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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
Auto World Eldorado goes wild with Kustom Kartoon Kreation …
OK, I get it, Rat Fink is a cultural icon.
For some reason folks were drawn to the grotesque caricature of a rat with bulging bloodshot eyes ogling a 1950s hot rod or fondling a gear shift knob as he drooled in the bucket seat of a custom car. I didn’t get it.
But the 1950s and 1960s were strange times with a lot of drugs. I was just a kid.
Yet the Kustom Kulture movement got started on the West Coast as men home from World War II and the Korean War started jazzing up and customizing old 1930s car bodies and making fancy street rods, which just carried on into the 1960s.
Ed “Big Daddy” Roth started creating T-shirts with his crazy looking Rat Fink and selling them through Car Craft magazine with 1959 credited for the Fink slithering into the spotlight. So it’s appropriate in a way that Auto World’s funky new Rat Fink Hearse is a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado. This 1:18 scale metal diecast model is an absolute eyeful that will immediately become the centerpiece of any large diecast car display.
I’ve touched on the history a bit, but for the uninitiated let’s dig a little deeper. Sales of Roth’s “Weirdo shirts” blew up in late 1959 and others soon were hopping on the custom band wagon. His monsters in hot rod shirts not only took off, but Roth designed the Outlaw, a fiberglass custom rod and the Beatnik Bandit along with some dune buggies that made the movies and kept the momentum going as custom car magazines were happy to have a media star.
Rat Fink itself got so popular that Revell made a plastic kit of the creepy creature, along with some of the other Roth characters, such as Brother Rat Fink, Mr. Gasser and Drag Nut. The rest, as the trite saying goes, is history.
Roth for his part kept making funky cars and motorcycles, had a band, and participated in all sorts of custom car exhibits and shows for the rest of his life. He died in 2001.
So what have we here? Well, Auto World has made a number of Cadillac and Chevy hearses and ambulances for collectors. Those include 1:64 and 1:18 scale models of the 1959 and 1966 Cadillac, plus a 1957 Chevy ambulance and hearse in 1:64 scale.
This ’59 Eldo is a dark metallic red (not your usual hearse color), with a blacked out windshield and printed dark green curtains lining the long vehicle’s side windows, looking to caricature drapes in old hearses and fitting neatly with the Rat Fink theme.
Of course there are Rat Fink touches everywhere, but dominated by the monster Fink himself on the Caddy’s expansive roof. Here the Fink is a slimy green with a black R.F. shirt and top hat, appropriate for his undertaking duties here. Of course there are the hairy ears, bulging eyes and slim sharp pointy rat teeth too, and his warty feet and tail providing him support. A few flies circle his stinky head.
The Rat Fink logo in black, looking like a devilish Mickey Mouse (that’s who Roth was supposedly pimping originally) graces the hood. Beneath the logo are the words “Rat Poison!” near the hood’s front edge. The Cadillac logo is silvered out so again cartoon-like.
Right behind the headlights on the side panel are flying bloodshot eyeballs and the hearse’s sides feature red and silvery gray Rat Fink profile logos (again reflecting Mickey Mouse, but with teeth) in a pattern like wallpaper. Lime green accents scroll along the top of that side decoration and the green and gold (Green Bay Packer colors?) jagged letters along the side spell out Rat Fink. What else?
The blacked out rear three-quarter windows and hearse hatch include a stylized white top hat in one, green and white Haulin’ Hearse in back and then white script of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth in the other rear window. The black tail features red and white words reading “Rat Fink Rod.”
From the car standpoint the hood, doors and rear hearse door open and the wheels are steerable.
As with any ’59 Caddy there is chrome everywhere from the huge front grille and bumpers to the rear with its jet-like lower taillight trim to the rocket like tail fins and light surrounds. Head and taillights look realistic and the hearse features chrome mirrors, strakes on the hood, wipers and trim just under that blacked-out windshield. Side windows are trimmed in silver paint.
The black dash is nicely detailed and the bench seat in front is black and lime green to complement the car’s exterior markings and those green drapes. There’s a divider window behind the front seat and an empty body-color cargo area where presumably a hideous Kustom Kreature would be creeping out of a Kustom Kasket in “real” life.
Tires are wide white sidewalls with no branding and the undercarriage is detailed with twin exhausts.
This one is just for fun, and certainly recreates the caricature-rich look of Rat Fink on a custom hearse of all things. It’s irreverent, silly, creepy and wacky, just like the original demands and a fitting tribute to Roth’s imagination.
Vital Stats: 1959 Cadillac Rat Fink Hearse
Maker: Auto World Scale: 1/18 Stock No.: AW303 MSRP: $131.99
Auto World launches its first Barbie Bel Air in 1:18 scale …
Turquoise and pink certainly team up to shout 1950s car fashion, but in this case they also scream Barbie dream car.
