We all have our first car stories, but in 1963 my dad brought home our first new car, at least in my lifetime. It was a white 1963 Plymouth Valiant convertible with black soft top and red vinyl interior and a push-button automatic transmission.
It was nothing fancy, but to have a convertible was certainly exotic. Plus the car’s slant-6 engine was solid and the car ran like a top for 7 years.
So there’s a certain nostalgia I felt when WhiteBox’s red Chrysler Valiant Acapulco arrived for review. The 1/43 scale model is a nice reproduction of a mainline car that a lot of folks owned, and only a slight change from that ’63 model of which I was so fond. In fact, more than 225,000 Valiants were sold in 1963, its record year.
The Chrysler Valiant was a rebadged Plymouth Valiant sold in Mexico, hence the Acapulco model designation. Dodge also had a similar model, the Dart. There’s a bit of confusion with the labeling here in that the Acapulco was sold in Mexico starting in 1967 and the review car’s license is a 1967 Oklahoma plate. I confirmed with American-Excellence, who had sent the car, that it’s mislabeled as a 1965 model. It is in fact a 1967 Valiant.
Valiant was Plymouth’s compact car entry and was remodeled in 1963 to be less radical looking. It appeared slim and trim with a slightly longer hood than trunk. The fake spare tire on the trunk lid from earlier models was abandoned. Read more
Automodello’s Gurney Eagles are beauties …
Dan Gurney stopped racing at the enf 1970, but his influence on open-wheel racing continued for decades afterward. Yet the 1970s and early 1980s were the zenith for his All-American Racers (AAR) Eagles.
Gurney’s Santa Ana, Calif.-based shop turned out highly competitive Eagle chassis for the Indy Car series. Eagles were consistent winners. Even the ultra-successful Team Penske used them for a while as they were outperforming Penske’s own chassis.
Yet in 1981 AAR went a whole new route with its design, making virtually everything behind the driver’s cockpit into a wing that created terrific downforce to increase cornering speeds.
Now, Automodello joins Replicarz in creating high-quality 1/43 scale resin historic Indy racers with its model of the AAR 1981 Eagle that sat on the front row for the Indy 500 and won a race in Milwaukee. It also makes a second Eagle that was entered in the 1981 race.
The radical Eagle design with its broad, flat rear side pods and extension behind the rear wheels, plus a small wing atop what was essentially a lower wing, caught everyone at the 500 by surprise. Mike Mosley, a speedy Indy veteran with tough luck, was the driver of Gurney’s famous No. 48.
In addition to its design, including two large air scoops hanging off the engine cover to feed air to its fragile Chevrolet V8, the Eagle was painted a bright yellow and white and labeled the Pepsi Challenger. Read more
GM’s concept cars of the 1950s were showcased in traveling shows called Motorama and actually looked futuristic and in some cases included features that would show up on future cars, sometimes way into the future.
One was the bright red over white Buick Centurion XP-301 that was displayed in 1956 Motorama shows. NEO now offers a stellar example of the show car in 1:43 scale, and the resin model may surprise you.
The Centurion, a name later used in the 1970s by Buick, was a Harley Earl design reflecting the aircraft and rocket styling touches that were so popular in the 1950s as the U.S. was rushing toward the space race.
Its pincher like nose design with headlights in rocketlike pods would grab everyone’s attention at the time, along with the tapered tail that looks like a jet engine with overhanging flat fins. Oh, and then there’s the bubble top, completely clear except for the metal support structure and window frames. Read more
These Indy 500 winners are real Duesys …
Indianapolis-based Duesenberg Automobile and Motors Co. was a powerhouse at the Indianapolis 500 in the 1920s, winning three out of four years from 1924-27.
Duesenbergs were known for their strong engines, and the company made marine and aviation engines during World War I. But following the war its founding brothers, August and Frederick Duesenberg, moved the company to Indianapolis. They loved powerful engines and created some of the best of the era for their Indy racers. They also made competitive chassis for Indy racers.
Now Replicarz, which has made 1/43 scale 1920s Miller racers, turns its attention to 1/18 scale resin versions of the Indy-winning Duesenbergs. They’re sharp, as usual.
