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, 1986 Buick 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 Plymouth GTX 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.
Vital Stats: Muscle Cars 6-packs
Maker: Auto World/Johnny Lightning
Stock No.: JLMC027/06 A&B
Vital Stats: 3-in1 Showcase
Maker: Auto World
Scale: 1:24 to 1:64
Stock No.: AWDC004