It's a Tanker Truck Not a V-Dubble!

In hindsight I'm thinking I should have gone with a twin trailer layout so I could have played on the B-Double terminology used to describe that particular setup, but I think that's just the geeky pun-loving side thinking that because if I may be frank, it came out pretty nicely as a tanker truck in the end :p

How I got to 'the end' however was rather interesting and kinda miraculous if I'm honest...

The Custom Comp I Nearly Missed

This custom Volkswagen Squareback Tanker was created because of a VW custom build off being held by Unibobber Customs - one of the best Facebook Groups for custom Hotwheels IMHO (so click the link and check them out if you are not already a member)

From the moment the competition officially started I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted to do. Motivated perhaps by the 8 or so wheel-less castings I had from when I was stealing gold real riders from the Peeps Pop Culture version of the Squareback I pictured in my mind ... well pretty much what you see - but due to work and other MCH related commitments I simply did not have the time to actually do anything. 

And then came the day that I finally had some free time to work on customs, I had a whole weekend in fact! I would have done a happy dance to celebrate but it was Friday night and with the competition photos due on Tuesday after lunch (in my timezone at least) I only had 3 full days to work on the build! ...

aint no time for dancing

Squareback to Tanker-Back: 3 Days To Go...

With the competition deadline being Tuesday around Lunchtime (it was due at midnight on Monday in the States and so I had 16 hours up my sleeve) and a fulltime job taking Monday away from me I actually only had two days - and tonight!
2 and bit days?! Ain't nobody got time to update memes - and I'd damn well better get the body ready for painting quick smart. No problem under normal circumstances but with only 2 full days up my sleeve that meant I had to cut two VW Squareback castings, remove the sleeping cab off a truck casting, glue and epoxy putty it all together and prepare the surface for painting like, really really quickly. 

So yeah, I went and did that...

Custom Hot Wheels Volkswagen Squareback Tanker Truck

The initial mockup you see above was the result of the following modifications and additions:

  • Jewelers Saw to cut the roof and rear section off of the main squareback casting.
  • Jewelers Saw to cut the rear quarter panel off of another squareback casting to create the extended rear and dual wheel arches.* 
  • Again with the saw... this time to cut the base just in front of the rear axle line - I didn't need to worry about being precise* as I could do that with the rear section when I got around to attacking the second base
    Because I was using the Pop Culture version of the Squareback(s) I had the advantage of having metal bases to work with - much better for rigidity and structural integrity!
  • Jewelers saw to cut the cab extension from the donor truck (a Welly's brand of diecast truck, inferior in quality by the longest of margins I might add)
  • A bench grinder to hack the damn cab down so it sat straight and level on the rear of the Volkswagen.
  • The exhaust stacks were from some strange 6 wheeled casting I can't remember the name of (sorry) but it's irrelevant because I decided against them in the end.
*Note that I was careful to make sure that where and how I cut the two different sections of the Squareback would result in a seamless join and a natural looking progression of lines flowing from one wheel arch to the next*

Custom Hot Wheels Volkswagen Squareback Tanker Truck

As the above images show, I left a gap between the roofline and the extended cab so as to create a stepped profile that would not only look more true to life, it would also balance the overall look of the custom. The direction I ended up going with it was a pleasant surprise but it was getting late and so I would have to wait until Sunday morning to find out.

Squareback to Tanker-Back: 2 Days To Go...

If there were klaxons and sirens in my house they would have been going off first thing in the morning because it was all hands on deck and there was no time to waste today. Luckily my kids make sure I am up by 7 (I know, how lucky right?!) so I could take my time - in as much as that is possible with limited time!?!

So I'm looking at the now superglued pieces attached to the casting and wondering how best to create the step up from roof to rear sleeper cab when this happened...

Custom Hot Wheels Volkswagen Squareback Tanker Truck

Yeah I know, I'm awesome.

Engraved Volkswagen Logo FTW!

