I took the boys to Toys R Us the other night to do some Christmas shopping and buy a little (very little) something for them. I ended up finding 99 cents worth of something for me, too, in the diecast aisle. I like to buy Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars and un-hotrod them for my train layout. And the Hot Wheels shoebox, with a small amount of work, looked like it would make a very passable 1949 Ford. So I bought it.

The next morning, my youngest brought the car to me as I was getting ready for work. “Daddy, will you open it?”

I couldn’t resist that smile, so I opened the package and handed it to him. He ran off, smiling.

A few minutes later, my oldest came in. I told him the car was open, if he wanted to try it out. He ran off, and a minute or two later, reappeared.

“Daddy, this is a gooood car!” he raved. “Are you going to paint it? I don’t think it needs it.”

Then he reconsidered. “Maybe the top. But keep the sides.”

The sides had yellow hotrod flames on them.

Ultimately I ended up repainting it. I lowered the engine back into the hood, filled the opening with some JB-Weld, swapped the wheels for something less outrageous, and then painted it a basic white.

When I buy these cars, I always end up putting a lot more than 99 cents’ worth of time, effort, and materials into them, but it’s part of the fun. And when the boys get a bit older, I’m sure they’ll be able to participate, and probably have a lot of fun with my funky cast-off wheels.