, some 1927 Lincoln topedoes, a few Piranha MK1’s and other oddities.
Walt Pettit was seen at antique toy shows in the early 1990’s, selling the remaining vacuum forming tools used by his former company.
Today, International models are highly sought after by collectors, but are rather hard to locate, especially in mint and boxed condition.