The Zingers Craze Turns a Nifty Fifty

Photos and story by John McCartney
Model: Jen Lix

Over the years there have been many people, places, and things that have earned their own special place in the history of car culture. Way back in the late sixties and throughout the seventies, the crazy cool world of car shows took their place in history. Fans were able to take a trip into another world once inside the car show scene. What made these shows so special was the out-of-this-world creations that graced the showroom floor. It always seemed like the crazy and off-the-wall builds attracted the fans' attention the most. Well, back about fifty years, a very unique craze took off in the form of Zingers. These crazy creations come with a great and interesting story.

It all started at the famous 1970 Detroit Autorama where a model building contest is held every year. Well, at the 1970 edition of the model building contest a young man by the name of Denny Johnson entered a cool creation that he built out of some spare model parts and took home first prize at the contest that year. The fine folks at MPC, who made so many cool model kits, took notice of Johnson’s creation and thought that every kid in the country would like to build one of these for their very own. Shortly thereafter the Zingers were born and started to come out in model kit form in 1971, which sold like hotcakes!

Bob Larivee, Sr. was already producing and presenting several car shows all across the United States and was always looking for great car creations to attract fans to his shows. So Larivee reached out to Chuck Miller who was running a company called Styline Customs out of River Rouge, Michigan. Miller had already built some cars that were being featured in the custom car scene, most notably the famous Red Baron. Larivee asked Miller if he could build a number of full-size Zingers that he could feature at his show. Miller built several Zingers which ranged from a Corvette, Volkswagens, a Van, and even a Semi-Truck. In addition to Miller’s Zingers creations, noted drag racer Steve Tansy was working on a few Zingers of his own in the form of a Super Drag, a wild front motored dragster, and the Super Dune, a crazy Dune Buggy. Tansy himself ran a very special funny car called the “The Godfather” which featured a Vega Panel body style which he drag raced all across the country.

So there you have the history of these crazy cool cars called Zingers and now we jump to the present. Fellow Dead Man’s Curve car club members John Sbrigato, Mario Colasuonno, and Mark Glaz thought that they could recreate these famed cars and bring them back out into the light.n Colasuonno served as supervisor and builder on the projects. So over the past two years, they have put together four Zingers in the form of Super Volks, Super Dune, Super Drag, and Super Bus. John Sbrigato at Brighton Collision in Brooklyn, New York applied all the paint on all four creations. Mr. J did all the artwork on the rides as well. Under the supervision of Colasuonno, Glaz did all the welding on the projects. The dragster body on the Super Drag was hand-formed by Sbrigato and the chassis for the project was built by Colasuonno and Glaz. The chrome work was done by Super Chrome in Asbury Park, New Jersey. All of these projects have been built with the full support of Chuck Miller who has helped out with the building of each car.

In just one year four Zingers have been brought back to life and back on the car show scene for folks to see and enjoy. What is even cooler is that all of these builds by Sbrigato, Colasuonno, and Glaz have gotten Miller to return to building some of these Zingers projects of his very own. 2021 is the fifty-year anniversary of the Zingers and there are many cool projects and events planned. When you stop and think, this whole Zinger craze got started by one young man looking at a bunch of car model parts and building, entering, and winning a contest at the famous Detroit Autorama oh so many years ago.

Leave a comment