Model & Toy Cars - Part IV (2014)
Newer toy car photos and stories are posted here.
Read more about the model car business here.
A Reflective Gift: For Christmas, I gave my daughter a chrome diecast 1:43 scale model of a 1939 Delahaye 165 convertible.
One of only two examples built, this V12 Delahaye, with swoopy coachwork by Figoni & Falaschi, was chosen by the French Government to represent France at the 1939 New York World's Fair, where it caused a sensation. The Delahaye 165 was derived from the famous Delahaye 145 racer and used a detuned form of the V12 racing engine.
The chrome finish further emphasizes the sleek nature of the F&F body. The scale model was produced by Les Éditions Atlas, a French firm, on older Ixo tooling.
Les Éditions Atlas is a direct marketing arm of the De Agostini group. Its products are mainly themed magazines and associated collectibles sold by direct subscription or through magazine stands. It has produced a range of collectible vehicles over the years, directed mostly at continental Europe markets. (posted 12/29/14, permalink)
Hard To Find: This 3.5-inch long toy racer, made by PAC, is a reproduction of an early-postwar Tootsietoy model, often described as a 1947 Offenhauser racer.
It is a simple rendering of the Offy-powered sprint cars of the era, perhaps a '47 Kurtis Kraft Midget, many of which were powered a 3-liter, double-overhead cam Offenhauser engine.
Precision Accucast (PAC) was a company founded by Michael Weston. It produced small quantities of reproductions of early Tootsietoy cars, trucks and even produced a K4 Pacific steam locomotive. These toys were made by casting lead alloy into rubber molds - a technique used for many years by jewelry manufacturers. Accucast was located in Massachusetts and operated for only few years in the early 1980s.
PAC models are becoming almost as rare as the original Tootsietoys on which most were based. (posted 12/22/14, permalink)
Risky Business - Investing In Model And Toy Cars: The AACA Museum in Hershey, PA is offering 1:43 scale models of the 1948 Tucker Torpedo, priced at $139.99 each. These miniature sedans are hand cast in white metal by Brooklin Models at a small industrial park in Bath, England. I toured the factory in 1991. The Hemmings article has interesting photos showing the manufacturing and assembly process for producing Brooklin's small Tuckers.
In the early days, the company was based in Brooklin, a suburb of Ontario, Canada (hence the name), but relocated to Great Britain in 1979. Brooklin specializes in American cars, although its Lansdowne line showcases European and British models.
Each model vehicle is crafted by hand ... (more >>>)
Long Cadillac: Cadillac's Fleetwood 75 models were a series of long-wheelbase, limousine-style models manufactured from the mid-1930s to 1987.
This 1:43 scale 1958 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 limousine in navy blue was made in 1996 by USA Models - a sub-brand of Motor City USA. The company was formerly known as Precision Miniatures.
Motor City was a manufacturer of white-metal collectible models, crafted in the U.S. Motor City's brands included Motor City (the top of the line), USA Models, American Models and Design Studio. All scale models were made in extremely limited quantities. The company ceased production in 2008.
Precision Miniatures was started by Gene Parell, who was the former owner of Marque Products, a Southern California mail-order retailer of scale model vehicles. There have been several owners since. Motor City evolved from PM in the late 1980s.
Cadillac produced 1,532 Fleetwood 75s during the 1958 model year. The vast majority were painted black. (posted 12/17/14, permalink)
Plastic Fantasies: The Dimestore Dreams line of molded plastic vehicles was created by collector and toy car enthusiast, Bill Hanlon.
The vehicles are reminiscent of those available from five-and-dime stores in the early postwar years, when the then-new plastics injection molding industry offered toy models which were inexpensive, fairly sturdy (the color was molded in, not painted on) and price-competitive with traditional diecast and pressed tin models.
