Category Archives: diecast cars

1962 Pontiac Grand Prix (Fireball Roberts edition)

Auto World’s Ponty celebrates NASCAR’s legendary Fireball ….

There are perfect names and nicknames for race drivers, no doubt adding to their mystique and popularity.

As a kid I had two early favorites, Jim “Herk” (as in Hercules) Hurtubise and Edward Glenn “Fireball” Roberts. Herk was famous at the Indy 500 and Fireball was a legend in stock cars. Sadly, both were badly burned in racing accidents in 1964. Herk survived, Fireball did not.

I was in the stands at the 1963 Yankee 300 at Indianapolis Raceway Park cheering on Fireball, No. 22 in a Holman-Moody Ford, but unfortunately he didn’t finish. A.J. Foyt won in a Plymouth.

So I was stunned the following May when Fireball died a few days after an accident in Charlotte’s World 600 where he spun to miss two other wrecking cars, hit an inside wall and the car erupted into flames. Fire did a lot of damage, but Roberts also was asthmatic and that apparently had weakened his lungs. Still, he seemed such a tough character, it was hard to understand the loss.

The History

Here though Auto World celebrates 1962 when Fireball won the Daytona 500 in a black and gold Pontiac prepared by Smokey Yunick. This is a 1/18 scale version of a ’62 Grand Prix reflecting the same color scheme as Roberts’ car and was one of only about 30 created by Jim Stephens Pontiac of Daytona Beach, one of Fireball’s sponsors.

1962 was Fireball’s year, although he had started racing stock cars in the late 1940s. He always was a winner. How great was he? In a 15-year career he raced in 206 stock car races, and won 33. He finished top 5 in more than half and top 10 in roughly 60%. He won the Daytona pole three times, 1961-63 and was NASCAR’s most popular driver in 1957. Later he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990.

 If you read my DC reviews you may recall Auto World released a snazzy 1961 Pontiac Catalina not long ago, and this 1962 Grand Prix is a looker too, just a bit less sleek than the Catalina. The Grand Prix has a thick, solid C pillar vs. the thin sloping one for the Catalina. Also, the chrome fender trim protrudes out to the edges of the fender over the lights here, whereas on the Catalina they are smaller and less pointed.

There are other differences too.

The Model

               For instance, the side trim on the Grand Prix consists of a gold streak indented in the body’s side, whereas on the Catalina this was a raised chrome strip.

               The nose is more interesting here with the dual chrome-trimmed headlights extending out into the body side panels that feature a more rounded, some might say sexier, look up. Plus the center of the hood’s nose is more pointed with chrome trim and the extended portions below the hood feature the gold trim used on the rest of the car, reflecting the look of the Roberts Daytona winner.

               Taillights are totally different on the ’62, being sort of crescent moon shaped and tucked inside wide chrome trim with extensions that frame the horizontal tail trim, again accented with gold lines.

               Engine detail is sharp as one expects on any Auto World car, with twin chrome carbs and headers, plus proper plumbing and hoses and a big battery too. Nifty too that the underside of the car is well detailed so you can see the bottom of the engine and all suspension and exhaust systems, consisting of twin matte silver pipes and mufflers here. Naturally the wheels are steerable.

          Inside the interior is less flashy than the Catalina, with black seats and chrome trim and side hinges, and yes, the front seats will fold forward and the steering wheel turns the front wheels. That wheel has a matte silver hub and horn ring with black grips on the sides, but gold trim top and bottom.

               While the dash is black with matte chrome trim everywhere, including all buttons, there also is Grand Prix spelled out in gold trim on the passenger’s side dash glove box. There’s a white cue ball shifter on the center console with chrome button on top and a giant gauge (looks like a spotlight) at the console’s front, which could be a tach or race speedometer.

               Windows are chrome trimmed, including the vent windows, as are the wiper arms and blade holders. Headlights are clear but etched and taillights are red, naturally. Door handles, bumpers, rocker panel trim and a large driver’s side fender mirror also are chrome.

     Hubcaps are the same design as on the Catalina, but with gold trim around the chrome hubs that have Pontiac Motor Division printed in a ring around the hubs.

               There’s a fun orange and blue license up front that says GR-RRR!, with Royal printed below, while in back the green on white Michigan plate says simply, Fireball.

               One note of warning if you handle your models much before displaying them. Wear a glove here because this black paint scheme is prone to showing finger smudges.

               Pontiac enthusiasts should note too that AW has made both a 1961 and 1962 Pontiac Catalina and they are available through the AW online store, autoworldstore.com. Note too that this was an early release model for review and it’s not available on the AW site just yet, but will be shortly.

               One final note on Fireball. His nickname didn’t come from his racing feats, but from his days as a minor league baseball pitcher. You guessed it, he had a mighty fastball, so was dubbed Fireball.

Vital Stats: 1962 Pontiac Grand Prix (Fireball Roberts edition)

Maker: Auto World
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: AM1291/06


MSRP: $119.99

Link: Autoworldstore.com

James Bond’s Lotus Esprit S1

Nobody does it better than Auto World for a submarine/car …

Rare, or should I say never, that I have seen a die-cast car that was also a submarine. But now I have.

If you’re hearing a James Bond soundtrack playing in your head right now then you’re ahead of me. The car/sub in question is the Lotus Esprit S1 as seen in the 1977 Bond thriller, The Spy Who Loved Me, with Roger Moore as Bond and Barbara Bach portraying Soviet agent Anya Amasova as they attempted to stop a megalomaniac trying to destroy the world and start a new civilization under the sea. Naturally!

If you saw it, you’ll remember both Bach (Ringo Starr’s wife) and the Lotus, the later shooting into the ocean while being chased by a helicopter (which the car’s rockets shot down). Then the Lotus’s wheels fold up and four props on the back are deployed to instantly turn the Esprit into a sub, not an easy task.

Nor was creating the Bond car in 1/18 scale, but credit Auto World for doing just that and cradling it in a beautifully crafted and designed display box complete with blue plastic packaging to make the Lotus look like it’s diving into the sea.

The History

Let’s start with the movie. This was the tenth Bond thriller and third with Roger Moore portraying secret agent 007. It was a winner at the box office ($185 million in sales) and later Moore called it his favorite. Some consider The Spy Who Loved Me among the best Bond films after Sean Connery departed, and before the current batch.

