Die-cast: Replicarz 1/18 scale 1952 Indy 500 winner

Bigger scale Agajanian Special pumps up the detail …

What’s better, and bigger, than a fine 1/43 scale Indy 500 winning race car? A 1/18 scale version, naturally, and Replicarz has been excelling at creating these for years now.

The latest is the Agajanian Special dirt car that a then young Troy Ruttman drove to win the 1952 Indianapolis 500. Ruttman immediately became famous as the youngest Indy winner ever at 22 years and 80 days. He had lied about his age earlier, so he could start competing as a teen. His racing career ended in retirement in 1964.

While Ruttman wasn’t the most famous racer of his era, his car owner, J.C. Agajanian, was a big name. In addition to Ruttman’s 1952 win, the cowboy hat-wearing Agajanian was owner of Parnelli Jones’ 1963 Indy-winning roadster.

This Replicarz beauty was the last dirt-car racer to win Indy, and just 13 years later the rear-engine racers would take over when Jim Clark won the 500. Replicarz is making just 200 of this model, so the wise buyer won’t wait long to garage one.

The History

A short history lesson from the 1952 race, which was all about Bill Vukovich who was a rookie and took off and hid in his new roadster, seemingly destined to win. But, while leading by almost a lap his car’s steering gear broke and he crashed with just 8 laps remaining. Ruttman, who led 44 laps in all, cruised on to victory ahead of Jim Rathman, who would win Indy in 1960.

Sadly, things turned south for Ruttman later that summer when he severely injured an arm in a racing accident, forcing him to miss almost two years of racing. And he admitted in later interviews that he was never the same after his accident. In fact, he only broke into Indy’s Top 10 finishers again once, in 1954 when he was fourth.

For the record, this 1952 winner was a Kuzma (the builder) dirt car chassis with the then standard Offenhauser (Offy) engine. Oddly, just the year before Lee Wallard won Indy in another stubby dirt car and he too soon after was in a disabling accident. Ruttman won the 1952 race at a then record average of 128.922 mph.

The Model

This 1/18 scale racer is even more realistic than the earlier 1/43 model as the paint scheme is more true to Ruttman’s colorful racer. The paint is a creamy white decorated with a brilliant dark red nose with flames licking back over the hood and down its sides. The cockpit is a matching matte red with flames painted from its headrest back slightly onto its tail, just beyond the hole where the gas cap is located. Just below that is the like-colored No. 98 (Agajanian’s traditional car number) on the tail.

There’s plenty of chrome to add some sizzle here too.

The nose features a somewhat triangular chrome grille and chrome grille guard that incorporates a capital A (for Agajanian) into it. There also are chrome suspension arms front and rear, along with a steering arm to the front wheels.

I like the chrome disc brakes behind the wheels too and the black wiring that hooks up all the brake mechanisms. Down the car’s right side is a slightly blued (from exhaust heat) chrome exhaust pipe with four smaller feeder pipes leading into the engine bay. The hood here is sealed so you can’t see the Offy under the bonnet, but in reality these were pretty simple engines visually, so not a big loss there.

Then there’s the big cream-colored dirt car windscreen and a small clear windshield above that to project the tall Ruttman from stones and debris.

Interior detail is sharply done too with a flat black four-spoke steering wheel, the hub being a matte silver. The simple dash features three gauges with numbers and dials, plus a placard on the lower right of the dash. Down below the wheel is a giant chrome shift lever right on top of the drive shaft that went right between the seated driver’s legs. On the matte red ribbed seat that nicely resembles leather is a detailed lap belt with photo-etched buckles and clasps.

Outside, there are the minimal markings of the day, the white No. 98 on the nose and red trimmed in black 98 on both sides of the tail. The red flame paint job on the nose is particularly cool and will make this racer stand out in any display. There’s also the Agajanian Special logo on the hood, which features small PE and leather latches on the left side that would hold the hood in place. Again, this is a sealed model, so no working hood.

In addition, there’s Mobil Oil Co.’s Flying Pegasus logo on either side of the nose and the tail, just behind the cockpit. There are no other sponsor logos except the Bear Automotive cub on the cowl, just below the cream windscreen. Ruttman’s name also is not printed anywhere on the car. The body also includes molded in silver-headed bolts that would have held the body panels in place on the real racer. Panel lines are crisp too and there’s mesh breather holes opposite the exhaust pipes.

Tires are treaded Firestones and the wheels, as in the 1/43 model, are an authentic light tan with silver spinners. Ruttman’s wheels were magnesium, so this color is an exact match to what they would have been on race day.

Vital Stats: 1952 Agajanian Special, Troy Ruttman

Maker: Replicarz
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: R18039
MSRP: $199.99

Link: Replicarz.com


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