Predicta News by Mark S. Gustavson

August 2022

The Project is delighted that we have been invited to participate in the Starbird display at the Speedway Museum of American Speed in Lincoln, Nebraska.   

In early August, Clay Smith (son of founders “Speedy” Bill and Joyce Smith) called me and told me of his critical leadership roll in the Speedway Museum. I was previously acquainted with the Museum, mostly because of their enormous collection of hyper-rare performance and “hot rod” engines.      I invited Clay and his wife to join me for breakfast.   

We soon    met in Sandy, Utah; there, Clay told me of the Museum’s recent ‘acquisition’ of the balance of the Starbird collection of cars. The first acquisition of four cars (which included the Lil Coffin) was announced on May 17, 2021. Check out the Museum’s first announcement of the acquisition of Starbird’s cars. The remaining Starbird collection of cars (including the Predicta, ‘natch) occurred early this year. It’s hard to over-state the critical and historic quality of this acquisition.

The Speedway Museum acquisition of all of the surviving Starbird-designed and constructed dars was a significant event of unparalleled historic importance. Starbird had closed his Museum after his wife, Donna, succumbed to the Covid virus in October of last year.    In his late Eighties, Darryl found himself unable to manage his custom car museum so he contacted the Speedway museum — and the consummation of the long-discussed plans of a merger were finalized.    Both Starbird’s Museum and the Speedway Museum are Section 501 (c)(3) organizations so the transfer of title and possession wasn’t particularly difficult to accomplish from legal and tax perspectives.

Before the movement of Starbird’s cars to the Speedway Museum, Starbird had returned all of custom cars loaned to the Starbird Museum by their owners, thereby drawing to a close probably the greatest centralized collection of historic and diverse custom cars ever assembled.

Starbird’s cars were gingerly loaded into a number of enclosed transport trucks and delivered to the Speedway Museum, leading to the creation of an extensive presentation of original Starbird cars.    The Project has been asked to assist by sharing the Project’s very extensive photo and artifact collection, and research data like that found in the Museum’s Custom Car Bibliography. Please check out these videos that announce the acquisition of the Starbird cars, and the Predicta in particular:

On August 23, 2022, Speedway Marketing Coordinator, Joe McCollough, uploaded to the Speedway website an excellent introduction to the Predicta.   Just days before, I had a great and cordial discussion with Joe.    I heartily recommend that you enjoy Joe’s great online article. Graciously, Joe mentioned the Predicta Project, my impending book on the car and its history, and the incredible collection of information, data, photos, ephemera and related items that I’ve collected over the last 35 years.   Thanks for your great note, Joe.

The Project has also forged an easy relationship with Jason Lubken, Marketing and Creative Manager of the Speedway Museum.    An equally garrulous fellow, Jason has been rescuing and clarifying the many vintage photos that Starbird took many decades to assemble.    Because of the Speedway Museum’s genuinely superior photographic and computer capabilities, Jason has clarified many of those old photos.    Jason has offered to give me access to better quality images for my pending book for McFarland Books. I agreed to send to Jason a wide range of photos that the Museum doesn’t have: clearly, the Project and the Museum need to have co-extensive collections of photos.

June 2022

We are pleased to announce that the Project has been wonderfully successful in negotiating with the Motor Trend Group the use some of the wonderfully-clear and excellent photos taken in 1960 when the car was in California subsequent to its initial appearance at the Oakland Show in January 1960.    Laura Fisher, of the curators at the famed Petersen Museum in Los Angeles,  made a contact for the Project with the intellectual property folks at the Motor Trend Group who generously, and immediately, granted the Project access to a wide array of documents for use in the book.   Your help, Laura, is appreciated more than you can know.

Many of the photos will replace much-inferior versions of those images that the Project had acquired from other third and fourth-generation sources.    Both replacement, and additional, photos from the Motor Trend Group will be used in the book, in the Project Seminar to be presented at the GSL Finale, and as sources of detail for the accurate scale models  that the Project will be creating. (The Project now owns the intellectual property rights to create scale models kits and use of the images in any article or publication).

December 2021

Please check out critical news about The Predicta Project that has accrued since we last posted over two years ago. As the book nears the date when it must be submitted to my esteemed publisher McFarland Books, updates will be much more frequent.

The Passing of Donna Starbird:
The Predicta Project is devastated to report that Donna Starbird passed on September 5, 2101 at the age of 87.    Donna’s role in the Starbird universe cannot be adequately described, and her loss to Darryl and the old/custom car hobby cannot be measured.    Please visit her obituary.  

The Book:
Though still untitled, the book is coming along very well, though I continue to work to prepare the many hundreds of photographs, writing captions, cross-checking end notes and the content of the extensive Appendices.    I am mindful of the too-long time (actually, too-many years) this book has been in preparation: with Donna’s passing, I have become acutely aware of Darryl’s mortality (he’s in his late Eighties) – I really want him to enjoy this book.    To that end, I have closed my office each Friday, with the result that I’m spending all of each Friday and Saturday until I can submit the book to McFarland Books (my editor Charlie Pardue has been absurdly tolerant of the time this scholarly    tome has required).    I assure the Predicta enthusiast that there has never been a more complete and analytic book written about any custom-crafted vehicle – this book dwarfs even my book on Spence Murray’s Dream Truck.