In any case, the car played a small role, but was memorable because of its high-tech transformation. Beyond Bond’s classic Aston Martin DB5 of earlier movies, this is the car most Bond aficionados recall most often. Its nickname on set was Wet Willie and the car used in the movie’s underwater scenes ultimately was purchased by Elon Musk in 2014.

Lotus is known for creating cars of speed, style, and athletic performance and this one reminds of a Lamborghini Countach, which debuted a year earlier in 1974. And indeed, its designer was Italian, Giorgetto Giugiaro who penned the design after meeting Lotus chief Colin Chapman at a European car show.

The fiberglass-bodied Esprit debuted at the fall 1975 Paris Auto Show and featured a new 160-horsepower I4, which sounds pretty mild now. But the car was famously Lotus light, just about 2,000 pounds, so would do 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds, no rocket, but lithe and lively. Plus it looks undeniably fast. Top speed was 138 mph.

Just 718 Lotus Esprit S1 models were made from 1976 to 1978, but other versions were produced up until 2004. Esprit replaced the Lotus Europa model.

The Model

               This is a fun one, but is best displayed in its original box in submarine form, as that’s what makes this one special. Besides, it requires patience and nimble fingers to fully convert it into the car, although Auto World provides all the parts. Here’s how that’s accomplished.

               First, you must take off the fins, rear prop structure, and roof hardware, a relatively easy task. However, to dislodge and fold down the four wheels and tires is awkward. It’s ingenious how they are installed, but they are quite stiff to unfold, especially the front wheels. I could only get two to deploy and appear straight upright. The other two folded down, but canted slightly inward making it hard to install the two white plastic pieces meant to complete the car’s bottom for display.

               Three round white stickers are included to cover the holes in the roof that accommodate the chrome roof accessories to replicate the sub’s features. More stickers are available to use for either the sub, or car’s dash gauges and others for front and rear windshield louvers to replicate the sub’s appearance.

The Lotus engine is nicely detailed and easy to see.

               A gray cap snaps on over the matte silver-gray engine under the rear hatch, again to mimic the submarine’s look. Like the real Lotus engine this one is canted to the left, maybe not exactly 45 degrees as in the original car, but there’s a visible lean to it. Detailing is sharp too and I’m leaving off the cover to display the sub as it’s more interesting that way.

               I particularly like the black plastic tail fins and prop covers that hide the chrome props and their black rudders. All props spin too.

               Those side fins look great and are easy to pop out from underneath, if you want to go the car display route. The front and rear twin fins each pop out as a unit with just a little pressure.

               While the headlights don’t rotate up in front the hood can be lifted from the rear to expose a spare tire and the steering housing. Also, a tiny switch under the car/sub can be pressed to release the row of gun barrels on the nose. However, they tend to close quickly once the car/sub is on level ground.

               Everything else looks realistic outside, from amber lower nose lights to red taillights along with proper licensing front and rear. The nose and tail include Lotus badging and Esprit logos are on each of the rear roof pillars beneath the gas caps.

               Doors open to reveal gray bucket seats with red plaid butt pockets and red flocking for carpet. The dash is gray too with black steering wheel and shifter on the console. Naturally this is right-hand drive.

               I like that the chrome door releases are replicated at the bottom of each door and the side windows are open so it’s easy to see inside. Under water you’d want these closed though, right? Windows are all trimmed in black.

               It was fun taking the car/sub apart and configuring it both ways, but I’m sticking with the sub look, as that’s what sets this apart.

So, with apologies to Marvin Hamlisch the theme song’s composer, Carole Bayer Sager its lyricist, and wonderful Carly Simon, its singer, Nobody Does it Better, not in 1/18 scale.

Vital Stats: Lotus Esprit S1, James Bond 007, The Spy Who Loved Me

Maker: Auto World
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: AWSS132
MSRP: $149.99

Link: Autoworldstore.com

1967 Alpine A210 Le Mans #46

Spark’s latest Le Mans racer a long-tailed French blend …

Separating Alpine from Renault is difficult as their histories are so entwined, as is that of Gordini, although fewer may recognize that name.

But in the 1960s all three came together as Gordini-tuned Renault engines powered Alpine racers designed for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Renault’s racing arm footing the bill.

The result, several years in, was the dramatic and swoopy looking Alpine A210 racer that Spark Models beautifully recreates now in 1:43 scale.

The History

Alpine was formed in 1955 by Jean Rédélé to make sports cars and racers and did well enough that Shell Oil came to the firm in 1962 wanting 1.0-liter Gordini-tuned engines for a Le Mans effort. By 1963 the M63 racer had won its class at the Nurburgring 1000km race, although none of its three cars finished the 1963 Le Mans marathon.

However, by the 1966 Le Mans, which was won for the first time by Ford’s GT40, Alpine had the A210 with a stout 1.3-liter Gordini-tuned Renault and took first through third place in the energy-efficiency index while clocking speeds of nearly 170 mph.

The next year Alpine was back with a multi-car team and its No. 46 car driven by French racers Henri Grandsire and Jose Rosinski finished ninth overall and first in class for 1.3-liter cars. The duo completed 321 laps compared with the winning Ford GT40 driven by Americans Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt’s 388 laps. Since the team was aiming for an overall win there was no winning the efficiency index.

Grandsire and Rosinski were gentleman racers, but successful. Grandsire, who later became an actor, had won the same Le Mans class the previous year, while Rosinski, later to become a journalist and race team manager, also had previously won his class at Le Mans in 1962.

By 1973 Renault would buy Alpine and Gordini soon after, although the Alpine name disappeared into the Renault lineup by 1995. Yet it was re-introduced in 2017 with the Alpine A110 model. Meanwhile the Renault Formula 1 racing team was also rebranded in 2021 as Alpine, which it remains today.

The Model

               First, there’s the cool aero body with its long and finned tail, plus that stellar medium bright metallic blue paint scheme that quickly delivers the notion this is a French racer. The No. 46 car also features an orange stripe across the roof’s leading edge to help identify the car at speed from its sister cars.

