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November 11, 2013

Die-cast: Replicarz 1973 STP Indy 500 Eagles

by Mark Savage

Replicarz creates scorching ’73 Indy Eagles

The 1973 Indy 500 winning Eagle, driven by Gordon Johncock.

The 1973 Indy 500 winning Eagle, driven by Gordon Johncock.

Editor’s Note: An earlier review I did on similar models was pre-production prototypes. These are the real deal and are on sale now from Replicarz.
Swede Savage was not a relative of mine, but as a teen in the 1970s I was a big fan, mainly because of the name and his association with AAR and Dan Gurney. But Swede was always quick and the blinding fluorescent red of his 1973 STP racer made pulling for Swede an easy task. He and long-time top-tier racer Gordon Johncock were teammates that year, creating an exciting duo, both with a good shot at winning the 1973 Indianapolis 500.Now Replicarz has nailed both the color and the giant-winged Eagle racers themselves. The No. 20 was driven to victory by two-time Indy champ Johncock, and No. 40 by his youthful teammate Savage.

Johncock’s ’73 winner was created a few years back by Carousel 1, and that was well executed, but Replicarz ups the ante. First, the color is much closer to the glaring red that STP used. Replicarz also updated the driver’s seat to make it matte white, creating a more realistic look along with the cars’ black-trimmed-in-white numbers, which are more true to the actual cars that raced in the tragic, rain-shortened 1973 Indy 500.

johncock1Replicarz also includes a lot more sponsor logos on the cars’ side pods. Logos include the likes of Ashland Oil, Bell helmets, Aeroquip, Raybestos, Perfect Circle and PowerHouse.

Brian Fothergill of Replicarz tells me that he and his design team have modeled the cars as closely as possible to the way they were raced. That means more logos than a car might have had during practice or qualifying. A web search turned up the 1973 winner and indeed, the decals match very closely.

The seatbelts also are black here, not gray as in the former model, and just below the windshield, on the cowl, the Johncock car includes Jack Beckley’s name as assistant chief mechanic. That was omitted on the Carousel 1 version.

Without the body the Eagle chassis is a work of art too.

Without the body the Eagle chassis is a work of art too.

Naturally, both cars have beautifully detailed Offenhauser engines with black pipes and red wiring to the four sparkplugs.Offys won the Indianapolis 500 a total of 27 times between 1934 and 1970, often powering all, or nearly all, of the 33 cars in the field. This was before the spec engines used in most series today that come from just one or two manufacturers.

These racers also feature well detailed rear suspensions, as did the earlier models. I also like the smoky chrome 6-spoke racing wheels the cars have.

On the Savage car, the interior is a satin black and the wide rear wing’s fluorescent red matches the rest of the car, whereas Johncock’s winning car has white end plates on its wings. This was done to help the teams more easily identify the cars as they raced by the pits and received their race instructions mostly via a chalk message on a blackboard.

From every angle the No. 40 Eagle of Swede Savage is a winner.

From every angle the No. 40 Eagle that Californian Swede Savage drove is a winner.

Johncock was a highly successful Indy car driver for years, but this was his first Indy win. He later won one of the most dramatic 500s, barely edging Rick Mears for the 1982 victory. Savage was an up and coming racer who had been Dan Gurney’s protégé for several years, racing for Gurney’s All-American Racers in Trans-Am Cudas.

This was his second Indy 500 and he started fourth after setting a new track record of 196 mph, later bested by three other drivers qualifying for the 1973 race. Sadly he died after a fiery crash just beyond the race’s halfway point. Shortly thereafter rain stopped the race from going its full distance and Johncock won his first Indy 500.The two STP team cars list at $159.99 each and are stunning to display on your desk or in a display case.

They both come in attractive black Replicarz boxes with large windows for easy, effective shelf display, even if you don’t buy a case. But Replicarz now sells an acrylic top ($21.99) you can slip over the plastic checkered base that the car is mounted on to create your own viewing case. That checkered base makes the car look like it’s sitting in the winner’s circle too.savage2

These are both winners in their detail, fit and finish. Can’t wait to see what’s next from Replicarz!

FAST Stats: 1973 Indy Eagles (Johncock and Savage)

Maker: Replicarz

Scale: 1:18

Stock No.: R184711 (Johncock), R184712 (Savage)

MSRP:  $159.99 (each)

Rating: 4.5 stars

This is when Indy cars were unique and exciting. Love the profile of the giant-winged 1973 Eagle.

This is when Indy cars were unique and exciting. Love the profile of the giant-winged 1973 Eagle.

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