West Coast Customs and Nintendo's real-life Mario Kart

Nintendo has taught millions of underage kids to drive, thanks to its immensely popular handheld Mario Kart video game. The driving routes are all virtual – thankfully – as they include not only unexpected sheer cliffs, but also driving under the water while evading baddies.

To bring part of Mario's make-believe world to life, Nintendo has partnered with West Coast Customs to create life-size models of Mario's Standard Kart and Luigi's Bumble V Kart. While the characters are forced to enjoy their rides in the hazardous Mushroom Kingdom, we checked them out in the (relative) safety of the Los Angeles Convention Center during today's LA Auto Show. Naturally, the West Coast Customs tie-in means that the karts' construction will be chronicled in an upcoming episode of the shop's reality television show.

The detail on the full-size working models is... well... interesting. Mario's kart appears to be front-wheel drive, with 18-inch wheels on the rear. Noted for its Super Glider option for cliff jumping, the attachment is mounted prominently overhead. Luigi's kart, decked-out with 16-inch wheels and disc brakes, is also front-wheel drive. It is available with a propeller to provide movement under water, but the accessory wasn't attached when we visited. If you want to read more about the vehicles and hear about the new Mario Kart 7 video game, check out the press release after the jump.
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Nintendo Drives Home Fun at the LA Auto Show with Life-Size Mario Karts

West Coast Customs Builds Karts Based on Classic Video Game Franchise


LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Ever wanted to see a real-life kart from Nintendo's hit Mario Kart™ series outside of the Mushroom Kingdom? Nintendo has teamed up with West Coast Customs to create life-size models of two karts - one for Mario™ and one for Luigi™ - from the upcoming Mario Kart 7 video game for the portable Nintendo 3DS™ system. These unique electric vehicles were unveiled today at the LA Auto Show, where they will be on display Nov. 18-27 in the lobby of the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center. Visitors attending the show will be able to take photos of the karts, sample the Mario Kart 7 game before its Dec. 4 launch and participate in multiplayer game play.

Additionally, members of the GameStop® PowerUp Rewards™ program will have the opportunity to claim the Mario Kart as his or her own as part of the monthly Epic Reward Giveaway™ program. To be eligible for an Epic Reward Giveaway entry, members must make a purchase or trade at their local GameStop or on GameStop.com during the month of December. PowerUp Rewards Pro™ Members automatically get two entries with purchase. The lucky winner will be announced in February; for more information, visit http://www.poweruprewards.com.

West Coast Customs is known for TV shows such as the classic Pimp My Ride on MTV and the current show Inside West Coast Customs on the Velocity Network. The company has re-created two vehicles from Mario Kart 7: the classic Mario Standard kart, complete with glider attachment for soaring through the air, and the Luigi Bumble V kart, which resembles a bumblebee and features a rear propeller for underwater navigation.*

"Mario karts offer more fun per mile than any other vehicle," said Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime. "Mario Kart 7 is a perfect example of the many great games Nintendo has lined up for the holidays."

"We've played Mario Kart games for years, so it's a dream come true to bring these karts to life," said West Coast Customs CEO Ryan Friedlinghaus. "We think people will be blown away by seeing these cool video game vehicles in person."

In early 2012, an episode of Inside West Coast Customs will show how West Coast Customs and Nintendo worked together to make these video game vehicles a reality.

For more information about Mario Kart 7, visit http://www.mariokart7.com. For more information about West Coast Customs, visit http://www.westcoastcustoms.com.

Remember that Nintendo 3DS features parental controls that let adults manage the content their children can access. For more information about this and other features, visit http://www.nintendo.com/3ds.

*Note that while the gliders and propellers on the in-game go-karts let players soar through the air or drive underwater, these real-life karts do not. Trust us on this one.