Tag Archives: F1

Diecast: Autoart’s McLaren Senna

Beautiful Senna model designed for speed, car lust …

If beauty be only skin deep, so be it, especially if that object of visual lust is a mid-engine McLaren Senna, be it a throbbing full-size version or a silent 1:18 diecast scale model snug in a showcase.

Autoart has an encyclopedic knowledge of beauty and sensuous supercar lines and it’s not afraid to use it to create products of automotive amore. Its current 11 on a scale of 10 is the Trophy Mira (orange for us neophytes) McLaren Senna, which is based on the studly McLaren 720S, not a bad place to start.

The History

Formula 1 fanatics are fully aware of both McLaren and Senna, as in Ayrton Senna, the three-time F1 World Driving Champion, who as luck would have it, won all his titles driving for the McLaren F1 team. The Brazilian was often touted as the best F1 driver ever, but certainly of the late 1980s to 1994 when he was killed in the San Marino Grand Prix, driving not a McLaren, but a Williams F1 car.

McLaren holds exclusive rights to the Senna name for automobiles and that moniker is money in the bank for prestige, even 25+ years after Senna’s death.

Of course any McLaren supercar would live up to the Senna reputation for speed, but this model was designed to be extremely light to set faster times than previous models, so racy on its face. It touts a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that makes 789 horsepower while using a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Weight is a miniscule 3,029 pounds. Thrust? McLaren claims 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds, a 9.9 second quarter mile. You get the picture.

To keep it light there’s a carbon fiber monocoque chassis and to insure it’s stuck to the ground at 211 mph, its top speed, McLaren melds a double-element rear wing to its tail. In addition to downforce it also acts as an air brake (remember that on the 1967 Indy STP Turbine?) The wing is slightly adjustable even on Autoart’s model.

Up on the roof is a prominent air scoop, plus giant side air intakes to keep the engine and brakes cool at race speeds. Then there are the dihedral doors that fold up to allow the driver and a daring passenger to slip inside, and then windows set within the side windows, again for aero purposes. Folks of a certain age will remember similar windows on the racy 1990s Subaru SVX.

And if you have to ask, yes there are Brembo carbon ceramic brakes, and all for just a smidge over $1 million, asking price. Just 500 Sennas were to be made, the first delivered in 2018 and they don’t make them quickly at McLaren’s plant in Woking, Surrey, England.

The Model

               Autoart on the other hand has created five color variations of the Senna — blue, gray, black, white, and this glorious nearly glow-in-the-dark metallic orange. Seeing as how McLaren’s early racers were all a bright papaya orange, this seems the most appropriate color and with its black cockpit area, rear wing, chin spoiler, ground effects trim and rear diffuser, plus gloss black wheels the overall visual can leave one gobsmacked.

               All that black trim, nose to tail, around the inset thin lights, the nose before the cockpit and panels beneath the wing’s struts are mock carbon fiber patterned to resemble the real deal. A small rectangular McLaren nameplate graces the sleek nose and even the side mirror housings resemble carbon fiber.

               Roof and window trim are all gloss piano black with all the proper seams and outlines of the door hinges, those inserted side windows within windows, and the clear panels above each seat. There also are clear inserts in the doors, again trimmed in black gloss. In theory, one could see the driver and passenger’s legs through those panels.

               Inside the massive side air scoops are black mesh screens and then tiny carbon fiber aero devices like Gurney flaps on the inner edges of the rear fenders to direct air up to that monster two-tier rear wing.

               Through the octagonal rear hatch window one can see the top of the twin-turbo V8, just enough to not feel cheated that the rear bonnet doesn’t open. Go all the way to the tail and there’s a six-sided black opening under the wing with what would be a trio of black titanium exhaust pipes. Imagine their rich exhaust tone on that million dollar baby.

               Below that is more black mesh grillework on the tail, a McLaren nameplate and the black multi-finned diffuser. A joint McLaren/Senna plate also labels the rear, where a license might go if you were using your Senna on the street, not just the track.

