Ford Engineer ‘Greases Up’ to Make Unique Halloween Vehicle for Special Girl

Oct 31, 2023

Eight-year-old Leighton Viane and her three-year-old brother Holden will be cruising around tonight as Sandy Olsson and Danny Zuko – aka Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta – from the classic 1978 movie Grease in their own custom “Grease Lightning,” courtesy of Ford Engineer Tim Cassar. 

This is the fifth year that Cassar creates a special Halloween vehicle for Leighton – who normally travels in a wheelchair – so that she can go trick-or-treating like other children her age.

“Tim is a great friend. He is a perfectionist, and he has such a creative mind,” said Abbey Viane, Leighton’s mother. “We’re blown away every single year.” 

Leighton was born with congenital myotonic dystrophy, a type of muscular dystrophy characterized by progressive muscle weakness.  Halloween presents a unique challenge for her, as she is unable to walk and has limited use of her arms.  Click to Enlarge

“Just to see them happy brings me joy,” he said. 

Cassar started with a pink Power Wheels F-150 donated on Facebook. He said the vehicle was big enough to fit Leighton and Holden comfortably, but it was very boxy, so he had to cut several parts of the body to make it more rounded.  He used cardboard sheets to fully round out the front and back ends of the car. 

The car includes working headlights and taillights, and Cassar used reflective tape for the pin striping as an added safety measure in case the children are out in the dark.  He also installed a harness assembly to keep Leighton sitting upright in her seat and gel foam on the seat back and bottom to keep her comfortable.  

Cassar gets more creative with each passing year. Since he started doing the Halloween project in 2019, he's built a carriage for Cinderella, a plane for Amelia Earhart, a Panther de Ville for Cruella de Ville and a Batmobile for Batgirl.

Cassar said the biggest challenge this year was to make a vehicle that Holden could drive but that his parents could also guide by remote control, if necessary.

“The control system I used last year couldn’t do that, so this vehicle needed some major modifications to get there,” he said. “I had to come up with a totally new system that could perform both functions.”

Viane said she's very grateful for that feature.

“Holden is officially driving (his own Power Wheels car), but we wanted to have a remote so we could stop the car in case he did something reckless,” she said.