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Restoration Update! 1966 Mattel Stallion

Restoration Update: After a long and painful, or at least painfully expensive restoration, this bike is finally done! Well, it’s not the same exact bike that Michelle wrote about here on Barn Finds back in September of 2022. As with almost every restoration, it’s a long story, but here goes.

I asked a friend in Houston, TX to pick up the bike that Michelle featured and I was pretty excited when his wife sent a photo of it in their garage. Sadly, when I got down there to bring it home, it turned out to be almost a total loss, including having a cracked seat, which is worth several times what the rest of the bike is worth. After 86’ing that original bike, I found a much nicer one only four hours from home. It had a mint condition seat and I couldn’t drive there fast enough to pick it up, for a whole $100 cash. What a steal.

Then came the hard part, trying to locate a chrome shop that could or would take it on. I finally found one and we agreed on a price so I brought down a disassembled pile of old rusty bike parts almost a year ago. From how unorganized the shop looked, I was a bit worried that parts would end up being missing at the end. Sadly, that was the case, but it was only a few bolts or other fasteners. But then again, they did some incredible bodywork on old dented fenders that I never thought could look good again. I used a vinyl/rubber stair tread to cut a piece where there would have been an “engine pad” originally.

After getting the rechromed parts back, it was assembly time. I got new wheels and tires and then located chrome or at least stainless-steel fasteners that never came back from the chrome shop. My next task was figuring out the stripes for the tops of the fenders and reproducing decals since there were no replacement decals. I have to say that was the most fun that I had on this whole project. I saw another bike online with some decals and I estimated the size and went from there. I drew them out in Autocad and then transferred those files to Photoshop to add the weird, stylized “horse head” for the rear fender decal – this is a Mattel Stallion, after all. I added the white hash marks, lines, and color, and then printed them out. I’m pretty happy with the results. I even redid the serial number tag, which was mostly gone because it had to be removed when they chromed the bike.

While waiting for the chrome shop to work its magic, I found a really nice Mattel V-RROOM! engine on eBay, still in the original box. One of the decals was missing, however, so I did find some decals for that and ordered those. Why not, the cost was already 1/4 what my parents paid for their house on two acres so it was too late to turn back now. After trying to figure out how to mount the noise-maker engine, which I have yet to troubleshoot to see why it isn’t making sound, I took these photos this afternoon. The engine looks pretty cool even if it isn’t currently making sound. I’ll get that figured out eventually.

Thanks to Michelle for the original article! We don’t get to see follow-up restoration stories too often here, hopefully we’ll see more in the future. Thanks for hanging in there on this one, it was a much longer and more expensive project than I thought it would be, but isn’t that always the case with restorations?

Comments

  1. Avatar photo Snooks

    Beautiful, Scotty, thanks for sharing! And this is to Michelle for the previous write-up, too 👍

    Like 13
    • Avatar photo Nevada1/2rack Member

      Nicely done, Scotty, As well, thank you for sharing your trials and tribulations.

      One could only imagine the added complexity if this had been one of the motorcycles you’ve covered to bring by to life considering everything involved..

      Like 5
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks, Snooks and Nevada1/2rack! If it wasn’t for Michelle’s article I never would have known about these things. (dang you, Michelle!) (fist in air)

      Like 8
  2. Avatar photo Pat L Member

    We will need a follow up video of you riding it Scotty, when you get the engine sorted out. Bonus points if you can get Michelle to ride on the handlebars!

    Like 16
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks, Pat! It’s normally your fault when I buy something here, but Michelle is to blame this time.

      Like 6
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      I got the “engine” to work tonight after messing around with it for two solid weeks. I was this close (fingers pinching together, almost touching) to drilling out the rivets to see what the heck was going on inside. It’s much louder than I thought it would be, like almost louder than any motorized vehicle I own. I’ll have to figure out how to get a little video of it now.

