Why should Paul have all the fun? Hey, I spot cars too, like this 2005 Lambo Murcielago Roadster I spied at the Chicago Mecum Auction in October.
This Italian hot rod was parked out back of the exhibition and auction hall where various employees could keep an eye on it in case car nuts like me were wandering about wanting to crawl inside. It was locked, naturally.
It’s so rare to see a Lambo in the Midwest, unless you’re in Chicago where the big money lives. But what makes this so special is the convertible top. The Murcielago had been out several years when it was redesigned to go topless.
Here’s how Motortrend magazine described it back in the day. The Lamborghini has “a body that magnetizes eyeballs like Heidi Klum in a Saran Wrap leotard.”
The sticker on this baby, when new, was $320,000 and for that you got a throbbing 6.2-liter V12, AWD supercar with scissor doors. Sadly I wasn’t allowed to flip these up for a photo, something about “Don’t Touch.”
Power is 575 horses, which may not seem so crazy powerful now that electric cars are touting that, and more, with twin electric motors in some makes. But the Lambo would scoot, doing 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds and top speed was 205 mph.
Yet Lambo advised against driving more than 100 mph with the convertible top in place, as it might lift off and fly into Never Never Land! This thing is all metal tubes and cloth and the fit never was great, one supposes Lambo designers thinking most drivers would be removing the top before racing about.
A few other interesting points with the Murcielago? Well, the engine hatch is hinged at the rear to expose the V12, a design first used on the iconic Lamborghini Miura in even earlier days. The front brakes have 8-piston calipers as you’ll likely need to stop this in a hurry, and this windshield angle is incredibly low, driving home the car’s devilish wedge shape.
Just 4,099 Murcielagos were built, the last in late 2010. Just 899 were convertibles, er, excuse me, roadsters.
Autoart’s 1:18 scale Diablo worthy of its special edition status …
Lamborghini may be younger than Ferrari, but its slippery looking cars are equally beautiful, daring, and powerful.
So when Lambo’s 30th anniversary rolled around in 1993 it wasn’t shy about introducing a limited edition Diablo SE30, as in Special Edition 30th Anniversary. Like the regular Diablo (Devil) it was a beast meant for racing and just 150 were to be made.
Lucky for us collectors that Autoart has recently released its 1:18 scale version of the SE30 in a variety of colors. Originally the special Diablos were metallic lavender, a spectacular color, but not for everyone’s taste. The review car is a sizzling metallic blue known as Blu Sirena. (Sounds like a sad tennis player!)
All the Diablo SE30s were built in 1994 and early 1995 featuring Lamborghini’s naturally aspirated 5.7-liter V12 that made a whopping (for the era) 525 horsepower and top speed of 207 mph. Reports at the time put its acceleration from 0 to 60 mph at 4 seconds even, impressive but now that’s something even souped up SUVs and pickups can do.
Race versions got Lambo’s JOTA engine upgrades but all SE30 models were built as lightweights since it was hoped they would be raced in GT championships around the world. No power seats or air conditioning or radio in these models and the side windows, which were synthetic glass (lighter weight), also weren’t powered. This exotic was all about speed.
Seats were carbon fiber shells and featured a special material that helped hold the driver and passenger in place while the Spartan dash featured white dial faces and below were perforated aluminum pedals.
Outside, the aluminum body had small bits of carbon fiber for side air intakes and a big rear spoiler that curved down toward the body to improve handling while the center portion was adjustable to aid downforce.
Special to the SE30 was a black and gold engine, the headers being gold. Intake manifolds were magnesium and the engine included new cylinder heads, again to cut weight and boost performance.
This isn’t Autoart’s first car corral. It continues to deliver pristine and perfectly styled models with fabulous paint jobs. The Diablo continues that cycle of successes.
Everything opens up here, the frunk, the engine cover, the scissor doors and the roll-away headlights even roll up with a small lever beneath the car’s nose.
Those lights look convincing, but for display purposes the Lambo looks much sexier with the lights hidden away. And while it’s cool the frunk lid opens up front there’s not much to see inside, a flocked floor and a couple stickers on the firewall. Still, high marks here for authenticity.
There are a variety of other lights and amber turn signal lamps up front along with a Lamborghini logo on the nose and a chin spoiler below.
A single giant black windshield wiper rests at the bottom of the Lambo’s massive sloping windshield and the proper hood air intakes are well shaped with tiny black screens inset while the same can be said for the stylish side scalloped scoops that end before the rear wheels.
This special edition used a Miura-like louvered engine cover that perfectly blends into the car’s long tail and somewhat reflects the rear spoiler’s shape.
Flip up the engine cover, which is well supported by two black struts and there’s the big V12 with its gold header covers with Lamborghini embossed atop each. Plus, there’s another Lambo bull logo in gold on the black engine cover, and of course black hoses and a silver radiator with labeling.
This Lamborghini’s tail is unique too with a split design, the big round taillights on the upper portion along with black screening between them and silver Lambo and 30th Anniversary logos. Then there’s the split and a large rear bumper/body extension with reflectors and backup lights, plus quad aluminum-tipped exhausts. You can almost hear the exhausts rumble!