I’m no Barbie expert (no sisters), but I do know that the bosomy blonde doll has been partial to brightly colored cars through the years, from Corvettes to Campers. And although the iconic toy doll debuted in 1959, it took until 1988 before maker Mattel slipped her behind the wheel of a 1950s American classic, a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible.
Well, that classic was plastic, and not very detailed. Now comes an eye-popping die-cast metal version from Auto World, which makes dozens of 1950s-1970s muscle cars and other vintage automotive icons. The same quality and attention to detail as in its other cars and trucks is present in this Barbie special, being marketed under its Silver Screen Machines category as the “Coolest car in town!”
Indeed, Barbie has driven a lot of cars from an Austin Healey early on to Ferraris and the ’57 Chevy. All have been various shades of pink, with other bright colors mixed in. But mostly Barbie is seems a girly girl, so pink drives her world.
Auto World knows that, so it will offer two 1:18 Bel Air convertibles, the first out being a turquoise and chrome stunner with a Pepto pink interior. Trust me, this one will stand out in any die-cast collection. Later (as if this isn’t eye-melting enough) Auto World plans to release a bright pink version. I’d stick with turquoise, which was a popular Chevy color back in the day.
Here’s what you get.
Like all Auto World die-cast models there is plenty of functionality here, with opening doors, hood and steerable front wheels. The trunk here is sealed.
In addition to the stunning paint scheme, there’s enough chrome to create a worldwide chrome shortage. That’s a good thing, right?
The massive front and rear bumpers are chrome, as are the head and taillight surrounds, the rocker panel trim, the side accent line trim and fins, plus door handles, wiper arms and windshield frame. Plus the two hood sights and vent window frames are chrome too.
Hub caps are chrome with chrome center wheel nuts with red centers and tiny Chevy bowtie logos. I might have gone with pink centers, to go full-on Barbie here.
Those big protruding bumper guards on the front that look like, well, you know. Those are black-tipped, as they would have been on an original ’57 Chevy.
On the lower fin trim in back is Bel Air in copper script while just in front of the doors are the patented crossed Chevy flag logos with Fuel Injection printed beneath.
Under the hood is the Chevy red 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 hood to be easily posed in the up position.
The Barbie car’s interior is what you’ll likely notice first, and if you’re a Barbie fan and collector this is what will light your fuse. The seats are bright pink with white (or is that pale pink) inserts with Barbie in cursive on the driver’s seat back. The pink tonneau includes a white silhouette of a pony-tailed young woman at its center and tiny painted silver snap heads all about the tonneau’s edge, ostensibly to keep the tonneau in place.
Door handles and window cranks are chrome or painted silver and there’s a pink dash with chrome trim on its face, plus three nicely detailed instrument panel dials. A radio face graces that chrome dash trim and Barbie is again in script on the passenger’s side dash top. Overhead? Pink sun visors, of course. Heck, even the steering wheels is pink, with a chromed horn ring.
As with other Auto World cars there’s a detailed undercarriage with dual exhausts.
Finally, under the trunk’s golden chevron and Chevy script is the 1957 California license plate you may already expect. It reads … Barbie.
Could there be more Barbie cars in the future? Well, a quick look around the internet found there are others to choose from to be sure, including racer Collete Davis’ version of a Nissan Z car. Hmmmm!
Vital Stats: 1957 Chevy Bel Air Convertible
Maker: Auto World Scale: 1/18 Stock No.: AWSS135 MSRP: $131.99
Latest Lightning 6-packs loaded with color, detail …
I find it sort of amazing that muscle cars from the 1960s through the ‘80s remain so incredibly popular with collectors, both of 1:1 cars and those of us who love smaller diecast models, which are infinitely more affordable.
Johnny Lighting is well aware, which is why it has been cranking out 1:64 scale diecast cars and trucks for years, and its parent company Auto World the same, plus larger scale 1:18 muscle cars too.
One of Johnny Lightning’s mainstays has been its Muscle Cars and other themed 6-packs, made with A and B releases, each in authentic manufacturer colors. The current is Release 3 for 2021 (supply chain deliveries still catching up), featuring a 1968 Shelby GT-500 KR, 1965 Chevy Chevelle Wagon, 1986Buick Grand National, 1977 Pontiac Firebird T/A, 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger 340, and 1970 Plymouth GTX.
All are sharply cast and feature the usual opening hoods with detailed engine bays, or at least as detailed as a 1:64 model likely needs to be. All the cars also feature rubber tires, some branded, a few simply blackwalls.
Let’s get right to the six models.
This Shelby GT-500 is sweet, and in Calypso Coral (a bright orange) it’ll stand out in any collection. Johnny Lightning models the KR version of the 1968 Mustang/Shelby. That originally stood for King of the Road, which this certainly was with its Cobra Jet 428 V8, which was listed at 335 horses, but was said to be much closer to 400.