               Wheels are gloss black with a McLaren swish logo on the hub and enormous drilled disc brakes behind with blue calipers. Tires are thick treaded rubber properly labeled Pirelli P-Zeros, so you know they were designed for maximum adhesion.

               Senna’s interior is easy to view and easy on the eyes as you flip up the dihedral doors. The door frame reinforces the fact the McLaren has a carbon fiber cockpit with another McLaren nameplate and logo on the bottom of the frame. Seats are a soft black plastic to somewhat mimic the Alcantara leather seats of the street machine.

               Autoart nails the dash detail too with carbon fiber touches, chrome air vents, a flat-bottom three-spoke race steering wheel and a big vertical screen aimed at the driver for ease of use. The model features black cloth seatbelts with metal clasps to further aid realism and yes, there’s a Senna logo on the passenger-side dash.

               Short of working lights and engine this is as close to a perfect recreation of one of the most beautiful cars in the world. Yet even at $260 it’s much more affordable for your collection than plunking down for a 1:1 scale, even if it were slightly used and needed new tires. You know it would.  

Vital Stats: McLaren Senna (Trophy Mira/Orange)

The wing flattened out.

Maker: Autoart
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: 76078
MSRP: $260

The wing slightly angled.

Link: Autoartmodels.com

Die-cast: GP Replicas Ferrari 312 B3

Lauda’s 1974 F1 car a spectacular 1:43 model …

Ferrari’s Formula 1 cars of the 1960s and 1970s were beautiful and less complex looking than today’s multi-winged wonders that seem to have stretched to limousine proportions.

Niki Lauda’s sassy Ferrari 312 B3 of 1974 is a standout example of this with a simple solid nose wing and another on the tail. The fact both were chromed to go with the blazing red bodywork made them all the more attractive and exciting.

I landed a GP Replicas 1:43 scale version and was pleasantly surprised at the detail for basically $70. Also, this was the best packed die-cast car I’ve ever received with a multi-layer box within a box. See the photos below!

The History

Lauda, the three-time World Champ from Austria, needs no introduction. He was an F1 master that took Ferrari to new heights in the 1970s, was almost killed in a 1976 crash, and continued on for years after his miraculous recovery. Winning an F1 title with Ferrari (his second) and later for McLaren.

Sharp case and label on the black base here.

But in 1974 he and Clay Regazzoni, a talented Swiss driver, scored three wins with the B3 version of the stout 312 racer, Lauda winning twice. In fact, the duo set fastest qualifying laps in 10 of the F1 races that season, outpacing their Lotus and McLaren counterparts. Ultimately Lauda finished fourth in the standings and Regazzoni second due to more consistent finishes and fewer DNFs.

Yet the B3-74 and its 490-horsepower flat 12-cylinder engine were not as dependable as Ferrari had hoped, allowing Ferrari to finish only second in the F1 constructors championship. So the B3 was reworked as Ferrari mastered the aerodynamics of the time and morphed into the stellar 312T that won the F1 title with Lauda at the wheel in 1975. The 312T debuted in the third race that season.

The Model

               I like everything about this model starting with that stout packaging to ensure it arrives in one piece, a real plus as sometimes wings, wheels or windscreens are knocked loose in transit.

               The B3’s body shape and Ferrari Red paint job are stellar. Its wings are well-shaped and the chrome finish is fine as are all the decals/logos, mainly Goodyear and Agip at the time as cars weren’t rolling billboards just yet.

Check out the yellow air ducts for the front brakes!

               Front and rear suspensions look realistic and there are yellow brake air ducts in front of the front axles, a particularly nice touch. Goodyear slicks are well labeled and the racing wheels are matte gold.

               Beyond the suspension detail is the snazzy looking engine bay with battery, low tailpipes and again brake air ducts in the exposed engine area beyond the car’s body. The Ferrari’s white wing strut looks substantial too and there’s a rear red light embedded in that, used during rainy races and on warmup laps to alert drivers of the car ahead. There’s even some wiring on the engine, pretty rare in this scale.