Duesenberg won its first Indy 500 in 1924, the first car with a supercharger to win Indy. Drivers L. L. Corum and Joe Boyer shared the driving duties and the following year the popular Peter DePaolo, won in a bright yellow Duesy. After Frank Lockhart won aboard a Miller in the rain-shortened 1926 race, Duesenberg was back in the winner’s circle in 1927 with George Souders at the wheel. It was Duesenberg’s final Indy win.
The outgoing DePaolo, who later authored the autobiography Wall Smacker, is noted for being the first driver, and car, to average more than 100 mph for the entire 500 miles at Indy. His record was 101.127 and lasted until 1932 when Fred Frame averaged more than 104 mph. Read more
If you are collecting all the Indy 500 winning cars then Replicarz has another beautiful model to park in your Victory Lane – the 1940 Boyle Special.
This is the same car that Wilbur Shaw won the 1939 Memorial Day classic in, but wearing the No. 1 that he earned by being national champion in 1939. The dark metallic red (maroon really) Boyle Special is a Maserati 8CTF and was financially backed by Mike Boyle, a big Chicago union boss that some say had connections to organized crime – the mafia, not Congress!
Shaw won the Indy 500 three times in four years from 1937 to 1940. He was the first to win Indy in consecutive years. He darned near won the 1941 Indy 500 too, if not for a freak garage fire before that year’s race. He was leading when he crashed out.
Boyle had bought the Maserati for Shaw after several years of frustration fielding cars at Indianapolis. The Italian-built racer regularly raced the European grand prix circuit and claimed 365 horsepower from its 3.0-liter straight-8 engine that featured two Roots-type superchargers bolted on the engine’s nose. The car weighed roughly 1,700 lbs. and featured an aluminum body. Read more
Gorgeous ‘teardrop’ Talbot Lago Coupe a classic …
About a year ago I was lucky enough to tour the Petersen Auto Museum in Los Angeles and even luckier, they had an incredible display of streamlined and art deco era cars on display.
Part of the display was the swoopy teardrop-shaped Talbot Lago T150C-SS coupe with its beautifully shaped body, metal sunroof (unheard of in the day) and rear-opening doors. This was automotive beauty at its finest 1930s best.
Happily CMC recognized the Talbot Lago’s beauty and was hard at work recreating the coupe in its standard 1/18 scale and in museum quality detail in a delicious cool light metallic blue paint scheme.
Automobiles Talbot came into existence in 1922, but really had been around since 1896. That’s when Alexandre Darracq launched an auto manufacturing firm using his name and the cars were successful racers at the time. He sold the firm in 1912 and it was 1922 that the Talbot name emerged.
This fascinating teardrop shaped coupe was born amid financial woes during the Depression. Antonio Lago had been named Talbot’s managing director in 1932 and in 1936 he oversaw a management buyout of the struggling firm. Noted coachbuilder Fioni & Falaschi, created the T150C-SS coupe that debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 1937. Read more
In the early 1980s Formula 1 cars, like open-wheel racers at Indianapolis, were quickly progressing through a series of aerodynamic changes to give them more downforce for faster cornering speeds.
The drivers sat nearer the car’s nose while the engine and tunnels and wings were alongside and behind them. The Ligier team, a French-based and sponsored F1 team had top-shelf drivers and plopped them into these flying wedges with some success.
One of the more interesting looking F1 cars at the time was the Ligier JS19 with its boxy tunnels that extended from the driver rearward to a big boxy wing on the tail. That’s what Spark creates in 1/43 scale and with handsome results.
The JS19 followed the relatively successful JS17 in which French driver Jacques Laffite won two races in 1981 and finished fourth in the F1 standings. As with the 17, the new JS19 was powered by a Talbot-badged Matra V12. Laffite and American Eddie Cheever were the drivers. Read more
I can still remember the first time I saw a Buick Riviera. As a kid, I was wowed. Its sleek lines, the headlights canted forward to make it look fast and sporty. There was just something about it that oozed elegance and class, and a bit of speed too!
