Tag Archives: American-Excellence

Neo’s 1960 Plymouth Valiant Wagon

Plymouth Valiant Wagon sharp in 1/43 scale … 20180620_154322

Wagons are ho-hum these days, and nearly extinct, unless you count crossovers as wagons.

But in the 1960s they were a big deal as families tried to make room for the Baby Boom generation that was rapidly filling up their sedans. At the same time, a sizeable portion of auto buyers was looking for smaller, more economical cars. Hey, all those kids needed food and sneakers too! Continue reading Neo’s 1960 Plymouth Valiant Wagon

Advertisements

NEO’s 1948 Willys Jeepster

Willys Jeepster the first crossover? … NEO's 1948 Willys Jeepster

Everyone likes Jeeps and they were the real deal in leading the way to today’s SUVs and AWD vehicles. But did you know Jeep made a crossover, sort of?

In 1948 the Jeepster debuted as a car that looked much like a Jeep/car/truck combo, with a convertible top. What the heck more could folks have wanted? Probably power! Continue reading NEO’s 1948 Willys Jeepster

Die-cast: Ixo’s 1970 Saviem JM 21/240 Michelin truck

Michelin tire truck a big win for Bib … Ixo Michelin truck

Who doesn’t recognize, and like, the Michelin Man? He’s probably even more famous than the Pillsbury Dough Boy, although I’ve never heard Bibendum (Bib for short) giggle.

Well, IXO loves him too and has come up with an unusual Michelin tire truck, especially for the North American market. This is a French Saviem truck from 1970, something you’d see delivering tires to the local Michelin tire store, or maybe backed up to the garage area at a European racetrack.

In 1/43 scale it’s a showcase stopper in its yellow and blue trim and runs roughly 7.5 inches long. Our review copy was provided by American-Excellence, which handles IXO, BOS Models and NEO, among other brands.

The History

Saviem’s history is interesting, and to be honest, it’s a truck maker I had never heard of until the sample arrived. Turns out that Saviem  existed from 1955 to 1978 in France and the name is a mash-up of its original truck firms that were all merged at that point, by Renault after it has abandoned the commercial truck and bus business following World War II.Ixo Michelin truck

Continue reading Die-cast: Ixo’s 1970 Saviem JM 21/240 Michelin truck

Die-cast: Ixo’s 1937 Bugatti Type 57G Le Mans winner

Bugatti was racy from the get-go at Le Mans … 1937 Bugatti Le Mans winner

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.

The History

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 6.1937 Bugatti Le Mans winner

 

The team was owned by Roger Labric, making this an all French team. In fact, the top four finishers were all French, with a British Aston Martin coming home fifth to be the top finisher among non-French entries. Only 17 of the 48 entries were running at the end of 24 hours. Continue reading Die-cast: Ixo’s 1937 Bugatti Type 57G Le Mans winner

Die-cast: Whitebox’s Valiant Acapulco

1960s Valiant Acapulco a simple car, no matter the year …Valiant Acapulco

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.

The History

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

Die-cast: NEO’s 1935 Stout Scarab

1935 Stout Scarab, the first minivan … NEO 1935 Stout Scarab

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 History

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

NEO’s 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

Often overlooked ’56 Chevy Bel Air gets its due …NEO's 1956 Chevy Bel Air

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.

The History

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.NEO's 1956 Chevy Bel Air

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