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May 15, 2012

Diecast cars: Autoart ’54 Vette

by Mark Savage

Diecast car: Autoart builds iconic ’54 Vette

Reviewed by Mark Savage

Diecast car reviews, Autoart ’54 Vette

Photos Courtesy Autoart

Mechanically cars weren’t fancy in 1954. But some were drop-dead gorgeous, like the then new Corvette. This was Chevrolet’s early foray into the burgeoning sports car market. GIs returning from Europe after WW II had fallen in love with two-seat sports cars they saw overseas, mostly in England. By the 1950s they were starting to earn the income to buy such cars and Chevy was among the first to jump into the segment.

Autoart, which has created nearly all the key Corvette models in 1:18 scale now rolls out the first truly popular early model that launched Corvette to its iconic status … and in a gorgeous Sportsman red. Polo white was the most popular color in 1954, selling about 3,200 units, while only 100 of the red where made. For the record, 300 Pennant Blue and just 4 black models were produced in this second year of Corvette production.

Unlike today’s Vettes that crank 550+ horses, the early Vettes boasted modest power, but ground-breaking looks. Its straight six engine created just 150 horses from 235.6 inches of displacement. Starting price in 1954 was $2,774, which seems tame now, but back then the average car cost $1,700.

The diecast car

Autoart continues to wow collectors with the detail and breadth of its offerings, and still at a high-value price, although the price has been creeping up the past several years. This year, as Chevrolet celebrates its 100th anniversary, re-creating the iconic 1954 Vette is particularly timely.

Diecast car reviews Autoart ’54 VetteOutwardly this Vette continues Autoart’s high standards for sterling paint jobs, plus adds detailed chrome trim along the sides and finely executed bumpers, complete with the jet-like protrusions that set off Corvette’s styling. Up front is the toothy chrome grille along with fine metal mesh coverings for the headlights and the thin chrome strips around the windshield and twin cockpits are well done, along with delicate looking windshield wipers.

Out back are two small chrome-tipped exhausts protruding from the body, plus the rocket-shaped single taillights. My only disappointment on the body is the modestly defined gas cap flap and convertible top cover.

Doors, trunk and hood all open smoothly, the hood properly folding forward to reveal a blue I6 with sidedraft carbs and the Blue Flame and a 150 logo atop the valve cover. There’s a battery, fuel pump and some wiring under hood too, plus hoses to the radiator. But as was the case in the 1950s, it’s pretty clean beneath the hood, enough so you can even glimpse the ground below the engine. Ah, the good old days!

Tires are balloon like white sidewalls with a red inner ring by the wheel and hubcaps. No brand is printed on the large tires, but the hubcaps include a small Chevy logo in their center. The car’s undercarriage is fairly detailed too, including suspension, frame and driveshaft, so will look good in a display box with a reflective bottom.

Diecast car review, Autoart ’54 VetteThis Corvette’s interior is sharp, red with tan trim on the dash and doors, and a tan steering wheel with detailed spoke and horn. A shift lever with tan knob sticks directly out of the transmission hump and there’s a rearview mirror atop the dash, as in the original. Gauge and dash detail are equally good, important in a convertible model because it’s being displayed with an open top.

The ’54 Vette is an attractively detailed model perfect for any serious collection, and an icon that deserves to be in any collection.

 FAST Stats: 1954 Chevrolet Corvette

Maker: Autoart

Scale: 1:18

Stock No.: 71082

MSRP: $136.95

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