Big cars were still in when the Pontiac Catalina left the showroom. It rode on a massage 123-inch wheelbase and had enough room inside to seat a large family.
At around 38 hundred bucks, the Catalina sedan was the least expensive big Pontiac, but it still came loaded compared to its Chevy counterpart. It came with a two-barrel, 400 cu. in. V8, good for about 255 hp, automatic transmission, variable-ratio power steering and power front disc/rear drum brakes. With mpg in the low double digits, it passes everything, except the gas station but then gas was only 39 cents a gallon. Yup, and check this out, people were freaking out at the possibility of a dollar a gallon.
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
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
Mid-engine Vette and boxy 1963 Chevy II wagon are high-value DC
Two Chevys couldn’t be much more different than the mid-engine 2020 Corvette and the 1963 Chevy II Nova Wagon, but I love them both.
Different reasons of course, but here’s their appeal.
First, the new Corvette will be an icon for years, just like the original Vettes. Why? Because it shifts the engine to behind the driver and its looks are Ferrariesque, or maybe more McLarenesque. It’s swoopy but still with that pointed Corvette nose.
The Nova wagon? Well, as a kid my Uncle Mac and Aunt Vi each had a white Chevy II, before they became Novas. One was a sedan, one a convertible. I found them simple and useful, but somehow just a bit cute. They were the right size, back when compacts were compacts. So I’ve had an affinity for Chevy II models since about 1962.
For collectors, the good news is that Auto World allows us to enjoy both these models for next to nothing, just $7.99 a pop with its True 1:64 Sports Cars and Muscle Wagons series. Here’s my take, and these are both new castings from AW.
This new C8 Corvette looks particularly sharp in white as the color accents its chiseled good looks from that piercing nose to its muscular flanks, plus a slightly flared rear spoiler. As with its front-engine 1:64 models, the mid-engine Vette’s rear deck easily pops open to reveal its V8. The nice part is that with a big rear window you can see the orange engine block whether the deck is raised or closed.
Detail is what you’d expect at 1:64 scale, but the side trim under the deck is realistic in shape and includes the small trunk area just as in the real deal.
I like that there are tiny molded-in mirrors at the A-pillars, the sculpted air vent openings behind the doors, accented with black paint, rear diffuser and chin spoiler, also both painted black, which sets them off on the white model. Head and taillights are painted, but properly shaped and there are two sets of dual exhausts protruding from the diffuser. The rear license is a Florida plate with C8 emblazoned on it, but you may need a magnifying glass to read it.
Inside are red high-backed bucket racing seats and a black dash and steering wheel with enough definition on the dash top to look more realistic than you might expect at this scale. It’s not just a flat piece of plastic cut to fit.
Wheels are a racy star five-spoke pattern in matte silver with rotors blended into the back of the wheels. Tires are treaded rubber. My only complaint is that one front wheel is misshapen so the sample doesn’t roll easily. That’s a problem if a kid is to play with it, but not for a collector putting it on display.
The sample Azure Aqua Poly Chevy II Nova 400 Wagon has no wheel issues and rolls easily, plus it looks terrific in all its boxiness. Tires are rubber treaded whitewalls and the hub caps chrome for a little flash.
Bumpers are a matte silver paint scheme and the same trims all the windows, the hood streak and of course the grille and wagon’s tailgate. The grille’s background also is painted black so the silver really pops. Headlights are painted white and the tiny stacked taillights are red over white.
Side trim stripes are black and silver to just in line with the vent windows and then are silver all the way to the tail. There’s also a molded-in matte silver rocker panel. Door handles and the gas cap are accented in silver and there’s a Nova decal on the rear quarter panels and Chevrolet label on the tailgate.
Under the hood, which easily poses in the open position, is an orange Chevy engine block with black round air filter. The rest of the underhood area is flat black plastic, including the radiator.
Inside are blue-green seats to nearly match the body color, plus a dash with air duct work and a steering wheel.
Both cars have undercarriage detailing too, although it’s more pronounced on the Nova wagon with its big driveshaft and suspension components, especially in back.
Finally, there are blue and white license plates front and rear that read Nova 400 and may be Ohio plates, but even magnified that’s a tough read.
Note too that the Vette also is available in black, although I think the white is better for distinguishing the body lines. While the Nova wagon also comes in Saddle Tan with an Ermine White roof.
In case you just woke up from a Van Winkle-type sleep you should be aware that Corvette no longer is a front-engine sports car. The C8 moves the engine behind the driver and does away with the manual transmission, just offering an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic.
The 6.2-liter V8 cranks 495 horsepower and will do 0 to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds or less, say the car magazines. And all this for just $60 grand, as opposed to most supercars running in the $150,000-$300,000 range, or more. Corvette remains a hot rod that at least some of us might afford, if not loaded with options.
The Nova wagon on the other hand did not offer a V8 in the 1963 models, but did have a fine 3.8-liter 230 cu.in. inline 6 cylinder. A V8 was optional in 1964. Nova was the top of the Chevy II lineup that also included a convertible and hardtop along with the sedan and wagon. Nova replaced the Chevy II name in 1968.