Inside Source for Predicta photos from Petersen!
Author Mark S. Gustavson is honored to be working with Laura Fisher, the Archivist for the famed Petersen Museum in Los Angeles who has most generously offered her help in searching the Petersen photo archives for photos of the Predicta.    To date, the Project has relied upon the substantial services of Steve Roullier to digitally clean up scans of vintage photos from the pages of Car Craft and Rod & Custom.   

Even using the latest high-zoot version of Adobe Photoshop, the digitally-processed pictures looked awful in comparison to the Motor Trend Group.    Ms. Fisher has been instrumental to helping the Project properly license the photos we need, and get access to very high resolution versions of the magazine photos we need plus other photos not published in the very early Sixties. We extend our greatest appreciation to Ms. Fisher for her generous and thoughtful assistance with this critical task.

Mechanical Illustrations of Throttle and Brake Systems!
Bob Wick, working with Mike Smith (RIP), created “operational drawings” of how the under dash throttle and brake action operated from both sides of the car. Bob, a skilled mechanical illustrator, produced a series of sketches that Darryl reviewed comprehensively – leading to the next iteration of the drawings that we sent to Darryl for his review.    This process went on for several months.    I can’t express, adequately, my appreciation to Mike, Bob and Darryl for their unflinching dedication to this mysterium of innovative American engineering.    A full set of Bob’s drawings appear in the book    – in an Appendix.

Starbird Videos: Video Presentations Featuring Starbird and The Predicta Project.   
The Project is pleased to reveal that there are a series of You Tube views concerning Starbird and the car:

My largely inept interview.

Starbird question and answer session.

Starbird presented seminar at GSL-XXVI (2017):

The Predicta Project presented at    GSL-XXVI (2017):

Feature Video on Starbird.

You might also be interested in this vintage mid-Sixties Starbird interview.

The Project extends its great appreciation to Dave and Tonya Hadley (videographers for the GSL International Model Car Championship and Convention) for recording and editing the videos listed above then uploading them to You Tube.


May 2019

Please check out the key developments in the Project:

Seminar at GSL-XXVII (May 2-5, 2019)

With the help of Lynn Koberna, Steve Roullier and Bob Wick, I will have presented  the latest update on the Predicta P:roject at the Twenty-Seventh GSL Championship. In a seminar, my fellow travelers and I will have focused on the scope and detail of the project including the monumental tasks of determining the correct dimensions for the body since building accurate scale models of the car could not be based on the significantly in accurate dimensions of the original Monogram kit. As attendees in that session learned, the process of measuring — and reducing to scale — the critical measurements of the phenomenal car is no mean project but one that requires thoughtful and quite hard work. This effort to learn the actual measurements (both gross numbers and subtle dimensions) required the thoughtful of Project Team members Koberna and Roullier.

In September of 2018, Project team member Koberna traveled to meet Darryl and Donna, and there spent the better part of day — with the gracious assistance of Darryl — taking multiple dozens of measurements of the Predicta that I had identified before Lynn left. When there, Koberna acquired some additional measurements.

Koberna returned with a thick file full of critical dimensional data which he handed to me and, in turn, Koberna and I turned to fellow team member Steve Roullier who produced digitized images of the car with “measurement lines” and data. After that, Roullier, Koberna and I puzzled over the measurements and how to depict them.

In the GSL seminar, we showed many of the “dimensioned” images that Koberna and Roullier collaborated to create as part of the effort to show that the first objective in any scale replica project is to research the physical description of the car to be cloned in scale. As noted elsewhere on this site, the original Monogram kit’s body measurements are really awful. In recent months, Steve Roullier and I, and Lynn, have been collaborating the determine and depict the correct 1:1 measurements of the actual car, those measurements of key body configurations rendered in 1/24 dimensions, and the showing the vastly inaccurate body dimensions of the vintage Monogram kit.

Of course, it is essential to get the basic body dimensions correct before an authentic scale model (in whatever scale) can be built. As these dimensions are refined and digitized in great images, we’ll post fresh images on that page.  Presently, you can check out the early efforts to learn correct dimensions by visiting the Correcting the Original Kit page.

Another key element in this project is the creation of two phantom kits — one based upon a speculative history what Monogram might have offered had the advice of Roger Harney been followed by corporate executives — to build a “halo” kit in the same way that the Johan company created the famed Turbine Car kit. Best described in the Vintage Kits That Never Were.  Noted illustrator Brad Leisure has created the box for what might have been Monogram’s halo kit.

This box, based upon the basic style of the original 1964 kit as developed, conceptually by Bob Wick, specifies the features that the kit could have presented to the interested build — each of which technical feature was possible in 1964 (even the lighting kit could have ben offered by Monogram — the company offered a lighting kit for its Big Deuce as well as a free-standing kit for its Big T). My thanks to Dave Hadley who digitized the list of features that appear on the box.

The other kit intended by The Predicta Project is The Big Predicta — drawing its theme from the 1/8 scale “Big” kits that Monogram created starting in 1962. Project art director Bob Wick has conceptualized the box cover art for this model — check out the image here. We’re debating the scale of this model — since we’ll be vac-forming the bubble top, we’re naturally limited by the size of clear plastic that is available and whether such materials are optically pure — can’t have the bubble distorting. Bob Wick has laid out the basic design for the box lid art for The Big Predicta — based upon vintage Monogram advertising motifs — and he created this early stage color rendering.