You might be wondering how I did this but alas you shall wonder no more for I shall show you, and you will look upon it and see that it is good. .....aalllllllllllrighty then.

custom volkswagen hauler metal stamp logo The Custom Volkswagen Hauler that I used as the basis for my Storm Trooper Custom (and the same one you see pictured) has a metal base and the VW logo you see sticking out the front is actually also metal and a part of the base casting.

Funny thing is it was only a couple of weeks ago that I was building the afore mentioned Storm Trawler; And as I was cutting the protruding piece of metal with the VW emblem attached I remember thinking 'that could come in handy', and so I placed it where I could find it again.

And find it again I did. And use it. And yeah, awesome!

Creating a Seamless Join

The same epoxy putty that I used to create the V shape in the roof with the logo impression was also used to cover the small lines created where the additional wheel arch joined the main body.  *Follow the link for a guide to using epoxy putty*

When joining diecast panels and/or extending the lines of the vehicle my main focus is always on the superglueing part because a clean join at this stage means the epoxy work is minimal and makes for a smoother more enjoyable build overall. As you can see from the below image the amount of putty needed was minimal at best and was almost not required at all. I'd saved valuable hours and considerable heartache - and in the interest of awesomeness I've put together a quick checklist so the next time you need to join diecast sections together you can avoid the common mistakes and create that seamless join we all strive for.

Custom Hot Wheels Volkswagen Squareback Tanker Truck


The 'DO's and DON'T's of Joining Diecast Sections

You've cut your sections and now you're ready to turn that crazy custom idea into a reality, go you! But before you get too excited here's a list of things to check off before you start superglueing all the things!


  • Using bluetac fit the pieces together and study them from every angle to make sure that no matter which direction it is viewed from the lines stay true.
  • If you are extending the wheel arches or base of the main casting make sure you also include the base so the width stays on point.
  • Once you are happy with how it sits choose the first section you want to work with and apply a thin vein of superglue to ONE SIDE ONLY.
  • Press the pieces together with the most obvious and prominent side as your main reference. (In the example above I used the lines on the outside of the squareback as my main guide.)
  • After 10 second let go as the glue will have set enough to hold and gently/calmly turn the casting over and view the join from all angles. (It's at this point in my initial join that I realised it was sitting crooked but only noticed it from a sharper angle)
  • If the lines are not as you like then simply apply a tiny bit of force and the piece will come right off. Rinse and repeat as necessary
  • Once you are completely satisfied with the join add another slightly more generous spot of superglue to the inside panel right where the join is - not too much as to let it drip in anyway mind you!
  • Again to use my example above, when I joined the other side panel I actually bluetac'd the base in place and made sure the two ends sat neatly on the bumper. I then glued the panel in place - made easier to get dead on because the base was now there to guide it. BUT...

I kinda accidentally did a DON'T which made my DO into a doo-doo...


  • If you're using the base or another section of the casting to support or guide your join then don't let the superglue run down to that section!
    I did - and spent about 20 minutes delicately chiseling away the glue with a blade until the damn base finally came off!
  • Don't put glue on the outside of the casting or let it run anywhere that is external and visible!
    Dried superglue leaves a surface looking scratchy and horrible - but you won't actually notice how bad it is until you've applied the paint. Trust me, superglue is NOT your friend and you need to treat it with the utmost respect.
  • Don't let your fingers do the walking. This isn't yellow pages and you've got a delicate custom WIP in front of you. I think I focus quite well and yet it's amazing how often I find finger print marks with glue residue on the roof or bonnet. I swear it wasn't me officer!
  • Don't hold the join with your fingers or glue yourself to the casting! - Well no shit Sherlock - I know! but if I don't put it on the list someone will write to management and I'll never hear the end of it!

So now I've joined my sections together it's time to paint... but what colour?!

the colour of your custom makes or breaks the overall look

Making or Breaking a Custom

Without doubt the most important or at least crucial part of any build is the colour and design of the exterior. Poor decisions here can literally ruin an otherwise brilliant creation and the last thing I wanted to do was, well that!
The overall colour was going to be blue when I had first started the build, maybe two tone? I hadn't really made any concrete decisions because they usually came when the joining, puttying, sanding and finishing had been completed - it's a lot easier to see what design elements and colour schemes will and won't work with a complete body to look at.

