Every hero needs a great villain to overcome and defeat, and the nastier the better. For Speed Racer, it was Snake Oiler and the Car Acrobatic Team, who would stop at nothing — NOTHING, DO YOU HEAR!? — to win. Other than the Mammoth Car, Snake Oiler was the best known villain of the series, and he was reimagined for the big screen in spectacular scenery-chomping fashion as the slimy leader of Team Hydra-Cell.Whereas Speed was brave, humble and concerned with the integrity of the sport, Snake was a venal, arrogant, whiny cheat — a Goofus to Speed’s Gallant. While he is dispatched early in the first race, Snake returns with a vengeance in the Casa Cristo, leading a squad of scaly roadsters (love the fang bumpers) to a duel on a high alpine mountain road.The Hydra-Cell street car is so over-the-top and tacky it’s actually pretty impressive. Every single square inch is covered in snake skin, and even the steering wheel, gear shift and weapon joy stick are designed to look like snakes. In addition to an oil slick in the back, the car is armed with a snake-a-pult that, yes, catapults live poisonous reptiles into opponent’s laps.Snake is played — overplayed, actually — by German actor Christian Oliver as a sniveling, self-absorbed, gun-toting cowboy. In other words, what the Wachowskis (and the rest of the world) see as the average American.He is based on this guy, the original Snake Oiler who, you have to admit, has even worse taste in eyewear. As a member of the cult-like Car Acrobatic Team, Snake is dedicated to winning at all costs, but his main sin seems to be arrogance. Sure, he bumps a few drivers off cliffs to their doom but hey — this is Speed Racer, everybody does that. Nope, Snake spends most of the three episodes he appears in — “The Most Dangerous Race” — by bragging about how he always wins and psyching out Speed so that patented Racer self-doubt kicks in. Ooo, evil.He and the rest of the Car Acrobatic Team also have an advantage in that their vehicles have secret wings, allowing them to fly short distances. This comes in real handy during the Big Alpine Race (the aforementioned “Most Dangerous Race”), when the drivers have to run a course that forces them to jump from precipice to crumbling precipice like Frogger. As for the outcome, I’ll just point you in the direction of the always entertaining Thiel-a-Vision for his recap.Snake Oiler’s car has been one of the more popular die-casts over the years. Here you can see the original on the left, with the street car and T-180 from the movie on the right. As you can see, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tacky tree.
Type O Race Car Numbers: 12, 20, 21