Seems like just yesterday it was 1971 and I was about to turn 16 and snag my driver’s license. My Uncle Wink, a car nut like me, was happy to help me learn to drive a stick, and believe it or not, he taught me on his rocket-fast 1968 Camaro, a pale yellow with the black nose stripe. I’ve loved Camaros ever since.
We spent many evenings in the gravel, yep, gravel parking lot of Butler University’s Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Drop the clutch. Spin the tires. Throw some gravel. Uncle Wink would look a bit concerned, but ultimately laugh. I eventually got it right.
Now Autoart gets it very right with its latest 1/18 version of the newest rocket-like Camaro ZL1 and this time in a much brighter yellow than my uncle’s car. You can’t ignore this retina scorcher, and Autoart also rolls out a jazzy red, and bright blue model, along with more sedate white and black editions. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart 2017 Chevy Camaro ZL1→
Sexy Aston Martin Vantage a brilliant Le Mans racer …
My appreciation of Aston Martin cars started as a 5-year-old with a little metal Matchbox DB2-4, was enhanced as a teen by watching James Bond mess up the bad guys in his DB5, and finally came full circle when I got to “briefly” test drive Aston’s new V12 Vantage at Road America in 2012. It’ll scoot!
But you know that and so does most of the automotive world that understands Aston Martin has racing at its heart. Vantage is simply its most recent racer that also is a road car. Its looks are divine, its interior sporty yet luxurious and its power mighty.
Rally racers are uniquely designed and equipped to crush the outback, the dirt, the rocks and the dust of off-road racing in the world’s hinterlands.
Not a big deal in the United States, but with a huge following in Europe in particular, the European car makers have generally been the leaders and champs, especially in the early years of rally racing. Audi is one in particular with a strong rally heritage and now Autoart creates several stirring renditions of the Audi Sport quattro S1 that raced in 1986.
These are composite body models in 1/18 scale, but unlike many such models, these white, yellow and black racers feature opening hood and doors so you can see engine and interior detail. Awesome!
The quattro (always a small Q by the way) was Audi’s big leap forward into rally racing and took advantage of new rules that allowed four-wheel-drive on the rally circuit. Audi jumped on the opportunity to add it to the two-door midsize coupe, the Audi 80, that served as the base for its rally car.
Power in all the units from 1980 through 1991 was an inline 5-cylinder engine with 5-speed manual transmissions. The cars weighed roughly 2,900 lbs. and rode on short 99.4-inch wheelbases. The first racing quattro A1 appeared in World Rally Championship (WRC) for the 1983 season driven by Finland’s Hannu Mikkola and won the Swedish Rally and Rally Portugal. The A2 version went on to win eight world rallies in 1983 and ’84.
Autoart’s model represents the Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 introduced at the end of 1985 as an update to the earlier S1. Under the hood was an I5 cranking an amazing 473 horsepower thanks to a turbo that recirculated air to keep the turbo spinning at high rpm even when the throttle was closed. Result? Instant power once the driver was back on the gas. Ultimately that meant power closer to 495 horses, with minimal lag.
This new rally racer also launched with a distinctive aero kit featuring a giant rear wing with side winglets and a chin spoiler that wound up into winged fender flares to boost downforce. Audi reports the S1 could do 0-60 mph in about 3.1 seconds. Later updated versions were said to have created 592 horsepower and were quicker. Wow!
Audi’s S1 E2 was the final Group B car Audi produced and it pulled out of the WRC after 1986. But Mikkola and Sweden’s Arne Hertz took third at the Rally Monte Carlo in this car in 1986, finishing just 7 minutes, 22 seconds behind a Lancia Delta S4. Meanwhile Audi teammates Walter Röhrl and Christian Geistdörfer, both noted German rally drivers, took fourth in a nearly identical car, 2 minutes and 13 seconds behind the No. 6 car. Autoart also makes a model of their No. 2 racer.
How famous are Röhrl and Geistdörfer? They were world rally champs in 1980 and ’81 and won the Rally Monte Carlo four times, in 1980, ’82, ’83, and ’84.
This car also was used to win the 1987 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with Röhrl at the wheel.
There’s so much to like on this Audi rally car, no matter the version. Start with the body shape and details like the rear window’s hinges with the rolled metal centers and two individual rivets each, or the six giant driving lights in their triangular configuration on the nose. Gnarly!
There are hood pins up front and white mesh grille work in the hood, which operates on functional white hinges. And then there the four Audi chrome rings on the black gloss grille too.
Side mirrors are open cone shaped numbers to allow air to flow directly through, cutting wind resistance, plus each has mirrored faces.
Under the hood is a stout looking I5 with five exhaust ports, a side-mounted turbo with Audi rings and massive wrapped-look air intake. Plus the plugs are wired and engine plumbing is in place. Some of the detailing looks a bit too plastic, but with the hood open and the model on a shelf it’s impressive.
That giant white rear wing with black HB Audi Team name emblazoned on it looks sharp too with tiny side winglets with rivets and clear plastic side downforce reinforcements.