It was only in the 11th hour - actually it probably was 11am too! haha...anyway, with not many drying hours left I just happened to be scanning my past customs when a WRX caught my eye. I took one look at the Subie and one look at the completed chassis and main frame work of the Volkswagen not-so-Squareback and knew I'd found the colour - and design elements that would look great AND compliment the various elements of the build.

Subaru WRX on Custom BBS wheels 17b

Spectra-Flamin' Hell, That Means...!! 

The problem with this picture is that the paint in question is a transparent metallic red designed for creating spectraflame paintwork - but that's assuming you're painting onto a highly polished diecast surface (Again, here's a How To Polish Guide for your reference)

Soooo I had to polish and shine the flamin' thing...

Custom Hot Wheels Volkswagen Squareback Tanker Truck


Custom Hot Wheels Volkswagen Squareback Tanker Truck


Custom Hot Wheels Volkswagen Squareback Tanker Truck

No time to waste so it was straight into the paint booth with her.

Custom Hot Wheels Volkswagen Squareback Tanker Truck

Looking Good after 2 fine mist layers to begin and a third more generous layer... I sometimes do another after this but let it dry and wait first - you don't want to over do the paint and ruin the spectraflame effect by masking the polished diecast underneath.

It was now mid afternoon and although I was running low on daylight, the Squareback body was in the midst of being painted and because I'm clever I had already painted the tanker earlier - and I'm glad I did because I needed all the day to get it done!

Tanking a Painter.

Yes I know what it says - and it's true. When it came to painting this thing I literally tanked - as a painter I mean. The fact that the tanker is made of plastic meant that before I could even apply  the metallic coat I had to apply a chrome like silver to at least attempt to replicate the shine of metal. It worked in the end but I literally had to apply 15 or more coats of paint as each time it would dry faded but slightly less with each coat. Worked out brilliant in the end as the tanker now has almost the same spectra-shine as the VW Squareback hauling it.

The image below shows some of the detailing as well as the decals - which I will go through in more detail shortly - but highlights the overall paint effect and matching shine that both tanker and Squareback have.

Custom Hot Wheels Volkswagen Squareback Tanker Truck

Although it's looking good with her decals and details, as it stood now it was now past midnight on Saturday night and I technically only had 1 day to bring it all together... so I went to bed!

Squareback to Tanker-Back: 1 Day To Go!

Things were made even more stressful by the fact I was on daddy duty for the good part of the day and actually didn't get a chance to focus on the custom until after they (the children - mine apparently) had gone to bed at 8pm! I did however manage to create, print & clear coat the custom VW decals so they were ready for use when
8'o'clock finally arrived! 

Decals and Details (at 8)

The Details make or break... no wait, that's paint. The details are my favourite part of the customising process because it's the little things that bring things to life and draw the viewer in, enticing him or her to investigate and ultimately be inspired. I speak from experience because that's exactly what I find myself doing when I'm looking at some of Your Custom Hotwheels creations <3 

My Custom ... Decals

volkswagen hot wheels decals in 1:64 scaleIf I was inspired by a WRX with flames then I had to find flames for my Volkswagen Tanker-Back. Luckily I own a Hot Wheels decal store  and so set about designing and creating a set of VW branded flames and related livery. Thus the Volkswagen Decal Pack was born (well I scaled it down for general use as these were rather oversized obviously) and my tanker was destined to become a cheap advertising vessel. But Das Auto for you right 😉

Hitches, Stacks, Mirrors and Those Squiggly Wiggly Things

The first detail I added was the best (IMHO) because I'd been wanting to do it since finding the coloured wire spools in an art/craft/linen/sewing type store (that's all you're getting - all you need really but 😉  )

Those Squiggly Wiggly Things

how to make brake lines for your custom hot wheels cars

To create the brake lines I simply wrapped the thin metal wire around a nail and then pulled it off the end. The metal wire is incredibly flexible yet retains its shape brilliantly so now it was simply a case of attaching them to the fuel tank and rod - which is half a nail that I drilled/glued into the tank piece to act as a holder for the brake lines when they were not attached to the trailer (details bro!)