At the time this was the most powerful Mustang and would do 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds, impressive in the day.
JL tells us that the King of the Road phrase was being considered for trademarking by Chevrolet at the time, but clever Carroll Shelby quickly worked to secure the name and KR trademark before the slow-moving Chevy could get the job done. Shelby was always aggressive and knew how to get things done!
This model has a black engine bay with blue V8 block, a tan interior with good detailing molded into its face. Along the rocker panels is a white racing stripe with the GT-500 KR name included and Shelby is spelled out in silver on the nose and tail. Little details can add some spiff and here there are not only silver door handles, but two silver dots on the hood to represent hood pins, and Shelby’s coiled Cobra logo on the front quarter panels. The license proudly announces KR 428 to signify the GT’s engine and the tires are labeled Goodyear.
A fun addition to this set is the 1965 Chevelle Wagon, a rare beast in that it was only made for two years, 1964 and ’65. Making this one even more interesting is the Turtle Power logo on the doors, one that was used by Turtle Wax in the 1960s. Somehow it seems even more appropriate as the model comes in Turtle Wax Metallic Green.
Other highlights include the slight bulge in the wagon’s rear roof that somehow makes it look faster, silver Malibu script on the rear quarter panels, Chevy’s twin flag logos tucked between the front wheel wells and nose, a blue and red Chevy logo on the grille and Firestone-labeled tires. Wheels are chrome mags.
Under the hood the engine block is orange with a black air filter and the interior is black. Oh, and there’s a Turtle decal inside both rear side windows.
If black indicates Intimidator-style power on a 1980s muscle car, then the 1986 Buick Grand National may be your favorite among this six-pack. It’s boxy, big and black, with a gray and black interior featuring high-back seats.
In the day the 1986 model was the best-selling of the three-year run of Grand National’s, although a Regal had a Grand National package in 1982. More than 5,500 Grand Nationals were built in 1986, more than double the first two years of production, combined.
Improvements had been made for ’86 too, with its 3.8-liter V6 turbo gaining an intercooler and seeing its horsepower jump from 200 to 235, making it capable of doing 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds and a quarter mile on the dragstrip in 13.9 seconds. That made it the fastest production car in the U.S., beating Corvette, Camaro and Firebird, its GM stable mates. Car and Driver magazine tested the Buick and found it faster too than a Lamborghini Countach. Amazing!
This one features the bulge at the rear of the hood with 3.8L Turbo logo, the Grand National logo on the front quarter panel just in front of the doors, another on the trunk sill and a license plate with GM on it. I particularly like the blacked out grille (as most vehicles now offer) but with its fine silver outline and the twin rectangle headlights framing it. Sharp!
Pontiac, now long-gone, was a major player in the muscle car wars, its Firebird always fast and its roll in the 1977 movie, Smokey and the Bandit, with Burt Reynolds, assured its fame. That Firebird with its Screaming Eagle on the hood was black, while this ‘77 Pontiac Firebird T/A is a handsome Brentwood Brown Poly. I think of it as metallic bronze.
This one features the “Bandit” package that cost 1,141 with the Hurst Hatches (T-top), while a $556 version omitted the hatches, but put that eagle on the hood. This eagle is black and gold, the wings wrapping around the hood’s power bulge that protrudes through the hood. Under it was a 200-horse V8.
Other feature here include a tan interior with black steering wheel, Trans Am label on the nose, tail, and front quarter panels, a 77 Bird license, and gold-spoked wheels tucked inside BF Goodrich-labeled tires.
Muscle came in all shapes and sizes, proven by the 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger 340, a restyle that year to give it a split grille in front and taillights embedded in the rear bumper (not a great idea). But the Dart had been muscled up over the years and while other models in the Chrysler-Plymouth lineup would outshine the Dart, this one was quick.
First, it started with the 340-cu.-in. V8 (thus the Swinger 340) that created an impressive 275 horsepower in a 3,170-pound car. And all this for just $2,808. Heck, that’s a modest option package price on today’s cars.
Both hood and trunk were long and the rear window sloped to give the squarish car a somewhat fastback look. The bumble bee rear wraparound stripe remained from earlier versions, and while it looked best as a black stripe on a yellow car, this white version with blue stripe is sharp. Up front were dual fake hood scoops and the model includes silver Swinger script behind the doors and under the C-pillar.
Tires are unbranded here and wheels white with a modes chrome cap at their center. Windows are trimmed in silver as are the door handles and gas cap.
Plymouth was known for its muscle and funky colors in the late 1960s and early 1970s. So it’s no surprise that Johnny Lightning created a Moulin Rouge (dark pink) 1970 Plymouth GTX for this set. Known as the Gentleman’s Muscle Car, the GTX got a new grille and taillights for 1970 and of course the Power Bulge hood returned with a single Air Grabber scoop on top.
