Tag Archives: Johnny Lightning

1981 Mazda RX-7

Johnny Lightning creates a racy tribute with new Mazda RX-7 …

Mazda has been a favorite car maker of mine since I was fresh out of college and bought a GLC hatchback. Remember the Great Little Car?

Well, it wasn’t great, but it was good and low-priced, which fit a newly minted college graduate’s budget. Plus it was crazy reliable, with a manual choke, so it ALWAYS started.

Just as I was dipping my toes into the car market Mazda was expanding its lineup to include the racy Wankel rotary engine-powered RX-7. You might say it was Mazda’s prescription for speed, helping solidify its sporty image for years to come. Mazda even raced the RX-7, challenging Nissan’s 240Z.

This Johnny Lightning beauty at just 1:64 scale is a tribute to Mazda’s first racer, featuring its markings, but the body work of the 1981-‘85 RX-7s. It’s sharp and moves JL up another notch in fit and finish for the small die-cast market where it leads in realism, especially in the muscle car realm. This is muscle of a different sort though.

The History

Mazda introduced the RX-7 as a 1979 model, replacing the RX-3, which was decidedly less sporty looking. The Wankel rotary engine and the car’s low-slung long-hood design were the big news. The RX-7 was small and light enough to avoid some Japanese road taxes too, making it a popular model from an economic standpoint too. Plus the new engine packed more power.

Mazda, who had raced the RX-3, was quick to get the RX-7 into racing and in 1979 finished first and second in the GTU class at the Daytona 24 Hours, and were fifth and sixth overall, a pretty impressive start. Later in the year the Mazda also won the 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium, although those cars had been tweaked and tuned by the Tom Walkinshaw (TWR) racing team.

In fact, RX-7s won the GTU championship in IMSA eight straight years, from 1980 to 1987, often taking the top two or three spots. Ultimately it won more IMSA races than any other car.

Those racers also had rear a rear spoiler and wide over fenders along with a chin spoiler. The Johnny Lightning car is based on the FB version of the RX-7, which came a bit after the original. This is a street version, which means they have no spoilers, but the 1981 FB models now had integrated plastic-covered bumpers, wide black rubber body side moldings, and wraparound taillights. Engine controls also were upgraded. 

The Model

               This new casting, which retails for just $12.99, uses the two-tone green markings over a creamy white that the original RX-7 sported in the Daytona endurance race. There are big black No. 7s enclosed in black circles on the hood and doors, plus Mazda is printed big on the nose and in a blue bar across the top of the windshield.

               On the rear hatch’s lid is a “Powered by Rotary” decal and there are Union 76 and Bridgestone logos on the rear quarter panels. Another Mazda decal is on the fenders just before the doors, and a circular orange NGK spark plugs decal on each door.

               The FB’s large black side moldings are here, just above the two-tone green stripes along the car’s lower edges.

               Details that make the car look particularly realistic even in this small scale are black door handles, dual black side mirrors with silver faces and black hinges on the rear windscreen, plus a large black wiper at its lower edge. The rollaway headlights are shut to give the car a racier and smoother look, plus the hood opens forward, as on the original.

               Under the hood is a black engine block, but it is flat as was the rotary in the RX-7s, just a blue air filter on top for a little color. The rest of the cast-in details are white under the hood, which does take a bit of effort to pry open the first time. I scratched a tiny bit of paint off, but then this is a race car, so what’s a little race wear? The hood fits beautifully when closed.

               Of course the undercarriage is cast in great detail, as on all JL and Auto World models. Plus the black radiator air intake panel under the nose is nicely detailed.

               But the final bit of fun here are the wheels, which are four twin-spokes each with the spokes being a copper-gold, similar to some models sold in the U.S. that featured gold-anodized wheels. Plus the tires are rubber on JL cars. Bravo!

               A quick note here to call out our Auto World friend, Chad Reid, as the graphic artist on this model, along with a new red Motorcraft Ranger parts truck. The truck uses a Motorcraft logo on each door with a two white and one black stripe down each side as accents. It looks sharp and you can imagine one of these pulling into your repair shop’s parking lot, circa 1983.

