TaMater (Ta'mata) - Cars movie Tow Mater homage


V.I.P. Member
One from the vaults...

While I'm waiting for a few more parts to arrive for my current project/s in the Build Threads, I thought I might add to the gallery section here with a summary of couple more of my older builds (which I still have for posterity) which are based on various 'classic' Tamiya platforms...

You may already be familiar with my SRB Cage Racer build, which uses Tamiya Rough Rider/Sand Scorcher SRB suspension and transmission on a custom [metal] chassis and cage; and while I've ended up selling the majority of my other Tamiya based vehicles I've built over the years, felt I ought to keep a couple more examples of the marque for posterity too - this example based on their classic on-road M-chassis (and M-06 in this instance), and another on their more comical WR-02 'wheelie' chassis, which I'll follow up with shortly...

photo. you say Tomato I say Tam-mater... my homage to Cars Movie Tow-Mater, originally built back in 2014 for an informal competition on the TamiyaClub website.

As with my other gallery entries, I'll start with a summary of the general specification, followed by a brief summary of the build/modifications, together with some additional information in the gallery photo captions.


model name:
Ta'Mater (Tam Mater)

driver: Larry Willy (custom sculpted Wild Willy head on Sand Scorcher driver body, with Wild Willy gloves)

body: Tamiya Lowride Pumpkin (1953 Ford F-100)

chassis: M-06 (Lowride Pumpkin kit)

wheels: f: Lowride Pumpkin wheels 1.5 (narrowed) / r: Knight Hauler 1.7 dual rear wheels (narrowed)

tyres: f: Sand Scorcher The Smoothee / r: Rough Rider front tyres (x 4)

motor & transmission: stock Lowride Pumpkin 540 motor and gearbox - RWD

suspension: stock Lowride Pumpkin friction coil-over shocks

wheelbase: 210mm

track width: f: 140mm / r: 153mm

overall width: 195mm

overall length: 365mm

overall height: 184mm

note. As you can see from the above dimensions, the Tamiya [Midnight] Pumpkin shell is significantly smaller than most modern RC vehicles, being effectively 1:12 scale - although this body shell is more usually seen mounted on their '1/10th' WR-01 monster truck wheelie chassis.

Summary of the build:

Back in 2014 some members of the TamyaClub forum suggested we hold an informal 'Winter Build-Off' competition, and subsequently a number of themes were mooted such as: 'On Screen', 'Working Vehicle', 'Low Rider', 'Movie Hero' and 'Zombie Apocalypse'... Initially I hadn't intended to take part, so threw out the suggestion: What about Mater from Cars? (that way you'd have covered all bases, regardless of the theme chosen!) - only to rescind that offer immediately as I realised that was exactly what I wanted to build myself!

I bought a complete Tamiya M-06 'Lowride Pumpkin' kit as this would be a reasonably affordable way to get the body/chassis and electronics. Since the idea [for this competition] was to try and maintain a budget-build ethos where possible, I used as many Tamiya parts and existing spares I had - to essentially create a homage to Tow Mater from the Disney Pixar movie Cars.

Aware that movie Mater is not a Ford, and that trying to fabricate an actual face on the front of the vehicle would be exceptionally difficult to achieve with the time and resources available - I decided this would ultimately be more of a scale build, while trying to incorporate as many of the key attributes that movie Mater featured - such as the fuel filler, rear cross-member towing shackles, rear work lamp and amber beacon - and not least that (at the time) this would be the most elaborate weathered paint job I'd undertaken, with multiple colours and rust textures, which required multiple masking layers to achieve.

The crane itself was constructed from a pair of Tamiya Wheelie Bus body mounts and a modified Wily Willy 2 winch - and held in place with hooks and chain to the Pumpkin roll-bar, therefore the whole assembly is removable to covert the truck to a standard pick-up style if desired.

The door decals are individually applied Letraset lettering, and LED lighting was included (just a simple 4 lamp loom) - the single working headlight and rear work lamp in a vintage yellow, and a pair of 3mm red tail-lamps fitted in what were the original rear bumper mounting holes, with round lenses attached.

Originally the vehicle ran on four skinny wheels (the Lowride Pumpkin wheels, narrowed to 15mm and Sand Scorcher front tyres all round), but in 2017 I decided to finally convert the rear end to dual rear wheels using Tamiya 1:14th Truck wheels [something I subsequently incorporated with Hopper's HiLux too] - narrowed by 5mm to better mate with the Rough Rider front tyres, and mounted on wider Wild Willy 2 rear stub axles. The additional width required the original step-side rear wheel-arches to be cut and extended by 10mm on each side - again a technique I've since incorporated in Hopper's Hilux, which itself is a painted as a homage to Mater and Ta'Mater here.

