The wacky show rods of Carl Casper

TrioCarl Casper.jpg

Left to right: Pinball Wizard, Beer Wagon and Peanut Machine Photo: Street Rodder

While George Barris and Ed "Big Daddy" Roth are household names, the comparatively unknown Carl Casper is my favorite designer of outrageous custom hot rods of the 1960s and 1970s. Such incongruous hot rod themes as mail truck and barbershop were common, but I prefer the straightforward corner tavern, hot peanut and pinball sensibility of Carl Casper. These no-go showboats were decked out with chrome superchargers and fuel injection but never hit the pavement as they were rolled out of trailers to the pink shag fake fur of the hot rod show floor. Carl is still slogging it with an annual Louisville car show and, since he has never sold a car he built, there is still an opportunity to see these beasts in their natural environment under the florescent lights. Naturally, I like cars that go, but these candy flake monsters were the stuff of my dreams when I was kid; I bought all the model kits and dutifully assembled plastic chrome engines in a Testors glue fog.

Popcorn Wagon, note the superfluous supercharger Photo: Street Rodder

Street Rodder Magazine on the 1970's Show Rods Carl Casper on the interdoodles

(Mister Jalopy is a guest blogger!)



  1. Oh, man, I spent many happy hours making these in model form back in the 70’s. I know these buggies well. Thanks!

  2. I live in Louisville, KY and have been to many Carl Casper Auto Shows over the years. These cars are amazing works of art, nothing less. Thanks to Mr. Jalopy for sharing this, and helping more people find out about Carl Casper’s unique cars.

  3. There is no reason that a stacked blower needs to be superfluous. It is possible, albeit difficult, to synchronize two stacked blowers. There are numerous examples on Youtube and various car forums discussing this.

    Here is an example of a non-functional (it runs, but it is basically useless as a blower) Mustang with two blowers:

    And here is a little drag truck with both blowers actually producing compression:

    However, as I understand it, the current preferred modus is to have a supercharger and turbocharger. Thus you can suck and blow.

  4. Oh, man. I love those old hot rods. Just reading the names Carl Casper, George Barris and Ed Roth get me wishing I had money and space to house just one of their incredible cars. Good, good stuff.

  5. Wow! My favorite show of the year. The CCAS usually hits town in the middle of February, just in time to give us a boost after a dreary winter. The excitement started with an over-produced radio commercial with a thumping bass and drum line “DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DAAAAAAA.” (You Louisvillians are smiling already.)

    The show will feature some bikini bombshells, some soap opera stars, a few wrestlers, some bands and some mid-level film actors, some local “celebs,” lots of rock & car contests and they used to have a Playboy playmate or two, but I think those days are over. Here are the attractions they had this year:

    But the cars! Like Mikerbraker said, it’s as if I had shrunk and was able to walk among the models I built as a kid. I’ve gotten to see the Monkee Mobile, the Munster Coach, the Eliminator, the Raider’s Coach and, of course, the 1966 Batmobile…still the best.

    I can’t wait…it’ll be #30 this time around.

  6. These are amazing!! Is this the same guy who did the stagecoach rod, does anyone know? I always loved that one, only saw it once or twice, cannot find it online. Pretty sure it was him or Barris.

  7. well this may be hard 2 believe but in the late 70’s my best friend used to clean these cars for carl in an unmarked building in clio mich. my best friend growing up was david cunningham carl’s nephew my buddies dad was john cunningham carls brother david took me to the building once secrectivly WHAT AN AWESOME SIGHT seeing ALL of these show cars!!!!! plus unbenonst 2 me carl also loves old wagon type thing kinda circus wagons more less unfortunatly me and david parted ways in the middle 80’s but i will never forget my experiences with dave and carls co. i worked a while w/ hollywood productions which carl owned and toured w/ the K.I.T.T. car and general lee

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