      Like 3
      • Avatar photo Sal

        Hey Scotty..fantastic job….i found a 66 bronco v-rroom bike ….i got it 3 years ago…just couldn’t find someone to restore it….i just did….the one I have is painted the orange…it doesn’t have much Crome….I could use some advice from and expert…..over the years I bought four engines on eBay…..my dad is great with this stuff and made one engine that runs great…..may I ask u what it might cost to restore or how long…..my dad is 93 and I’m 67 and I’m a amputee…..my dad bought the 65 v-rroom bike in 65.
        It was a big part of my childhood…and I promise my dad I’ll ride it right to his front door….that will be some site….but u proved it can be done….thank u again Scotty…and could use ur advice….thank u Sal

        Like 1
  3. Avatar photo Michael Tischler

    I had a 1st year Schwinn Stingray and 92′ when I left Jersey for AZ I left the bike at the curb for anyone that wanted it…..

    Like 5
  4. Avatar photo Jimmi

    I had this exact same bike with the mattel varoom motor around 1968 or so. I still have the key for the motor! Saw one a few years ago at the beautiful bicycle museum in Pittsburg. I loved that bike and washed it regularly and a coat of turtle wax. Part of my washing routine was to flood the “exhaust pipes” with the garden hose to watch it rush out. One day a family friend who was rather husky rode the bike and the frame broke in half. All that water in the frame wasn’t such a good idea.

    I dreamed of a new Stingray replacement, but happily received a Huffy in metallic green with banana seat.

    Thanks for the memories! Been watching BF for years, but never commented until now, even when my old 70 Mustang coupe was featured.

    Like 0
  5. Avatar photo djhuff

    I can’t imagine what the price of the chrome job was. Good job sticking with the project Scotty. Meer mortals would have run from that one.

    I restored a 1972 Suzuki TS-172-J street trail dirt bike about 15 years ago. It was the last of the chrome fender bikes before they went to plastic fenders. I sent 53 pieces of chrome to Paul’s Custom Chrome north of Pittsburgh. $2300 later it was perfect.

    These days $5000 wouldn’t touch that job and Paul’s just closed. To their credit they returned every piece. If you’re going to start a job like that, take a picture of every part, tell the plater you’re sending pictures with the job so they know you want everything back, or else.

    There are still a few specialty platers like Paul’s around, but they’re becoming few and far between. As somebody pointed out in the previous article, the process is NOT at all good for the environment. It can be done a lot easier offshore where they don’t care, but the quality of their stuff is usually suspect at best.

    Like 7
    • Avatar photo Bamapoppy

      Not to get on a tirade here but there’s our problem in a nutshell. Offshore. Do it in the 🇺🇸 or don’t do it.

      Like 13
      • Avatar photo Michael Tischler

        Recently I read where chrome shops will be outlawed in California due to strict environmental laws from the byproduct of the chemicals used in the chroming process,I’m sure other states will follow.

        Like 2
    • Avatar photo Gene Smith

      OMG!!! I had this very same bike growing up. While other kids were tearing up other makes of bikes you COULD NOT destroy one of these…oh the memories I have riding around on that bike!!!

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      djhuff, ha, you’ve been there, done that in regard to chrome shops it sounds like. You’re also right about it being pretty bad stuff, maybe why there aren’t as many around anymore. I saw a “reality show” recently where they used a spray-on chrome and I was wondering how that might work for the next project.

      Like 3
    • Avatar photo Robert Atkinson, Jr.

      Yes, the EPA’s war on hexavalent chromium continues. Pentavalent chromium is being looked at as a substitute, but instead of the slightly bluish tint we’ve come to expect from chrome plating, pentavalent chromium tints a darker grey, like those mirrored sunglasses that were so popular in the 1970’s, worn by the prison guards in “Cool Hand Luke” (1967). Hexavalent chromium is a toxic heavy metal, so the EPA is trying to ban, or at least severely limit its use. I’m not sure why pentavalent chromium is any safer, but there you have it, sports fans.

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo Robert Atkinson, Jr.

