The SpeedGirls Magazine


The Twin Mill

The Iconic Toy Car that Came to Life
The Twin Mill

In 1968, during the peak era of muscle car history, Ira Gilford, an automotive designer for Chrysler Motor Company resigned from his job.  Although Gilford walked away from vehicle manufacturing, he moved on to produce some of the wildest cars in history — just on a much smaller scale, after taking a job for Hot Wheels Toy Company in 1969. There, he designed some of wildest Hot Wheels including one of the most iconic cars to date; The Twin Mill.

At the time when Gilford joined Hot Wheels, the car designs where 1:64th scale versions of stock production muscle cars, vans and trucks; and the main feature where the enlarged wheels and tires.  But Gilford’s “Twin Mill” broke the mold by combining 1960’s automotive fantasy with hot rod performance.

The most iconic feature of the Twin Mill is the drive train, which begins at the twin, Chevrolet big block motors, planted in the chassis like a “V.” Each is topped off with roots-style, 6:71 supercharger and both motors power an individual automatic transmission, with parallel drive shafts leading back to individual rear axles.  You can say, this was the original idea for torque vectoring, with each motor powering it’s own rear wheel.

Photo source: Hot Rodder Magazine

Mounted in the cockpit is a row of three seats encapsulated by a hydraulic clamshell rooftop.  The driver’s seat is in the middle, with an aeronautical steering wheel and drive-train controls.  Imagine trying to build and yet drive a car like this. You would be living a childhood dream! And to this day, two replicas have actually been produced.

The most exact and to the original toy car was built by Tommy Defranzo.  His car replicates the design down to the drive-train, controls, three-up seating and color.  But Hot Wheels Toy Company recently commissioned famous car builders Chip Foose and Boyd Coddington to build their Twin Mill replica.  Unfortunately Coddington went out of business during the process, leaving Foose to finish the project.

The Hot Wheels commissioned Twin Mill was officially launched with a viewing at SEMA in 2001.  Using twin 502ci big blocks, the car is estimated to have over 1,400 total horsepower.  The only main difference is the two-up seating versus the three, leaving the driver with a supercharger obstruction in their view. But who cares right? Overall, there are been many variations of the original twin mill toy, fantasy or not. It’s just awesome.

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