Research into Necessary Parts. To build an accurate scale miniature of any subject matter, you have to research the parts of the car and then replicate those parts in scale. To that end, note:

The Monogram iteration of the car will be the version of the car that we’ll be replicating in 1/24 scale. That car ran four (4) 1960 Ford Falcon “glass bowl” carburetors. I purchase one from ebay, and had it professionally cleaned. Check out these images of what is now a very rare part.

Faced with the issue of how to replicate, in 1/24 scale, the Falcon carb, Lynn turned to Shawn Johnson and Richie Kinmont. Using 3-D technology, Shawn used Solid Works 3D CAD file to 3D print the carb.  In turn, Richie used Shawn’s CAD file to 3D to do the prototype printing of the scale 1/24 scale carbs. These gentlemen went out of their way to experiment with this project and created a couple of really intricate 3-d prints, images of which will be shared in the next site update. Here are the Falcon carb e-files they created to guide the printing.

Further time spent on the process will produce more accurate images that can be printed in even great detail. The Predicta Project expresses its profound appreciation to Messrs. Johnson and Kinmont who have generally offered to stay on board for further development of not only the Falcon carbs in 1/24 scale but also  other parts.

Further parts development will also be required. For instance, the Predicta used a ‘58 Chrysler power steering set up like this:

Which integrated with the ‘55 Ford steering box. Additionally, we’ll be modeling the upper and lower front control arms (photos below) in brass with machined ball joints and bushings.

In a future Update, we’ll bring you up to speed on further developments on the construction of parts for the 1/24 scale “halo” kit.


July 4, 2018

Please excuse the long delay in updating the Project site (since August of last year). There have been a great number of developments and updates and expansions in this epochal project, but other pressing concerns have kept me away from the important task of updating this important site.

Enjoy the following notes:

I have just formed a Utah limited liability company — The Predicta Project, LLC — through which the very limited number of several “phantom” (what-if) kits, instructional booklets, research materials and other Project features (that will be announced in the future) will be sold in the future.  As an attorney, this company was easily and quickly formed with the State of Utah.

In the Fall of 2017, I approached Ed Sexton — then, a key company officer in Revell-Monogram — about the possibility of re-issuing the Predicta kit.  It had been since 2000 that the kit had been re-issued when Ed honored me with writing the text for a special info card that was placed in the box, and text for the instruction sheet (with my byline on both). I offered to produce, at my expense, a special booklet that would help builders construct a more realistic model if the kit were to be re-issued in 2018.

I also offered to produce a special full color card that would bear Starbird’s photo next to the car and a fresh set of decals that would have been created by famed artist Mark D. Jones and printed by a client in Sandy, Utah. Ed and I agreed upon the range of my contributions toward the kit, and we were waiting until (and if) the decision was made to re-issue the famed kit.

Unfortunately, a financial and legal catastrophe intervened. You might have learned that Hobbico, Inc. filed for voluntary petition, on January 10, 2018, for relief under Chapter 11 of the United State Bankruptcy Court.  Go here to read more about the Hobbico bankruptcy and related events. Sadly, Hobbico had been on a buying spree over the last few years and one acquisition was Revell-Monogram which was sold to German investors who acquired Revell of Germany as part of the package. With the sale to the Germans, informed insiders say that is next-to-zero chance that the Predicta kit will be re-issued; in fact, the fear is that the Germans will sell some tooling for the enormous value of the metal — it’s hard to imagine how stern and serious German investors would be sympathetic to even preserving the Predicta tooling.

In any event, from a legal perspective, the Predicta kits I’ll be offering to the modeling public will be unique which will entitle me to sell the kits and related items without any copyright or related claims. More on these legal issues in the future.

We’ve decided to delete the speculative Predicta Slot Car project element. It has seemed more reasonable to concentrate on static models rather than on a slot car which, by its nature, would have been marketed as being driven in a competitive venue.

The Phantom Future page has been outlined. This element of the Project may be the most challenging of all to accomplish.

One aspect of the Project is to tell and illustrate — in 1/24th scale — the early days of the Predicta when it was being built at Starbird’s Star Kustom Shop in Wichita and, later, when it was being restyled in anticipation of the Monogram kit.  As you may remember from the April 2017 entry date (below), we’ve asked famous dioramist Jim Fernandez to construct a 1/24 diorama of Starbird’s original shop: The photos at that date show the “mock up” Fernandez has made in which Starbird’s original shop was the locale of the pivotal moment in the history of the car. Check out the following photo of the outside of his shop, probably taken in the late summer of 1959.

Starbird Custom Car Shop
This is Starbird’s legendary first shop — Starbird Kustom Car Shop. The Predicta, the Orange Hauler, the Futurista, and Forcasta were built here as well as much of the work on the Lil’ Coffin. That’s Starbird’s custom ‘59 Buick on the extreme left of the image. Look at a mid-point version of the Lil’ Coffin in the foreground. What a wonderful and enthusiastic time in custom car history!

The Project needs a diorama of Starbird’s original shop because we intend to illustrate, in 1/24 scale 3-D, the initial construction period (late 1959) and the time frame (1962-63) in which the Predicta was restyled in anticipation of the famous kit and, in the alternative timeline, when the car was restyled for participation in the famous Ford-Division Ford Custom Car Caravan incident to Starbird’s agreement to restyle and mechanically outfit the car with Ford drivetrain items so that the car could be placed in the famed Ford Custom Car Caravan

We have very substantively revamped the “Vintage Kits That Never Were” page. The prior version had quite a few errors, and there has been a lot of progress regarding how those fanciful, phantom kits will be created and actually produced.  Please visit here for the new description of the phantom kits (that certainly could have been created) that the Project will build.