        P.S. That’s why most shopping carts are now epoxy powder coated rather than chrome plated. Chrome plating has gotten so expensive that powder coating is cheaper. Since powder coating is relatively new, there’s no word on how long it last compared to chrome, so we’ll see how it holds up over time.

        Like 1
  6. Avatar photo Howie

    Take this beauty to a car show and get more attention than anything else there!!

    Like 11
  7. Avatar photo djhuff

    Howie, That’s likely true. I thought I might have trouble taking my Suzuki TS-185-J to bike shows. It turns out that a lot the Harley types used to have one of them back in the day and appreciate that one of them is restored. I gained new respect for them for not hating it.

    There can’t be many of those bikes around, how could a chrome MX bike/ stunt bike from 1966 not get trashed? And with the chrome prices these days, almost nobody could or would pay to restore it.

    Like 6
  8. Avatar photo Euromoto Member

    Just, wow.

    Like 4
  9. Avatar photo Michelle Rand Staff

    First concours Stallion I’ve ever seen, fantastic job! However, I’m not getting on those handlebars with you as the pilot ….

    Like 18
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Ha! After driving 40,000 to 50,000 miles a year for the last 15 years, I’d rather be on the handlebars myself.

      It’s not Pebble Beach quality, but thanks much, everyone!

      Like 7
  10. Avatar photo HoA Member

    Anyone else having trouble posting?

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo HoA Member

      Dang, had such a nice comment, and I’ll try again, wearing thin. Oh, the heck with it,,,

      Like 1
  11. Avatar photo Driveinstile Member

    This is great!! I just had some many flash back memories of my childhood, riding our bikes around the neighborhood with other kids. The level of detail here in your bike is just amazing. Thank you for the great write up and sharing all your hard work and hours and hours of labor on your bike. One thing is for sure, it will never return to the condition of the way you found it. Thats for sure. Really nice job

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks, Driveinstile! I’ll most likely sell it at some point for a huge loss, as usual. It’s cool that now it’ll hopefully stay in this condition, rather than being driven into the ground as most of them were decades ago.

      Like 5
      • Avatar photo Driveinstile Member

        I truly hope so Scotty. Its very heartbreaking to see your hard work ruined by someone after you’ve poured your heart blood sweat and tears into something. I’m hoping you decide to keep it. It doesn’t take up much space and would be a blast to have at a car show.

        Like 1
  12. Avatar photo Bamapoppy

    Great dedication, Scotty. You’ve done a great job, both on the bike and the article. And when you get that sound going it will probably sound almost as cool as the football cards I used to attach to my 20” Western Flyer to get a brrrt-brrrt-brrrt noise!

    Like 9
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thank you, sir! At 6′-5″ tall, the sad part is that I won’t even get a chance to ride this thing.

      Like 2
  13. Avatar photo Todd Fitch Staff

    Love the bike! Your artistic skills and project management zeal have given us a shining example (literally) of this rolling piece of historic Cool. I wouldn’t have known about these without Michelle’s write-up and this piece. We definitely need to see and hear this one in action with that noise maker growling and Scotty “Mad Dog” G. getting the wind in your hair.

    Like 8
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks, Todd! When I can get the “engine” figured out, I’ll try to do a little video of it.

      Like 4
      • Avatar photo Robert Atkinson, Jr.

        These used to run on “C” batteries, so it’s got to be something relatively simple, like an open circuit somewhere or the “key” switch has gone bad. Later models, like the one I had bolted to my bike, didn’t use batteries, you cranked it by pulling a handle and it would make the noise for a few seconds. To keep making the noise, you had to keep pulling the handle! The battery-powered ones were better, IMHO!

        Like 3
      • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

        Robert, as much as I hate to take this engine apart, this video shows that sometimes you have to dig into it to get it to work if it’s been sitting for years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btybFG5whw8

        Like 3
  14. Avatar photo Jay McCarthy

    My younger brother had one of these and it definitely was not made for any kind of hills except downhill or distance. It weighed a lot more than a Schwinn Stingray and had very short pedal crank arms

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Michelle Rand Staff

      Ha ha, so you’re saying – don’t try to track it!