Exhaust Stacks & The Donor Himself

I ended up ditching the original exhaust stacks due to them being too thick to fit into the small gap created by the way the cab sat against the Volkswagen body and so I chose to use the stacks that came with the donor casting - shown in more detail below

Volkswagen Squareback Tanker WIP 22

Hitches, Bases & Extra Axles

As the above image also shows, the hitch I used was cut from the donor truck and painted silver (with my trusty Sharpie). To get it to sit level I glued some staples to the underside, with their sides acting as legs that straddled the metal rod running down the centre. Getting it to sit flush and level with the back of the base required... no work at all as it was one of those rare moments when things just seem like they were meant to be...

Volkswagen Squareback Tanker WIP 17

the metal tab on the Squareback base was left for a very good reason...

Volkswagen Squareback Tanker WIP 18

llllllllike a Glove!

Getting the wheels and axles to sit nicely so the final product would roll true can sometimes be an issue when dealing with metal bases - mainly because metal tabs won't necessarily open and close for you. Holding the axle in place usually becomes the job of the interior lining but since my custom creation had none of that I had to come up with another solution.

It came to me whilst staring at the nail I had been using with the brake lines - and it was rather genius, even if I do say so myself 😀

how to hold axles down using metal bases

Put it all together andVolkswagen Squareback Tanker WIP 19


Volkswagen Squareback Tanker watercolour painting

Side Mirrors and Mudflaps

The side mirrors really helped balance the overall custom as they come out as far as the sleeper cab and therefore harmonize the shape from the front and top profile. They were 'stolen' from a smaller scale Shell Tanker Truck so they are proper tanker mirrors like! For serious bro.

Oh yeah, and I added the tail lights and mudflaps configuration you see there from that same truck. I think it helps bring the back together and makes it look more truckish (?)

Volkswagen Squareback Tanker WIP 21

Before I finally unveil the finished product (which you've already seen anyway) there's one more cool little detail that I have to share, a cover up of sorts as a matter of fact. Intrigued?

The Great Decal Cover Up

When assembling the Tanker-Back I thought about how to create a seamless join between the wider cab and the body of the Squareback. I'd actually filled the gap with putty from the inside but it was pointless because it was hidden by shadow and too deep to be of use anyway - and so I resigned to just accepting it as it sat, it didn't look bad or anything so all good right?

And then came the decal application. I decided to go with a side flame that was too large for the vehicle so that it would extend beyond the edges and look [like, totally rad] and in the process created the perfect way to make the join between car and cab look seamless.
Excepting those photos where the light gives away the space under the decal, the completed custom now looks as if the cab and main body are - and always were, one piece. Ummm, WINNING!

the finished product in all her Volkswagen Air Cooled diecast glory

The finished product in all her Volkswagen Air Cooled diecast glory... complete with hidden joins and ... oh yeah I totally forgot - I also added the compressed air release valves you see there - which are just two of the 4 spotlights from the roof of the Custom Ford Bronce casting.

It was now 5 o'clock in the morning and having already decided sleep was not an option I set about taking the following photos and creating a collage to send in time for the competition. I was well and truly buggered by this point. My custom Vee Dub however was so not!

And so now, FINALLY and without further ado, I present to you the totally not buggered Volkswagen Squareback that grew up and got seriously Air Cooled

The Volkswagen Tanker-Back


  • custom Hot Wheels VW Squareback petrol tanker Winning Entry
  • custom Hot Wheels VW Squareback petrol tanker Winning Entry
  • custom Hot Wheels VW Squareback petrol tanker Winning Entry



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