By August 1, 2018, we will have submitted the final text (and photos, end notes, appendices and other details) to McFarland Books in connection with the Predicta book. Candidly, preparing this book has been a LOT more work than I first contemplated but it’s going to be great! I’ve revealed stories I’ve learned over the last three decades and shown images and odd bits of history that will enthrall you. Doing justice to the grand history has required a lot of careful work. Correctly, the publisher publishes sophisticated, high-end books that are prepared in accord with the Chicago Book of Style.

Finally, I’m honored to reveal that I’m preparing a six-article “how-to” article series for  Scale Auto, thanks to the generous interest of new editor Mark Savage. These articles will illustrate how to fashion an authentic scale miniature: a) Correcting  the badly-flawed body; b) fashioning a correct frame; c) building correct from and rear grille shells and lights; d) adding a lot of detail to the interior and engine compartment, and e) building a correct Hemi engine.  With the generous help of Steve Roullier who digitally produced the “lined” drawings that I’ve sent to the ever patient Starbird and his wonderful wife Donna, a correct body is possible.  Check out these drawings, the information from which will join the previously gathered data. Damn, we’re going to get the body right and do what should have been done in 1963!

To supplement, but not supplant, the article series in Scale Auto magazine, we’ve created a new page: Scale Auto Article.

I was incredibly honored to receive a special painting from Bob Shelton at GSLXXII (2017).  He did a water color painting of the Predicta (highly reminiscent of the Impressionist art of the late Nineteenth Century) and, frankly, it’s a first-rate painting. It came with the additional value of bearing Starbird’s signature. Thanks, Bob: I was incredibly pleased and honored that you would do this. I am deeply grateful.

Bob Shelton painting
There is something ethereal about water color work. Shelton perfectly captured the spirit of the car. Bob knows how to use these colors to introduce “light” to the painting.


August 20, 2017

After it became clear that there was too much work to wrap it up by the August 1 deadline, I received an extension from McFarland to submit the text, photos, and illustrations for my book. Matching the exacting publisher’s standards with the great volume of work still to do (there’s SO MUCH material still to marshall), I asked for the extra time and Charlie Perdue granted it. Thanks, Charlie!

This extension was a godsend for another reason, too: Steve Roullier doesn’t have all of the photos from me that need “photoshop rescuing,” and Bob Wick hasn’t had the time to finish the exquisite engineering drawings he’s doing of the unique mechanical systems that Starbird employed to build the Predicta. These fellows need the time to finish their work properly. This extension will result in a much better book.

Work is progressing very well — I’m now devoting my time to the intricate work of preparing the end notes and the various Appendices;

As noted under the July 2017 date, below, I hired famed illustrator Brad Leisure to do the box art for the first of phantom, “what if” kits that we’ll be making. You may remember that I want to do the kit that “halo” Monogram might have offered — the equivalent of the Johan Turbine Car kit —  but didn’t because, as Roger Harney told me, Besser refused to commit the funds to do a more detailed kit. Well, I’m going to fix that by creating a one-off kit that might have been produced. This kit will require new box art.

Here are a couple of photos of the “rough-draft” of a mockup kit box lid.

More work is necessary to get the art and box into its final form, but this gives you a good idea of what the box art will look like. I’ll be commissioning Brad for more art for The Predicta Project.

My thanks to Bob Wick for his basic layout of the box art, to Dave Hadley for creating the text for the box lid and, of course, to Brad Leisure for his incredible work!

To learn more about the phantom kits we’ll be doing, you may want to read more about the phantom kits that are an essential part of The Predicta Project.

Both Kustoms Illustrated and the KKOA magazine, The Trendsetter, have carried notices for my Predicta book.  Luke Karosi (who’s the editor for Kustoms Illustrated) is a great championship for traditionally-styled custom cars.  Luke has always been very supportive of the Predicta book. Go to his website, here.

Jerry Titus is the head honcho at the Kustom Kemps of America which was formed in 1980.  Under his prescient leadership, Jerry has nearly single-handedly ‘rescued” the custom car movement in the United States, and has been very helpful with research for my book. Go to the KKOA website, here.

Check out the very generous display advertisement that Luke and Jerry have published for the book.

The video of my interview of Darryl Starbird at GSL-XXVI has been finished-edited, and uploaded to The Predicta Project YouTube channel. This video will be the first of several videos that will appear on The Predicta Project channel. My thanks to Dave and Tonya Hadley for the filming and processing of the raw video; to Nashaela Lyons for arranging for the interview.


August 12, 2017

In answer to a few questions, note that all book royalties will be spend exclusively on creating the phantom kits that the Project contemplates.  For more information about the phantom kits, go here.


July 2017

We’re happy to announce, and premiere here, the phantom kit artwork that famous illustrator Brad Leisure has created on commission from The Predicta Project. In a future update, I’ll feature some images of the box and one side of the box. This is the box art for the phantom kit described here.


June 2017

At GSL-XXVI, I had the distinct honor of interviewing Darryl.  Darryl and Donna Starbird graciously participated at GSL-XXVI as our guests of honor.  They presented a seminar “How I Worked with Monogram Models in the Sixties.”  Attached is the Schedule for GSL-XXVI.

Darryl and Donna Starbird

In the interview, Darryl  focused on the history of restyling cars and other details.  GSL Trustee and video authority Dave Hadley video-filmed the interview, and has produced this video.