Both are fine 1:64 die-cast cars on gorgeous and informative hang cards. AW just keeps making fun and unusual models in this small scale to keep augmenting car lovers’ die-cast collections.
Note: AW also has introduced decals for you to use to soup up and customize your favorite muscle cars, etc. The sheet has a little of everything from Johnny Lightning and Mobil decals to numbers and decals that say Rat Fink, Rad Rod, etc. Yes, Mooneyes, STP and Chevy are also here among many others. Just $9.99 and you could do up a bunch of your 1:64 collection.
Vital Stats: 2020 Corvette/1963 Chevy II Nova wagon
Maker: Auto World Scale: 1/64 Stock No.: AW64312 MSRP: $7.99 each
Back in the 1980s when I was covering the Indianapolis 500 for the Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper Arie Luyendyk was our hometown racer.
How’s that? Arie is Dutch.
But the likeable Indycar driver was sponsored by Provimi Veal, a Wisconsin company with a Dutch owner, so Arie was our guy. He was eager to talk to the media and it wasn’t long before he knew the Wisconsin reporters by sight. So it wasn’t a surprise when Arie and his wife gave us reporters stuck in race day traffic a friendly wave as he zipped into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on his motorbike. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1990 Indy 500 winner (Luyendyk)→
JL’s latest Chevy storage tin assortment offers unique models …
You may be a Ford guy or a MOPAR maniac, but there’s no denying that Chevrolet is, and has been, the top-selling domestic brand for decades.
And while Johnny Lightning is an equal-opportunity die-cast car maker, it makes sense for the maker of 1/64 scale cars and trucks to go heavy on Chevy (and its kissin’ cousin GMC) once in a while. Indeed JL does just that with its latest releases of the 1987 Chevy Monte Carlo SS, 1972 Chevy Vega Panel Express and GMC’s muscular 1992 Typhoon.
There are two versions, A and B, so you could snag two of each, but in different colors, or just collect the A or B models. Plus these latest releases are part of its series that include a cool storage tin with a picture of the model on each side and the Lightning logo on the top and each end too. Continue reading Die-cast: Johnny Lightning Chevy assortment→
Camaro convertible looks fast even in 1/43 scale …
Chevy’s revamped version of the Camaro, launched in 2009, is a beautiful restyling of the classic 1960s muscle machine. Even racier is the convertible version.
Now IXO releases its 1/43 scale model of the 2014 Camaro convertible in a stunning dark metallic red with flat black hood and trunk stripes. This thing looks fast even sitting on a shelf and IXO wisely mounts it on a black plastic inclined base so it looks more dramatic, like it’s about to charge into action. Continue reading Die-cast: IXO’s 2014 Chevy Camaro convertible→
Here’s an argument you won’t hear often: General Motors makes the best-selling pickup in North America.
No, that’s been Ford’s mantra for nearly 40 years now, but only because Ford sells all its pickups via a single brand, Ford, while General Motors sells its pickup as the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. Combined, the GM pickups rule. Continue reading 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 4WD LT Crew→
Striking look makes Corvette Grand Sport a winner …
Corvettes of late are little rockets that cost less than pricey European rockets that are capable of on-track racing, but usually end up in an upper class suburban driveway instead.
But that would be a waste for Chevrolet’s famous muscle car, especially in Grand Sport trim. And in die-cast models, it would be shame not to encase Autoart’s 1/18 scale 2017 Corvette Grand Sport in an acrylic case or behind a display cabinet’s glass doors. It’s a beauty, and ours was the Watkins Glen metallic gray with satin black stripes from nose to tail. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart’s Chevy Corvette Grand Sport→
New Chevy Equinox shrinks, but that’s a good thing …
Chevrolet updated the Equinox for 2018 by doing something carmakers rarely do these days, shrinking it.
Equinox is nearly 5 inches shorter than its predecessor, but it feels lighter and livelier to drive, another rare accomplishment. Usually carmakers add inches and weight to increase their appeal to a wider expanse of the buying public.
So for compact sport-utility and crossover buyers looking for something less trucky and more nimble like a car, Equinox becomes a solid choice along with Mazda’s CX-5.
In its base trim, the L model, Equinox is both inexpensive and mildly powered. It starts in front-drive mode at $25,525 including delivery fee, and its I4 is a 1.5-liter turbo that creates 170 horsepower. In the Equinox L the tranny is a six-speed automatic and that combo leads to an EPA rating of 26 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. Laudable!
Ah, but the majority of buyers are likely to move up to the LT model, which is what I tested in its pumpkin spiced Orange Burst Metallic paint scheme. The OBM color gets your attention, and that of friends and co-workers, all for just $395 extra.
The LT is the first Equinox with Chevy’s new 2.0-liter I4 turbo that cranks 252 horsepower and is rated at 260 for torque. This creates a much speedier and more satisfying drive as the turbo spools up quickly to get the crossover up or down a highway entry ramp before a big 16-wheeler is breathing down your tailpipe.