A 440 Super Commando V8 with four-barrel carburetor was standard, generating 375 horsepower, while a 426 HEMI V8 was optional. It made 425 horsepower, major muscle.
This pink beauty features the GTX’s clean lines, that snazzy hood and black racing stripes on the sides along with GTX decals just behind the fake rear brake air scoops. GTX is emblazoned on the grille and Plymouth is spelled out on the tail. Window trim is silver, as are door handles, wipers and like the Shelby, two dots on the hood to represent hood pins. There are 440 decals next to the Air Grabber scoop too, and tires are labeled as Goodyears.
The B release
This second set offers its own unique colors with a few other visual differences from the A release.
The Shelby comes in Highland Green, one of the most popular Mustang colors and is simply a sharp looker, without being as flashy as the orange A version. While the Chevelle Wagon shows its lines much better in the Silver Pearl Poly Turtle Wax paint job than the dark green on the A model. I prefer the black Buick Grand National to this Rosewood Poly (copper) version in the B collection, as it seems to me most Grand Nationals were black, and certainly look more racy in that color.
Version B’s Firebird is Cameo White and it accentuates the car’s lines better than the Brentwood Brown Poly in Version A. Again there’s the Screaming Eagle on the hood, and I like the black trim around the T-top openings.
The biggest differences seem to be the Dart Swinger and PlymouthGTX in the B release. The Swinger is Light Blue Poly with a black stripe around the tail, but also a matte black roof and trim on the hood scoops that give this one a racier look. On the GTX the color is Burnt Orange Poly that is a fine copper finish like a shiny penny. But with white racing stripes on the sides, a matte black roof and matte black center portion of the hood, including the air scoop. It’s sharp!
New Display Case
Auto World now is offering a snazzy 3-in-1 Showcase that satisfies a number of display needs. First, it’ll hold a 1:24 scale model, so for plastic car builders it’ll protect one of their project cars, of which dust is the primary enemy.
But it also will hold three 1:43 scale cars or nine 1:64 scale vehicles, which is what I did with it immediately, using a few Johnny Lightning cars I had sitting on a dresser, plus the six that came the above reviewed six-pack. Naturally JL, Racing Champions Mint, Playing Mantis, Matchbox and Hot Wheels all will fit in the case.
Naturally the top is clear acrylic and rounded on the edges for a more sophisticated display. And instead of the top popping off for car placement it’s hinged, which makes for easier opening and makes the case less likely to be shaken and possibly damaging its contents. That can happen as sometimes a case’s tight-fitting top can jam on the bottoms and be hard to remove.
The bottom here is black and there’s a removable 2-tier platform that would allow a 1:24 model to be placed flat on the bottom. I like the 3-tiered look with the platform in place though as now more cars can be positioned on three levels for easy viewing.
Auto World creates a simple, iconinc Ford pickup …
Ford’s pickup hasn’t always been the best-selling vehicle in North America, it just seems that way. But in the 1950s Ford redesigned its F-1 pickup and renamed it the F-100 (now the F-150), all in an effort to overtake Chevrolet.
By 1956 the second generation Ford pickup had been restyled several times in just four years, the grille, logo and windshield getting new touches each time, yet the ’56 model is iconic in its look and started driving Ford toward its pickup dominance.
Auto World marks that moment in time with the release of its 1:18 scale 1956 Ford F-100 Pickup in Diamond Blue, the factory color that so many pickups were bathed in before leaving one of the dozen factories, including one each in Canada and Brazil, that made them.
Again AW’s model delivers high value as the pickup features opening hood, doors and in this case, a tailgate that will drop flat if unhooked. Front wheels also are steerable.
The ’56 Ford had a nose-heavy look created by its set-back front-axle, low profile and prominent front fenders. The grille was new for this year with the V8 emblem at its middle, the A-pillars were vertical now, and the snazzy Ford truck logo featuring a gear with a lightning bolt through it, the background being a red and black shield.
Ford also used a wraparound windshield this year and added an energy-absorbing steering wheel and double-grip door latches for safety. Inside, there also was a hooded instrument panel, much like cars were then offering.
Pricing was $1,580 and the F-100 was offered with eight engine choices from a 100-horse base Straight-6 or Flathead V8 up to a powerful 300-horse Y-Block V8. That made this the most powerful Ford pickup to date. Of course that battle for best pulling power and hot rod performance continues with Ford’s Raptor models.
Ironically, despite the redesign, power, and safety improvements, sales still slumped in 1956, with Ford selling just 137,581 pickups. By comparison, Ford sold 363,032 F-150 pickups in 2021.
Simplicity reigns in this nostalgic 1956 Ford pickup, even the soft light blue color feels homey and vintage.
The opening doors are basically vertical rectangles, the A-pillar being straight-up and the silver-trimmed vent windows being tall rectangles inside a horizontal rectangle-shaped window. Fenders are big rounded metal coverings to keep all that mud and muck stirred up in the farm field from flipping up on the wide black running boards as the farmer or construction worker went about their daily duties.