Automodello brings us a bevy of new 1965 Riviera Gran Sport models to fulfill any collector’s fantasies about owning one. These are 1/24 scale resin models that continue Automodello’s tradition of creating beautifully finished models that fit well in any plastic car modeler’s collection.
Like variety? Automodello delivers the Riviera in seven colors and in various quantities, from the snazzy Astro Blue with 299 models made, to the Enthusiasts Editions in Arctic White, Flame Red with black top and interior, and Burgundy Mist with black interior. Just 19 will be made of each Enthusiasts Edition.
There also is an Homage Edition in Regal Black, with 24 models made, and two Tribute Editions in Verde Green and Sahara Mist, with just 50 of each made. Read more
I’ve seen two Stout Scarabs in my life, one up close and personal, one in a museum. Both were amazing.
The Scarab was a minivan before anyone even thought of minivans. It’s a rounded aerodynamic bug of a car, before the world was aware of the VW Beetle, although it may have already been on Ferdinand Porsche’s drawing board in the 1930s. It’s light before automakers were thinking of weight reduction.
Now NEO creates a beautiful 1/43 scale 1935 Stout Scarab in silver and it’s an eye-catcher that’s smartly executed.
The Scarab came from Stout Engineering Laboratories, later Stout Motor Car Co. in Detroit and was designed in 1932 by William Bushnell Stout, an aviation and car engineer. He believed in strong lightweight bodies, so created a unitized body structure from aluminum aircraft metal with the help of designer John Tjarrda. The result was a car that would seat at least six and weighed less than 3,000 lbs.
In back they dropped a Ford V8 and with that rear-end placement, eliminated the weighty driveshaft found in other cars. Unlike most cars in the 1930s, the Scarab had no running boards and used coil springs and independent suspension at all four corners for a better ride. Seating inside could be reconfigured too to face backward or forward. Read more
Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari joining forces seems a deal worked in heaven, or at least Maranello, which to the tifosi is one and the same.
Vettel is a four-time world F1 champ and Ferrari has the most wins of any F1 team ever, 227. So when Vettel came aboard three seasons ago the tifosi’s dreams of another F1 title grew quickly. By 2016 they were expecting wins, if not a title, and the new Ferrari SF16-H looked to be the car to do it.
Looksmart, a fairly new Italian die-cast maker, has just begun making gorgeous 1/18-scale resin models and this version of the SF16-H is as it appeared in its debut race, the 2016 Australian Grand Prix. The review car is a replica of Vettel’s ride that day. He finished third. Replicarz provided the review model.
Scuderia Ferrari, started by Enzo Ferrari in 1929 to be Alfa Romeo’s factory racing team, has been successful in Formula 1 racing since its inception. It’s the only F1 team to compete in each season since F1 was formed in 1950.
Ferrari has won 16 constructors’ championships and its drivers have won 15 driver championships, most recently Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.
The SF16-H (SF for Scuderia Ferrari, and H for hybrid) ran the entire 2016 season. Vettel had the best results for the team although the car never won a race. Vettel notched seven podiums including three second-place finishes, while Raikkonen had four podiums and two seconds. The team was third in the constructor’s contest.
However, this car led to the SF70-H which is proving much more successful. It already has won three F1 races as of this writing, putting Vettel atop the F1 driver’s championship. Read more
You gotta admit, the name Rocket Bunny sticks in the ol’ memory banks.
So when I saw Autoart has a new 1:18-scale model of the Toyota 86 in Rocket Bunny trim, well, I requested one to see just what a Rocket Bunny Toyota looked like.
What is a Rocket Bunny? You may be asking. Well, if you’re not a tuner car guy or under age 40, this aftermarket aero kit maker may not be on your radar. It should be though because Rocket Bunny / Pandem Aero Kits is waking up the custom car look for Drift-style boy-toy street racers.
These are sold in the U.S. via GReddy Performance Products that makes everything from special high-perf exhaust systems to electronics, engine parts and brake and suspension pieces to tweak performance.
The Toyota 86, by the way, starts with ample power for a 2+2 sports fastback with a bit more than 200 horsepower from its Subaru-built and designed boxer engine. The car is lightweight with an aluminum hood and its engine mounted as low as possible in the chassis to provide better balance and a low center of gravity. This is a rear-drive model with a top speed of 145 mph and a 0-60 mph time of about 6 seconds out of the box. Read more
Whose family didn’t own a 1950s Chevy when the entire country was seeing the U.S.A. from their Chevrolet?