Some early plastic toy pioneers included Ideal Novelty & Toy Co., Acme Toys, Kilgore, Lapin Products, Gruver Manufacturing, Dillon Beck Mfg. Co. and others. These toys were initially produced using cellulose acetate and, later, high-impact polystyrene and ABS plastics.
Dimestore Dreams vehicles were launched in 2000 and measured 4.75 inches in length. These simple but clever toys were offered in colorful boxes (somewhat reminiscent of early Matchbox boxes) and sold for a mere $4 each.
They are still available and are now sold under the name American Dimestore. (posted 12/8/14, permalink)
Resurrecting Old Memories: One of the toys I remember from when I was four years old or so, was a Tootsietoy model of a Buick. I found out later that it was a somewhat crude interpretation of the 1938 Buick Y-Job, General Motors' first show car.
In 1981, I found an example at a San Francisco-area model car swap meet. It had no wheels and most of the paint was gone; I acquired it for the princely sum of $1.
I purchased some white rubber wheels and chrome axles for it and treated it to a yellow paint job like the color of my original Tootsietoy Buick. I painted the interior a contrasting brown color and detailed the grille, bumpers, hood ornament and headlights with chrome-silver model paint.
Noboru Nakajima, a renowned Japanese collector of toy vehicles - his collection once exceeded 50,000 models, said it poetically, "Old toys have their times' hearts, which seem to talk to me."
Most people collect a specific toy for sentimental reasons - a contemplation of memories rather than a drive to acquire. That's why I like my little Buick. (posted 12/4/14, permalink)
Scale Model T&C Woodies: In 1990, I purchased a maroon Chrysler Town & Country convertible made by Motor City USA.
These handbuilt white metal models were manufactured in Southern California in very limited quantities. The models were expensive, costing over $200 new. Motor City USA stopped offering models in 2008 or so. I later sold my maroon Chrysler at a nice profit. eBay is currently showing this model with asking prices of $450 and up.
A much cheaper, lighter and sturdier alternative is Vitesse's T&C convertible model. I bought my silver-blue example in 1991 for less than $30.
Read more about the full-size Town & Country here. (posted 11/28/14, permalink)
Birthday Packard: Over the weekend we celebrated my daughter's birthday. She is a fan of Packard automobiles, so I presented her with a 1:24 scale diecast model of a 1953 Caribbean.
This pricey top-of-the-line offering was Packard's 'halo' model; much of its styling was derived from the Packard Pan American show car of 1952. Offered only as a convertible, 750 Caribbeans were built for the '53 model year. Priced at $5,210, the Caribbean carried quite a premium over the regular Packard convertible ($3,486), although it was far less costly than the $7,750 Cadillac Eldorado convertible of the same year. (posted 11/11/14, permalink)
American Beauty: I've designated the 1936-37 Cord 810/812 as one of the Ten Best-Looking American Production Cars.
These three examples of the 1:43 scale Cord 812 were made by Matchbox as part of their Yesteryear series of vehicles. The red and maroon examples were die cast in England in the early 1980s; I purchased the red Cord at an Oregon Bi-Mart discount store in 1981 for $5.24. The yellow example was manufactured in Macau in 1990; I purchased it from a now-defunct retail model shop in Birmingham England.
This blue 1:43 scale Cord 812 was made by Ixo in 2011 as part of their continuing Museum Collection.
The body design of the Cord 810/812 was the work of designer Gordon M. Buehrig and his team of stylists. The unforgettable, handsome and distinctive coffin nose can be seen from the opposite end of any Concours show field - it's that distinctive.
The first American front-wheel drive car with independent front suspension caused a sensation at the New York Auto Show in November 1935. The crowds around the new Cord were so dense, that attendees stood on the bumpers of nearby cars just to get a look. Many orders were taken at the show but no production vehicles were available until February 1936.
|This 1937 Cord was displayed at the Simeone Auto Museum in Philadelphia. Dr. Frederick Simeone is a neurosurgeon and serious car guy. His father was physician and car enthusiast as well. My wife's dad - a precision machinist - fabricated some of the impossible to find parts for a few of the cars, including this '37 Cord.