The most recent additions are the Ghost Light lantern on his crane, the period wing mirrors, and replacing the original pin and clip style body mounts at the front with hidden magnet mounts for a flush bonnet. I've also invested in some high-quality engraved licence plates - Arizona being the spiritual home of Radiator Springs in the film.


photo. sculpting a full face on the front end was beyond my talent (and time frame) back in 2014, rather I painted the lower grille in dirty white to represent his teeth, and focused my sculpting on the driver figure instead.

photo. Tamiya F100 Pumpkin shell would be a suitable 50's style pick-up on which to build a wrecker.

photo. crane boom was assembled using modified Tamiya kit parts - rear arches were stretched using styrene strips and body-filler.

photo. rear end was extended in 2017 to cover dually rear wheel conversion.

photo. rust effect was created using a base layer of red-oxide primer, then a dark orange mist in places, followed by salt layering between the colour top-coats. I also used some Tamiya dry powder and black-washing to further add contrast to the textured paintwork.

photo. the crane winch is a modified Tamiya Wild Willy part, while the mounting posts for the boom are Tamiya shock-tops, held in with R clips underneath so the whole boom can be removed to run the truck as a regular pick-up if desired.

photo. front wheels are Tamiya M-series (1.55) narrowed by 5mm and fitted with Sand Scorcher front tyres - far more period correct that the fat low-profile contemporary tyres the Lowride Pumpkin kit comes with.

photo. rear wheels are slightly larger [1.7 size] from a Tamiya 1:14th Truck - again narrowed slightly, and fitted with Rough Rider front tyres which are approximately 73mm diameter rather than the more usual 85mm.

photo. I incorporated this recessed fuel-filler behind the drivers door (as a detail nod to the movie Mater), using a part originally intended for a Land Rover Defender.

photo. another movie detail is Mater's one broken headlight (with a damaged LED inside as a bulb), and I used 'warm white' LEDs for the headlight and rear work lamp to give more a vintage feel.

photo. while not true scale, I felt it appropriate to put a cartoon driver inside - this is a Wild Willy head, with the lower part of the helmet/face replaced with body filler and hand-sculpted to represent Mater's buck-teeth. The torso is a Sand Scorcher driver, with Wild Willy gloved-hands attached, and a 'Scorcher steering wheel.

photo. retro wing-mirrors from an Axial accessory parts set - door decals are individual dry-transfer lettering.

photo. fans of the Cars movie (on DVD at least) will recall the bonus featurette - 'Mater and the Ghost-light' - and I felt this doll's house lantern works well in that regard.

photo. crane boom supported by chain with hooks (removable from the roll bar as required), while the winch-cable is made from twisted lock-wire. note. Amber beacon does flash, but it is notoriously difficult to catch on camera!

photo. M-06 chassis means this is a surprisingly rapid vehicle to drive too - and with a short wheelbase and on those tyres, donuts galore!

While it's not 'true scale' perhaps - I trust many of the techniques and features I've incorporated here are helpful to anyone planning something similar? - and most of all it still makes me smile every time I look at it, which is why it has a permanent spot in my 'Tamiya Towers' display case!

I hope you like it too!

Last edited:


New member
Great looking build! I like the fact that it's just slightly cartoony! Paint (rust?) job looks perfect.
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V.I.P. Member
Great looking build! I like the fact that it's just slightly cartoony! Paint (rust?) job looks perfect.

Thank you! Yes, that is kind of the look I was going for - what Mater might look like if he were real...

The oversize driver head was just for fun (I've carved/customised a bunch of other custom Willy heads over the years) - interestingly the Sand Scorcher driver figure fits very well inside the Midnight Pumpkin body-shell if you want a slightly more scale-accurate driver in these - you just glue the L bracket to the inside of the driver's door:

photo. in this instance I also replaced the original Sand Scorcher driver's hands with oversized Wild Willy gloves.

The other thing you might notice in the photo above is the pair of R clips under the rear deck - as I mentioned in the description above, this allows the crane boom to be removed and the vehicle run as a regular pick up:

photo. recessed panel accepts a pair of plastic Tamiya shock-tops as the pivot for the crane...

photo. blanking panel cut to fill the gap when in pick-up mode.

photo. crane assembly is supported by chain and hooks to the roll-hoop.

photo. A flat-bed Ford...



Oh no!!! It's the Ghost-light!!! It's gonna git me!!!

Awesome towtruck! I love all the Mater details you managed to work into it.

You might even be able to build an A frame with a pivot bumper-lift towbar piece that could mount into the rear shackle pads. So you can keep a towed thing from hitting your towmater.