               Racers were so much simpler in the mid-1960s and this streamlined beauty reflects that with just a small black oval grille up front framed between two round running lights to help with night vision during the 24-hour race. Regular headlights are under clear lenses and the hood is one that was hinged in front, so there are two silver hinges that appear both functional and decorative. A small brown leather-look strap is at the passenger’s side of the hood’s rear to no doubt further secure the racer’s hood when the car was speeding about.

               On the nose is the Alpine name in silver lettering.

               There also are small air scoops on the front fenders just before the doors and then rear fender bulges that appear to be bolted on over the wheel well tops, giving the racer muscular hips. Outside door hinges are molded into the front quarter panel and doors too.

               Both the windshield and rear window are huge, the back one blending smoothly into that sassy tail. The Alpine’s windshield is trimmed in silver and a delicate silver photo-etched metal twin-armed wiper that’s true to the original sweeps the window. Side windows represent the sliding glass that the real racer featured, an aid to cooling the cockpit. The driver’s side window is posed slightly opened, while the far side’s windows are closed.

               In back are amber taillights and a large single tailpipe exiting just to the right of center.

               Tires are treaded and the front wheel cover is a smooth silver disk while the larger rears are gold featuring an 8-pointed star pattern with visible lug nuts in the center ring.

               Markings are minimal beyond the large numbers, all black atop white circles, one on the hood, tail, and both doors. There is a red dot on each door in front of the number, and Alpine Renault is spelled out on the rear quarter panel, just aft of the door with “1300” printed just below, signifying the racer’s 1300cc engine.

               Three other logo decals are spread along the top of each front fender, a cat head with checkered flag, a Shell logo, and a black and white one I simply can’t make out, even with a magnifier.

               The black interior is difficult to make out, but close study reveals a three-spoke race steering wheel, the spokes in silver, a shift lever on the floor, and a silver shoulder harness on the race seat. Looks like a red fire extinguisher above and behind a passenger’s seat too. Funny that Alpine included the second seat in a racer, but maybe there was a rule requiring it in 1967. Whatever!

               Most Spark 1:43 die-cast models run in the $80 range, but often you can find them on sale online at sites such as Replicarz.com, one of the most reliable online retailers. I’ve used them for years to bolster my collection. Spark also makes several other versions of the Alpine A210, so look around and find which one most pleases your eye.

Plus, let me say that I love 1:43 scale models as they are such a great size for detail while remaining small enough to easily stack their cases. Spark and most other brands, come in stackable acrylic cases that are perfect for viewing, so no further display case is required. Save that cash to spend on more models!

               This Alpine is a sexy addition to any Le Mans collection, even if it wasn’t an overall winner!

Vital Stats: 1967 Alpine A210 Le Mans #46

Maker: Spark
Scale: 1/43
Stock No.: S5687
MSRP: $79.99

Link: Replicarz.com

#Le Mans

#Alpine

#Spark

#Diecast

1979 Dodge Warlock II D100 Utiline

Auto World’s latest Warlock not as spooky as its name …

Today it is hard to imagine any vehicle being named Warlock without an entire marketing department being fired and the automaker’s PR staff committed to a mental institution in the aftermath.

But Dodge played loosey-goosey with names and color descriptions throughout the 1970s. Remember Dodge’s purple being labeled Plum Crazy? So when Dodge decided to make factory-custom pickups beginning in late 1976 the Warlock name was chosen.

Auto World bravely jumped into the die-cast pickup market itself a couple years back and the 1977 Warlock was a hit, so now comes a 1:18 scale Warlock II, a 1979 model of the fancified D100 Utiline.

The History

Styling was tweaked for ’79 with a new nose and hood. And inside it was loaded with goodies not standard at the time, like air conditioning, cruise control, a radio and a clock. The Utiline bed with real oak sideboards was an option, as were the wide tires and custom wheels. This model has all of the above.

Originally Warlock was a limited release, sort of a test by Dodge to see if the factory-custom truck idea would fly. That original had gold wheels, gold pin-striping, bucket seats, wide Goodyear tires and oak sideboards and bed flooring.

By 1977 Dodge had moved the Warlock into full production and began offering it in more than just black. As in the earlier AW model, there was dark green now. Other colors were blue, red, and of course, black. All Warlock interiors were black, to keep costs down and builds as simple as possible.

For 1979 the standard engine was a 145-horsepower, two-barrel 318 cu.in. V8. Also available was a four-barrel 360 cu.in. V8 that that made 160 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. Warlock II was available in 2- or 4-wheel drive and sold through the end of the 1979 model year.

One could argue Dodge started fueling America’s love with fancy pickups, which the Ram continues today.

The Model

               What’s new and different on the 1979 model vs. the earlier 1977? All the changes are up front.

Here’s that new grille and single headlight look for 1979, plus a detailed V8.

By 1979 Dodge had moved to large single headlights and a more streamlined hood with its two panels slightly raised, and of course outlined on the Warlock II with gold pin striping and filigree, which also decorates the front fenders and cab, plus the cab’s roof and the big bulging rear fenders. Even the tailgate features the gold trim along with a gold and black Warlock II nameplate in the tailgate’s center.

Face it, Dodge had figured out how to customize its pickups at the factory and this model reflects that with the sparkling Canyon Red paint scheme that looks deep with a touch of cinnamon tossed it for a bronze tint to this metallic finish.

Yes, the tailgate lowers on the snazzy Auto World Warlock II.

               Warlock’s grille is a massive chrome number, beautifully recreated, plus chrome front and rear bumpers, large side mirrors, wipers, door handles and side steps on this Stepside model. The racy custom Mag wheels also are chromed and there’s a silver gas cap by the step on the driver’s side. A short chrome antenna protrudes from the top of the passenger’s side front fender.

               Just like the earlier 1977 model, this ’79 touts a blue block Mopar V8 under the huge hood that is supported by solid hinges so is easily posed open. There’s a black air filter cover along with big black hose running to the radiator. A white coolant container also is visible along with a white top just over the radiator and a power steering unit protrudes from the firewall.

As with the previous model the bed features textured wood-look plastic panels with red metal seams in the floor and the same wood-look railing on each side of the bed to mimic that of the original truck. This is a little lighter shade (a tinge of yellow) than I’d like, but still features a wood-grained texture. In back that tailgate also can be lowered.

Sharp looking cab here with reflective face gauges for added realism.