The bed in back is a simple box stuck inside those rear fenders with a black bed liner and a tailgate that notches in place. Pull up on that and it unhooks to lay flat down behind the vehicle, no hinges here, as there were none on a pickup in 1956.
The nose features a white grille with the V8 logo and single round lights also housed in that white metal trim. The Ford truck logo is dead center on the raised hood’s center bulge and the bumpers, front and rear are straight flat metal bars that have been chromed. Fancy this ain’t!
But I like the truck’s basic nature.
Naturally that big hood will open via large hinges and beneath is the yellowish-orange V8 block with Ford-labeled headers and a round black air filter. There’s a radiator and a few other under-hood bits and pieces, plus molded in firewall and hood features that give this a simple air of realism. Probably could use some oil splattered about or mud under the hood to show it has been used, but maybe that model will be another version from AW.
Wipers are chrome trimmed as are the big side mirrors, door handles and round dog dish style hub caps with Ford simply engraves across their center. Wheels are blue to match the truck’s body and there are thin whitewalls for the unbranded, but treaded tires.
A chrome and red Ford F-100 logo sticks on the side of the hood for branding purposes and to add a little bling to a truck that was definitely for work, not play, as they are today.
AW also delivers a nicely detailed underbody here with exhaust and suspension pieces, so something to see if you display in a mirror-bottom display case.
But as with all other models from Auto World, this comes in a sharply decorated window-box container that could easily serve as your display box. There’s even a panel in the box bottom so you can see some of that undercarriage.
Super paint quality on a real metal die-cast model that looks and feels authentic. Auto World’s latest home run, and this pre-production sample was perfect. You can pre-order now.
Vital Stats: 1956 Ford F-100 Pickup
Maker: Auto World Scale: 1/18 Stock No.: AW290 MSRP: $115.99
Auto World’s Chevelle a 1/18 scale supercar of the 1960s …
Chevrolet’s 1969 Chevelle may have been the epitome of styling from GM’s lead division, and an icon of the muscle car parade that wound its way through U.S. streets into the early 1970s.
But as muscular as Chevelle was, there were a lot of high-performance shops and firms trying to up the testosterone level of its gutty V8 and its already sport exterior. Baldwin Chevrolet, along with Yenko, was a major player on Long Island, just outside New York City. So when it linked with Motion Performance Group in 1967, big things were about to happen.
Here Auto World’s American Muscle series goes full-on performance oriented with another stellar 1/18 scale diecast metal version of the 1969 Baldwin Motion Chevelle Phase III in Tuxedo Black. This is the latest in its American Muscle 30th Anniversary Series and can be preordered now with full release coming soon.
Baldwin Chevy, located in Baldwin, N.Y., had been in business since the early 1920s so had a strong reputation before linking with Motion, which started its high-performance business in a Brooklyn Sunoco station. But by the early 1960s Joel Rosen had pumped up the firm’s performance equipment and moved to Baldwin, where it sold its souped up Chevys from 1967 through 1974.
The firm’s Phase III package on big-block Chevelles, Camaros and Novas guaranteed the cars’ dragstrip performance offering a money-back deal. Of course, with the V8s pumping out up to 500 horsepower one would think speed wouldn’t be a problem.
Here’s what the guarantee said:
“We think so much of our Phase III Supercars that we guaranty they will turn at least 120 mph in 11.50 seconds or better.”
Reportedly no one ever returned a Baldwin Motion car.
Besides that pumped-up power plant, some Phase III models included the Corvette-style Stinger hood (as we see in this model) and Motion center caps on American Racing Torque Thrust wheels. These were monster street rods that could tear up the dragstrip too!
Our early release sample proves Auto World continues to deliver more functionality than most other 1/18 scale DC manufacturers with opening hood, doors and trunk, plus steerable front wheels – at a high-value price of $115.99.
But all that would be for naught if AW wasn’t cranking out sharp vintage muscle cars with perfect body shapes and impressive under-hood details.
This black beauty of a Chevelle delivers beauty and muscle from the chrome bumpers front and rear to the gorgeous grille and chrome bevels around the quad headlights, and of course the SS logo mid-grille.
Let’s start though with the monster Phase III 427 V8 under the cool Corvette Stinger hood, which was fiberglass on the original. First, there are Motion chrome headers and a round textured air filter that make this 427cc V8 stand out from others. The block is orange, naturally, and there’s proper wiring and plumbing, plus a well-labeled radiator, battery with cables and the huge matte silver power steering unit up against the firewall. A white washer fluid bottom sits just inside the hood’s front edge next to the radiator.
That pointed Stinger hood scoop includes SS 427 logos on each side and there are round Motion decals inside the rear side windows and at the lower edge of the back window.