               Cool too are the silver screens over the rear radiator ducts, the tall air intake behind the cockpit and a delicate windscreen that blends smoothly into the cockpit’s sides. Niki Lauda’s name is in white script below the cockpit, which is black and includes a steering wheel and realistic looking blue shoulder and lap belts.

               For the record, the numbers are black on white rounded-corner squares and of course the No. 12 that Lauda carried.

               The car rests in a nice acrylic case that features a black base with a nameplate featuring the car’s make and Lauda’s name. This is a limited edition, just 500 being made.      

And this just in. I’ve heard from a large retailer that the Ferrari models from GP Replicas were not licensed properly with Ferrari for the U.S. market and that is costing some retailers money for having sold them. So, it appears these may appear mostly on the overseas digital market sites. Too bad, as this is one of the finest 1:43 scale F1 cars I’ve seen.

My advice, stick with Spark and Ixo brands for good quality 1:43 scale racing models. Or Replicarz is strong on vintage Indycars and Greenlight for current year Indycars.

Blue belts are the highlight of the cockpit.

Vital Stats: 1974 Ferrari 312 B3-74 (Niki Lauda)

Maker: GP Replicas
Scale: 1/43
Stock No.: GP-43-01A
MSRP: $70-110 (various websites)

Check out the boxes the car is packed in for protection. Pretty impressive!

Die-cast: Brumm Mercedes W196 and Ferrari 500F2

Brumm’s latest among its greatest 1/43 releases  …

Italy’s Brumm excels at making sharp-looking vintage racers in 1/43 scale at an affordable price.

These are fine collectables because they come handsomely packaged, easily stackable, and nicely detailed, often for less than $45. Last issue we told you of the 50th Anniversary release of a slightly weathered Porsche 917K in that price range.

Now Brumm delivers two 1950s Formula 1 racers, a Mercedes and Ferrari driven by world champs Alberto Ascari and Juan Manual Fangio. Unique to these releases is the figure of Ascari at the wheel of his 1953 Ferrari 500F2.   Continue reading Die-cast: Brumm Mercedes W196 and Ferrari 500F2

Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1957 Vanwall Special

Britain’s Vanwall was dominant F1 racer, briefly …Replicarz 1957 Vanwall Special

Vanwall, the name alone sounds intriguing when attached to a green monopasto racer that somewhat resembles a racing cigar. Vanwall is the team name for one of Britain’s first Formula One race teams, the first to win the F1 Constructor’s Championship, in the first year it was offered, 1958. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1957 Vanwall Special

Die-cast: Autocult’s Volkswagen T1

VW T1 van
Can you imagine any of today’s pampered F1 drivers riding to a race in one of these?

Unique VW for the racing-oriented collector … 

When I was a kid the only minivans were VW vans. They fit the mini category, maybe even invented it.

But these were simple vehicles that like VW’s Beetle captured many of us Boomers’ imaginations. What may have been forgotten, however, is that there were several iterations and in Germany in particular, the pickup version was a popular commercial vehicle. Continue reading Die-cast: Autocult’s Volkswagen T1

Die-cast: CMC’s 1954-55 Lancia D50

CMC’s latest F1 car a stunning Lancia D50 … CMC Lancia D50

Lancia was a late-comer to Formula 1 racing after World War II, but it had the genius of engineer  Vitorrio Jano as its secret weapon. He had created the successful Alfa Romeo 8C pre-war.

So in late 1954 Lancia’s beautiful and unusual D50 joined the F1 circuit for the last race of the season, the Spanish Grand Prix where 2-time world driving champ Alberto Ascari put it on the pole with the fastest time.

While setting a fast pace with a record lap, it wasn’t reliable and lasted only 9 laps. But what had captured the racing public’s interest and other designers’ attention was its design with two outrigged pannier gas tanks, its off-center engine mount and low seating position to better distribute weight.

Now CMC nails the design in 1/18 scale with another hand-built metal die-cast model consisting of 1,598 parts, and no, I didn’t count them all.