 Reid says he chose Motorcraft red for the truck as it seemed perfect for a parts truck, and he also drew on a old Nylint Ford Ranger’s markings for inspiration. Both the Motorcraft Ranger (also $12.99) and RX-7 are limited editions, with just 2,496 being made of each.

The Ranger is a pre-order with shipments expected soon, but the RX-7 is in stock now.              

Vital Stats: 1981 Mazda RX-7 (racer tribute)

Maker: Johnny Lightning
Scale: 1/64
Stock No.: SCM099
MSRP: $12.99

Link: Autoworldstore.com

Diecast: Johnny Lightning 1:64 Muscle Cars & Showcase

Latest Lightning 6-packs loaded with color, detail …

The recent Muscle Cars release and a few older JLs in the new Auto World case.

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.

The 2021 Muscle Cars release 3, version A.

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.

The 2021 Muscle Cars release 3, version B.

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.

The 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.

The Buick Grand National looks intimidating in a black paint job.

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!

The Pontiac Firebird and Buick Grand National both look racy!

               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.

The little Dart Swinger packed a major punch in a lightweight platform.

               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.

A lot of Mopar power represented here with the Dart and GTX.

               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 muscular V8 was under that GTX hood.

               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.

Here’s the whole A version collection from the latest Johnny Lightning release.

               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.

Here we see the removable 2-tier platform. Take it out and a 1:24 model fits!

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.

Excellent!

Vital Stats: Muscle Cars 6-packs

Maker: Auto World/Johnny Lightning
Scale: 1:64
Stock No.: JLMC027/06 A&B
MSRP: $51.99

Link: Autoworldstore.com

Vital Stats: 3-in1 Showcase

Maker: Auto World
Scale: 1:24 to 1:64
Stock No.: AWDC004
MSRP: $19.99

Link: Autoworldstore.com

Diecast: Johnny Lightning 1:64 Classic Gold 2021 release 2

Johnny Lightning 6-packs feature new ’96 Camaro casting …

Round2’s Johnny Lightning brand continues to impress with new castings and of course new color combos that make their JL Classic Gold series a winner among 1:64 diecast collectors.

Its latest 2021 Release 2, as usual with A and B series 6-packs, is another collection of small gems for DC car collectors.  Each casting oozes realism, considering their size.

These 6-packs include the same six vehicles, but decked out in different color schemes. This batch features a 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk, a 1984 Pontiac Firebird T/A, a new casting of the 1996 Firebird T/A WS6, a Jeep CJ-5, a 1999 Mazda MX-5 Miata and a1976 Dodge Aspen R/T. Of the two releases I prefer the B version’s color schemes, not that the others are bad, so I’ll focus on those. But there are pictures of all versions here.

The Models

               Let’s start with the new casting, the ’96 Firebird in Bright White with a black top and dark red or cranberry interior. The original packed a Ram Air boosted 5.7-liter LT1 V8 that increased horsepower from 285 to 305. The WS6 also had not been offered since it was discontinued in 1991, so was a surprise re-launch for 1996 four years into the fourth generation Firebird’s run.

               For the record the WS6 was a performance package that made it a racy Bird, coming with a 6-speed manual tranny and delivering a 0-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds and top speed of about 160 mph, not bad for 1996. Front and rear brakes were vented discs to slow this beast down.

               Of the 31,000 Firebirds sold in 1996 about 2,500 were WS6 models as the muscle car’s big numbers faded before Firebird was axed after 2002.

               Visually the Ram Air hood with pronounced nose hood scoops, rollaway headlights, big trunk-top encompassing spoiler and white five-spoke wheels shout that this Firebird is a hot rod, namely a WS6. The Michigan plate on the back says “Strike,” and the two round running lights on the nose add to its menacing look.

               If you’re a Firebird fan this 6-pack doubles your pleasure with a 1984 Firebird T/A. Yes, we all knew that was for Trans-Am, but T&A meant something else to us in 1984. This one is Autumn Maple Firemist, a dark metallic goldish red that looks great with the black roof and interior. There’s black lower body trim and black wheels to spiff it up too, plus the hood opens to reveal the all black engine compartment with air cleaner and radiator. The package notes that this Firebird was GM’s most aerodynamic car ever made, at the time.

