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August 31, 2013

Die-Cast: Replicarz 1911 Indy 500 Winner, Marmon Wasp

by Mark Savage

New Replicarz Marmon Wasp creates buzz!wasp

After all the buzz created by early preview photos, the new Replicarz 1911 Indianapolis 500-winning Marmon Wasp, proves worth the wait.

I know I’ve been telling you for a while, and showing you photos, that teased at how special this 1:18 scale diecast would be, but now I’ve got the final product sitting on my desk to prove it. All it needs do is belch a little smoke and it’d be ready to head out onto the bricks at Indy.

A little background, if you’re not a die-hard Indy fan.

Check out the engine crank handle below the radiator and prominent rearview mirror in front of the cockpit.

Check out the engine crank handle below the radiator and prominent rearview mirror in front of the cockpit.

First, the inaugural Indianapolis 500 was run in 1911 on the 2 ½-mile brick covered oval and all the cars, save one, featured a riding mechanic. The lone wolf in the pack was Ray Harroun, a successful racer at the time for Marmon, a car company located in Indianapolis, a thriving car building area in the early 1900s. Harroun had won a preliminary race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway a year prior to the first 500 and retired after becoming national driving champ.

He came out of retirement for the 1911 race and drove the Marmon Wasp, a racer (as were most in the day) not far removed from the production Marmon’s rolling off the Indy assembly line. Harroun figured that a lighter car, with one passenger, averaging 75 mph would be easier on tires and more efficient, so more likely a winner. History proved him correct as he only had to change 4 tires in the race (tire changing then took a LOT of time) and led 88 of the 200 laps after starting 28th among 40 starters.

Yet prior to the race, during practice, other drivers complained that Harroun needed a riding mechanic to watch for upcoming cars. So he created a rearview mirror to help him watch for overtaking racers. Legend has it that this was the first rearview mirror on a car, but that has been disputed. Still, it’s a unique feature of the Wasp.

Replicarz, which has been re-releasing upgraded Indy car models for several years, including Offy-powered roadsters, Eagles and March racers, went all out with its first totally new Indy model. Voila, the Wasp!

Detail here includes the Marmon's massive 6-cylinder engine, with sparkplugs and wires, a detailed seat and steering wheel and the conical tail with number placard standing on the Wasp's stinger!

Detail here includes the Marmon’s massive 6-cylinder engine, with sparkplugs and wires, a detailed seat and steering wheel and the conical tail with number placard standing on the Wasp’s stinger!

The model:Cars were simple in 1911, but still this 10-inch long model delivers highly detailed features.

First, its shape, right down to its stinger-like pointed tail with tall number placard standing upright like a shark fin, is perfect. That tail is really rather conical and Replicarz has finished its indentation in black to give the Wasp a well finished appearance from the rear.

Continuing at the back and working forward, the rear leaf springs are enormous and well cast. Just above that is the gas tank strapped down with two black straps as on the original, and two winged gas filler caps in black plastic, but in a matte finish. Under the car is the big differential, again with detailed bolts and drain plug.

The cockpit includes a well molded black seat with puckers in the butt pocket to reflect its leather original. The steering wheel is large, as they all were in the day, with four spokes and a molded bolt cap at the hub’s center. The wheel is brown and there are two brass-look cylinders on the floor, one a fuel pressure pump and the other a fire extinguisher. Brake and shift levers sit just outside the cockpit and feature appropriate handles.

Directly in front of the driver is the famous rearview mirror on four struts and featuring a mirrored surface for added realism.

wasp3The hood, which is one molded piece of resin features exhaust holes on the left side and four gold handles, to per side. A black leather strap with buckle holds it in place and there is detailed red pinstriping and black trim here and all across the racer’s body replicating the car as it appears today at the IMS Hall of Fame Museum in Indy.

Remove the hood and there is a finely honed resin version of Marmon’s 6-cylinder, 7.82-liter engine, ith wired sparkplugs and mint green headers. You also can see the steering box and how it connects via an external steering arm that goes to the front wheels. Again there are yellow leaf springs up front and I love the black grille with Marmon logo and the No. 32 emblazoned on the grille’s face. There also is a crank on the nose, with yellow handle, the racer’s starter.

The Wasp’s giant yellow wheel hubs also appear to be resin with molded in bolts and the thin black Firestone rubber tires that passed for race tires in the day, with appropriate Firestone logos.

Overall the model, bathed in a bright school bus yellow paint job (again as the car now appears in the museum), creates a stunning display. Folks will ask you about this one if you display it in your office or living room. This one is special, and not just because it’s the first Indy 500 winner, but because of its stunning shape and appearance. The fine paint job along with the red and black trim lines makes it all the more spectacular under close inspection.

The tires are appropriately labeled as Firestones.

The tires are appropriately labeled as Firestones.

Coolest Indy car release yet from Replicarz!Note to collectors: Only about 1200 of the Wasps are being made and sales are brisk. If you plan to collect this one, buying it soon means you won’t have to wait to snag a price inflated one off eBay in the years ahead!

FAST Stats: 1911 Indianapolis 500 Winner, Marmon Wasp

Maker: Replicarz

Scale: 1:18

Stock No.: R18003

MSRP: $229.99

Rating: 5 stars

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