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November 14, 2014

Die-cast: Automodello 1966 Fitch Sprint

by Mark Savage

Automodello creates John Fitch’s souped up Corvairsprint1

John Fitch is NOT a household name. But he was an incredible person.

Fitch not only was a leading American sports car racer in the 1950s, racing at LeMans six times and finishing third once, winning big name events such as the 12 Hours of Sebring and 1955 Mille Miglia in Italy, but he was an inventor. Fitch, who lived to be nearly 100, held patents on a variety of safety devices, much of it to do with racing. He was a car guy, through and through.

In the 1960s he fell in love with Chevrolet’s Corvair as a possible sports car to be raced. He had already been the first manager of Chevy’s Corvette racing team. So Fitch put his design and racing experience into a series of customized Corvairs that became known as Fitch Sprints.

sprintAutomodello, the maker of fine resin models of unusual and rare cars, now rolls out its own 1:43 version of the 1966 Sprint, and it’s as sharp as Fitch was creative.

The History

Fitch called the Corvair “America’s Porsche” and before you laugh, there were similarities. Corvair was a low-slung sports coupe with an air-cooled Boxer 6 engine in the rear. By 1966 the boxy little Corvair had been restyled with more aerodynamic lines that accented a sleek profile.

So Fitch used that as his starting point and then made the shocks and springs racier, plus added metallic brake linings and a quicker steering ratio to make it more track worthy. Corvair’s engine was pretty strong for the time, so his mods there were minor to give the car 155 horses, 15 more than was standard.

The exterior was tweaked to make it more aerodynamic with a “Ventop” fiberglass overlay on the C pillars and roof. This gave the Sprint what some called a flying buttress profile. It certainly was sleeker.sprint4

The Model:

The Automodello review car is a sharp “willow green” with black hood, roof and the Ventop portion that extends off the roof in back. The Sprint looks fast from the slightly V-shaped nose to the flair from the Ventop that blend into the rear quarter panels.

Automodello trims this out nicely with racy chrome wheels, chrome window trim and wipers, door handles and driver’s side mirror. Front and rear bumpers also are chrome and there are Sprint license plates front and rear. A metallic-look Sprint logo also is embedded in the driver’s side C pillar and on the trunk.

Lines for the model are crisp and the resin model feels substantial in weight. Head and taillights look realistic, with the outside headlights being amber. Venting over the rear-engine compartment and below the rear bumper is finely detailed too and the car features thin dual exhausts in back.

Sharp looking interior in the Sprint.

Sharp looking interior in the Sprint.

I really like the white interior on this model and the fact that the side windows are all down so you can see inside easily. Seats are well detailed with cylindrical headrests and all the door and window levers and cranks are visible on the doors.

Better yet is the optional wood steering wheel with 3-spoke metal hub that gives Sprint a sporty flair inside. Dash detail is good too and there’s a cue-ball shift knob on a tall floor-mounted shift lever. The Sprint’s flooring is black, which really sets off the white seating.

Overall a handsome, sporty fun Corvair, er Sprint, thanks to John Fitch, and now Automodello.

FAST Stats: 1966 Fitch Sprintsprint3

Maker: Automodello

Scale: 1/43

Stock No.: AM-FIT-SPR-WG

MSRP: $119.95

 

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