               I’ve become more and more of a Jeep fan through the years and JL’s  Jeep CJ-5 version is spectacular, again, for the scale. First, it’s decked out in Sunshine Yellow and is the Golden Eagle version with a giant eagle on the hood and the name Golden Eagle on the sides of the hood. Pry up the hood and there’s a blue 304ci V8 with black air filter under the hood. Plus the windshield folds up and down and contains an acrylic windscreen, plus wipers cast into the window frame.

               The Jeep’s knobby tires are labeled BF Goodrich All-Terrains and a spare rides on a peg at the rear. Pop it on and off as you like. Sharp cast dash detailing, two shift levers for gears and off-roading and a big yellow roll bar with supports. Oh, and black plastic side steps here too. I’ve seen less detail on a 1:24 model!

               One of my favorites from JL is the 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk (ha, Golden Eagle Jeep, now a Hawk from Studebaker). First, this Raymond Loewy design displays nearly perfect dimensions with a long hood with raised center bulge and a slightly shorter trunk to give it excellent proportions. And the tiny rear fins are reminiscent of so many 1950s

               The color is light Wedgewood Blue with a creamy white roof and white interior complete with a sharply cast rear window shelf and speaker. Window trim is silver as are the bumpers and grille, naturally. Tires are white sidewall and treaded with bright chrome wheels. The color here screams 1950s to me.

               JL keeps tweaking its fine 1999 Mazda MX-5 Miata, now just known as the MX-5, but commonly STILL referred to as Miata. The MX stood for Mazda Experimental and the sports car has been a hot seller and halo car for the brand for 25+ years now.

               This one is a bright cheery Custom Amber Metallic with twin white racing stripes and black windshield and vent window trim. This is as crisp a casting as JL has made with fine seam work for hood trunk and doors, big side mirrors, a silver gas cap atop the driver’s side rear fender, well detailed head and taillights and black grille. There’s even a tiny single exhaust pipe. Even the butterscotch plastic interior is impressive with well-formed dual cowl dash, center stack, shifter and bucket seats.

               Wow, 1:64 castings don’t get any finer than this Miata.

               Lastly there’s the 1976 Dodge Aspen R/T, a steady seller for Chrysler over the years, first as Duster and Dart, then Volare and Aspen.

The Deep Sherwood Sunfire (dark metallic green) Aspen is nicely detailed with an opening hood and bright blue engine and black detailing under that hood. Windows are finely outlined in silver paint with wipers molded into the windshield’s base. There are the correct air vents at the hood’s rear and good looking nose and taillight detail, plus the stylish center trunk crease. A side stripe is light green.

               The gas cap is cast into the driver’s side rear quarter panel and there’s an R/T logo just before the rear wheel. Side markers are found on this and newer model cars too, plus an undercarriage featuring side pipes. Aspen’s interior is black and the tires labeled BF Goodrich Radial T/A, and treaded. Plus, there’s a trunk lid spoiler.

               A quick factoid from the hang card, which feature old ad and promo shots for all the various vehicles. Did you know that Volare and Aspen sold nearly a half-million units between them in 1976? Me either!

               Version A

               The Version A vehicles, as mentioned above, are the same castings, but in different color schemes.

               The Studebaker Golden Hawk is elegantly painted Woodsmoke Gray Poly with cream roof and fin trim giving it a more luxurious look than the blue model. Just 4,356 Golden Hawks were made in 1957 and for 1958 Packard had its own version of the Hawk as it was part of Studebaker at the time. That didn’t last long.

               The Firebirds in Version A are Silver Sand Gray for the ’84 model and Medium Cloisonne Poly (medium metallic blue) for the all-new 1996 casting. JL notes the new Firebird casting is exactly 1:64 scale, so could fit into its Auto World True 1:64 series too I suppose.

               Jeep’s CJ5 here is Mocha Brown Poly, a metallic golden brown with wheels to match and a tan interior that looks sharp. The Golden Eagle on the hood even looks a little less in your face than on the yellow Jeep.

