Category Archives: Die-cast Cars

Die-cast: Replicarz March 86C, 1987 Indy 500 winner

Al Unser’s 1987 Indy winner was fresh off a hotel lobby’s floor …

If you’re familiar with the Indianapolis 500 at all you know that Al Unser Sr. became a surprise four-time winner in 1987.

The bigger surprise though may have been that he did it in a car that weeks before had been on display in a Scranton, Pa., hotel lobby.

History is twisted and sometimes good things come to those who wait. Despite being a 3-time Indy winner Al Unser was without a ride for the 1987 Indy 500, but was waiting and watching in Gasoline Alley in case a good opportunity arose.

It did and that’s the car you see here, an Adrian Newey-designed March 86C that had been used the previous season, but now was a Penske show car as the team had moved on to its new PC-16 chassis, at least initially. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz March 86C, 1987 Indy 500 winner

Die-cast: Auto World True 1:64 Premium 2021 releases

AW’s twin 6-pack releases offer 5 new castings …

I love detail in my die-cast, so have tended toward the larger scales as an adult collector, but man, Auto World is starting to tug me big time back toward the 1:64 scale I loved as a kid.

Auto World’s True 1:64 releases are premium quality die-casts that are so well detailed that you can save a lot of cash and display space by going with these instead of larger models. The True 1:64 are budget friendly, yet so much fun to look at, hold, and display. Plus Auto World is rolling out a lot of new tooling for 2021.

For instance, the latest releases focus on Muscle, much like Auto World’s 1:18 scale American Muscle, but includes five new toolings.

Here’s the deal. Continue reading Die-cast: Auto World True 1:64 Premium 2021 releases

Die-cast: Auto World 1968 Nickey Chevy Chevelle

A Nickey-pimped Chevelle was, and is, a thing of beauty … 

Many 1960s car lovers believe the second generation Chevelle and its related GM cousins were the epitome of automotive styling and beauty. It’s hard to argue the point, at least that the Chevelle displayed beautiful lines and proportions, in addition to being highly affordable.

Chevelles often rumbled with the power of large V8s that made them true muscle cars, and a few were tweaked even further by the likes of hi-perf shops like Nickey Performance for racing, drag or otherwise.

That’s what Round2, via its Auto World American Muscle brand, delivers in its new 1:18 scale  1968 Nickey Chevelle. It’s decked out in Ermine White with a flat black (vinyl) roof and sharp gloss black Stinger hood scoop. And like most American Muscle die-cast metal models, this one retails for $99.99. That’s high value for a model with detailed engine, interior and undercarriage. Continue reading Die-cast: Auto World 1968 Nickey Chevy Chevelle

Round2 acquisition confirmed

Auto World, Johnny Lightning owner partners with
investment firm to expand product lines …

By Mark Savage

Round 2, one of die-cast car collecting and plastic car modeling’s big dogs, made it official today. It has partnered with an investment group that should help it to expand its product lines.

The announcement from Round2’s headquarters in South Bend, Ind., said it is partnering with Praesidian Capital, a private investment group based in Larchmont, N.Y. Praesidian has purchased controlling interest, 51%, of Round2.

Those of us interested in die-cast cars and plastic car models, or HO slot cars, knows all about Round2, founded by Thomas Lowe, who earlier founded Playing Mantis to revive the Johnny Lightning brand, among others.

I regularly review products from Round2’s Auto World,  American Muscle, Johnny Lightning and Racing Champions brands. In fact, a review of AW’s new 1977 Dodge Warlock was just posted today.

Die-cast: Auto World 1977 Dodge Warlock | Savage On Wheels

Lowe, who remains as president of the firm, said he’s thrilled by the deal because of the resources Praesidian brings with it to help it grow “both organically and through acquisitions.” He added that there are no staff changes and Round2 will remain in South Bend.

Jason Drattell, Praesidian’s founder, made similar statements, praising Lowe and noting Round2 “has emerged as a market leader in the collectibles space and we look forward to supporting the management team as Round 2 continues to expand its product offerings.”

Glenn Harrison, Praesidian Capital partner, added that “product design and innovation will always be at the core of Round2’s growth strategy, but we also believe that there is a significant
consolidation opportunity within the highly fragmented collectibles space. We will be working closely with the Round 2 team to continue to build on its already impressive list of brands.”

In addition to Johnny Lightning and the other brands mentioned above, Round2 also includes Polar Lights, AMT, MPC, Lindberg and Hawk model kits, including a Star Wars license. Auto World also markets HO slot cars and parts along with die-cast vehicles. Other miniature car brands include Legends of the  Quarter Mile, Ertl Collectibles, Vintage Fuel. Forever Fun is a seasonal products brand also a part of Round2.

For more details on all the product lines produced by Round 2, see: http://www.round2corp.com

Die-cast: Auto World 1977 Dodge Warlock

Blingy Warlock pickup stirred our love of custom trucks …

I have to admit that when I heard Auto World was releasing the 1977 Dodge Warlock I was confused. I’d never heard of it, and I pride myself in being a pretty heady car guy.

Of course, it’s a truck.

Still, in 1977 I was just out of school, just married and my vehicle tastes were fuel-efficient small cars that didn’t cost much, think Mazda GLC, Datsun B210, Honda Civic, and Plymouth Horizon. OK, I was smart enough to avoid the later.

So I did a little digging on the Warlock, a name that no doubt would be nixed by any marketing person today. Seems Dodge was ahead of the curve with factory-produced custom pickups. Now any pickup, custom or not, is hotter than a Kardashian’s bikini photo. Continue reading Die-cast: Auto World 1977 Dodge Warlock

Back to a time when American motors built cars worldwide

The Concord with a side of rice and beans

 

France, Germany, Iran, New Zealand, South Africa, and England all at one time manufactured Jeeps, Javelins, Americans, Hornets and more through partnerships put together by AMC’s E-VP, International Operations Roy D. Chapin Jr. One of those unique partnerships was set up about 2,000 south of the company’s major assembly operation, Kenosha, WI, in Mexico with Vehiculos Automotores Mexicanos, S.A.

For 40 years, this government-controlled company imported and produced automobiles and light trucks under license from Willys, AMC, Eagle, Jeep, Chrysler, Renault and designed their own vehicles based on AMC platforms.

Photo: Wiki Commons

One of the more interesting cars they designed and produced was the VAM Lerma, a cross between the Concord and Spirit. It was available as a three-door or a five-door hatchback, something not available on AMC cars built in Kenosha. It was named after Lerma, a city in Mexico where VAM produced engines. This wasn’t just a warmed-over Concord, it featured a different interior and the only element carried over from AMC was the instrument panel. It was focused on the top-end market in Mexico and never exported. While I couldn’t find sales numbers specific to the Lerma, it was a top 10 seller and at one time held a 9% market share.  But when Renault bought into AMC in the mid-eighties they had no interest in building AMC cars in Mexico and the partnership ended.

The Lerma lives on

It’s a 1/43 diecast model of the Lerma manufactured by IXO Models in Hong Kong. Besides this, they make all kinds of hard-to-find cars, motorcycles, and trucks based mostly on non-u.s models.

This one has a ton of miles on it. While it was manufactured in Hong Kong, I bought it off eBay and it came from Spain. That’s a lot more miles than you would see on the real deal. While I knew about VAM because of my dad working at AMC, I had never seen a model until I was poking around on Facebook and found a group of VAM enthusiasts.

The detail on this one that I acquired has amazing details. While the doors, hood, and hatch don’t open, there is a full interior. Exterior details include a hood ornament, simulated glass headlights, windshield wipers, side view mirrors, even the scripted name of the car on the back. I don’t normally collect cars this small because they lack the details of their larger counterparts but would consider any of their cars.

I have never seen a Mexican made AMC car for sale. I would imagine they would be priced similar to their Kenosha-made cousins although with no snow should be in pretty good shape. There is a very active group of fans who continue to be fans of the brand and are very active on Facebook. How’s your Spanish?

Photo: VAM AMC RAMBLER ZACATECAS
Photo: VAM AMC RAMBLER ZACATECAS

 

 

Die-cast: DNA Collectibles Volvo Concept Coupe

Finally a model of the Volvo Coupe that became Polestar 1 …

For much of its modern history Volvo has been the maker of boxy utilitarian vehicles known for their safety. Sexy was as foreign to its styling department as polkas are to Shakira.

But even a dowdy car company like Volvo can change and by 2013 it had committed to more elegant, and some might say, moderately sexy design. Hence the Volvo Concept Coupe, one of three show cars that set Volvo’s styling tone for the future.

DNA Collectibles loves stylish cars, and quirky cars that other die-cast manufacturers have avoided. You might say style is in the company’s DNA. (Groan!) Continue reading Die-cast: DNA Collectibles Volvo Concept Coupe

Die-cast: Autoart 2017 Chevy Camaro ZL1

Camaro ZL1 offers stunning looks, excellent detail …

Seems like just yesterday it was 1971 and I was about to turn 16 and snag my driver’s license. My Uncle Wink, a car nut like me, was happy to help me learn to drive a stick, and believe it or not, he taught me on his rocket-fast 1968 Camaro, a pale yellow with the black nose stripe. I’ve loved Camaros ever since.

We spent many evenings in the gravel, yep, gravel parking lot of Butler University’s Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Drop the clutch. Spin the tires. Throw some gravel. Uncle Wink would look a bit concerned, but ultimately laugh. I eventually got it right.

Now Autoart gets it very right with its latest 1/18 version of the newest rocket-like Camaro ZL1 and this time in a much brighter yellow than my uncle’s car. You can’t ignore this retina scorcher, and Autoart also rolls out a jazzy red, and bright blue model, along with more sedate white and black editions. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart 2017 Chevy Camaro ZL1

Die-cast: Auto World’s True 1:64 Hemmings 6-packs

New Challenger Hellcat casting stars in latest AW releases …

Like many car guys and gals I’ve been reading Hemmings automotive mags for years and love many of the covers!

So Auto World’s latest True 1:64 releases is a dead-on bull’s-eye for collectors as AW reproduces some of the cool cover cars from Hemmings’ Classic Car, Muscle Machines and Motor News. One of my favorites was the September 2019 Muscle Machines featuring a purple 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye and a vintage 1970 Challenger R/T.

Bingo, both cars are a part of the Release 4 A Series. Cool too because the 797-horsepower 2019 Challenger is a new casting while the 1970 features a new hood casting. More on those in a second. Continue reading Die-cast: Auto World’s True 1:64 Hemmings 6-packs

Die-cast: Autoworld 1935 Duesenberg SSJ Speedster

Auto World steps back in time to create a real Duesy …

Growing up in Indianapolis, the early auto world’s hub and home to the Indy 500, I was aware that the Duesenberg name was a big deal.

Even though the company that brothers Augie and Fred Duesenberg had built to fame had already been gone for 20 years or so, the make remained famous in Indiana. As a youngster I saw Duesenbergs at local car shows and I was well aware Duesenberg racers had won the 1922, ’24, ’25 and ’27 Indy 500s.

But long-term it was the luxury and performance of the Duesy road cars that stuck with folks. These were the legitimate supercars of their day, and none more so than the SSJ Speedster that Auto World has turned its considerable skills to reproducing in a high-value 1/18-scale offering. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoworld 1935 Duesenberg SSJ Speedster