      Like 6
  15. Avatar photo Jim Simpson

    Done correctly in nearly every aspect and detail. Wow! I was unaware of this model until now. We rode the Schwinn Sting Rays in the same era. The TACO minibike and graduated to the Cushman Eagle–all before I was 13.
    I restore parts for a living and understand the costs and dedication to research of this sort of preservation of history. Research is the most time-consuming aspect, and congratulations. It is absolutely amazing the people and stories one finds when researching projects like this. In the end, all we have are the stories well told in this rolling tribute. Great work!

    Like 8
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks, Mr. Simpson, that’s darn nice of you. Once I got started I couldn’t stop. I thought, a small bike, how much could that really be to have chromed? Ouch.

      Like 8
  16. Avatar photo Wes Holliday

    Hello Michelle, That is a wonderful bike, love the chrome frame.
    If you ever decide to sell plase let me know.
    Thank you.
    Wes

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Bamapoppy

      Wes, line forms to the right. lol

      Like 4
  17. Avatar photo Matthew H Moeller

    OMG!!! I had the Vrroom set, it was in 1968 for my birthday, went on my 24″ Schwinn. what a blast!!

    Like 1
  18. Avatar photo scottymac

    Scotty,
    You’re either single or divorced like me. Or she hasn’t found out yet! Pray she doesn’t read your article.

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Ha, neither, sir! I just don’t have any other vices like most people have. My wife likes to travel with friends and I like having a couple of storage units full of weird toys and motorcycles, four-wheel vehicles, and one three-wheel vehicle. It’s cheaper than gambling, smoking, or drinking and I can always sell them later if I want to.

      Like 7
  19. Avatar photo Fox owner

    That toy motor is just, hilarious. When I first saw it I thought it was a moped but then it hit me. What’s something like this worth restored anyway?

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      I’m not sure what it might be worth, Fox owner, a grand maybe on a good day? Much less than I have into it for sure, which is 100% the case for anything I’ve owned.

      Like 4
      • Avatar photo Robert Atkinson, Jr.

        If it gives you joy and you can afford it, who cares what it’s worth in monetary terms? It’s priceless to you, and that’s all that matters! Bravo Zulu to you, Sir, for keeping a piece of our childhood alive!

        Like 4
  20. Avatar photo Keith K

    Had one as a kid. The police would chase me around town, thinking I was riding a unlicensed mini bike! I’d just hit a alley, squeeze through a couple of buildings, double back, never did let them catch me. Now at 68, I am pretty sure they’d still think the same, because about twenty years ago it happened again, before the bike went missing. I had gone out for a nostalgic ride. Yea, it is pretty peaceful around here, the cops have it fairly good thank God. But they ain’t any brighter….

    Like 6
  21. Avatar photo Woofer Member

    That’s a cool bike, Scotty. I grew up in the sixties and I’ve never seen one of these. I was always the Sting Ray fanatic but couldn’t afford one until my late thirties. Then one day at the flea market here was a 1976 blue Sting Ray for $100. I whipped out $75 and took it home. Now I own four. I am currently restoring a 1971 Sting Ray Fastback 5 speed, with the stick shift. Luckily Sting Ray parts are available and not very expensive. A restored Sting Ray Crate is worth about $2500. A plain one in good condition goes for $500-$900. You should just keep your VRROOM and hang it upside down from your garage ceiling. Nice conversation piece! Good job Scotty.

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Robert Atkinson, Jr.

      My version was a Huffy “Cheater Slik” single-speed with a coaster brake. Fine for our flat neighborhood, but when we began to take longer trips, with hills enroute, both my brother and me asked for the latest rage for Christmas, a ten-speed “racing” bicycle! he got Raleigh Record, with 27″ tires and a 19″ frame, I got the next size down, a Paleigh Grand Prix 24, with 24″ tires and a 16″ frame.