Note that this video is Copyright, 2017, The Predicta Project.  My special thanks to Dave and Tonya Hadley for doing the filming and editing at GSL-XXVI, to Nashaela Lyons for being the aide de camp for Darryl and Donna Starbird when they were the Guests of Honor at GSL-XXVI. I’m not smart enough to handle any of these tasks and I express my deepest gratitude to these folks for their help.


May 2017

The Trustees at the GSL International Scale Vehicle Championship and Convention were pleased to welcome, as honored guests, Darryl and Donna Starbird. They spent three days with those GSL participants — those competing and viewing the Twenty-Sixth Championship, and they participated in the Predicta Project seminar that was presented on the evening of May 27, 2017 (GSL Schedule here). In the near future, we’ll upload to here a link to a video of that seminar which introduced the Project to the public, and features a short movie that Darryl brought with him to GSL. Dave Hadley, a GSL Trustee and video/technical expert, filmed (with his wife, Tonya’s assistance) the seminar and is editing the video so it can be uploaded.

Photo of Donna and Darryl Starbird by Pat Bibeau


April 15, 2017

It is the tradition of the Tri-Stat e Model Car Club to present the largest gathering of modelers — in a non-competitive format — to display their scale models. Colloquially called NNL-East, this event is covered widely in the media.

The Predicta Project prepared and donated a built up model of one of the very rare metallic/pearl red versions of the kit to be auctioned at the NNL-East event held on April 22, 2017.  The proceeds from this model — $356.00 — were contributed to the coffers of the International Model Car Builders’ Museum. Additionally, NNL East (through the leadership of Tom Geiger and his team of public-spirited modelers) make an annual and very significant monetary contribution to the Museum each year.

For this model, several things needed to be done: we had to present a built-up of the rare version, and we needed tod display the on a reproduction of the vintage Monogram hobby store display base. Years ago, I purchased a reproduction display base off Ebay — it looked great but featured two misspelled words on the front vertical rise of the base. I checked my original display — and the misspellings weren’t there meaning that the fellow doing the reproduction didn’t know how to spell. So, I turned to Steve Roullier who created correct side panels for the aftermarket display by digitally altering the reproduction image.

Additionally, UMAG member Paul Bringhurst detailed the built-up model (that I purchased from Ebay) by polishing the body and clear bubble, and generally detailing the model.

The model looked great — Paul is an acknowledged master of antiseptic model building.

When placed atop the display base, it looked great.

With the help of Karen Nielsen, I prepared a display card that was placed near the model at NNL-East 2017.

We express our deepest gratitude to Steve Roullier, Paul Bringhurst, Karen Nielsen, Tom Geiger and all the other fellows who present the famed NNL show each year. Go here to learn more about this great scale auto modeling event.


April 2017

The Predicta Project is delighted to declare that Darryl and Donna Starbird will attend the Twenty-Sixth GSL International Scale Vehicle Championship and Convention,  where Darryl will present a seminar on his recollections of working with Monogram Models as the company’s Custom Car Consultant from 1961 through 1967. The GSL Championship is honored to host Darryl and his wife — both of whom have been good friends with Mark S. Gustavson and who have shown him the greatest patience and help in preparing materials for the forthcoming book from McFarland Books. Ultimately (later this year), a video tape of Darryl’s seminar will be posted as a link go the GSL Library Page whose present contents can be found here.

Work progresses well on the book for McFarland Books. Though Mark has previously written four books, there’s something unique about this experience. The submission standards are strict. And the text, end notes, appendices, photos with captions and photo credits — and a thousand other tasks — by July1!

Work on the diorama of the original shop progresses. Jim “Hollywood” Fernandez, one of the model car hobby’s greatest dioramists, is building a 1/24 scale diorama of Darryl’s original shop where so many of Starbird’s great cars were built including the Predicta. This diorama will provide the setting for the presentation of several “construction date” versions of the Predicta as well as models (in their unfinished, “dated” states) so that the wonderful history of the original Starbird shop can be appreciated. Listen here to the words from famed dioramist Fernandez:

“To best tell the remarkable story of the creation, and initial finishing of the Predicta, and it’s later restyling for Monogram Models, it’s important that we build a 1/24th scale replica of Darryl Starbird’s Star Kustom Shop. Before building the actual diorama we needed to first determine the size, detail and layout of the shop. To date, hours of detailed research has been done using old black and white photos, Google Map pictures of the actual building that still exists and correspondence with Darryl Starbird himself. Drawings were made and a cardboard mockup diorama has been built.
We still need to determine what building materials will be used to build the shop replica. We also need to determine which walls and sections of the roof will be removable in order to produce the photographs necessary to tell the story of all of the great custom car work that was accomplished in the historical shop.”

Now, check out the photo essay that Fernandez has assembled.

The Predicta Project again expresses it greatest appreciation to Pizac Photography LLC for the gracious permission to use the photos taken by the legendary Robert Hegge. Each such photo will be footnoted by this caption: Photo by Robert Hegge/Pizac Photography LLC) ** ALL RIGHTS RESERVED **

Monogram has given our Project permission to make use of the “Monogram” name, logo, fonts and other “trade dress” from the early Sixties so that the phantom kits we’ll be producing will be “authentic” in every way. I am deeply grateful to Ed Sexton of Monogram who has been incredible supportive of this Project. Thanks, Ed!