Tires are thick and wide aggressively treaded numbers with PZero labeling, but no Pirelli lettering. While the wheels are matte silver five-hole designs with OZ-Racing labels as these were new designs for the special edition. Behind the wheels are giant drilled disc brake rotors too. Oh, and the front wheels are steerable.
Inside, the two-seat cockpit is black with realistic looking blue four-point belts with photo-etched metal clasps on the bucket seats. Other highlights include the white-faced gauges, a flat-bottom steering wheel and nicely detailed center stack and shifter on the console with a chrome-trimmed shift gate cover. There’s even a red button on that stack which would engage a fire extinguisher in the real car.
One final touch, a 30th Anniversary logo just inside the cockpit’s driver’s side rear window, and of course large side mirrors with real mirrored faces.
Need more? I don’t think so, unless it was one of the 150 made sitting in your driveway. But instead of spending millions, not to mention insurance payments that even Progressive’s Flo couldn’t touch, this 1:18 beauty can be yours for $250, and in four colors, this sparkling blue, plus black metallic, metallic purple or metallic yellow. Then there are the racier JOTA versions for the same price and in the metallic purple, metallic silver or white pearl.
There’s not a bad looker in this bull ring, but this blue version or the purple one seem the standouts!
Auto World’s latest 1:18 pre-war model a striking beauty …
Car nuts know the Duesenberg name, but its cars were often rare, built in small quantities, while others were raced successfully, winning the Indianapolis 500 three times in the 1920s.
Duesenberg was launched in 1920 in Indy, but only lasted until 1937, a short run for such a famous name. Me being an Indianapolis native I’ve always been fond of Duesenbergs, both the racers and their high-end luxury cars known for their power.
But did you know that just two 1935 SSJ Speedsters were ever made? Yet the car is famous for its styling, speed and celebrity.
Now Auto World introduces the SSJ in a cream and tan color scheme that was the original choice of Duesenberg designers, yet none exist in this trim. The 1/18 model is another in Auto World’s vintage pre-WWII collection of die-cast metal models with opening hood, doors and steerable wheels.
Here’s the skinny on the two SSJs, which were made for movie stars Gary Cooper and Clark Gable.
None of the cream and tan models remain because both celebrities had their roadsters repainted from the original Duesenberg color scheme. Cooper’s became a gray-on-gray beauty and Gable’s a red and metallic green Speedster.
What makes the SSJ so special, beyond its rarity, is that it was a shortened version of the popular and widely respected Model J, made from 1928 until Duesenberg closed. The Model J came in two lengths, the long 153.5-inch wheelbase model and a shorter 141.7 model. Yet the SSJ was shorter still, featuring a 125-inch wheelbase, making it lighter. Both were known for their power.
The SJ, a supercharged J, reportedly had a top speed of nearly 140 mph back when cars were considered exceptional if they crested 100 mph. Zero to 60 mph was said to be reached in 8 seconds, and this from a car with an unsynchronized transmission, which was the norm at the time. A special speed record version, known as the Mormon Meteor, used a 750-horsepower V12 Curtiss Conqueror aircraft engine and set various speed records approaching 160 mph.
Well, the SSJ was quick too, reportedly doing 0-60 in less than 8 seconds as it was smaller and lighter than the J models. The Straight 8 Duesenberg motor cranked 400 horsepower and the car featured 4-wheel hydraulic brakes, a Duesenberg creation.
How special is the SSJ now? Well, some consider it the most important American car ever made and it’s certainly the most expensive as Cooper’s model sold for $22 million in 2018. Auto World’s is much more reasonable at $129.99 MSRP. Many 1:18 scale models now top $175 and are made of composites.
There’s a lot to like here, besides the car’s heritage and importance as the fastest pre-war car made. Oh, and the styling. The SSJ is beautiful.
Auto World doesn’t scrimp on details while maintaining an affordable price point.
The model’s door hinges are metal and well blended into the brown scallops on each side of the car, the hood likewise has a bright metal hinge that allows the hood to be raised on either side to see the sharply detailed Straight 8. Wiring and plumbing are present, but most notable are the four impressive chrome articulated exhausts coming out the passenger’s side of the hood and completely visible with the hood raised.
There are the air cleaner, radiator and brake fluid containers here and then on the driver’s side the raised hood reveals the full length of that massive engine and the chromed exhaust ports leading to the four big pipes on the opposite side. Cool!
Naturally, for the time period, there’s a massive chrome grille and lights along with two big horns under those lights. Atop the grille is the art deco style arrow-sharp Duesy hood ornament. Both front and rear bumpers also are chrome.
Likewise the large step plates on the running boards, slim door handles and windshield frame are chrome, as is the wheel cover on the trunk-mounted spare. Hub caps on the cream-colored spoked wheels are chrome with red centers.
That windshield in front of the two-person cockpit also includes dainty wing windows to deflect air from the passengers so as not to disturb their hair or chapeaus.
The cream tonneau cover features painted silver snaps and the interior is matte brown, similar in shade to the side scallops.