Under the wing the racer’s body panel can be removed to expose a giant radiator with twin fans to help cool this high-horse beast while it’s crushing a rally course. The trunk panel easily snaps into place with magnets to hold it. Detailing of top and rear black screens and grilles look great too, and there’s a Rallye Monte Carlo logo with No. 6 on it.
Below all that a white photo-etched trim strip covers the rear bumper and a fogged chrome exhaust exits under the bumper. There’s also a white tow ring in back and up top a separate radio antenna comes with the car and can be snapped into place.
Inside you’ll find a fully detailed interior with twin black race seats equipped with red cloth seatbelts and shoulder harnesses that extend back to under the rear window for strong support of the co-drivers. And unique to rally cars are two spare tires tethered in what would be the rear seat area so the crew can quickly fix a flat while on course.
A white roll cage surrounds the cockpit and a giant heavy-duty matte silver shifter with black knob thrusts upward from the transmission console. Audi’s race wheel is black with three silver center spokes and the black dash is loaded with buttons and gauges. Down below are three pedals, the accelerator being flat silver, plus tubing from under the hood extending into the passenger’s floor compartment and under its seat.
Wheels are plain white with big disc brakes and calipers visible behind them. Those discs and calipers look a bit too much like plastic to me though. Tires are treaded, but unbranded.
One might ask why buy one version of the Audi Sport quattro racer over the other. Well, certainly if you have a driver preference that may be the primary decider.
Other visual differences are minor. First, is the number, 6 for Mikkola/Hertz, and 2 for Röhrl/Geistdörfer. The No. 2 car has white to clear downforce trim on the front fenders while the No. 6 has black, which is more distinctive, at least to my eyeballs. Also the No. 6 has a blue Team Finlandia decal on the side of its rear wing. Predictably the driver names on the front quarter panels also reflect each car’s correct pilot combo, oh, and a round sticker with a No. 90 is stuck in the upper right corner of the No. 6 car’s rear window.
My respect for rally racing has only increased through the years and it’s exciting to see what the rally racers do to make their cars competitive. These latest racers from Autoart are exciting, no matter how you pose them, but I’d leave the hood up and a door open if you want folks to admire more than just the bodacious body.
Vital Stats: Audi Sport quattro S1, Rally Monte Carlo 1986, Mikkola/Hertz
Autoart’s Civic Type R looks ready to rip in 1/18 scale …
When I was a youngster and Honda Civics were new to the U.S. market, they were cute, nimble econoboxes that got great gas mileage and weren’t very expensive.
Now Civic has grown to be as large as an Accord used to be, but remain Honda’s main entry in the compact car market. Plus, now there’s a Type R in the U.S., as of 2017, that takes the sporty Civic to its logical, or maybe illogical performance extreme. The 2020 Honda Civic Type R is one hot hatchback, and Autoart does a fine job of bringing it to the 1/18 scale die-cast market. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart Honda Civic Type R→
Mercedes AMG GT3 in 1/18 scale; be still my beating heart …
Mercedes-Benz and motorsports have a long partnership, mostly stellar, with oodles of success. Take Team Mercedes’ six straight Formula 1 titles as the most recent mark of excellence.
Yet its sports cars have been champions too through the years, a prime example was Sterling Moss’s win of Italy’s famous Mille Miglia in 1955 in a record time that will never be broken. OK, they don’t run the race anymore for safety reasons, but still! Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart’s 2019 Mercedes AMG GT3→
Striking Viper GTS-R ACR is a ‘super’ car, in scale …
I consider myself lucky that as part of my gig of driving and reviewing new cars for newspapers and websites I’ve crushed the gas pedal on several Dodge Vipers, but not the Viper GTS-R ACR. That’s the racy version that put the cap on the Viper run from 1991 to 2017, not all inclusive.
That’s right, whether you remember or not, Viper took a few years off as sales lagged and insurance companies questioned their wisdom of covering these rocket sleds being driven on public roads.
Britain’s Aston Martin brand stirs images of James Bond deploying a bulletproof screen behind his DB5, spraying bullets from the machine guns in its running lights, squirting oil on the road to wreck the evildoers following him or ejecting said henchmen through the passenger’s side roof.
It also stirs thoughts of high speed and equally high prices. Well, Autoart’s new Aston Martin Vulcan lives up to those later images, as would any original Aston. This one is 1/18 scale though and oozing with detail that helps justify its $220 price tag. But that’s nothing compared with the 1/1 scale’s $2.3 million suggested retail sticker. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart’s Aston Martin Vulcan→
Even before the recent Ford vs. Ferrari publicity machine rolled through our collective conscience car guys and gals knew all about the original Ford GT40, and at least a bit about its more modern Ford GT spinoff.
While the first was a butt-kicking racer that ruled Le Mans for four years, the latter is a beautiful street-legal remake that only the wealthy can afford. Now Autoart does something about that with its 1/18 scale rendering of the 2017 Ford GT in various paint schemes. Our review car was a snazzy black number with orange racing stripes and interior trim (my high school colors). Cool! Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart 2017 Ford GT→