All windows are trimmed in matte silver paint and there are chrome door handles, driver’s side mirror and short antenna on the passenger’s side fender. Lights and taillights look realistic and I love the fine painted chrome trim over each wheel well.
Racing wheels hang at each corner with Mickey Thompson S/S Indy Profile tires front and rear. The rear-drive car’s back tires are bulging wide racing slicks that give this Chevelle the appearance of way more muscle than most.
Inside, the interior is black with ribbed bucket seats featuring silver trim down their sides and along the floorboards, where you can mostly make out the Body by Fischer logo.
There’s a two-spoke steering wheel with SS logo on its hub, and big round gauges galore on the instrument panel, just as in the original. You’d expect a serious shifter here and this straight stick comes with a gloss black ball knob at its top. Naturally the windows have chrome cranks on the door panels.
Underneath, as in all Auto World cars, the chassis is well detailed from the front suspension and steerable front wheels to the silver dual exhausts. If you like to pose your cars on mirrored display stands this one has plenty of underside goodies to impress your buddies!
Auto World never fails to impress with its Muscle Car series and this Baldwin Motion effort is among its strongest to date. Plus in black it looks as menacing as the original.
Vital Stats: 1969 Baldwin Motion Chevelle Phase III
Maker: Auto World Scale: 1/18 Stock No.: AMM1269 MSRP: $115.99
1:18 scale Torino GT oozes 1970s muscle, fastback styling …
Clint Eastwood loves his Gran Torino, both the car and the movie he made that revolved around one. But Torinos were mainstream, a lot of folks owned them in the late 1960s through the mid-1970s.
That’s because they were the midsize or intermediate Fords, good for families and modestly priced. Plus starting in 1968 they were fairly stylish, going with a fastback look that contrasted with some boxier GM and Chrysler products.
Like most cars of the time though, muscle was added to put a halo on the makers’ family cars and those cars were incorporated into stock car racing. “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”
Auto World doubles up on its honors here with a Wimbleton White 1971 Ford Torino GT marking the 50th anniversary of the car and the 30th anniversary of AW’s American Muscle series. This year AW calls all its 1971 diecast car releases its Class of 71, cool for those of us in high school at that time.
This one is a spiffy version with the hideaway headlight option and a white to blue laser stripe down its side.
Torino replaced the Fairlane in 1968 (although the Fairlane name remained on the cars until 1971). Yet by 1971 all intermediate Fords were Torinos, named after the Italian city of the same name, which also has strong ties to various automakers. Plus, by 1971 enough of the snazzy hardtop coupe fastbacks had been decked out with high-performance engines and options, for Torino to be considered a muscle car.
In fact, Torinos were being raced successfully in NASCAR from 1968 through 1970, winning the 1968 and 1969 NASCAR championships with David Pearson. But after Chrysler’s Plymouth and Dodge brands came out with their Daytona versions and Superbirds in late 1969 Ford’s dominance quickly evaporated and Ford officially dropped stock car racing in 1971. However, some Torino and the aero version Talladega cars were still run privately.
For production GT models Ford used the 428 cu.in. and 429 cu.in., 7.0-liter V8s known as Cobra-Jet engines to power up the Torino. That 429 is the engine depicted here, and of course sports the Shaker hood which came with the Ram Air system to boost horsepower to 370.
For the record 14 Torino models were offered, including convertibles, wagons, 4-doors and the modeled coupe. The GT was available with the SportsRoof (modeled here) and as a convertible.
For 1971 Torino had a divided front grille while the GT model’s divider was smaller and included its nameplate. The hideaway headlight option was also available which meant a smaller grille divider too. The Torino name lasted until the 1976 model year when Ford moved on to the less interesting LTD. Torino’s sister car was the Mercury Montego.
In profile the Torino always looked fast with its fastback SportRoof and the GT’s black louvered rear window covering aimed at directing airflow quickly over the roof and trunk which featured a modestly flipped up rear lip.
The paint scheme here is simple yet deep and rich looking, plus that white to blue stripe that tapers to the rear gives this Torino a crisp, almost icy sharp appearance. Further spiffing its looks is the chrome grille that covers the lights and includes that insignia at its midpoint to divide it. On the long Shaker hood is a black scoop to force air into its Ram Air system and feed the big V8. Two hood pins mark the hood’s front edge.
Flip up the hood and it easily stays in place to reveal the blue V8 with matching round air filter case and black air scoop that extends through the hood. AW includes a nicely detailed radiator, hoses and wiring, plus an Autolite battery, master brake cylinder and upper suspension connections. This car displays well hood up, or down.
Likewise the trunk opens to reveal a full-size spare tire. Remember those?
Tires are treaded Goodyears with chrome Magnum 500 wheels, including the spare. And remember the undercarriage with dual exhausts is well detailed here too, something many 1:18 scale models ignore. Oh, and the front wheels are steerable for more interesting display poses.