The 810/812 series was the last gasp of the dying Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg empire. After ACD folded, the Cord tooling was used to produce other makes of automobiles. (posted 11/5/14, permalink)
Something Western: This 1:43 scale model of a 1940 Packard Darrin was made by Western Models Limited in 1981.
Western, an English maker of handbuilt white metal models, offered the Packard Darrin in various colors over the years, including gold, green, red and black. Western Models was founded in 1973 and initially concentrated on automotive subjects but today produces only aviation models.
More information on the Packard Darin is posted here. (posted 11/3/14, permalink)
Driving With Mickey: I have a model of Mickey Mouse driving a colorful, stylized Manoil Graham roadster with white tires and a side-mount spare. This non-scale model, made by Pride Lines Ltd., is about 4.5 inches long and looks good on a layout running vintage Lionel O-gauge tinplate trains.
Jack and Maurice Manoil began making diecast cars in the mid-1930s - most were stylized versions of real cars or futuristic cars. As a young child, I played with a blue Manoil tow truck.
The New York firm went out of business in 1955. In the 1980s, the old Manoil dies were located and purchased by Pride Lines Ltd. of Lindenhurst, NY. The company modified the cars and added licensed Disney figures behind the wheel.
Pride Lines had a long relationship with Disney, starting in the 1970s. Several years ago, the relationship was terminated and Pride Lines scrambled to produce non-Disney-related items. There have been no new products forthcoming recently and the Pride Lines website is down, so they may now be out of business. (posted 10/14/14, permalink)
Dream Wagon: In 1988, Great American Dream Machines, a now-defunct maker of handbuilt white metal models, produced a very nice 1:43 scale replica of the 1954 Chevrolet Nomad concept car, finished in the correct color combination of white over silver-blue.
The model was manufactured in England by Scale Model Technical Services Ltd. More information on the Motorama 1954 Corvette Nomad dream car can be found here. (posted 9/30/14, permalink)
Bird Is The Word: The 1957 Ford Thunderbird has been modeled by many manufacturers in many scales.
I have two nice 1:43 examples manufactured by ERTL in China. The white over blue example was made in 1989 as part of ERTL's Vintage Vehicles series; the all-white ERTL model was issued in 1990 as part of ERTL's Classic Vehicles series.
More information on the 1957 Thunderbird can be found here. (posted 8/29/14, permalink)
Styling Special: Here's another scale model auto I received for my birthday last week:
Styled by Virgil Exner and built for C. B. Thomas, the head of Chrysler's Export Division, the 1952 Chrysler Styling Special was just one in a long series of style prototypes commissioned by Exner and built by Ghia. Another such example was the 1954 Dodge Firearrow IV.
Asked about his show cars by writer Michael Lamm in the early 1970s, Exner explained: "There was really only a single purpose in all of them, and that was to let the public know that Chrysler was thinking ahead as far as styling was concerned."
Built on a Chrysler New Yorker chassis, the Thomas car made its public debut at the 1953 Paris Auto Show. Reportedly, Ghia built it for less than $20,000. This one-off show car is still around and was sold in 2006 for $715,000 by RM Auctions. (posted 8/13/14, permalink)
Birthday Presents With Wheels: Here are three of my birthday gifts:
(posted 8/6/14, permalink)
|This particular scale model reminds me of my parents' car - a dark blue 1936 Ford Tudor trunkback sedan:
|The 1958 Buick Century Caballero was Buick's answer to the pillarless hardtop station wagon market. This four-door hardtop wagon was General Motors' most expensive station wagon, priced at $3,831. The heavy hauler is powered by Buick's 300 horsepower nailhead V-8 engine. Only 4,456 examples were made in '58. The NEO scale model reminded me of the full-size example I spotted at the LeMay Museum in Tacoma:
|The fourth generation Corvette (C4) had a body with a very 'tailored' look and represents one of GM Design's finer moments. It still looks good today. Because my good friend Ray has a full-size yellow 1988 C4 Corvette, I gave him this model for his birthday in April. But I liked the model so much that I decided to buy one for me too. Here's Ray's Corvette parked in front of a Krispy Kreme store. Note the boxes of donuts on the rear package shelf:
Zephyr - The Swoopy, Gorgeous Car That Saved Lincoln: I purchased this 1937 Lincoln Zephyr coupe back in 2004. Originally priced at $80 by most model car sites, I found a new one online for only $45 - a bargain.