               A Black Onyx Mazda Miata looks sporty too but the brownish tan interior seems a bit jarring visually to me. Still, it reflects what a lot of Miatas looked like over the years when more than 531,000 have been sold to make it the all-time best-selling sports car.

               Finally there’s the Aspen, here in Cinnamon Poly a reddish brown with orange and red racing stripe along the fenders and doors. The spoiler on the trunk lid looks sharp here too.

               Again, all fun, all sharply cast and well decorated, this is another fine 1:64 lineup from JL.

               Note too, if you missed it, there was a Classic Gold Release 1 earlier in 2021 feature a 1983 Lagonda, 2006 Hummer H1 Alpha, 1972 Ford Mustang Convertible, 1997 Dodge Viper GTS, 1980 Chevy Monza Spyder, and 1979 Chevy Malibu. Two versions of that release also are available, at least in some hobby stores and online sites.

Vital Stats: JL Classic Gold Release 2 A&B, 6-packs

Brand: Johnny Lightning
Scale: 1/64
Stock No.: JLCG025/06 A & B
MSRP: $51.99 per 6-pack

Link: Autoworldstore.com

Diecast: Auto World’s True 1:64 2020 Chevy Corvette and 1963 Chevy II Wagon

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.

The Models

               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.

               The History

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.

Watch Mark’s review and video of the 1:1 Vette: 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe | Savage On Wheels.

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.

New to Auto World are 1:64 scale decals much as you’d find in a plastic model kit.

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

Link: Autoworldstore.com

Auto World’s Johnny Lightning, themed 2-packs

Bright Yenko Chevy, Psychedelic Seventies cars double the fun …

What’s more fun than one special limited edition Johnny Lightning 1:64 die-cast car? Two of course.

Two of Auto World’s latest JL 2-pack releases.

Auto World is now packaging two limited edition cars into Themed 2 Packs for its finely detailed Johnny Lightning brand. The latest offerings include Yenko Chevys and a colorful Psychedelic Seventies pack with a Dodge and Chevy decked out in patterns to remind us of the “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” era of flower power and wild color patterns you might see when dropping a little, uh, well, I’m not sure what. But these are colorful to be sure.

Both 2-packs go for $15.99 each, still a bargain price for such nicely detailed 1:64 cars. Plus they are not being pumped out by the millions like some mass market brands. These 2-packs are limited to 2,004 each.

The Nova is the star of this duo!

Let’s start with the sharp, but more normal Yenko Chevy 2-pack. It includes a bright yellow 1970 Chevy Nova Yenko Deuce with black side stripes that wrap over the trunk lid and tout Yenko Duece on the rear quarter panels. The other car is a black over silvery blue 1967 Chevy Camaro Yenko with a black nose stripe.

The Psychedelic Seventies pack includes a 1969 Chevy Camaro SS in a wild Sunflower Yellow, orange and black pattern that sort of resembles a sunrise on the hood and a tattoo artist’s geometric stenciling on the trunk and sides. The roof is flat black. The other car is a 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona mostly in dark metallic red, but with white hood inset trim and side striping, plus big white rear wing. From the doors back is a white-bordered insert that blends from the body color red to brown to yellow to bright yellow.

Both of these babies are bright stars!

For the record all the JLs have opening hoods, detailed undercarriages, and treaded rubber tires to look more realistic than most brands, which feature hard-plastic tires. These are mostly for collectors, not kids with plastic race tracks!

The Models

               I’m always happiest with the less customized paint schemes, so my favorite here is the yellow Yenko Nova and silver-blue Camaro Yenko.

What a sharp profile, and Super Bee colors no less!

               What makes these fun, and realistic? The Nova is modeled after one of 10 Duece’s made in this color and is owned by Jamie Jarvis. Many JL models are reproductions of actual cars that have shown up on the various car show circuits over the last couple years. It has the easiest opening hood of any of these four models, so it can be raised fully to display the red engine block, silver air filter and black coolant hoses.

Easy to see the engine on this one!

