Editor’s Note: Dutch native Jeroen de Vries—better known as “Jevries” in RC circles—might seem like an unlikely creative force behind precision scale models of a uniquely American automotive subculture like lowriders. Nevertheless, he has been passionate about the genre for nearly 30 years and his custom RC masterpieces formed the inspiration for the new Redcat SixtyFour. He sat down to share with us the peculiar path that led to this involvement with Redcat and this exciting new release.
From the beginning
MY FIRST RC LOWRIDERS
I came from a model kit world with no prior knowledge of RC cars, parts, or electronics whatsoever, so my first big-scale RC lowrider was a toy ‘67 Impala made by Radio Shack. Making that 1/12-scale car hop was the first thing I wanted to do so I learned everything I could about modifying the circuit boards, adding MOSFETs and relays, hacking servos, etc. The desire to create what I pictured in my mind was what motivated me and finding ways to get it done with a minimal amount of parts and material is probably something I inherited from my dad. Less is more. I cut and changed the plastic chassis and added all kinds of low-cost materials I found at my local hardware store to end up with a big-scale RC lowrider that could hop, pull into three-wheel motion, and pancake back to the ground again just like a real lowrider car.
Lowriders look like no other custom cars out there; they are the ultimate expression of one’s personality, taste, and lifestyle. The choice of colors, patterns, murals, pinstriping, gold accents, engraving, etc.—those things turn these rides into one-of-a-kind creations. Having the right wheels is very important as well. While lowriding started out using mostly 14-inch classic wire wheels, deep dish Cragars, Supremes, and the like, that all changed in the ‘80s and early ‘90s where to cruise low and slow you needed to have 13-inch Dayton wire wheels and 520 Premium Sportway or Coker tires. To get that look I started making my own custom 13-inch wheels early on, cutting spokes from other wheels, adding them to smaller 1/18-scale Big Foot rims to get the desired look, and using rubber plumbing sockets for tires and sticky vinyl for the white walls.
As 3D-printing technology evolved, I finally ended up designing the 13-inch wheels and 520 tires in 3D and had them printed at Shapeways so I could create silicone molds and cast them in polyurethane resin and rubber. Nowadays I create hundreds of different styles—1/25 scale sets by hand for lowrider model kit builders and 1/12 and 1/10 scale wheels for the RC enthusiasts out there After I built several 1/12 scale RC lowriders I started using more and more hobby grade RC parts while still creating 90-percent from scratch to improve on the hopping and overall functionality of the cars. I collaborated with artists from California and Indonesia to paint the ‘64 and ‘67 Impala bodies in a style that reflects lowrider trends. I traveled all around the world from the US to Japan showing my hopping RC lowriders at shows and events and the crowd loved the fact that they can hop like the real thing. Many would ask me where they could buy one, but I always had to tell them “I’m sorry” as it takes too much time to custom build one.
REDCAT REACHES OUT
I first heard from Redcat about four years ago. They had seen my work online and asked me to collaborate on a 1/10 scale RC lowrider. I had been approached by several companies in the past and I had become somewhat hesitant about working with yet another company. But Redcat seemed more serious and they already made hobby-grade RC cars and trucks so I was curious to see how far we could get with this project. For Redcat to work with someone outside of the company who they didn’t know much about, and who also lives in a different country was a challenge for them. At the same time, for me to trust a big company like Redcat with all these ideas and concepts I’ve been working on for such a long time felt like standing in front of Goliath, hoping for the best expecting the worst.
We met for the first time in early 2017 at the Petersen Automotive Museum in L.A. where I was part of a lowrider model car exhibition. From the start, we got along great. We shared the same ideas and vision, and even though we had our differences along the way (which is part of the game) I can honestly say that I’m very happy how this collaboration with Redcat worked out. Looking at the successful launch of the SixtyFour RC Lowrider I think they are excited and happy with the result as well.
I had just sold my last scratch-built RC lowrider and didn’t have time to start working on a sample for Redcat right away, I started out by sending them photos and videos showing in detail how the car was constructed and how it performed.
Controlling the rear suspension using two high torque servos wasn’t too difficult and it was a setup that I used for years already without having any issues. The hopping action at the front became the focal point of attention since getting that right is the hardest part of the build.