Manufactured by ERTL, most noted for its extensive line of farm equipment, the Zephyr is listed by the factory as 'burgundy' in color but is very dark - almost black - with a hint of brown. I've written about the real '37 Zephyr here. (posted 7/18/14, permalink)
Scale Delights: I received six 1:43 scale model cars as Father's Day gifts:
(posted 6/19/14, permalink)
|The Aston Martin DB4 was sold from 1958 until '63. Designed by Carrozzeria Touring in Milan, its Continental looks caused a sensation at the 1958 London Motor Show. The DB4 was the first Aston to be built at the company's Newport Pagnell works in Buckinghamshire, England. Tested by The Motor magazine in 1960, the DB4 had a top speed of 139 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 9.3 seconds.
|I've often admired the Facel Vega and have written much more about it here. These two new models make a fine addition to my little car collection.
|Based on the 1100 sedan line, the Fiat TV (Turismo Veloce) offered American-inspired design with split, recessed grille, roll-up windows, turbine-style wheel covers and wraparound windshield. Fiat stylist Esparsa Comprenelli designed the little TV - it was only 148 inches long and rode on a 97 inch wheelbase. About 2,300 of these small, 53 horsepower sportsters were built.
|I am always happy to get another scale model of the classic Corvette Sting Ray because I used to own a full-size example.
|Ford produced the mid-engined two-seater GT sports car for the 2005 and '06 model years. The styling was inspired by the Ford GT-40 race cars of the 1960s although the GT was larger in size in order to accommodate larger people. The supercharged V8 engine produced 550 horsepower and was mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The GT was priced at $149,995 but dealers added as much as $100,000 extra mark-up because of high initial demand. This well-made 1:43 scale model was a bargain at a price of less than eight bucks.
Among My Souvenirs: At its peak, the William F. Harrah Automobile Collection consisted of approximately 1,400 vintage automobiles. After Bill Harrah died in 1978, the casino and auto collection were acquired by Holiday Inns. The hotel chain planned on selling off most of the car collection. An outcry by locals led to Holiday Inn donating 175 vehicles to establish the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada, a collection also referred as The Harrah Collection. Holiday Inns did sell the biggest part of the collection at auction for $100 million.
When I visited the Reno museum in 1984, I picked up a cheap-and-cheerful souvenir - it probably cost less than $3. It's a Model T Ford, roughly 1:43 in scale but it's too tall (2.65 inches) and rather short (2.5 inches long). When you point the windshield toward the light and look through the circular back window you can see a Viewmaster-like color slide show of eight of Bill Harrah's most prized vehicles, including his 1931 Bugatti Type 41 Royale Coupe de Ville which won Best of Show at Pebble Beach in 1966. A button on the bottom of the Model T brings up the next image when pushed. (posted 5/7/14, permalink)
Something Colorful For Easter: How about a yellow and white '56 Ford? This Fairlane sedan - my Easter gift - has been modeled in 1:43 scale by WhiteBox, a house brand from Model Car World, a retailer in Florsheim, Germany.