I also like the red taillight bar, the chrome door handles and body-colored mirrors. The white license plate is marked for New Jersey, the “Garden State.”
Inside, the black seats have black and white tweed inserts, there’s a T-handle shifter on the console and the steering wheel is a proper 3-spoke number with logo on the hub. The black dash is well detailed with glove box release button and full wide speedometer behind that steering wheel, plus a few round gauges and of course there are metal-trimmed pedals below. Black floor mats appear to be rubber.
Everything looks as it should here, and like its real-world counterpart the seam lines on the doors are less than perfect. But that’s 1971 for ya!
Vital Stats: 1971 Ford Torino GT
Maker: Auto World Scale: 1/18 Stock No.: AMM1256/06 MSRP: $116
A stylish 1:18 scale Series 62 with opening hood, trunk, doors …
Cadillac was near the top of the U.S. automotive world as far as a reputation for luxury coupled with performance prior to World War II. Oh sure, there was Packard too, but the Series 62 Caddy was king of the heap.
And of course that meant a lead sled as these were all steel and assorted metal compounds at the time, with engine blocks that were so heavy they could have been battleship anchors.
But still there was style, and chrome was a big part of that. Auto World is practiced at the art of creating 1950s to 1970s muscle cars with all their chrome grilles and bumpers, but it had to turn it up a notch for this new 1947 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible. To use phrasing of the time you bought one to grandstand that you’ve got a lot of lettuce!
Cadillac launched the Series 62 in 1940 as an entry-level Caddy, but production ended in 1942 as auto factories turned their efforts to war machines. In fact, by 1947, just after the war as Cadillac was converting back to car production, the automaker was only making 12 models in four different Series, roughly a quarter of the models it had made pre-war.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Series 62 was most popular as it had been fairly new when the war began and was entry-level for Caddy. The Series 62 reportedly made up 84% of Caddy’s sales in 1947 and Cadillac reported it had a 100,000 backlog of orders.
Series 62 models included a hardtop, convertible and 4-door sedan. More than 55,600 were sold, a record at the time. In 1947 a Series 62 4-door sedan went for $2,553, up from $2,359 in 1946. With strong demand came higher prices. Likewise today a ’47 convertible is coveted among collectors and can go for north of $100,000 depending on its restoration level.
AW models the 1947 Caddy with its Monobloc flathead 5.7-liter V8, which made 150 horsepower. The chrome fender guards and 5-bar grille were new styling cues for 1947 as GM tried to freshen its lineup that essentially reflected 1942 styling. Oh, and the hub caps were known as Sombrero wheel covers. Ah, marketing!
For the record, the third generation Series 62, like the second-gen model, was designed by GM’s now famous Harley Earl. It went into production as a 1949 model and featured GM’s new overhead-valve V8. The engine was a big deal at the time as it replaced the lower powered, heavier model. The new 5.4-liter V8 delivered 10 more horses at 160, yet weighed 200 lbs. less than the 1948 model. The 1949 model was Motor Trend’s first Car of the Year.
Convertible die-cast cars are fun because they let you see the car’s full interior, plus they just look a little sleeker.
AW delivers this one in Madeira Maroon, a dark maroon with creamy white convertible tonneau cover and interior door panels. While the Caddy looks like a beast with its egg-crate grille and chrome bullet-shaped bumper guards front and rear, the color makes it seem as elegant as it was at the time. Note though that the paint job easily shows fingerprints, so if you’re handling it gloves are a wise idea.
Chrome here, as it was in 1947, is nearly overpowering, but certainly adds a high bling level to the Series 62. The nose and tail are dripping with it via those bumpers, the grille, Caddy insignias and hood ornament. Plus this model includes a bold chrome trim line from the front wheel to mid-door at the end of the bulging fenders that wrap into the doors. Likewise there are chrome stone guards and trim on the rear fenders from in front of the rear wheel to just behind it.
Clear textured headlights feature chrome bezels and the rear lights are a threesome on a vertical chrome bar. Wipers, windshield and door trim, a big extended side mirror and stubby antenna on the driver’s side fender also are chrome, as are the door handles and trunk release.
For realism note that the hood, trunk and doors all open and the front wheels are poseable.
Under that massive hood is the aqua block of GM’s 5.7-liter V8 at the time, plus wiring and other detailing, although to be honest the car looks more interesting with the hood lowered, likewise the trunk.
Inside the seats are a matte red and include built-in armrests in back and chrome window cranks and door release levers up front on the doors. The dash is a busy place with massive grille work at its center, a row of buttons along the top, plus a speedometer and analog clock (no digital in 1947!). A few other gauges are easily seen along with controls under the passenger-side dash.
The Series 62’s steering wheel matches that creamy interior trim, but with a three-spoke chrome hub and horn ring. Over the windshield is a built-in roof support and the chrome rearview mirror.
