I want to share a more complete and accurate story leading up to the building of our Chariot. I know my experience will resonate with many here. Some excerpts of this are included in our earlier videos:
One only remembers the most impressionable and significant events of their youth. September 15th, 1965 was one of those events. Lying on the living room floor, hands propping up my chin, wide eyed and fixated on the TV.
‘Lost in Space’ was the greatest thing I had ever seen. Every 12 1/2 minutes, I would turn to my dad and ask ‘is that it dad, is it over?’ By the third asking he just cut me off and said ‘eat your TV dinner’.
What an adventure and what six year old didn’t want to be Will Robinson, the coolest kid in the galaxy. Shooting monsters with laser rifles and saving the day. I was hopelessly obsessed.
Fast forward 30 years and raising a family, I always kept tabs on my favorite show. In the 90’s, I stole a few hours away from my kids, attended a Lost in Space reunion in Boston and had a Polaroid picture taken with the B9 robot looking thoroughly exhausted. The robot hadn’t changed a bit!
I always hoped to see the Chariot at a Sci-fi event or car show. It was an amazing vehicle and like other Lost in Space fans, I had tracked the original back on and off the ski mountain to a dead end. I reached out attempting to inquire about the original Chariot and offer assistance with restoration. Online photos of the Chariot frame after its re-use on the Mountain were heartbreaking and so many different forums asked about the Chariot’s status and whereabouts. The one common sentiment was that it was one of the greatest Sci-Fi vehicles of all time.
Knowing that the Snowcat was built around a Ford 6 Cylinder engine with intentionally easy to replace stock components, I thought ‘that would be a straight forward restoration’.
We had just celebrated the New Year, 2015 and it was a quiet winter’s eve and all had gone home. Leaning against the window overlooking my shop, I was thinking about the challenges of a new year and how time passes so quickly. This year would be the 50th anniversary of the Lost in Space premiere and my mind drifted back to that moment on the living room floor, with my father. It was a moment of pure innocence that gave a child so much happiness and optimism. Anything was possible. A smile came across my face and I shook my head in affirmation that it was a really good time. I wonder if Irwin Allen ever fully realized the impact and message the show provided for so many fans. I’d like to think so. I was a bit saddened to think that since there was no word on the original Chariot, it probably wouldn’t be available for any celebration in September, for the fans, the cast and as a tribute to one of the greatest Sci-Fi adventures.
As my eyes scanned the shop, I could see the places where my crew and I had worked on our cars, motorcycles, boats, basically anything with a motor. Again a smile came to my face and I said to myself ‘I bet we could’ve built the Chariot back then, we’ve got the talent, the equipment, space’.
Then I thought to myself, ‘why not?’ I bolted to my office and immediately searched for a 1965 Thiokol Snowcat Spryte. As if meant to be, one, and only one came up. It was at that moment that I decided to give it a go. We had all waited so long for something tangible. It would be an amazing build for us and I knew so many fans of the show would appreciate it.
I called the next morning. It was available. I brought my team in to show them my intentions and they were in. They wanted to build this amazing vehicle. For the next three weeks while I waited for the Snowcat to take the 2600 mile journey to our shop, I became a student of the Chariot, researching as much technical info as possible and reaching out to Bill Hedges, Chris Pappas and others for additional support.
In Late February 2015, our Snowcat arrived at our facility in Lynn, MA. and the work began. It’s now been 6 months since its arrival and after numerous scraped knuckles and with the help and encouragement of an amazing group of friends, our Chariot is complete. We will continue to refine the details and work to get the Chariot around the country.
It’s our intentions for all fans to experience the Chariot up close and relive those great memories. Thanks to all our friends on Facebook whose kind words are our inspiration.
Our website will be updated soon to include a schedule of events and I will notify immediately with news, new videos and info about our Chariot.
As usual…to be continued.
John Antonellis, August, 2015