Only 1,000 or so pieces were produced in this color combo. (posted 4/27/14, permalink)
Crawling For A Model: For some time now, I've been looking for a bulldozer or crawler tractor to adorn my O-gauge model train layout. Last month, I acquired a new 1:43 diecast model of a 1930 Cletrac 20K crawler made by Universal Hobbies, the same firm that produced the Ferguson tractor model I acquired in 2008.
The Cletrac was made by Cleveland Tractor Co. The Model K (later known as the Cletrac '20') was introduced in 1925 with a 15-25 hp rating, but was soon uprated to 20-27 hp. The engine was built in house. Production lasted from 1925 until 1932.
In 1944, the Cleveland Tractor Co. was purchased by the Oliver Corporation, who continued to offer Cletrac crawlers under their own name, until they in turn were bought out by the White Motors Corporation in 1960. (posted 4/7/14, permalink)
Gift Of Love: I'm late in reporting this because we were away on Valentine's Day but my wife gifted me with a 1:43 scale model of a 1972 Ford Torino hardtop coupe.
This diecast was made by Premium X Models, a firm located in Shenzhen, China. The little Torino is incredibly well-detailed, including the stump of a retracted radio antenna, painted exhaust system and even a period-correct Texas license plate.
I have always liked the looks of the '72 Ford Torino. I remember reading that a soon-to-retire Ford engineer purchased three of them, having seen future models and deciding that the 1972 Torino was "the last good Ford." He felt that a trio of them would last for his remaining years. I wonder if they did? (posted 3/6/14, permalink)
Racy Italian: Lancia presented the Bertone-designed Lancia Stratos prototype at the 1971 Turin Motor Show. The Stratos was a small car with a 86-inch wheelbase and overall length of 146 inches. But it looked larger in photos because it was only 44 inches tall.
The Stratos' flared fenders and tapering greenhouse reminded me of some of the mid-engine sports car designs I used to sketch in the late 1960s.
The Lancia Stratos was a very successful rally car during the '70s and early '80s; it was the first car designed from scratch for this kind of competition.
A road-going version of the Lancia Stratos was called the Stradale. Powered by the Dino 2.4 L V6 engine that was also fitted to the rallying versions, but in a lower state of tune. It could do 0-60 mph in under five seconds and had a top speed of over 140 mph. From 1972-74, fewer than 500 examples of the Stratos were produced.
One of the models I received for Christmas was a very nice 1:43 scale diecast of a Lancia Stratos Stradale, produced by the German firm Minichamps. (posted 1/27/14, permalink)
A Bit Of Bond: Another of my miniature automotive Christmas gifts was a 1:43 scale model of a 2003 Aston Martin Vanquish. It was a diecast model made by Vitesse in China. Once a producer of scale models in Portugal, Vitesse is now owned by the Sun Star Models Development Ltd. of Macau.
The Aston Martin Vanquish was introduced in 2001. The V12 Vanquish, designed by Ian Callum, was unveiled at the 2001 Geneva Motor Show and was produced from 2001 to 2005. It was featured as the official James Bond car in the 2002 film 'Die Another Day'. (posted 1/23/14, permalink)
Vintage Stunner: Since its founding in the 1920s, Jaguar has always offered sporting cars. Yes, saloons were produced for gentlemen who required extra doors or wealthy, portly lads who couldn't fit in a sports car, but the Jag flagship was always a sports car.
When the Jaguar XK 120 burst on the automotive scene at the 1948 London Motor Show, the British sports car stunned the public. Its swoopy lines were quite a contrast with other British two-seaters - as well as older Jags - and made all of them look stodgy and ancient by comparison. The XK became a big hit in the U.S.; in fact, almost all early XKs were exported to North America. (In 1952, Jaguar was exporting 96% of its annual output, mostly to the U.S.) It became the car of movie stars, wealthy enthusiasts and sporting, trust-fund cads.
Introduced in late 1954 and sold as a '55 model, the Jaguar XK 140 replaced the XK120. The styling was quite similar to the 120. Upgrades included more substantial front and rear bumpers with overriders, more interior space, improved brakes, better suspension and rack and pinion steering.
