Capturing an automotive master piece to inspire generations to come…Mister Cartoon’s lowrider ice cream van.
Words by Tony Matthews & Mister Cartoon
Photos by Tony Matthews & Estevan Oriol
What can you truly define as a master piece in the automotive world, that will inspire generations? For me, it stands for more than just a nice paint scheme or how low you have dropped the chassis. Instead, it comes down to the story behind the build and who the creator is.
When we met Mister Cartoon over 5 years ago now at the Sema Show, we knew that this man had talent and style. It was then until we finally created some epic videos and photo shoots with him, that we started to dive deeper into who Cartoon is as an established artist and influencer. You can watch our short film with Cartoon and his long term accomplish Estevan Oriol, to get more of a flavour of where his inspiration comes from.
However, we wanted to capture a piece of automotive history which would bring forth Mister Cartoon in one place and his lowrider ice cream van was that one ride. We will let Cartoon tell you the story in his own words as to how this master piece came to be.
The time is 1995 and I had my first loft on seventh sand Santa Fe next to the 7th street bridge in Down town Los Angeles. I was doing a lot of art back at this time and I had just started doing murals for a local hydraulic shop on the east side of south central LA.
I started doing these murals for the owner of the hydraulic shop on his 62 and a 63 Chevy Impalas. Then one day the owner of the hydraulic shop came to me he told me he had a specially project that he wanted me to come and check out. I went with him to see his special project, when I showed up he had a freshly painted candy tangerine 1963 International ice cream truck. This truck before it was acquired by the owner of the hydraulic shop, was a local neighborhood ice cream truck from the east side and it was owned by a local mom and pop business and they use to serve all the local kids in the area ice cream sandwiches.
At around this time in the theaters, the film Friday had just come out and the owner of the hydraulic shop had seen this film and he told us he wanted to top big worm the character in the movie and create something special bigger and better than what worm had.
I told him I am down lets do this, I said the murals would take around 2 months to paint on the whole truck. They actually ended up taking two years in total. Over those two years, I befriended the hydraulic shop owner and had muraled some other cars for him in between the start and finish of the ice cream truck. We became friends and I enjoyed working on muralling out his rides.
The owner of the hydraulic shop had a grand vision and was super talented, he had a great mouth piece and lots of stories at this time. Also allegedly he was involved in illegal street activity that lead to his business adventurously being shut down by the authorities the DEA and Feds this lead to him going on the run and not to be seen again.
After the cops had raided the body shop were we were painting the ice cream truck, we didn’t go back to that body shop any more. Little did we know that the wife of the owner of the body shop went ahead and sold all of the lowriders and everything in the body shop including the ice cream truck. I think six years went by since I had painted the ice cream truck and left that body shop. We had not heard anything from the owner or of the ice cream truck. I had only finished about 80% of the murals at this time so who ever had bought the ice cream truck would need me to finish it.
Then One day I got the phone call I was hoping for, it was from a kind gentleman who said he was the new owner of the ice cream truck and he asked me how much money for me to finish the murals. I couldn’t believe he had the truck so I convinced him to sell me the truck and it was just the shell of the ice cream truck really at that point, so I sent a flat bed immediately and bought her back to my studio. Once I got over the shock of getting her back, I assessed the damage and the state of the truck and set out on the journey of painting it and redoing the murals yet maintaining the original look and theme. I didn’t really change anything just added color and freshened everything up I ended up redoing and finishing the murals within a month of getting her back.
Now it was time to add the motor and do the hydraulics, brakes and interior to the truck, at this time it was just a shell, it had this crazy 2 cylinder lawnmower type engine in it I cant believe that this original engine even went the speed limit let alone got the truck anywhere.
We pulled that out and put in a Chevy Astro van v6 motor, now that the motor was done it was time to focus on interior and audio we contacted Rockford Fosgate and they gave us the gear to make it sound correct, 2* 15 inch woofers 8*6 by 9’s and hidden tweeters through out the truck make the truck shake, 80’s rap and funk is the only music played in the vehicle to keep it moving correct.
It sits on 14-inch by 7-inch powder coated wire wheels, we had to hand make a custom visa to go over the front window to give the truck some attitude. We also had to incorporate Chevrolet 1950s bumpers on the front and rear of the truck, we hand made and molded the freezer, which was the final step along with a wood floor in this helped make it a true ice cream truck.
We also installed a custom LCD TV screen and it premiered at the Peterson automotive museum in LA and we served mocihi ice cream that we made with our own flavor of ice cream, a mango special to hand out from the truck at the opening. The wire wheels are wrapped in a premium sportway white wall tyres, two automatic VW rag tops were installed and a vintage loud speaker was installed on the roof. Dj Muggs added a beat machine for music and I created a custom bobble head to the roof.
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