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Caroselli Design logoContact Henry Caroselli
Caroselli Design
214 Main St., Unit # 15-B
El Segundo, CA 90245
(310) 322-2767

© Copyright Caroselli. No images or text located anywhere on this site may be reused or republished without expressed written permission from Rodster, Inc., d.b.a.: Caroselli Design. The Rodster Street Rod design is protected by U.S. Patent # D450,284. "Rodster®" is a registered trademark of Caroselli Design.
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Blazing a New Trail

Is the Rodster a fun hot rod kit car or a rolling fiberglass mutant?

Tired of sport/utility vehicles? Turn them into hot rods. The Rodster's donor car is the Chevrolet Blazer.

If Disneyland's Toon Town had an official hot rod, the Rodster would be it. This two-seat, open-topped roadster was created by Henry M. Caroselli, an ad-guy-turned-carmaker, at his El Segundo, Calif.-based Caroselli Designs. Caroselli has been tinkering with cars, from Hudsons to Corvairs to a Lotus Elan Series II, since he learned to drive.

"Chapman was brilliant," Caroselli says, as we drive down Sunset Boulevard in the Rodster. "Restoring the Lotus taught me a lot about cars."

Mostly it taught him that he wanted to keep tearing them apart.

"Why leave 'em alone, " Caroselli say. "If you do, they become appliances. They're no fun."

Say what you will about the cartoonish Rodster's looks, but it is fun. And cheap compared to traditional hot rods, because under its bulbous skin is, brace yourself, a Chevy Blazer.

"The basic hot rod process involves taking a modern drivetrain and putting it in an old car," Caroselli says. "It's pretty slick, but we're running out of old cars. So I said, 'What about reversing the process? Getting a nice basic drivetrain, and starting with that?'"

Hence the Rodster's fiberglass shell is bolted not on '29 Ford frame rails but on a 1992 Chevy Blazer, "The Blazer seemed to make sense because of its ladder frame, simple front-engine/rear drive layout, and because there are two and a half million of 'em out there," Caroselli says.

And because it takes Caroselli and crew an hour and a half to dismantle a Blazer with a 24-tooth Sawzall. The Rodster retains the Blazer's drivetrain, A-pillar, windshield and doors. The rest is what makes it the Rodster.

"This is not going to replace the '32 Ford," Caroselli says. "But if you look at one of those you're looking at $70,000 to $80,000 and you're sweating as you drive it. Are you sweating as you drive this?"

No, we aren't, but we notice that the donor Blazer (with 104,000 miles on it) has sloppy steering, touchy brakes and a jumpy throttle pedal. But, says Caroselli, you can change all that as easily as you can service any Chevrolet Blazer. As for the looks: "I looked at what the original hot rodders had in their minds when they created hot rods," Caroselli says. "They got something that was commonplace, ubiquitour, everywhere, and they said, 'Okay, I'm going to get a saw out and chop it up and make it look cool.'"

And do it cheaply -- Rodster kits range from $3,995 to $5,795 (more info at www.rodster.com). Yes, there are other bolt-on hot rod kit cars available, but most look traditional, like '32 Fords. This one... doesn't.