Duesenberg featured a chrome-faced dash with a bazillion gauges and dials, all nicely reproduced here by Auto World. There’s also a “holy Jesus” handle on the passenger’s side dash, just like in today’s Jeeps and other vehicles meant for off-roading. This one was to comfort a passenger at 100+ mph.
The Duesy’s steering wheel is black as is the floor-mounted gear shift lever while a rearview mirror rests atop the dash’s center.
For folks with mirror-bottom display cases, Auto World continues to create realistic looking undercarriages that allow you to see the engine, suspension and exhaust system, here feeding into twin chrome-tipped pipes.
The SSJ is another well-executed historic pre-war car model from Auto World at a price point that makes it a good fit in many collections. Snazzy!
Vital Stats: 1935 Duesenberg SSJ Speedster
Maker: Auto World Scale: 1/18 Stock No.: AW305 MSRP: $129.99
If you’ve never heard of a Vector M12, or Vector, or maybe remember hearing of Vector but suspected it was long gone, well, you’re sort of right. Let’s just say Vector, like many supercar manufacturers through the years, has had an interesting history.
But god love ‘em, BoS (Best of Show Models) took on the project of creating a 1/18 scale Vector M12 from the late 1990s. And honestly, it’s a stunner! Think longer Lamborghini! This is one of 300 models of this limited edition Vector in a handsome gold. A red version also is available. Both are sealed body models.
Some cars are rolling art right from the get go. Such is Aston Martin’s Vanquish, which was introduced in 2013 to coincide with the British luxury car maker’s 100th anniversary.
As with all Astons, the goal was to combine beauty and performance on four wheels.
Likewise Autoart has recreated that beauty in 1/18 scale with its composite-bodied Vanquish, in sparkling black for the review model. Other colors are available, but bathed in black this baby looks long, lean, and sexy, just like the real beast.
Vanquish, like most high-priced luxury makes, was aimed at the uncompromising buyer. But not the one who demands only luxury, or beauty.
Vanquish, as its name suggests, wants to smite its automotive foes that are competing for the high-end coin of the realm.
A 2017 Vanquish lists at $287,650 for the coupe (like the review car) and $305,650 for the convertible. Under its long carbon fiber hood is a throbbing V12 that makes 568 horsepower, the most of any power plant in Aston Martin’s history. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart’s Aston Martin Vanquish→
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 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→
Proving that good things come in small packages I present the Lamborghini Aventador J in 1/43 scale by Autoart. This is one beautiful model, and comes at well less than you might expect to pay for a fine diecast car in this scale.
The edgy Aventador coupe was unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show and just a year later Lamborghini revealed the J, a roofless model with no windshield, just tiny windscreens as you’d expect on a racer.
Reportedly Lambo’s CEO Stephan Winkelmann asked his design crew to create “something special” for the Geneva show, but just 6 weeks before the prestigious car show. Talk about deadlines!
The racer wanna-be uses Aventador’s 6.5-liter V12 engine that creates 700 horsepower and links that to a 7-speed tranny. The car, which rides on a carbon fiber monocoque, shuns goodies like a radio and air conditioning to save weight and is said to tip the scales at just 3,472 lbs.
Its only carryovers from the Aventador are the hood, front and rear fenders and headlights. Reportedly this one-off concept car was sold for $2.8 million before it even hit the Geneva show floor. For reference, the standard (as if) goes for roughly $400 grand. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart Lamborghini Aventador J→
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.
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→
Special Lamborghini Countach beautifully recreated
Some consider Lamborghini’s Countach the first modern supercar, or at least the first via design to slap the auto world awake to say that styling AND performance dictate what’s a supercar and what’s not.
Countach launched us into the wedge-shaped era for supercars with its trapezoidal panels and slick scissor doors.
Autoart is no stranger to this market either, having launched quite a few Lamborghini models through the years, including some stellar Countachs. Now it recreates the silver 25th Anniversary Countach, marking Lambo’s 25th year in 1988, with a Signature Series 1:18 model.
Autoart recreates Bugatti’s first modern supercar, the EB110 GT
Bugatti’s existence is best characterized by a rollercoaster. Its ups have been spectacular, and its downs, well, also were outs.
But in September of 1991 its new owner introduced the new mid-engine EB110 GT, the 110 signifying the 110th anniversary of company founder Ettore Bugatti’s birth. The EB110 was a supercar ahead of its times in several ways. Sadly, sales results weren’t one of its successes.
Now Autoart has creates a 1:18 version of the 110 GT with its usual eye to detail, and in four colors, blue, white, silver and the dark red of our sample.
Bugatti, an Italian who built his successful company in France, created beautiful high-performance cars for years, its heyday being the 1920 and 30s. But the company floundered after World War II and ceased production in 1963, only to be revived in 1986 by Romano Artiolli. When it appeared in 1991, the 110 GT was Bugatti’s first car in roughly 40 years and it was spectacular.
The supercar featured the low lean look that Ferrari and Lamborghini had been taking to the bank for years, but added scissor-style doors and a 3.6-liter quad-turbo V12 and all-wheel-drive to make it both racy looking and giving it top-shelf performance. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart’s Bugatti EB110 GT→