Famed illustrator Brad Leisure is making good progress on the art for the ‘Halo” kit. Brad has worked for weeks to layout the image, working on colors, placement of key items and the like. I’ve assisted by reviewing , selecting images of key mid-Twentieth Century “Modernism” architecture that appear in the background. This art will be ready to display at GSL-XXVI, and then that art will be shown here. This art will be used for the lid of the phantom kit box we’re going to make (and then populate with custom-made scale parts to create an authentic “vintage” kit). Dave Hadley has created some of the digital art/text for the cover of the box. This box-lid art will be phenomenal. Note that Brad’s art is based upon the schematic layout done by Bob Wick.

The Predicta Project has been “advertised” by the donation of a rare built-up pearl red model on a pre-production/prototype of the vintage Monogram display box. This model will be auctioned at the famed NNL-East model show. The NNL-East gathering auctions something of great value each year and donates the proceeds to the International Model Car Builders’ Museum.  Check out the photos of the highly-detailed pearl red version (extremely early production) placed on a prototype display base which, when finished, will show on the side panels images that also appear on the faux box lid we’re going to do for the halo kit. Here’s the Information Card that will accompany the exhibit at the NNL East Show. Here are a few photos of the pearl red model atop the re-popped display box. 

The Project has also started a program to create “Predicta History Cards” that will reveal and comment upon key, if little known, events in the history of Starbird’s greatest car. To see the first such card, Predicta History Card. Color copies of this history sheet will be distributed, without cost, at the Predicta seminar that will be presented at GSL-XXVI. Go here to see the Schedule for GSL-XXVI . This first Predicta History card is based upon an advertisement in the November 1967 issue of Car Craft Magazine. Here’s that advert that’s been colorized by a fellow in Canada.

December 2016

I’m pleased to tell you that there’s been remarkable progress and developments in The Predicta Project. Check out the following details:

First, I’ve been privileged to enter into a contract with McFarland — the leading independent publishing house of academic and non-fiction books. The full-length book, complete with dozens of color and black and white photos, mechanical illustrations and digital images, will be offered in soft cover format. I’ve been incredibly pleased to work with Charles Purdue who has been very helpful in answering many questions that I’ve had. Go here to learn more about McFarland.

Second, the Predicta Project will be the focus of one of the several seminars that will be presented at the twenty-sixth GSL International Scale Vehicle Championship and Convention, to be held next April 27-30, at the Salt Lake City Sheraton hotel. In this seminar, I’ll outline the details of the project (including the phantom kits that will be created), the books and other elements of the project that will be announced there. And I’ll give away one of the rarest models in the history of the hobby — a built-up “pearl red plastic” Predicta model. Learn more about the most famed scale vehicle championship anywhere.

Third, it’s been my pleasure to get acquainted with famed photographer Doug Pizac who has done historic photographic work for a nearly uncounted number of governmental and private entities during his 40 + year career. For more on Doug’s incredible background and talents, check out his website. You’ll be stunned as I was. Doug’s connection to The Predicta Project is that he owns the entire photo library of his uncle, Robert Hegge, who once worked for all of the hot rod and custom car magazines as well as in other capacities. Doug and I had lunch together a few weeks ago, after which he generously offered to digitally clean up his uncle’s 1961 photos of the Predicta and to license to me those images for both this website and the Predicta book. Here’s a sample of these Predicta images from Roger, as licensed from Pizac Photography.

Darryl Starbird's Predicta custom car is displayed at an automobile show in the 1960's. (Photo by Robert Hegge/Pizac Photography LLC) ** ALL RIGHTS RESERVED **
Darryl Starbird’s Predicta custom car is displayed at an automobile show in the 1960’s. (Photo by Robert Hegge/Pizac Photography LLC) ** ALL RIGHTS RESERVED **
Darryl Starbird's Predicta custom car is displayed at an automobile show in the 1960's. (Photo by Robert Hegge/Pizac Photography LLC) ** ALL RIGHTS RESERVED **
Darryl Starbird’s Predicta custom car is displayed at an automobile show in the 1960’s. (Photo by Robert Hegge/Pizac Photography LLC) ** ALL RIGHTS RESERVED **

All of Mr. Hegge’s photos are used pursuant to a royalty arrangement with Pizac Photography and may not be copied or used in any other venue. Thanks, Doug, for your generous licensing agreement and for reworking your uncle’s great historic photographs!

Fourth, dioramist Jim “Hollywood” Fernandez will be generously building a 1/24-scale diorama of Starbird’s first (first pic below) where Starbird built the Predicta, the Forcasta (second pic below), the Ultra Truck (third pic below) and several other of his most famous bubble-topped cars.  This diorama will be the setting for a scene from the history of the Predicta — when it was being restyled and rebuilt to promote the Monogram kit. Jim’s known world-wide for his incredible and thoughtful dioramas — he’s won several of the top awards at the GSL Championships. Jim will be a part of the Predicta Project seminar at GSL-XXVI. Learn more about the schedule of GSL. Or visit the GSL Championship site.

1/24-scale diorama of Starbird’s first shop.
Ultra Truck

Fifth, well-known automotive illustrator and designer Brad Leisure will be producing several color renderings for The Predicta Project. Check out Brad’s work. Brad’s work will include the final art for the phantom boxes (based upon Bob Wick’s preliminary layouts for the enhanced kit and Big Predicta and the Big Predicta, a painting of the restyled Predicta that will be the focus of the “alternative-history” part of the project, and some other elements, too.  Brad will also be asked to do the color painting of Bob Wick’s vision of the future of the car — this Project is nothing if not about scope! — Bob Wick and I have spoken in that past about the ultimate fate of the Predicta.  What if it were discovered in some future era, crashed downslope, by curious auto archaeologists a century or more from now?