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

        Mr. Atkinson, Jr. – thanks much!

        I had a Sears “20+16 Screamer” single-speed bike as a kid and had never heard of a Mattel Stallion or seen one until Michelle wrote about that one a year and a half ago. That’s the head-scratcher part for me, why did I pick that bike to restore? I’m glad I did, though.

        Like 4
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks, Woofer! I may build a little shelf for it in the garage to keep it upright. It’s a little (lot) too small for me to ride, sadly. Maybe I’ll try to sneak it into a vintage motorcycle show or something if I can.

      Like 2
  22. Avatar photo Robert Atkinson, Jr.

    I remember those Mattel Vroom “motors” for sale as a kid, you could buy them to fit any bicycle, but I didn’t know that Mattel made a matching bike to go with them! Cool! Thanks for restoring and sharing this one with us!

    Like 4
  23. Avatar photo Piros1

    Restorations have to be labor of love and not for profit generally speaking. There are some that can and are very profitable. The people who make generally make money in restorations are those that are being paid to do the restorations. I’ve talked to many guys that buy and sell street rods and such and the common answer is buy something that is a good fit that someone else spent a lot of money and time on and you will save yourself a lot of time and money.
    I do think it is quite admirable for those like yourself Scotty that have the time and put the time, love, and money into these restorations. If you didn’t they would all end up into the scrap pile where no one will enjoy them. Good job and hopefully you will hear the sound of that engine roar again. Good luck and nice right up.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Jim Simpson

      Agreed! Well, it is called “a hobby.” However, dead serious in its extrapolated form- where SOME vehicles are on the blocks for millions of dollars. For me, what would you rather spend your high tech. and hard learned experience and investigations on? Troll Doll Key Fobs? Or Maserati Ghibli combination switch parts. For me, the later–because this choice offers those in the higher dollar valued cars a resource for otherwise unobtainable parts. AND it pays for our professional (not hobby) creations. A Pebble Beach winner last year dawns a gold-plated horn button of our fabrication costing our customer $THOUSANDS. The choice is WHAT to build- so that the labor of love is a labor of compensation for pulling a rabbit out of a hat! Although seemingly mundane, sometimes it is rocket science-ACTUALLY! I have the stories! And the photos. I would post them here yet have no idea how. We are overwhelmed with business- and do not advertise. Yet, I love to share. This bicycle was not for sale. So, how and why was the story shared? Sorry to make any waves. I love this kind of story. A true Labor of Love. I hope it eventual sells for a great deal of appreciation described by equal compensation in MONEY. There is too much of it in the wrong places these days. Share the appreciation. Sorry for ranting. (Not political, personal, nor profane, however).

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks, Piros1!
      I agree with you on restorations not being based on making a profit, most folks will be sorely disappointed if they focus on that part.

      Like 4
  24. Avatar photo Jeff Williams Member

    Bicycle heaven here in Pittsburgh might be interested in this. I don’t think I saw one last time I was there.

    https://www.bicycleheaven.org/

    Like 1
  25. Avatar photo Bob_in_TN Member

    Excellent project work, fine write-up, and many interesting and fun comments.

    The variety of vehicles (!!) written up, and the skills of the writers like Scotty, are Barn Finds strengths.

    Like 9
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      You’re way too kind, Bob, thanks. I agree about the variety, but not necessarily about my skill level…

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo Jamie

        Congrats Scotty. Great job on the bike. By the way, your bike is featured on Google Discovery for what it’s worth!

