Italy’s Brumm excels at making sharp-looking vintage racers in 1/43 scale at an affordable price.
These are fine collectables because they come handsomely packaged, easily stackable, and nicely detailed, often for less than $45. Last issue we told you of the 50th Anniversary release of a slightly weathered Porsche 917K in that price range.
Now Brumm delivers two 1950s Formula 1 racers, a Mercedes and Ferrari driven by world champs Alberto Ascari and Juan Manual Fangio. Unique to these releases is the figure of Ascari at the wheel of his 1953 Ferrari 500F2.
Italy’s Ascari was the first driver to win multiple F1 championships, although Argentina’s Fangio was quick to follow. Ascari won the world title in 1952 and 1953 with Ferrari, while Fangio was world champ in 1951 and then 1954 through 1957, with Alfa Romeo, Maserati/Mercedes, then Mercedes, Ferrari and Maserati again, in that order.
The silver Mercedes W-196 is a replica of the No. 8 that Fangio drove to a win in the 1955 Grand Prix of Olanda at Zandvoort, the Netherlands, on his way to the F1 Championship that year.
The red Ferrari is No. 5, with a figure depicting Ascari as he won the 1953 Grand Prix of Great Britain. He also went on to be F1’s champion that year.
The difference between the two cars is amazing, considering they raced just two seasons apart. There’s a reason. Both are front-engine racers, but the Ferrari looks like a dirt track or U.S. sprint car, short and stubby. The Ferrari was a Formula 2 car, with less power than regularly would run in F1, but the governing body broadened its field by allowing F2 cars to run for the World Championship as it was adjusting its engine formula. The Ferrari carried a 2.0-liter, twin-cam, dual-carb 4-cylinder engine making 165 horsepower.
The car also had a double-wishbone front suspension, and a DeDion axle in back along with two trailing arms.
Meanwhile, the Mercedes is longer and wider, looking more like Indycar roadsters of the era. It boasted a 2.5-liter straight-8 engine that initially made 257 horsepower and later 340 horses. It also featured direct fuel injection, a first in F1 racing.
For the record, in its two-year F1 career the car won 9 of the 12 races it entered. Not surprisingly, when an original W196 sold at auction a few years back, it went for $29.6 million.
Visually, both racers have incredibly narrow treaded tires, which was common in the day. The tires are Pirelli on the Ferrari, and Continental on the Mercedes. And both have sharp wire-spoked wheels with center knock-off rings.
The Ferrari details include a small clear windshield, black exhaust pipe with silver sleeve just outside the cockpit, small red mirrors, and silver suspension pieces up front. There’s a black No. 5 in white circle canted to the right on the nose and a white No. 5 on both sides of the tail.
The cockpit has a nicely detailed dash with wood-look wheel and a black gear shift lever to the driver’s left, just in front of the tan seat. No seat belts at the time. The Ascari figure rides with a light blue shirt and brighter blue pants, tan driving gloves and a small blue-gray helmet that would do little more than divert a few stones. He has a brown leather cap on under that and black goggles.
Fangio’s Mercedes looks a brut and features a tiny clear windscreen, two rounded mirrors, a bright red No. 8 trimmed in black and on white circles on the hood, tail and both sides of the cockpit. The racer features a huge air scoop from nose to cockpit and offset to the right side. It had been lower on the original car, but moved to the hood for 1955. A short silver exhaust pipe extends out the right side too below the cockpit.
Mercedes’ cockpit features a black, white and tan checkered seat, wood-look wheel with silver 4-spoke hub and nicely detailed, yet minimal, dash. A gear shift lever on the floor is to the right of the seat.
Nice detail at a fairly modest price sums up these two racers, and most of Brumm’s lineup.
Vital Stats: Mercedes W196 and Ferrari 500F2
Stock No.: R072 (Mercedes) R044-CH (Ferrari)
MSRP: $45-100 (each)