Inside, the cab is mostly black, but the door panels include more of that gold pin striping at the top to add some glam while also boxing out the lower portions of the doors to add color in what otherwise would be a dark interior. Just a bench seat as there was no Crew Cab at the time, and the dash looks great with a detailed instrument panel that includes reflective gauge faces to add realism. In addition, the steering wheel features three silver spokes while there are no seatbelts on those black seats.

Rubber tires are treaded and branded as Goodyears and freely roll, plus the front wheels are steerable for posing purposes. As with other AW models, the undercarriage is nicely detailed too, including a spare tire under the bed, a full exhaust system, differential, and detailed front suspension.

I really liked the 1977 Warlock, but this color is so striking and the single headlight grille seems a bit more handsome too. Hey, plus it’s a Warlock!

Vital Stats: 1979 Dodge Warlock II

Maker: Auto World
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: AW298
MSRP: $119.99

Link: Autoworldstore.com

#Dodge

#Dodge Warlock

#Auto World

1932 Cadillac V16 Sport Phaeton

Auto World’s 1932 Cadillac V16 Sport Phaeton

I’m no authority on pre-war classic cars, but most car crazies like me recognize the Cadillac V16 or Sixteen as it was often called.

This was Cadillac’s most powerful and expensive car to date when introduced at the New York Auto Show in January of 1930. Talk about bad timing, the Depression had just begun.

Yet the wealthy and famous still had cash and more than 2,000 V-16 models were ordered in the first six months of production with 2,500 selling that first year. That was an amazing number and even more so in that just 4,076 of the cars were ever made during an 11-year run from 1930 to 1940 when GM stopped production as it ramped up for World War II military production.

Auto World expands its 1:18 scale classic car lineup with a new dark green 1932 Cadillac V16 Sport Phaeton and it’s an eye-pleaser.

The History

Just 300 of the 1932 models were made as sales began to rapidly fade. Cadillac made only 50 V-16 models a couple of years in the late 1930s.

Originally the bodies were made mostly by Fleetwood Metal Body, but by 1932 Fischer Body had taken over that function for the Harley J. Earl-designed Cadillacs. Earl would later become GM’s design chief and was known for his use of concept cars to introduce radical designs including tail fins. He also was involved in design of the original Corvette.

All orders were custom for the V16 and research says 70 styling codes were used during the car’s production life. The Sport Phaeton was one of those and its styling was sportier as it employed a longer hood and lower roofline, here with a tan top over the green body. Fenders also were more curved and the headlamp shells were streamlined too.

The Phaeton also used a second windshield just in front of the rear seats to distinguish it, this version being the fold-down style known as a dual-cowl design.

For the record, V16s were made in 2- and 4-door convertibles, 2-door coupes and 4-door sedans, town cars and even limousines. Power came from a narrow 45-degree V16 creating what now seems a paltry 165 horsepower, but reportedly the cars could hit at least 116 mph, incredibly fast at the time. Power was smooth from the V16 and said to run so quietly they were hard to hear.

These were massive cars, unsurprisingly, riding on 149 to 154-inch wheelbases, so a couple feet longer than today’s giant pickups and SUVs. Lead sleds too. They weighed between 5,300 and 6,600 pounds.

One 1930 Town Brougham model was listed at $9,200 new. That would be about $149,000 in today’s dollars, probably a bit much for the Depression era and before any silicon chip boom.

The Model

               A beautiful car beautifully reproduced with real rubber tires and a sharp-looking tan plastic roof that looks like canvas and easily snaps off to pose as a convertible.

Big folding hood, long V16 engine under the cowl.

               The body shape and functionality are excellent as always, with both front doors opening and the dual sided hood folding up independently. Under the hood the massive V16 fills the engine bay and features silver headers and exhaust pipes, plus V-shaped chrome bracing to stiffen the car’s front end. There’s also a fan behind the radiator, the front of which is chromed with a handsome V16 logo on its face.

Sharp heron hood ornament on the ’32 Caddy.

Atop the radiator is a chrome Cadillac heron hood ornament to class up the Caddy. That heron was swapped for a goddess style ornament the following year.

               Up front is a banded chrome bumper with two running lights atop that, then the streamlined sealed beam chrome headlights and horns atop the gently rounded front fenders. Turn signal lamps, also chromed rest atop each fender.

A large trunk rests on the luggage rack in back, while two silver exhausts exit below.

               Out back are dual slim but wide chrome exhausts, the chrome banded bumper and chrome trunk holder along with chrome taillights and a chrome trunk handle. A green trunk rests atop the chrome stand.

               A silver trim line runs from the nose around the top of the tail and then around to the other side’s nose and there are chrome door handles and windshield trim, on both shields. I like that the side vent windows move so you can pose them in or out and these too are trimmed in silver paint.

A long engine block and headers are visible beneath the hood.

               Need more flash? Well, there are tall white sidewall tires tucked into the fenders on each side, plus a chrome ring holding them each in place while chrome mirrors are molded into their tops.

               Along each side are black running boards trimmed in silver paint.

               Tires are wide white-sidewalls, treated but not branded and they wrap around spiffy chrome wire wheels with a red V16 logo at the center of each hub. Likewise, the spares showcase the same wire wheels.

Like the V16 logo on the steering wheel hub, while the dash is simply presented.

               AW creates black textured seats to reflect a leathery look in both passenger compartments while the front door trim features the same look, plus chrome door releases.

               The dash is simple with seven round gauges printed on its black face, plus a series of buttons arranged vertically mid-dash. Pedals are far beneath the dash and a tall chrome shift lever rises to next of the gloss black steering wheel, which also features that red Caddy V16 logo.

Adjustable wing windows add a nice touch of detail.

               The undercarriage is complete too with black chassis, suspension parts and differential, plus dual silver exhaust systems.

               Cars were both simpler mechanically, yet more ornate in the 1930s, Depression or not. This 1:18 model is a sterling representation of that chrome-laden era and the elegance of its luxury cars.        

Vital Stats: 1932 Cadillac V16 Sport Phaeton

Maker: Auto World
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: AW314
MSRP: $119.99

Link: Autoworldstore.com

#Cadillac

#Auto World

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible

Say Yes to Auto World’s latest, a ’57 Chevy from “Dr. No” …

Evil usually is depicted in black, and Dr. No was no exception. The James Bond villain’s car which was intended to carry Bond to his certain death was a black 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible, although with a spiffy red and silver interior.

Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen, Bond prevailed!

Hard as it is to imagine, 60 years have passed since “Dr. No”, the first Bond thriller, hit the movie theaters and Sean Connery would forever be James Bond. Now Auto World marks the anniversary with a handsome 1:18 scale model replicating the first cool car that Bond wheeled in the lengthy cinematic series.

This swanky black ’57 Chevy with its entertainingly decorated box featuring a “Dr. No” movie poster comes just a few months after AW turned out a much perkier Barbie version of the Bel Air convertible. That one was baby blue with pink interior and a twin that was just the opposite, pink with blue interior.

This one may fit less shockingly into your 1950s car collection of which more than a few are likely AW releases from the past as the firm specializes in 1950s-1970s muscle cars along with other vintage automotive icons. The same quality and attention to detail is here and this version, like the Barbie edition, is being marketed under AW’s Silver Screen Machines category.

Here’s what you get.

The Model

               There is plenty of functionality with opening doors, hood and steerable front wheels, while the trunk is sealed. Like other AW models, the undercarriage is nicely detailed (including dual exhausts), so posing it on a mirrored base would make sense.

               As you’d expect with a 1957 car there’s enough chrome to make a medieval knight envious. That starts with the massive front and rear bumpers, plus the head and taillight surrounds, rocker panel trim, the side accent line trim and fins, plus door handles, wiper arms and windshield frame. Even the two hood sights are chromed, as are the vent window frames.

               Hub caps are chrome with chrome center wheel nuts featuring red centers and tiny Chevy bowtie logos. Then there are those giant protruding bumper guards on the front that look like, well, you know. These are black-tipped (that’s tip my friends), as they were on the original ’57 Chevys.

               Both the hood and trunk feature copper-colored chevrons (a long-time Chevy emblem) and the Bel-Air script on the fins’ side trim also is copper. While the top of the fins are chromed, naturally.

The front fenders display three copper bars as trim and just in front of the doors are the patented Chevy crossed-flags logos with the term, Fuel Injection, printed beneath.

               Pop open the hood and there’s the red Chevy engine block with silver air filter and fuel injection system, a black battery and radiator with black horn on the front left. Big hood hinges allow the car’s hood to be easily posed in the raised position.

               The red and silver seats in the interior look nice too, not glossy, but more like a matte vinyl, which matches some 1950s Chevy seating. These include two red buttons on the silver background of each seat back. Likewise the tonneau cover is a matching matte red with silver snap heads neatly arranged around the edges.

               Chevy’s dash top is red with red-ringed instrument panel gauges and a chromed trim across its face and surrounding the radio and its dials. The dash and red steering wheel definitely look like plastic. Too bad they aren’t the same matte finish as the seats. Naturally the wheel’s center horn ring is chrome.          

               The model’s door handles and window cranks are chrome and Bel Air appears in script on the passenger’s side dash facing. Sun visors are a matte silver to match the color of the seat centers.

               Tires are wide white sidewalls and treaded, but not branded. A generic black license plate rides on the trunk face. It reads CC over J 7715. Not sure what that means, but it may be what the movie’s car featured back in 1962. Hard to remember that much detail that far back, even for us Boomers.

               This model is a double win for Bond fans and ’57 Chevy aficionados!

Vital Stats: 1957 Chevy Bel Air Convertible, “Dr. No” version

Maker: Auto World
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: AWSS134
MSRP: $149.99

Link: Autoworldstore.com

#57 Chevy

#James Bond

#Dr. No

#Auto World

Toyota Century, 2018 Limo

AutoArt’s 1:18 beauty is the epitome of Japanese luxury …

To most of us, me included, we think of Toyota car badges like Camry, Corolla and Celica, but Century? Welcome to the luxury limo world, one few of us live in and in the States, the luxo-liner Century is virtually invisible.

But in Japan the car is a symbol of wealth and prestige, what many consider the Rolls-Royce of Japanese cars.

That’s fine, and probably deserved since even Toyota’s Lexus brand garners attention for its near perfect build quality. But with Century it’s not the average Joe or Asahi being chauffeured about. It’s the big money execs and famous folks being driven to their exclusive homes or hotels curtained off in the rear seat.

Despite few of us in the States hearing about it, Century was launched in 1967 as the premier Toyota and happened to coincide with Toyota Industries founder Sakichi Toyoda’s 100 birthday. Get it? Century!

Now AutoArt has gone and created a 2018 Century in 1:18 scale in multiple dignified colors, two offering the limo with curtains hanging in the rear windows. Cool!

The History

A bit of history beyond Century’s origins in 1967, it was the first rear-drive, front-engine Japanese car with a mass-produced V8 and later a V12.

The stately first generation lasted 30 years until the second gen launched in 1997. That was replaced by the third in 2018 and still carries the styling cues of a Lincoln, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and a touch of Rolls. This third gen is the one AutoArt has so deliciously delivered.

Century started on Toyota’s Crown platform, debuting with an aluminum alloy block 2.6-liter V8 generating just 150 horsepower. Remember this was 1967. By 1973 it had a 3.4-liter V8 and in 1992 that was upgraded to a 4.0-liter model. A 2-foot longer limo version arrived in 1989.

The second gen upgraded to Japan’s first V12 making 276 horsepower for the home market and 295 horses for exported models. Along the way automatic climate controls were first used in Century, then reclining rear seats with a massaging feature and power footrest. All those back seat wonders now are available in the large Lexus LS sedan.

Soft-closing doors is another feature first found in Century. These are offered in a variety of high-end sedans now where the doors electronically pull themselves shut once partially closed by the occupants. In back there also is an 11-inch screen and wood trim everywhere, plus the car comes with a noise cancellation system, double-glazed windows, and four mufflers. It’s quiet inside!

This third gen has all that and a more powerful 5.0-liter V8 with hybrid system to boost gas mileage from what had been 24 to 32 mpg. Power jumps to 425 horses and is put to the pavement via an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT) for smoothness and efficiency.

The lacy curtains are embedded in the glass, so will stay pristine over time.

Century now rides on a massive 122-inch wheelbase, is 210 inches long, weighs about 5,200 pounds, rides on a revised air suspension and is bathed in seven layers of paint. To assure luxury build quality Toyota assembles (much by hand) just 50 a month.

Oh, and you’d need about $180,000 to buy one, if they were sold in the US. They are not.

 The Model

What strikes you about this Seika Radiant Silver Metallic model is the chrome, from the finely presented narrow vertical bars in the grille to the trim around windows and front and rear bumpers, including lower cladding along the rocker panels. All align perfectly to carry the chrome theme nose to tail.

Not only great door detail, but a superb dash and console too.

But the interior if fabulous. Open up all four doors and the rock star interior features lacy gray curtains in the rear side windows and back windshield. On the real car these are crocheted lace and they reflect that look here, but are wisely embedded in the clear plastic windows so as not to soil over time or be damaged by handling.

The curtains are partially open so I suppose the celebrity, or his or her handler, will have to shut them for privacy.

Beyond the curtains, the right-hand-drive Century features wood-look trim atop the doors, door armrests, seatbacks and dash. It’s a bit shiny, but still impressive.

Wood trim and realistic console and screen make the rear seat special here!

All the detailing looks realistic in here too from the big rear seat console with glass-like touchscreen and big screen behind and between the front seats, even a couple of air ducts above that screen. The dash is loaded with buttons, knobs, a big info screen, and detailed digital driver’s screen. Even the gearshift knob is sufficiently thick and includes appropriate markings for each gear in the gate. The black steering wheel has a thick three-spoke hub.

Seats are gray and resembled leather, which is optional on the car. Wool seats are standard as they are quieter to sit in, and get out of, than leather, so preferred in Japan. No rude noises allowed!

AutoArt includes shoulder harnesses with photo-etched metal clasps and mold in the appropriate power adjustment buttons on the side of each seat’s lower cushion.

Flip up the hood and like most of today’s cars, the Century’s V8 and hybrid system are covered with a gray/silver plastic shroud with the remainder of the under-hood area covered in black plastic, so no fluid bottles, dipsticks, etc. are visible. Pretty boring, but realistic.

Note, the hood is released via a tiny black lever under the car’s nose, otherwise latches in place.

Naturally the hood, trunk lid and all four doors open, plus those front wheels are steerable, actually turning the steering wheel.

Other exterior features include realistic taillights and jewel-like headlights with each lamp featuring twin rectangular settings with twin bulbs in each lamp. There also are horizontal bar-shaped turn signals embedded in the front bumper.

Atop the hood is a fine gothic style C emblem that represents the Century name while centered in the grille and on the trunk’s face between the taillights is the gold phoenix logo, the traditional Fushichō badge that has its origins in Sinospheric mythology. Hey, that’s what I read. On the real car it takes an artist six weeks to hand engrave these. Wow!

That Century gothic C is also in badges on the C-pillars with the term Hybrid below. I tried magnifying these to see the word. I can tell it’s there, but hard to read. Hope your eyes are better than mine.

The phoenix is on the wheel cover, but tires are unbranded.

Tires are treaded, but not branded and the sharp sunburst style wheel covers are chromed and feature the phoenix logo inside the center ring.

All these features come at a price, but then this is a luxury limo, with an MSRP of $250.

Silver not your thing? The Century also is available in black with curtains, or black or white without. C’mon, you gotta have the curtains.

There’s also a sportier (sort of) GRMN model, the abbreviation standing for Gazoo Racing (Toyota’s long-time team) Meister of Nürburgring, costing $10 less and a black version for the US market, although still right-hand drive, for $230.

The Century’s headlights are beautifully reproduced.

Vital DC Stats: Toyota Century (w/curtains)

Maker: Autoart
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: 78770
MSRP: $250

Link: Autoartmodels.com

#Toyota

Lamborghini Diablo SE30

Autoart’s 1:18 scale Diablo worthy of its special edition status …

Lamborghini may be younger than Ferrari, but its slippery looking cars are equally beautiful, daring, and powerful.

So when Lambo’s 30th anniversary rolled around in 1993 it wasn’t shy about introducing a limited edition Diablo SE30, as in Special Edition 30th Anniversary. Like the regular Diablo (Devil) it was a beast meant for racing and just 150 were to be made.

Lucky for us collectors that Autoart has recently released its 1:18 scale version of the SE30 in a variety of colors. Originally the special Diablos were metallic lavender, a spectacular color, but not for everyone’s taste. The review car is a sizzling metallic blue known as Blu Sirena. (Sounds like a sad tennis player!)

The Diablo looks like a flying blue wedge with a dynamic spoiler on its tail.

The History

All the Diablo SE30s were built in 1994 and early 1995 featuring Lamborghini’s naturally aspirated 5.7-liter V12 that made a whopping (for the era) 525 horsepower and top speed of 207 mph. Reports at the time put its acceleration from 0 to 60 mph at 4 seconds even, impressive but now that’s something even souped up SUVs and pickups can do.

Race versions got Lambo’s JOTA engine upgrades but all SE30 models were built as lightweights since it was hoped they would be raced in GT championships around the world. No power seats or air conditioning or radio in these models and the side windows, which were synthetic glass (lighter weight), also weren’t powered. This exotic was all about speed.

Seats were carbon fiber shells and featured a special material that helped hold the driver and passenger in place while the Spartan dash featured white dial faces and below were perforated aluminum pedals.

Outside, the aluminum body had small bits of carbon fiber for side air intakes and a big rear spoiler that curved down toward the body to improve handling while the center portion was adjustable to aid downforce.

Special to the SE30 was a black and gold engine, the headers being gold. Intake manifolds were magnesium and the engine included new cylinder heads, again to cut weight and boost performance.

The Model

               This isn’t Autoart’s first car corral. It continues to deliver pristine and perfectly styled models with fabulous paint jobs. The Diablo continues that cycle of successes.

               Everything opens up here, the frunk, the engine cover, the scissor doors and the roll-away headlights even roll up with a small lever beneath the car’s nose.

The roll-away headlights operate with a lever beneath the nose.

               Those lights look convincing, but for display purposes the Lambo looks much sexier with the lights hidden away. And while it’s cool the frunk lid opens up front there’s not much to see inside, a flocked floor and a couple stickers on the firewall. Still, high marks here for authenticity.

               There are a variety of other lights and amber turn signal lamps up front along with a Lamborghini logo on the nose and a chin spoiler below.

               A single giant black windshield wiper rests at the bottom of the Lambo’s massive sloping windshield and the proper hood air intakes are well shaped with tiny black screens inset while the same can be said for the stylish side scalloped scoops that end before the rear wheels.

               This special edition used a Miura-like louvered engine cover that perfectly blends into the car’s long tail and somewhat reflects the rear spoiler’s shape.

Sharp engine detail with a Lambo logo and gold header covers.

               Flip up the engine cover, which is well supported by two black struts and there’s the big V12 with its gold header covers with Lamborghini embossed atop each. Plus, there’s another Lambo bull logo in gold on the black engine cover, and of course black hoses and a silver radiator with labeling.

               This Lamborghini’s tail is unique too with a split design, the big round taillights on the upper portion along with black screening between them and silver Lambo and 30th Anniversary logos. Then there’s the split and a large rear bumper/body extension with reflectors and backup lights, plus quad aluminum-tipped exhausts. You can almost hear the exhausts rumble!

Wide PZero tires and OZ-Racing wheels add flare.

               Tires are thick and wide aggressively treaded numbers with PZero labeling, but no Pirelli lettering. While the wheels are matte silver five-hole designs with OZ-Racing labels as these were new designs for the special edition. Behind the wheels are giant drilled disc brake rotors too. Oh, and the front wheels are steerable.

               Inside, the two-seat cockpit is black with realistic looking blue four-point belts with photo-etched metal clasps on the bucket seats. Other highlights include the white-faced gauges, a flat-bottom steering wheel and nicely detailed center stack and shifter on the console with a chrome-trimmed shift gate cover. There’s even a red button on that stack which would engage a fire extinguisher in the real car.

Cool blue cloth shoulder harnesses with photo-etch metal clasps add detail.

               One final touch, a 30th Anniversary logo just inside the cockpit’s driver’s side rear window, and of course large side mirrors with real mirrored faces.

               Need more? I don’t think so, unless it was one of the 150 made sitting in your driveway. But instead of spending millions, not to mention insurance payments that even Progressive’s Flo couldn’t touch, this 1:18 beauty can be yours for $250, and in four colors, this sparkling blue, plus black metallic, metallic purple or metallic yellow. Then there are the racier JOTA versions for the same price and in the metallic purple, metallic silver or white pearl.

               There’s not a bad looker in this bull ring, but this blue version or the purple one seem the standouts!

Vital Stats: Lamborghini Diablo SE30

Maker: Autoart
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: 79156

MSRP: $250

Link: Autoartmodels.com

#Lamborghini

#Autoart

#Diablo

1935 Duesenberg SSJ Speedster

Auto World’s latest 1:18 pre-war model a striking beauty …

Car nuts know the Duesenberg name, but its cars were often rare, built in small quantities, while others were raced successfully, winning the Indianapolis 500 three times in the 1920s.

Duesenberg was launched in 1920 in Indy, but only lasted until 1937, a short run for such a famous name. Me being an Indianapolis native I’ve always been fond of Duesenbergs, both the racers and their high-end luxury cars known for their power.

But did you know that just two 1935 SSJ Speedsters were ever made? Yet the car is famous for its styling, speed and celebrity.

Now Auto World introduces the SSJ in a cream and tan color scheme that was the original choice of Duesenberg designers, yet none exist in this trim. The 1/18 model is another in Auto World’s vintage pre-WWII collection of die-cast metal models with opening hood, doors and steerable wheels.

The History

Here’s the skinny on the two SSJs, which were made for movie stars Gary Cooper and Clark Gable.

None of the cream and tan models remain because both celebrities had their roadsters repainted from the original Duesenberg color scheme. Cooper’s became a gray-on-gray beauty and Gable’s a red and metallic green Speedster.

What makes the SSJ so special, beyond its rarity, is that it was a shortened version of the popular and widely respected Model J, made from 1928 until Duesenberg closed. The Model J came in two lengths, the long 153.5-inch wheelbase model and a shorter 141.7 model. Yet the SSJ was shorter still, featuring a 125-inch wheelbase, making it lighter. Both were known for their power.

The SJ, a supercharged J, reportedly had a top speed of nearly 140 mph back when cars were considered exceptional if they crested 100 mph. Zero to 60 mph was said to be reached in 8 seconds, and this from a car with an unsynchronized transmission, which was the norm at the time. A special speed record version, known as the Mormon Meteor, used a 750-horsepower V12 Curtiss Conqueror aircraft engine and set various speed records approaching 160 mph.

That’s a big Straight 8 under the hood!

Well, the SSJ was quick too, reportedly doing 0-60 in less than 8 seconds as it was smaller and lighter than the J models. The Straight 8 Duesenberg motor cranked 400 horsepower and the car featured 4-wheel hydraulic brakes, a Duesenberg creation.

How special is the SSJ now? Well, some consider it the most important American car ever made and it’s certainly the most expensive as Cooper’s model sold for $22 million in 2018. Auto World’s is much more reasonable at $129.99 MSRP. Many 1:18 scale models now top $175 and are made of composites.

The Model

               There’s a lot to like here, besides the car’s heritage and importance as the fastest pre-war car made. Oh, and the styling. The SSJ is beautiful.

               Auto World doesn’t scrimp on details while maintaining an affordable price point.

Nice interior and easy-opening doors.

               The model’s door hinges are metal and well blended into the brown scallops on each side of the car, the hood likewise has a bright metal hinge that allows the hood to be raised on either side to see the sharply detailed Straight 8. Wiring and plumbing are present, but most notable are the four impressive chrome articulated exhausts coming out the passenger’s side of the hood and completely visible with the hood raised.

Sharp detail under the Duesy’s hood!

               There are the air cleaner, radiator and brake fluid containers here and then on the driver’s side the raised hood reveals the full length of that massive engine and the chromed exhaust ports leading to the four big pipes on the opposite side. Cool!

               Naturally, for the time period, there’s a massive chrome grille and lights along with two big horns under those lights. Atop the grille is the art deco style arrow-sharp Duesy hood ornament. Both front and rear bumpers also are chrome.

Great looking grille and an accurate Duesenberg hood ornament.