        Like 3
  26. Avatar photo Kenneth Carney

    I rode a Murray Wildcat myself back in the day. While it was a good bike for what it was, it never had the cachet of the vaunted Sting Ray. And though it felt heavier to pedal than a
    Sting Ray, it was coolness on a budget for parents that wanted to get
    their kids the latest and greatest in
    bikedom without breaking the bank.
    That old wildcat served me well until
    I finally outgrew it. After which I picked up a Schwinn 26 inch model in
    ’68. Fitted it out with a Bike Pals head
    light/tail light kit with 12V generator,
    horn, and saddle baskets, mirrors, and
    called it a day. A year later, I would buy my first car– a ’54 Studebaker
    Champion coupe for $25 with no motor or tranny. But that’s another
    story. These days, I’m leaning towards a Schwinn Meridian E-trike
    from Walmart for $500 or a Rhoaescar solar rider for $7K with all
    and whistles. The latter is a quadricycle with 42 forward speeds
    and an electric motor and solar panel
    to boot. Just the thing for Door Dash
    and getting fit. I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike, I want
    to ride my bicycle I want to ride it where I like…

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Nevada1/2rack Member

      HA!!
      With your last sentence you’ve actually revealed yourself to be a MERCURY fan, Kenneth Carney!😁👍🏻

      Like 2
  27. Avatar photo Neil G

    I received a Stallion for Christmas in 1967. Coolest bike in the neighborhood. Best memory was the spring loaded seat and bouncing up and down in front of the neighbors and when you got off the bike, the side kickstand posed the bike just like a motorcycle. Now the hard part. These bike were expensive and as a 12 year old child, I never realized the monetary sacrifice this was to my parents….

    Like 7
    • Avatar photo Kim

      Oh yes I remember the stallion. That was the closest thing to a motorcycle a kid could get. Dream bike but out of reach for me.

      Like 1
  28. Avatar photo HoA Member

    (sigh), okay, for what its worth, my comments will be severely limited, but I too need to give kudos where due, and an outstanding job. No surprise really, as this is how this guy does things, full tilt. His stuff in storage is nicer than my regular stuff, if any. I never saw an all chrome bike. Fact is, painting your bike was one of the things that made yours unique. The motor was for rich kids, kids our parents worked for, and most of us had to “settle” for baseball cards in the spokes with the springy kind of clothes pins, moms favorite and wondered where they went,, or noises we made ourselves. For many, these types of bikes predated our 2 wheel motorized shenanigans, and with vacant lots abundant, we had hours of fun.
    As mentioned, chrome plating is incredibly expensive and difficult, toxic to the ones that worked with it( and their kids) and pollutes groundwater for like 1,000 years. In the 50s and 60s, chrome was applied with a patching trowel. They chromed stuff you didn’t see. I’d say this bike was at the height of chrome plating, and lucky was the kid that had one. Thanks SG.( nervously pushing PO)

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks for the nice comment, HoA! You’re way too kind, most of my stuff “needs restored”, as they say, or some fine-tuning at least. It’s getting harder to even find a shop that’ll restore things like a motorcycle or a bike anymore, or even paint a motorcycle gas tank. This Mattel bike is incredibly heavy, probably not much lighter than my Schwinn Varsity.

      Like 1
  29. Avatar photo Kim

    When I was a kid I would have killed for a bike like this. My bike was a stingray style that was pieced together from other bike parts. Oh and yes I did have a Varroom motor. Only sound but it was the high tech (at the time) version of playing cards in the spokes. Fast forward 20 years I spotted a used bike very similar to this one with suspension and even a triple tree front end. I bought it for $15 with the intent of restoring it for my son but I never got past a new paint job. I still have that very heavy bike in my shop and this one shown here gives me insensitive to do a proper restoration. By the way the one I have was sold under the Kawasaki brand.

    Like 2
  30. Avatar photo Ted

    Great read! Love the devotion in restoring your bike! I grew up with a Mattel Bronco bike modeled after a motorcycle! It worked well until the gear box malfunctioned. It was taken apart by my brother-in-law and his best friend who were “chopping” an old Harley Davidson, and wanted to “chop” my bike as well. I still have it in pieces somewhere!
    I don’t know how to attach photos to my comments to show you the bike. I felt like the coolest kid riding around on it!

    Like 1

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