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Automobiles greatly influenced kids who grew up during the 1960s, and many of them enjoyed indulging in the new slot-car craze.
Including Scott Bader, who used to ride his bicycle to the Revell Raceway, an indoor race track located near Los Angeles.
The slot-car explosion only lasted four years, between 1963 and ’67, and Bader lived in the midst of it all, starting with a 1:24-scale Porsche 904 by Monogram.
He later became immersed in the car lifestyle, with a 1:1-scale ’69 Chevrolet Camaro that he raced at local dragstrips.
Cruising the famous Van Nuys Boulevard with hundreds of other kids turned into a weekly ritual, too – its importance is explained in Rick McCloskey’s brilliant Van Nuys Blvd 1972.
Cars were put on the backburner later to concentrate on his career and develop his company, Inline Distributing – he has been CEO for the past four decades.
After 2000, he took a semi-hiatus, which allowed him to get involved in cars once again, and road racing in particular.
He even tried his luck as a professional driver in the IMSA and Rolex series behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3R.
The year 2010 marked his return to the helm of his firm, by which time he had already started collecting an eclectic array of vehicles, together with a burgeoning slot-car obsession.
They all reside in Bader’s beautiful house located just above Sunset Strip, in West Hollywood, CA.
It has become such a vast garage that his LA Slot Car Museum display room is open to the public a handful of times a year, by appointment only (lascm.com).
It celebrates that 1963-’67 period in the main, and the happy few visitors can marvel at thousands of slot-cars, parts and accessories, new in their original packaging, along with a collection of vintage model kits.
A tour is an experience that’s second to none: 12 glass-screen monitors are tied together to create a video montage, 1960s music plays in the background and even oil of wintergreen – a tyre additive with a distinctive smell – is sprayed into the heating and air-conditionings ystem.
A separate room serves as a storage space, with five aisles of shelves filled with file drawers that contain hundreds of other slot-cars and kits, plus thousands of parts and other paraphenalia.
But the property is much more than a home and automobile/slot-car display space. A variety of rooms are used for restoration projects, with machining, engine assembly, welding and grinding, metalworking and a wood shop. He even has a CNC plasma-cutter to play with.
Bader was heavily involved in the building’s design, and the large lift comes in handy when moving vehicles from one level to another.
And storeys are certainly required in this garage. When it comes to the (full-size) car collection, he follows no specific theme, though all touched his childhood in one way or another – from a ’64 Chevrolet Impala lowrider to an exhibition dragster, and plenty of muscle cars in between.
Bader’s interest in motorsport translates into a historic assortment, including a ’69 Simoniz Lola T163-21 Can-Am and a blue 580bhp Trans-Am ’67 Camaro Z/28.
His yellow ’66 Corvette is one of his favourites; it remains the most successful mid-year ’Vette in America’s B Production class.
The list of notable 1970s racers continues with a black ’77 Formula Atlantic March 77B, a Lola T294 and Ronnie Peterson’s March 711-6 that finished second in the 1971 Formula One World Championship.
For anyone interested in the 1960s car culture in all its shapes, scales and forms, Scott Bader’s garage certainly takes some beating.
Words & images: Stephan Szantai