The History

Gianni Lancia wanted to be a part of the F1 racing world so had Vano design the radical D50. Unfortunately it basically bankrupted his car manufacturing company by mid-1955 and he handed over the team to Enzo Ferrari. Continue reading Die-cast: CMC’s 1954-55 Lancia D50

Die-cast: Spark’s 1982 Ligier JS19, Monaco GP

Laffite’s Ligier JS19 a blue flying wedge … 1982 Ligier JS 19 

In the early 1980s Formula 1 cars, like open-wheel racers at Indianapolis, were quickly progressing through a series of aerodynamic changes to give them more downforce for faster cornering speeds.

The drivers sat nearer the car’s nose while the engine and tunnels and wings were alongside and behind them. The Ligier team, a French-based and sponsored F1 team had top-shelf drivers and plopped them into these flying wedges with some success.

One of the more interesting looking F1 cars at the time was the Ligier JS19 with its boxy tunnels that extended from the driver rearward to a big boxy wing on the tail. That’s what Spark creates in 1/43 scale and with handsome results.

The History

The JS19 followed the relatively successful JS17 in which French driver Jacques Laffite won two races in 1981 and finished fourth in the F1 standings. As with the 17, the new JS19 was powered by a Talbot-badged Matra V12. Laffite and American Eddie Cheever were the drivers. Continue reading Die-cast: Spark’s 1982 Ligier JS19, Monaco GP

Small scale slot car track with big details

The ultimate experience for F1 fanatics

Slot Mods USA creates what could be considered the holy grail of slot car layouts for racers. I’m in for sure on that. These guys create over the top layouts which are all hand-crafted and museum quality. They create slot car tracks from vintage to modern-day circuits. The layouts guys like me and Mark dream about. Slot Mods crafts each layout utilizing styrofoam and construction-grade lumber, plus materials like marble, leather or exotic hardwoods. The details are amazing and looked after by everyone from fabricators to model artists. Slot Mods seems to keep crafting ones that are better and better each time. Their latest is an F1-commissioned build of the Canadian Grand Prix. Continue reading Small scale slot car track with big details

Die-cast: Autoart Honda RA272 1965 Mexico GP winner

Autoart crafts delicate 1965 Honda F1 beauty …Autoart 1965 Honda RA272

In the glory days of Formula 1 racing new teams joined the ranks of the old standbys, Ferrari, BRM and Lotus to prove they too could build fast open-wheel racers with strong engines. For the fans it was exciting, not the least of which was because all the cars looked different and featured their country’s racing colors, not corporate sponsors.

Into this racing environment came Honda in 1964. The Japanese car maker had only been building road cars for four years and already was set to challenge the established F1 teams, plus it built its own chassis and engine. Few race teams did both at the time.Autoart 1965 Honda RA272

Autoart has created the Honda RA272, Honda’s second F1 racer as it competed in 1965, its first full season on the F1 trail, which was conducted mostly in Europe with European race teams. This 1/18 scale model of the car American Richie Ginther drove to Honda’s first F1 win is a delicate beauty befitting the simplicity of mid-1960s racers. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart Honda RA272 1965 Mexico GP winner

Die-cast: Bburago LaFerrari

Bburago delivers high-value matte black LaFerrari18-16901blk_sm

I can’t explain it, but the youngsters these days are going crazy over matte finishes on cars, motorcycles, snowmobiles and ATVs. It is different, but looks like primer paint to me.

Still, Bburago gives them what they want with its new matte, or flat, black LaFerrari in 1:18 scale. The model is tucked inside a Styrofoam shell inside a racy red box with foil-like silver lettering on it. This is part of Bburago’s move to more upscale models, somewhat beyond the toy market, but still high in value.

The History

Speed and sexy looks sum up Ferrari’s essence. LaFerrari is the latest mid-engine package that plays off that iconic theme.

LaFerrari was launched at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show and is a hybrid super car with a 6.3-liter V12 and a 161-hp electric motor. This is the first production car with the hybrid HY-KERS, a system that stores and delivers electricity for added power. KERS was developed in F1 racing. Combined, the car has 949 horsepower and 663 ft.-lbs. of torque. Continue reading Die-cast: Bburago LaFerrari