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August 20, 2013

Die-cast: AutoArt’s McQueen Porsche Speedster

by Mark Savage

AutoArt nails McQueen’s racy Porsche 356 Speedster

If you’re old enough to remember the chase scene in “Bullitt” you’ll likely appreciate AutoArt’s fastidious recreation of any of Steve McQueen’s cars, including his 356 Porsche Speedster.

Love the taped up headlights!

Love the taped up headlights!

McQueen was a movie star first, then a racer of some note in the sports car world. Two of his movies, “Bullitt” and “LeMans” particularly highlighted his car handling abilities. Autoart already recreated that Bullitt Mustang and McQueen’s rare Jaguars XK-SS. Now it delivers a glossy black Porsche 356 Speedster, with a white No. 71 on the doors and hood, just as McQueen raced it (see photo below, right).
The car’s shape and simplicity are well modeled with perfect proportions and fine detail. For instance the headlights are taped as the car was raced, plus there are chromed screens by the tiny bulbous running lights up front. Autoart also did a superb job with the chrome work on the Porsche, including chrome-ringed taillights and thin dual exhausts, along with chrome trim along the Speedster’s sides, top and bottom. Even the chrome door handles are realistic as are the wipers and a tiny round windshield-mounted mirror.

Steve McQueen backs his Speedster off a trailer. Imagine what sort of rig a celebrity would have these days!

Steve McQueen backs his Speedster off a trailer. Imagine what sort of rig a celebrity would have these days!

These cars were street cars first and racers second, so a full black leather interior is featured along with cream-colored steering wheel and detailed dash, including chrome rings around the gauges and cream-colored knobs, including a choke pull. There’s also a gloss black roll bar behind the driver’s seat. Gorgeous!

Naturally the model includes a fairly detailed yet simple engine under the tiny rear deck lid that includes a fine chrome mesh covering to help the air-cooled engine breath. The car also features what looks like a soft tonneau cover with imprinted snaps and the Speedster name etched in silver just above the chrome side trim on the front quarter panel.

Wheels are chrome with knock-off spinners and under the front hood you’ll find a spare tire. Even the sleek long-armed door mirror looks elegant compared to today’s blah utilitarian designs.

porsche4The McQueen name gives this particular model a bit more collectability, but this would be a beautiful 356 Speedster no matter who it was connected with. Certainly in the 1950s the 356 was a hot commodity among returning WWII vets who had some cash and wanted to race at the local road course or abandoned military airfield.

Most sport car nuts still would like to own a Porsche. Today the 356’s successor, the 911 continues to be a favored racer among the well-heeled sports car set, no matter which coast they race on. But now, no matter who you are, you can have your own vintage Porsche Speedster, thanks to AutoArt. And if  you’re not a McQueen fan (heaven forbid) AutoArt also has non-racer versions too.

A stock interior because these were daily drivers before they were racers!

A stock interior because these were daily drivers before they were racers!

Vital Stats

Product: Steve McQueen Porsche 356 Speedster

Maker: AutoArt

Scale: 1/18

Stock No.: 77866

MSRP: $163.90

The air-cooled engine is mildly detailed, but then again, engines were pretty simple in these.

The air-cooled engine is mildly detailed, but then again, engines were pretty simple in Speedsters.

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