Hot Wheels

Toys for Grownups

There was a time when Harley-Davidson dealers would trip over themselves to be the first shop to chop a new Harley model, but this hasn't necessarily been the case with The Motor Company's revolutionary V-Rod. A distinct lack of aftermarket components, plus the relative complexity of the V-Rod's hydroformed frame and liquid-cooled engine, has caused most customizers to forgo the V-Rod in favor of simpler, safer, Softail-based custom jobs.

Little challenges like this are hardly a concern for Seattle's Downtown Harley-Davidson (800/474-4647,, one of the country's premier purveyors of custom Harleys. So when the shop wanted to put together some attention-grabbing eye candy for its display at the recent International Motorcycle Show in Seattle, a pair of custom V-Rods was the obvious choice.

"We didn't want to do a another typical chopper," Downtown's Brian Mitchell says. "We wanted something different." Mitchell says a Hot Wheels toy called "Cop Rod" inspired the initial idea. Conveniently, Downtown had just outfitted a fleet of Road Kings for use by the Seattle Police Department, and had a pile of leftover LEDs and other police-spec swag. When he saw the Hot Wheels car, the concept coalesced.

The Cop Rod was built first. The bike was stripped, painted and custom decals were cut. The biggest change to the chassis was the fitment of a massive, 250-series rear wheel (custom built by Downtown staff using Performance Machine parts); the engine remains mostly stock, save for a high-flow air filter, new data in the ECM and the massive, superbike-sized exhaust canister also fabbed by Downtown staff. Initially, Downtown was only going to build the Cop Rod, but once the boss saw how the 5-0 flyer was shaping up he commissioned a Fire Rod, also, similar except that the Fire Rod is generously chromed, compared with the Cop Rod's undercover, blacked-out treatment.

Response at the International Motorcycle Show was "goofy," Mitchell says, and the shop sold the Cop Rod before the weekend was out. No word from Mitchell on whether the buyer carried a badge, though.