Here’s Bob’s early thematic sketch of this possible future. The box art will pick up on the motifs, fonts and styles of the Big Deuce kit. Bob Wick has created an early version of this art which nicely reflects the styles of the early Sixties. Because early Monogram 1/8 scale kits all featured a picture of a person (or persons), we’ll feature Starbird’s image based upon a photo of him taken in the Predicta circa 1963. The “man overlooking the model” will be Darryl’s face from the early Sixties, and the model featured on the box lid will be a built-up version of the model. Every production/boxing element and style found in the Big Deuce kit will be replicated here.
This is Bob Wick’s initial layout design for the halo kit box art: Note Chicago’s Marina Towers pictured here as on the 1964 kit box lid! This image of the Predicta will appear in the revised advertisements, too, that will be created to portray kit features that “may have been.”

Sixth, I’m more than pleased to announce that my decades-long friend and colleague, Bob Wick,  will continue in his role as artistic consultant in this Project.  Bob will prepare the art for the myriad photo-etched parts that will be required for the various models, and he will be the conceptual layout artist for project art.  He’s already designed the box art for two of the Phantom Kits and he’ll be preparing the art for the many photo-etched brass parts that will be needed to build the multiple parts needed for The Predicta Project. Thanks, Bob, for your dedication and insight!

A near-profile image of the real car over the kit body.

Seventh, Steve Roullier has joined the Predicta Project team — Steve will be creating the many digital images, and will rescue historic photos that were damaged by the years or defective when taken.  Steve is also working now on helping Predicta Headquarters to discover — through digitized photography – where the problems are with the original Monogram kit so we can create a dimensionally correct body that can be the basis for the several phantom kits that we intend to build. Here are a couple of his preliminary images where he’s superimposed a near-profile image of the real car over the kit body, and an image in which he digitally created, in color, the missing six inches of the front of a full-color photo of the car by importing a bit of the matching black and white image and then matching the color to the rest of the color image – thereby correcting a decades-old error. One way of addressing the badly-inaccurate body (both shapes and dimensions) starts by learning the substantial differences between the kit measurements and those generated from the car. Thanks to Darryl Starbird by taking the several hours to derive the measurements for our project. Go here for more info.

Eighth.  As you’ll read about in the Vintage Kits That Never Were page, you’ll learn about the incredible array of “what if,” or phantom, kits that will be created — along with the book, these projects and accompanying speculative history elements comprise the core of this great Project. With the greatest respect to both Mr. Starbird and Monogram Models, we’ll be creating kits that could have been offered in the 1963-64 era, a diorama of Starbird’s original shop, and then look far into the future when a wrecked and abandoned Predicta is discovered and restored (and mechanically updated) in a 22nd Century restoration facility.


Ninth, the physical size of all of the eventually completed elements of The Predicta Project requires a venue in which those items can be placed both as the Project is underway and after its completion. We need room for several filing cabinets, two physically large dioramas, art, display cabinets for models built for this project and other elements. For that reason, I am dedicating a well-built 200 square foot building as the host venue for The Predicta Project; in that one area, I’ll archive all materials related to the Project. Check out this photo essay of the construction of the building.


With the Predicta Project finally genuinely underway, please check back often. Your comments and suggestions (even well-considered critiques) are always welcomed. You can e-mail me at but be SURE to put “Predicta” in the subject line.

Mark S. Gustavson, December 27, 2016


October 2016

In response to a note, my friend Luke Karosi, placed in his great traditional custom car magazine Kustoms Illustrated, in which I asked his readership if any of them had any photos of the Predicta. In response, Richard Toonkel and the Jerry Eich Photo Collection sent me some previously unknown photos of the car. These color photos will be used in the book, and are found elsewhere in this site. If you haven’t already, subscribe to the first-rate magazine by going here.


July 2016

In the past, the scope of The Predicta Project wasn’t well-defined; in fact, the Project was badly disorganized with no clear central theme or plan going forward. Started initially in 2002, this Project has languished for too many years without a clear goal amid shifting objectives and sometimes benign neglect. Irregular updates to the old site occurred, but they did little more than tweak a lot of text and pictures rather than bringing clarity and direction to this Project. There was some website “flash,” but there was almost no substantive progress noted except comments about continuing research on my book. It seems I confused updates to the old site to be equivalent to progress on the Project — and that was nonsense. At 63, it’s become clear to me that I needed to move forward with this Project that will take a few years to complete — if I want to get it done in my lifetime! Though I’m zen enough (mixed with my Mormon metaphysics) to understand that “it’s the journey,” I also want to get this Project fully underway so I can fully enjoy the completion of its many elements while still young enough to do so, and to promote to the hobby the skills and techniques. Therefore, I’ve refocused my thinking on this Project, and have substantially revised every element of this effort except plans for my book (on which I’ve been working for nearly 4 years!); the book will be the first Project element to be completed. The result of a nearly seven-month review of the whole Predicta Project, including this site, has resulted in a Project program now clearly focused for the first time — all for the purpose of uncovering and exploring the full history of Starbird’s remarkable car and the model car kit it spawned. We’ll also pursue the creation of a couple of phantom “kit-based” versions of the historic Predicta kit (based upon historic still-born Monogram objectives that were shelved), and we’ll speculate on what the car (and another phantom kit) might have been like if Ford had made an irresistible proposal to Starbird upon which Monogram concurrently capitalized. The mixture of the book, the creation of several kits that could have existed (but never did), and at least three sophisticated scale models (and possible three dioramas!) will flesh out this Project. To best honor and describe Darryl Starbird’s greatest design effort, I knew that I needed the help of other professionals to assist me to get an organized project launched, developed, and completed. Check out this great list of consultants:

Bob Wick has generously stayed on as a consultant to The Predicta Project. Bob, a noted commercial artist, technical illustrator, and designer has been associated with the Project for years, and will go forward with expanded responsibilities to create and prepare the illustrations for the book as well as other tasks including the preparation of art that will lead to sophisticated photoetched parts. Bob will also design and produce presentation elements for each part of the Project including the printed paper ephemera (kit instructions, adverts, decal sheet design, and so forth) as well as the design of the display materials and settings for this Project. Bob has also created the new logo for our site based upon Darryl’s Starbird’s original shop logo from the early Sixties, and he has roughed in the draft artwork for the two of the three faux kits we’ll be creating. Thanks, Bob, for your many contributions to this Project!

Lynn Koberna has signed up to advise us about the new 3-D technology and how it can be used to help us with this Project. Lynn has joined our team to advise us on the intricacies and opportunities presented by 3-D printing which technology focuses on three-dimensional deposition “printing” of parts based upon digital information contained in CAD files. If cost issues can be addressed, we’ll take a serious look at how this new technology can be put to use in this project in creating specific parts. Lynn Koberna is a great source of information on 3-D printing and will to be a valued advisor. Lynn – thanks for your technical insight and advice.

JJ Gladstone will continue to do digital photo work for the Project. In the past, JJ has digitally “cleaned up” some of the photos for the book that also appear on this site and we’ll turn to JJ for additional digital help. Thanks, JJ, for your cheerful assistance!

JJ is working on this image from the 1960 issue of Car Craft. The photo quality in CC wasn’t great, and JJ is working on this image.
Darryl was building his flawed “Ultra Truck” at the same time he was restyling the Predicta. We’re going to replicate Starbird’s shop and populate it with the under-construction “Ultra Truck” and the unfinished Predicta.

Steve Roullier has recently joined the team to produce the “measurement illustrations” found on this site. His dimensioned photos will be used when I build a correct 1/24-scale body parts! Your help is greatly appreciated, Steve! – only with the correct measurements can an authentic body be built.

Steve has created these clear dimensional measurement images to help us build a corrected body.

With that team in place, and with more time now available to me (I’m going to be semi-retired soon), the following elements of The Predicta Project have been updated and defined:

  • The Predicta book. My comprehensive book on the history and details on the Predicta has grown because of the discovery of additional photographs including a remarkable trove of images from Darryl and Donna that chronicle the incredible 2007 tear down and full restoration of the car. Nearly 15 years in development, this definitive history book will feature and trace the car from its 1960 construction and debut through the present day, include 10 chapters, more than a hundred footnotes, 14 Appendices and some surprises. Sign up here for future email notifications on the status of the book.


The Kits: 4

Please go to kits page for a full run-down on the kits we’ll be creating!


The dioramas

1962-era Starbird shop diorama with scale models of the “under restoration” Predicta and Ultra Truck. In a hoped-for collaboration with famed scale automotive dioramist Don Strong, we’re going to replicate in 1/24 scale Starbird’s first shop (circa 1962-63) in which the Predicta was restyled for Monogram at the same time that Starbird’s Ultra Truck (Monogram Model’s kit name: Orange Hauler) was also being built. I’m going to build scale models of the partially-disassembled Predicta, when it was being updated for Monogram and the partially-finished Ultra Truck.

The partially-disassembled Predicta.
The partially-finished Ultra Truck.
The finished Ultra Truck

A slot car track diorama that will show the Predicta slot car kit being driven in a futuristic landscape – all as envisioned in the Sixties – against a background of futuristic architecture. 

The models:

Monogram 1/24 Display Model. Using the parts from the Enhanced Kit, a phantom Monogram-assembled/hobby shop display model will be built and placed atop a revised Monogram hobby store promotional box that we’ll also create: Monogram, back in the day, built “curbside-level” models for hobby shop owners to place upon special display bases that the model kit company also supplied. Go here to learn more about the problems with the historic kit that we’re going to correct.

This is the 1964-era Monogram assembled/supplied Predicta model and display base for hobby stores: I acquired these two items from an historic Chicago hobby stores that closed in 2006. The presentation elements of the box will reflect the features of the enhanced kit, and a model of that kit will be parked atop the box.

A Detailed Model of the Predicta. Using the Enhanced Predicta Kit, (plus detailing items) I’ll be building a correct, 1963-era model of the car just after Monogram took delivery. This model will feature contest detailing using the better developed parts from this faux kit.

We’re going to build a plausible Monogram slot car kit that might have been offered to the hobby in 1964. I’ll build a functional slot car based on these parts.
A partially-constructed Predicta. This model will replicate the image of the famed car during the time it was being redesigned/reconstructed for Monogram in 1962-63. We’ll use photos of the car in Starbird’s shop to guide construction of this “during construction” model.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *