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

Super Bowl trivia: Who was the first MVP and what car did he win?

By Paul Daniel

After the game this year between the Chiefs and Buccaneers, (go Chiefs) there will be an MVP named. Please not Tom Brady. In the past that player would have been awarded a new car or truck. But not this year since Hyundai has started sponsoring the game, they haven’t given one out. The last winner was Brady in 2015 giving him a total of four. Please not five. Just in case you don’t know, I’m a Packer fan and still smarting from the loss to the Bucs.

Well if you’re a Packer fan, this will be an easy trivia question for you to answer. Who won the first MVP and what car did he receive? No Googling allowed. It was Bart Starr and he won a Corvette convertible. That car is now located at The Automobile Gallery & Event Center located in Green Bay. What a small world because not only is it back in Titletown but the person who runs the Gallery is my old boss from my days in TV, Darrel Burnett. It was like old home week.

There are lots of other cars to see besides this one and I’ll have a video up on that shortly.

 

 

2021 Volkswagen Atlas SEL

New VW Atlas is a 3-row Easy Rider …

Some vehicles stand out by not standing out. They are what I call Easy Riders, or maybe more appropriately Easy Drivers.

Such is Volkswagen’s restyled Atlas, the German firm’s mid-size crossover and one of its best-selling models in the U.S. market. VW restyled its nose and tail to give it more character. The grille is more pronounced and the body’s character lines make it look a bit more muscular with bulges high over the wheel wells.

The new look is more noteworthy than its original blandness, but still not something that will catch your attention at the drive-up window while you await your burger and fries. Continue reading 2021 Volkswagen Atlas SEL

2021 Kia K5 EX

New Kia K5 a sedan with looks, performance, value …

I’m not sure what else a buyer could want from a stylish family sedan beyond what Kia’s K5 offers, unless they wanted to pay much more.

I know, I know, mention value in a car review and the reader yawns and wants to click on an extended warranty ad. Stop right there. Don’t do it!

Kia’s K5 replaces its attractive Optima sedan and is a sedan par excellence, in appearance, performance and price.

First, give it a serious look. Continue reading 2021 Kia K5 EX

2020 Land Rover Defender 110 First Edition

Rover Defender goes mostly back to its off-road roots …

My introduction to Land Rover was as a kid when Matchbox created a sharp dark green boxy version with brown plastic luggage atop its roof. Then there was Daktari, the TV show about a wild animal veterinarian running the African savanna in a Rover.

I still think of Land Rovers as those boxy utilitarian beasts that mostly British folks used to roam Africa’s plains in search of wild game. One hopes now it was mostly for photography purposes instead of butchery.

Indeed, off-road prowess is Land Rover’s claim to fame, much like Jeep’s reputation was built on its ruggedness and ability to go anywhere, crushing rocks, sloshing through mud and swamp, swooshing around sand dunes and fording rivers. Then came luxury! Continue reading 2020 Land Rover Defender 110 First Edition

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Ltd.

Crosstrek merges hatchback styling, crossover utility …

Mix a love of hatchbacks with a need for AWD and you have the recipe Subaru has nearly perfected in its 2021 Crosstrek.

I’ve loved hatches for years and really, if you think on it, isn’t that what all crossovers are? But crossovers aren’t very slick looking as a class, so thank goodness for Subaru and the tall hatchback design of its revamped Crosstrek, tested in its top-level Limited trim.

The first thing, beyond its sporty looks, that everyone should want to talk about for 2021 is its new engine that gives it 30 more horsepower. A little oomph is always welcome. The engine itself isn’t new, already powering Subaru’s Forester crossover, but it’s new to Crosstrek, now standard in its Sport and Limited trim levels. Continue reading 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Ltd.

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

 

 

2021 RAM TRX Crew Cab 4×4

Devilish T-RX ready to crush Ford Raptor sales …

Tell someone you’re driving a 702-horsepower pickup and they look at you like you’ve grown horns from your noggin and said 29-cent gas is back.

But it’s true, the Ram 1500 TRX Crew Cab packs a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8, the same used in both the Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcats. Rating is 702 horses and torque of 650 lb.-ft. with a reported 0-60 mph burst of 4.5 seconds, although some folks have tested it as low as 4.1 seconds. Top speed is said to be 118 mph.

You may be saying to yourself, that’s a racer, not a pickup and you’d be right, except the TRX is street legal, if you can afford one.

This is a Muscle Truck, much as in years past we’ve had Muscle Cars, and still do, thankfully. Continue reading 2021 RAM TRX Crew Cab 4×4

2020 Ford Edge ST AWD

Edge ST’s twin-turbo adds a major power bump …

Since crossovers are king at the moment it’s understandable that Ford, or any vehicle maker, would want to grab every niche within that market, hence the Ford Edge ST.

While the ST would welcome family buyers, as do the other Edge models, this one takes aim at the performance-oriented buyer that’s not afraid to spend a little, or more, extra for said performance.

So, while an entry-level front-wheel-drive Edge buyer may be happy to be economical and spend just $32,195 (MSRP with delivery), an ST buyer may be willing to part with $44,510 (MSRP with delivery) to even upwards of $50 grand. Continue reading 2020 Ford Edge ST AWD

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