Our family had a green 1955 Chevy 210, the mid-level model that ultimately became the Biscayne. That car ran forever and was still an attractive hardtop (ok, a little rust) when we traded it for a white Plymouth Valiant convertible in 1963. Now NEO creates a two-tone 1956 Bel Air, a sharp two-door hardtop.
This was the second generation Bel Air and was considered a premium Chevy model. So popular was it that the Bel Air was built at six Chevy plants across North America. Some were even made in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Sales were stellar, keeping Chevrolet American’s No. 1 brand.
After launching a restyled model for 1955 that was an overwhelming success, Chevy mildly restyled the 1956 model to replace what was known as the Ferrari grille with a full-width one that was more conventional at the time. Likewise the wheel wells were tapered for a more graceful appearance and the taillights were altered to include jet-like protrusions so popular on all cars of the day. Chevy also hid the gas cap inside the left fin, as it had on some Cadillacs.
Wisely Chevy created a sharp two-tone version, as in the sample here, with the roof, rear deck and top of the rear quarter panels being painted in an accent color. Here it’s white to offset the dark red to near purple of the car’s nose and lower portions. The model’s color is closest to the original Dusk Plum offered in 1956. Read more
There are some relatively obscure cars from the 1950s and early 1960s that just don’t get their due from die-cast car makers, even though these vehicles are stellar examples of that era’s radical styles.
Now NEO has created a 1961 Chrysler Newport wagon that highlights some of that edgy styling with modified tailfins and an artistic use of chrome side trim. This is another of NEO’s sharp looking 1/43-scale resin models of this exciting era in U.S. car design.
Cars were big in the early 1960s as families were growing (remember the Baby Boom?) and station wagons were needed to haul all those kids around, like minivans today. But not all parents wanted to tool around in a boring box. So Virgil Exner and his Chrysler design team came to the rescue!
Joe Leonard was a heck of a racer, on two wheels and four.
He not only won three motorcycle championships, the hard-nosed driver also moved up to Indy cars and won the 1971 USAC championship running virtually the same car as his teammate, Al Unser, who won the Indianapolis 500 in a sister car that year.
Replicarz honors Leonard, who died earlier this year, with its release of a 1/18-scale PJ Colt, a replica of the car Leonard drove to the USAC title decked out in its yellow and blue Samsonite-sponsored livery. Replicarz had created a limited edition 1/43-scale model of the car previously, along with Unser’s 1970 and 1971 Indy winning Johnny Lightning racers.
Leonard won three A.M.A. Grand National Championships between 1954 and 1957 and set a record with 27 wins. By 1961 though, he turned his attention to auto racing and debuted in USAC, then the top-level open-wheel racing series. In 1964 he reached its top level, racing Champ cars, those that ran in the Indianapolis 500. He won his first race, the Milwaukee 150, in 1965 aboard a Gurney Eagle.
Leonard raced for several teams and had several good results at Indy, finishing third in 1967 and sixth in 1969 when he was wheeling Smokey Yunick’s doctored Gurney Eagle. In between he put Andy Granatelli’s famous wedge turbine on the pole at Indy and was leading with 9 laps to go when a part failed. Read more
Today the blending of cars and trucks seems natural as SUVs and crossovers have become the preferred mode of personal transportation in the United States. But in the late 1950s and early 1960s such a thought was downright odd.
Ford stirred the beast first when it created the Ranchero and within two years Chevrolet answered with El Camino, basically wagons made into pickups with a big open bed behind the enclosed front seat compartment. Some considered El Camino a coupe utility pickup, a fairly apt description.
NEO has created a sharp 1/43 scale version of the 1959 El Camino in black with a red interior and plenty of chrome nose and tail.
The original El Camino was only around two years 1959–1960 and was made in GM’s Arlington, Texas plant. It rode on the 1959 Chevy Brookwood platform, a new two-door station wagon that was longer, lower and wider than existing full-size Chevys. Read more