The Terenzio Bros. Hustler:
The Forgotten Toy Funny Car
By Bill Pratt and Geno Terenzio
Vic and Geno Terenzio pose with their full size Hustler Monza BB/Funny Car.
Photo by Anthony Terenzio
When I was in high school, I always would scour the toy store shelves to ensure that the drag racing cars were as available as the other types of racing model cars and toys (and in the '70s, they WERE). Anyway, I was thrilled to find a toy version of the yellow Terenzio Bros. Chevy Monza BB/Funny Car. It was about half the size of a 1/25 scale model and if I remember correctly, it either had a pull string on the back or had a mechanism where you rolled it back for a few inches and then let it go. The thing was fast! I wish I still had that thing -- I'll bet it's worth quite a bit of money on the collector's market!
I always wondered how the Terenzio Bros. got that deal. I wonder how many of you remember seeing this toy car? When you talk about the number of drag racers who ever had toys made out of their cars (not counting the current die-cast craze), the number of racers are very, very few indeed. So how did the Terenzio Bros.
-- known more for their altereds -- pull off this deal?
Geno Terenzio holds the toy version of the Hustler Monza.
Photo thanks to Geno Terenzio
Well, thanks to the Internet, we're happy to say that we've become online pals with Geno Terenzio. He's written several stories for us, but we never thought about asking him about this car until someone posted photos of it the other day on the
fuelcoupes mailing list. I posed the questions and here is Geno's response:
Bill, we had a friend who worked in the art department for Marx toys (before it was sold to Quaker Oats Co.) He got us hooked up with one of the big shots. We made a deal and built the car. There were going be two cars; the other was a
Mustang. We were trying to get that one for Sammy Miller, as we had just finished building him a Mustang Funny car. About two to four months later, the deal went down the toilet. Marx was sold to the Quaker Oats Co. and the CEO (a woman holy roller) didn't like race cars, toy guns, or pretty much anything ya had fun with. She backed out of the deal, so I parked the car until the contract date expired. I then painted it in the Italian Stallion colors and we raced on our own again.
PS -- I don't have any of the cars either; I gave them all away. In the photo on top, that's me on the right with the mustache and my brother Vic on the left (Grizzly Adams!) My brother Anthony took that picture in front of our shop.
The other photo shows me and the toy funny.