               Likewise the large step plates on the running boards, slim door handles and windshield frame are chrome, as is the wheel cover on the trunk-mounted spare. Hub caps on the cream-colored spoked wheels are chrome with red centers.

               That windshield in front of the two-person cockpit also includes dainty wing windows to deflect air from the passengers so as not to disturb their hair or chapeaus.

Good looking dash and gauges, plus small wing windows.

               The cream tonneau cover features painted silver snaps and the interior is matte brown, similar in shade to the side scallops.

               Duesenberg featured a chrome-faced dash with a bazillion gauges and dials, all nicely reproduced here by Auto World. There’s also a “holy Jesus” handle on the passenger’s side dash, just like in today’s Jeeps and other vehicles meant for off-roading. This one was to comfort a passenger at 100+ mph.

The Duesy’s steering wheel is black as is the floor-mounted gear shift lever while a rearview mirror rests atop the dash’s center.

               For folks with mirror-bottom display cases, Auto World continues to create realistic looking undercarriages that allow you to see the engine, suspension and exhaust system, here feeding into twin chrome-tipped pipes.

               The SSJ is another well-executed historic pre-war car model from Auto World at a price point that makes it a good fit in many collections. Snazzy!

Vital Stats: 1935 Duesenberg SSJ Speedster

Maker: Auto World
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: AW305
MSRP: $129.99

Link: Autoworldstore.com

1957 Chevrolet 3100 Stepside

Auto World’s newest 1:18 pickup fuels truck nostalgia …

If you’ve ever doubted that trucks, pickups in particular, are the kings of today’s roads, consider this. The three top-selling vehicles in 2021 were the Ford F-150, RAM 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado, in that order

Each sold more than 500,000 units last year, the Ford a runaway leader at 726,000 trucks sold.

Well, this isn’t Auto World’s first rodeo, so unsurprisingly it is jumping into the truck parade. But as befits the brand, the Indiana-based die-cast firm is offering 1:18 scale vintage pickups.

Recently I reviewed AW’s sharp 1956 Ford F-100 Diecast: 1956 Ford F-100 pickup | Savage On Wheels . Now comes an equally impressive 1957 Chevrolet 3100 Stepside in a very 1950s Ocean Green.

The History

Part of the fun and uniqueness of Auto World die-cast metal models is that many are based on an actual vehicle that you may have seen at a car show or in a Hemmings Motor News magazine. This one is the later, appearing on the April 2016 Hemmings cover featuring Chevy trucks, and the cover is prominently featured on the model’s wonderfully illustrated box.

This gorgeous green model is based on the 1957 Chevy 3100 Stepside owned by Pennsylvania’s Doug Yoder who found it in Idaho via the internet. A total renovation followed, including a body sandblasting, dent repairs and finally coating it all in epoxy primer and four coats of urethane-based paint. That should keep this iconic pickup looking sharp for years.

Yoder also added a four-speed automatic tranny to replace the original three-speed, along with a new front suspension.

A little background on Stepsides, which were first offered in 1955. They were highly practical farm and work trucks as they were easy to load from the side due to their built-in step. Pretty sure some of my Hoosier relatives had these on their farms when I was a wee one as there was a then family-wide hate on for Fords.

Styling was new for 1955 with a wrap-around windshield standard and a wrap-around rear window optional for Deluxe models. Likewise power steering and brakes made their debut, the first time GM had offered them on trucks. There also was a flatter hood and the egg crate grille hung on until the 1957 model year, the one AW models.

That year the grille opened up more with a big oval in its midst. But for 1958 the grille would change again. There also was a Chevy emblem mounted within a chrome horizontal line on both front fenders.

In 1957 the average US household income was $4,450 and a Chevy 3100 ran between $1,430 and $2,435, depending on engine choices and trims. The base powerplant was an inline 6 with 140 horsepower while two V8s were offered, the most popular being the 265 cu.in. version making 155 horses.

The Model

               The color is Ocean Green, the interior featuring matching green seats and steering column, but Bombay Ivory trim on the doors and dash, plus an ivory-colored steering wheel.

Love the classic windshield visor!

               To me, the coolest features are the droppable tailgate and the cool windshield sunvisor that makes this Chevy look like it should be hauling feed out to a Midwestern stock pen, or hay to a stable.

               Naturally there’s chrome everywhere as all 1950s vehicles were loaded with it. Window trim, mirrors, gas cap, wiper stalks, door handles, headlight hood facings, grille, and front and rear bumpers are sparkling chrome. So is the hood’s lower nose that carries the gold, red and blue Chevy bowtie logo and trim.

The tailgate flips down and neatly latches in place so it can be posed either way.

               In addition to the textured opaque headlights the truck includes small clear blinkers below and tiny red taillights that are housed in chrome frames. There’s also a chrome and red styling streak on both front fenders, starting about mid-wheel well and extending nearly to the door.

               The truck’s bed is black but textured like wood and Chevrolet is spelled out in white across the tailgate, which folds straight down.

               This being the Stepside model there are indented steps just behind the cab and in front of the well-shaped rear fenders. Hub caps are chrome with a green ring matching the truck’s color and white-sidewall tires that are treaded, but carry no branding. Much of the undercarriage also is detailed, so you see the suspension, transmission and exhaust system.

               The opening doors not only include large mirrors, but feature chrome-outlined vent windows and chrome cranks inside on the door panels, plus ivory door trim. More ivory accents are trimmed by chrome on the cab’s B-pillar.

Dashes were as simple as could be in the 1950s.  This one has the big triangle chrome-trimmed instrument panel and speedometer and five other chrome knobs for heat and radio tuning. Two tubes under the dash could direct heat to the riders. There’s also a black center hub/horn button on the wheel with a bowtie logo at its center.

Under the hood is a big orange engine block, round black air filter atop it and a black hose leading to the radiator. The battery is mounted under the hood on the passenger’s side firewall. On that side too, you can see the matte silver exhaust pipe leading off the side of the engine.

Here’s the Chevy engine with air filter, plus the batter on the firewall.

I love cars, but AW’s latest truck is a dandy that brings back memories of childhood for us Boomer types. Can’t wait to see what’s next in this Hemmings-featured truck collection.

Vital Stats: 1957 Chevrolet 3100 Stepside

Maker: Auto World
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: AW293
MSRP: $115.99

Link: Autoworldstore.com