When I was a kid the only minivans were VW vans. They fit the mini category, maybe even invented it.
But these were simple vehicles that like VW’s Beetle captured many of us Boomers’ imaginations. What may have been forgotten, however, is that there were several iterations and in Germany in particular, the pickup version was a popular commercial vehicle. Continue reading Die-cast: Autocult’s Volkswagen T1→
In the early years, a lot of competitors, and winners, in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race were from France. Many of those makes are legendary, but many also are gone.
One that remains is Bugatti, now known as a super car maker of impeccable quality, speed and styling. Its pedigree is long and distinguished. That pedigree includes two Le Mans wins, one of only 11 car makers to score more than one win and one of just 24 brands to win at Le Mans. Porsche and Audi have each won more than a dozen times, but who’s counting?
Ixo now delivers a sharp 1/43 scale die-cast model of Bugatti’s 1937 Le Mans-winning Type 57G. Bugatti won with a similar car in 1939.
This car, and its drivers, make for a unique tale. Only three Type 57G Tanks were built and this one won Le Mans in 1937. It was driven by Jean-Pierre Wimille and Robert Benoist (more on them in a moment) and completed 243 laps, 7 more than the second place Delahaye 135CS. The Bugatti ran a 3.3-liter straight 8 while the Delahaye was powered by a 3.6-liter straight 6.
1960s Valiant Acapulco a simple car, no matter the year …
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. Continue reading Die-cast: Whitebox’s Valiant Acapulco→
Buick’s 1956 concept car really did have futuristic features …
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. Continue reading Die-cast: NEO’s 1956 Buick Centurion XP-301→
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. Continue reading Die-cast: NEO’s 1935 Stout Scarab→
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. Continue reading NEO’s 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air→