The XK 140 was fast and looked like speed even when parked. Growing up, my car buddies and I lusted after Jaguar XKs and were greatly excited whenever a rare sighting was made. I still have an XK 150 catalog from the 1960 Philadelphia Auto Show. The 150 was introduced in mid-1957 and was the evolutionary successor to the 140.
I eventually became a Jaguar owner but never owned a sporty XK Jag. Until now.
For Christmas, I received a 1:43 scale diecast model of a red 1956 XK 140 drop-head coupe made by Ixo Models. It makes a great addition to my model car collection and I currently have it placed in a coveted parking spot on my O-gauge model train layout.
From 1954-57, a total of 8,884 XK 140s were produced. (posted 1/15/14, permalink)
Shapely Italian: Another Christmas gift I received is a model of a 1948 Cisitalia 202 SC coupe with coachwork by Pinin Farina. This 1:43 diecast was produced by Starline Models, a German firm which has its models manufactured in China.
Cisitalia (aka - Compagnia Industriale Sportiva Italia) produced sports and racing cars from the postwar 1940s to the early 1950s. The Cisitalia 202 debuted at the 1947 Paris Motor Show and was produced through 1952.
The Pinin Farina design was honored by New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1951. In the MOMA's first exhibit on automotive design, called 'Eight Automobiles', the Cisitalia was displayed with seven other cars (1930 Mercedes-Benz SS tourer, 1939 Bentley saloon with coachwork by James Young, 1939 Talbot-Lago Figoni teardrop coupé, 1951 Willys Jeep, 1937 Cord 812 Custom Beverly Sedan, 1948 MG TC, and the 1941 Lincoln Continental coupe).
The Cisitalia 202 was not commercial success because it was it was quite expensive. Only 170 were produced between 1947 and 1952. (posted 1/13/14, permalink)
Sharknose Drop-Top: As part of my Christmas bounty, I received several model cars. One was a 1:43 model of a 1939 Graham-Paige convertible.
The Graham-Paige has a striking styling. The Model 97, which the company dubbed 'Spirit of Motion', looked like it was going 60 mph when standing still. The fenders, wheel openings and grille all appeared to be moving forward.
The new Graham styling was praised in the American press and by designers. It also won the prestigious Salons D'Elegance in Paris, Lyons, Bordeaux and Marseilles. The buying public dubbed it the Sharknose and stayed away in droves. Part of the problem may have been the limited body styles available: a four-door sedan, supplemented by the addition of a stylish two-door club coupe in 1939.
At least two 'Spirit of Motion' convertibles were created by European coachbuilders. One, produced by a Belgian shop, Vesters & Neirinck, has been modeled in 1:43 scale by Ixo. This blue example was offered by Special C and was made using the Ixo tooling.
More information on the Graham-Paige Sharknose can be found here. (posted 1/9/14, permalink)
Something Red For Christmas: My daughter gave me a 1:43 scale model of a 1936 Mercedes Benz 540K Roadster as a gift.
While it's a very nice model, the massive Mercedes Benz 540K is even more impressive when viewed full-size, as we did at the Allure of the Automobile exhibit in 2011.
Offered from 1936 to '38, the Mercedes 540K was one of the most handsome prewar sports touring cars produced. The straight-8, 330 cubic-inch supercharged engine could produce 180 horsepower on demand. The car had a top speed of 110 mph. (posted 1/7/14, permalink)
A Reflective Gift: My daughter loves Bugattis, so I presented her with this chrome diecast 1:43 scale model of a 1938 Type 57SC Atlantic on Christmas Day.
It was diecast for the Special C brand and came from a supplier in Germany. (posted 1/3/14, permalink)
More toy car photos and stories are posted here. Read more about the model car business here.
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copyright 2014 - Joseph M. Sherlock - All applicable rights reserved
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