               The Nova’s hood has two black stripes near the hood’s edges, with “LT/1” part of the stripes. “Deuce” is spelled out on the hood’s nose and the Nova name and the car’s reflective side markers spruce up the sides along with the obvious racing stripe mentioned earlier. Bumpers and grille are nicely detailed as are the lights and taillights. The interior is black, but not much to see inside, it being so dark.

Sexy stripes on this Yenko Nova!

               What really grabbed me on this one was the finely detailed 5-spoke matte gray racing wheels wrapped in Firestone Wide Oval-labeled tires. Sharp!

               The black over silvery blue ’67 Camaro’s hood is easily popped up, but doesn’t open far, so engine viewing is marginal. There’s a more noticeable gap at the rear of the hood too, which likely accounts for the small hood movement.

Still, its nose stripe is sharp and in profile this is one sexy beast with elegant thin pinstripes near the top of the car’s fender line, nose to tail. The hood is a Yenko specialty based on the SS design with raised bars to resemble headers and four black dots atop each of them.

               There’s a spoiler on the tail an SS logo on the grille and a “427” sticker on the tail. Hub caps are chrome with five rounded rectangular holes and unbranded thin white sidewall tires. The interior is dark red and the door features a framed vent window.

               If you’re a big Goldie Hawn or Jo Anne Worley fan you might imagine the Psychedelic Seventies 2-pack’s Camaro paint scheme painted on their legs or bellies as they dance during “Laugh-In”.

Wow, now this is a paint scheme to remember!

               This is an eye-opener and beautifully executed, and modeled after the original that was owned by Mike Hulick who had the silver car repainted in this wild scheme. The Camaro, now owned by Jay Sliwa, is an SS, thus the two bar hood similar to the ’67 model in the Yenko pack. The hood opens a little higher on this one to reveal a silver engine block and black air filter.

Love the SS hood and the color combo here too.

               Headlights are whited out here, with an SS logo on the black grille and mid-tail between the triple taillights. Wheels are chrome five-spokes with Firestone Polyglas GT-labeled tires. The interior is black and the rear window features three decals/stickers, two with peace signs over an American flag pattern backdrop.

               Almost as striking is the Dodge Daytona, one of only 503 made and now known as the Disco Daytona. Remember disco, and Disco Duck?

               This Daytona has a one-off paint scheme that the owner had applied due to a warranty program offered to make up for the car’s poor original paint job, orange in this case. Disco Daytona features the disco ombre paint scheme and you won’t find another one like it. The car is owned by Jeff and Brent Kultgen now and is easy to pick out in a crowd.

               The car is logo-less, except for “Charger” printed on the rear roof pillars and a black license plate declaring “Charger.” There also are twin tailpipes exiting under its high-winged tail.

That orange engine block and air filter encourage a hood-up pose here!

The gas cap on the driver’s side rear quarter panel and reversed air scoops over the front wheels add detail and there’s a bright orange engine and air filter under the car’s massive hood. Windows are trimmed in silver and there are proper vents here too. Wheels are chromed 6-spokes with redline tires, but no branding.

Larger scale models may add more engine and interior detail, but these 1:64s are gorgeous and high-value. Plus if you can display them on their hang cards they stay dust-free and look spectacular. This my friends is easy DC car collecting at its finest, and at a price any collector can afford.

Vital Stats: Johnny Lightning Themed 2-packs

Maker: Auto World
Scale: 1/64
Stock No.: JLPK012
MSRP: $15.99 per 2-pack

Link: Autoworldstore.com

Round2 acquisition confirmed

Auto World, Johnny Lightning owner partners with
investment firm to expand product lines …

By Mark Savage

Round 2, one of die-cast car collecting and plastic car modeling’s big dogs, made it official today. It has partnered with an investment group that should help it to expand its product lines.

The announcement from Round2’s headquarters in South Bend, Ind., said it is partnering with Praesidian Capital, a private investment group based in Larchmont, N.Y. Praesidian has purchased controlling interest, 51%, of Round2.

Those of us interested in die-cast cars and plastic car models, or HO slot cars, knows all about Round2, founded by Thomas Lowe, who earlier founded Playing Mantis to revive the Johnny Lightning brand, among others.

I regularly review products from Round2’s Auto World,  American Muscle, Johnny Lightning and Racing Champions brands. In fact, a review of AW’s new 1977 Dodge Warlock was just posted today.