Know too there is a detailed undercarriage with single exhaust system and solid axle rear suspension. If you pose this on a base with mirrored bottom a viewer can see some of that. Wheels also highlight those big Sombrero wheel covers and wide white-sidewall tires.
I prefer 1950s through 1970s cars myself, but this is an elegant look back at post-war heavy metal and will accurately reflect those times in your collection, plus highlight the big jump forward in styling that the 1950s cars represent.
Vital Stats: 1947 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible
Maker: Auto World Scale: 1/18 Stock No.: AW273 MSRP: $123.99
Ah, the Catalina. The name alone seemed exotic and somehow a bit sexy in the 1960s. But that was during a time when cars had names that stirred imaginations and were not just known by a collection of numbers or letters.
Pontiac was rife with great names during its long run, Bonneville, Firebird, Chieftain, Parisienne, Ventura, Silver Streak, Tempest, Star Chief, and Le Mans, to name a few.
Catalina was a big player and the name hung around for years. Now Auto World creates a 1961 version of the hardtop model and it’s up to AW’s usual fine standards.
It wasn’t until 1959 that the Catalina was offered as its own standalone model, basically a low-cost starter Pontiac if you will. But it was restyled for 1961 and placed on an all-new frame known as the Torque Box. Sounds like it should be fast, right? That replaced the old X frame and one could argue this is when Pontiacs starting becoming lower, longer and wider. Remember the old advertising line, “wide-track Pontiacs?”
For 1961 Pontiac went with the lean long look that it stuck with for years, think Bonneville and Parisienne! The roofs also were squared off and the split grille returned and remained a styling cue for years. That included a somewhat pointed nose and hood. I always thought the split grille as cool as a BMW nose. But then I liked Edsels too.
Naturally speed was vital to car sales in the 1960s and Pontiac and Oldsmobile also were well regarded for their race results in the new burgeoning NASCAR series.
Catalina featured a number of V8 power plants, all based off its 389 cu.in. engine (modeled here) and linked to various transmissions, including manual ones with floor-mounted shifters. There was a four-barrel carb model creating 333 horsepower, plus a Tri-Power option with higher compression to make 348 horses, and another for drag racers with 363 horses. Near the end of 1961 a dealer-installed 421 cu.in. Super Duty V8 became available too.
For the record these big boys rode on a 119-inch wheelbase and were 210 inches long. Think current SUVs. Six styles were offered, including a convertible and station wagon. AW models the 2-door hardtop, which looks a little sportier with no B-pillar.
At auction today the average sale price of a ’61 Catalina is a little more than $39,000, but a perfect one, the auction sites say, could go for $99 grand.
As with other AW 1:18 die-cast models the doors, hood and trunk open and the somewhat sparkly Richmond Gray is perfectly applied.
One of the features that shines on all these 1950s and 1960s models is the chrome as the bumpers, window trim, wiper arms, radio antenna, door handles and the styling accent strip on the car are chrome. The nose and tail Pontiac emblems are well executed and Oldsmobile is spelled out on the rear panel below the 3-body trunk and between the snazzy red oval taillights with silver trim.
Headlights are clear, but textured and the grille silver with black between the strakes for definition. Oh, and there are those little chrome winglets that extend vertically from the front fenders. Fun!
Under that massive hood is a turquoise to baby blue V8 engine block and headers, three chrome carbs and plenty of black wiring and plumbing. The radiator cap and battery terminals are painted silver and there’s a caution label on the protrusion over the fan.
Tires are treaded white sidewalls with no branding and at least one of the tires whitewalls was misprinted slightly. Matte chrome hubcaps feature a flat center cap with Pontiac Motor Division printed on it.
Inside the interior here is a somewhat sparkling rusty red with white door trim panels and stripes across the seat backs, adding flamboyance to the big two-door’s interior. There’s also a cue-ball shifter on the center console, a chrome and red two-stalk steering wheel with chrome horn ring and three black pedals (including a clutch) on the floor. AW finished off the floor with a medium brown flocking to look like carpet and a rust-colored floor mat for the driver.
The dash is Grand Canyon wide and features a silver center portion with wide black and white speedometer, a radio and Catalina printed on the passenger-side dash. Buttons are silver and the door release levers and window knobs are chrome, plus the rear seat armrests include silver ashtrays.
Catalina’s undercarriage is completely detailed too with fine drivetrain and suspension detailing including shocks. Plus there’s a matte silver twin exhaust system and mufflers along with steerable front wheels. Nice detail that even pricier composite models often skip entirely.
All this and pricing still in the $115 range while the composites have grown to upwards of $200, or more if there’s a detailed engine. AW’s die-cast remains high value at an affordable price.
Just a final note that AW made a 1962 Catalina previously and it’s still available through the AW online store, autoworldstore.com.
Vital Stats: 1961 Pontiac Catalina
Maker: Auto World Scale: 1/18 Stock No.: AM1254/06 MSRP: $115.99