To make my RC cars hop, I make use of a speedy DC motor with fishing line attached to the shaft that runs under the chassis to the front suspension. When you hit the switch the line forcefully pulls the suspension down to the chassis making the car jump up. From the start, we knew this setup wasn’t an option for a production RC Car so we needed to figure something out for a hopping mechanism. I came up with several ideas but it would take months to create one, and then testing it would take another couple of months before we would know if it would actually even work.
Ultimately the Redcat engineers designed a very nice cantilever setup that, instead of pulling as my hopper cars did, pushes down on the shocks making the car hop. But when Redcat showed me the first video of their car using a high-speed servo to push make it hop, I wasn’t too excited, to be honest. I’m used to building my hopping lowriders by starting with a powerful hopper motor then adding weight to the trunk to find the right balance to make it hop nice and slow.
To me, it seemed that Redcats sample relied too much on weighting the trunk and not so much on the pushing force coming from the servo. But the addition of the Reefs 300 Alactritous servo made all the difference and it took away all my doubts. It is super-fast, powerful, and in combination with the shocks, it results in a very realistic looking hopping action. Reefs made the seemingly impossible possible with this exceptional servo.
GETTING THE RIGHT LOOK
The ‘64 Chevy Impala is one of the most iconic lowrider cars out there. When we discussed the ‘64 Impala body the idea was to create a hardbody with proportions that matched the real car 100% but in order to be able to fit the body onto different types of RC chassis, Redcat wisely decided to change some of the dimensions. Since weight is an issue creating a hopping RC lowrider using a Lexan body turned out to be the best option. I wasn’t too fond of the idea initially but Redcat assured me they would go all the way making sure the shape was right and include as many details as possible. With that decided, the next thought was of the color patterns.
The initial idea was to have the Jevries edition bodies custom printed on the inside with patterns I designed, but due to the complexity of the process and time constraints we chose to go with high-quality decals. Getting the colors right was not easy but Kelly Crosby from Redcat helped me out to achieve the best possible result. Opening the SixtyFour box for the first time I was shocked at how good the ‘64 Impala body looks. It’s hard to believe it’s a Lexan body, and the hard plastic chrome parts look like nothing else out there. It’s a masterpiece!
A DREAM BECOMES REALITY
All in all, I’m very, very happy with the final product. Redcat did an excellent job going from the scratch-built chassis I created and turning it into this beautifully molded chassis with quality parts and enough space inside for all kinds of cool add-ons. The list of custom parts that can be made for these RC lowriders is probably as long as that of real lowrider cars. I can’t wait to start working on custom parts to add to the functionality and looks.
I really like the fact that you can add or remove the steel weight plates. Removing weight makes it more challenging to learn how to flick the switch and time your hopping. I can imagine hop-off competitions where you need to have the same amount of weight in the trunk to show off your switching skills, scale lowrider car shows where you can show your custom painted ride with custom parts added to it. Different style bodies, wheels, audio systems, gold accents, fender skirts, convertible tops—you name it.
Back in 2004, in an interview with Lowrider Bicycle Magazine, I talked about making my dreams into a reality. That dream came true in collaborating with Redcat and having my own SixtyFour Jevries Edition RC Lowrider. Money was not—and will never be—my motivation, but I’m happy that after all these years of investing time and money into my passion that I’m finally making enough to invest in another dream of mine, which is having custom lowrider parts made for the RC lowrider model kit builders out there. It also gives me the financial freedom to start working on Tutorials for my website (jevries.com) and hopefully inspire people to start creating and customizing their rides.
I’ve worked in the scale lowrider world for almost 30 years now because I love lowrider cars, the culture, history, and the people in the lowriding community. Even though I live and work in Amsterdam, people all over the world appreciate what I’m doing have accepted and embraced me as one of their own. That feeling can’t be bought with money.
The Redcat SixtyFour is the first RC product that pays respect to the lowrider community and all of you that like lowrider cars. I’m happy and proud to be at the beginning of it all and I’m super stoked that after all these years of telling people, “Sorry, my RC lowriders are not for sale,” I can finally say yes—here’s the SixtyFour for you to enjoy!
Learn more about Jevries at jevries.com, on Instagram at @jevries and
on Facebook at @Jevrieslowriders
Text by Images by Jevries