Die-cast: Auto World 1977 Dodge Warlock | Savage On Wheels

Lowe, who remains as president of the firm, said he’s thrilled by the deal because of the resources Praesidian brings with it to help it grow “both organically and through acquisitions.” He added that there are no staff changes and Round2 will remain in South Bend.

Jason Drattell, Praesidian’s founder, made similar statements, praising Lowe and noting Round2 “has emerged as a market leader in the collectibles space and we look forward to supporting the management team as Round 2 continues to expand its product offerings.”

Glenn Harrison, Praesidian Capital partner, added that “product design and innovation will always be at the core of Round2’s growth strategy, but we also believe that there is a significant
consolidation opportunity within the highly fragmented collectibles space. We will be working closely with the Round 2 team to continue to build on its already impressive list of brands.”

In addition to Johnny Lightning and the other brands mentioned above, Round2 also includes Polar Lights, AMT, MPC, Lindberg and Hawk model kits, including a Star Wars license. Auto World also markets HO slot cars and parts along with die-cast vehicles. Other miniature car brands include Legends of the  Quarter Mile, Ertl Collectibles, Vintage Fuel. Forever Fun is a seasonal products brand also a part of Round2.

For more details on all the product lines produced by Round 2, see: http://www.round2corp.com

Die-cast: Johnny Lightning Chevy assortment

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

Die-cast: Johnny Lightning themed 2-packs

Barn Finds lead the way for JL’s themed 2-packs …  

I’m a sucker for 1/64 scale die-cast cars because I grew up garaging Matchbox and Hot Wheels in shoe boxes and plastic carrying cases. Just entering my teens when Johnny Lightning debuted 50 years ago, I was impressed with its castings’ quality and realism compared with the other brands.

Now Johnny Lightning is celebrating its 50th anniversary and its parent, Round2, is creating a series of Themed 2-Packs that are worthy of being in any modeler or collector’s display case. The latest is release 1 of its Barn Finds and Nickey Chevrolet castings. As always, the display cards are stellar and challenge you to keep these 2-packs intact, and clean, or open them and enjoy the feel of die-cast model cars. Tough choice as I’ve said before.

Here’s a quick look at both packs. Continue reading Die-cast: Johnny Lightning themed 2-packs

Die-cast: Racing Champions’ Mint, Release 3A

Round2’s small scale cars deliver bang for the buck! …

As I mentioned in my introduction to this issue, Round2’s Johnny Lightning brand celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year and while various special releases are eminent, its Racing Champions brand continues to make similarly excellent 1/64 die-cast cars that are available right now. Continue reading Die-cast: Racing Champions’ Mint, Release 3A

Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1970 Indy winner, Al Unser driver

Replicarz goes big with its 1/18 scale PJ Colt … 1970 Indy 500 winner

One of my favorite race cars, and that of many other youngsters in the 1970s was the PJ Colt that Al Unser drove to back-to-back Indianapolis 500 wins in 1970 and ’71.

It was colorful and with its lightning bolts on the nose and tail the car looked fast and, well, cool!

Replicarz knows that and created beautiful versions of both the 1970 and ’71 cars in 1/43 scale a couple years back. Now it turns its considerable attention to the more detailed 1/18 scale model of the original 1970 racer. This takes the detailing on the Colt to a much finer level and creates a stunning desktop display car.

The History

Al Unser teamed up with former racer Parnelli Jones’ race team for 1970, driving its Ford V8-powered PJ Colt chassis to win the national driving title and the Indy 500 that year. Sponsorship, and the beautiful car livery, came courtesy of sponsor Johnny Lightning, a toy die-cast car maker (Topper Toys) competing with the likes of Matchbox and Mattel’s Hot Wheels brands.1970 Indy 500 winner

Unser won 10 races in 1970, none bigger than Indy. This was the first of Unser’s record four Indy 500 wins and put him on a path to racing fame, along with brother Bobby. Al was the fastest qualifier in 1970 and led 190 of the race’s 200 laps. You can’t get much more dominant than that. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1970 Indy winner, Al Unser driver