De Tomaso Pantera GTS – Rally Car?

By Chris Derbyshire


This post is based upon an article written by Chris for ‘Wheel Nuts‘ the South Hants Model Club’s members magazine. We are grateful for permission to use it in MAR Online.

Back in the 1980s I followed many of the British Rally Championship rounds, not least the Manx Rally. It was exciting times with Group B in its pomp,


At no 54 on the 1985 Manx was a black De Tomaso Pantera GTS, driven by John McKerrell navigated by Ian Fisher. Only years later did I realise that John McKerrell was the same person who had navigated Mick Briant to many Motoring News victories.


I have found very little about the car and its exploits save to say that it was rallied in the Forest of Dean within a week of purchase, but it was no match for proper stage prepared cars on the loose. Apart from the obvious problem, the engine could not stand the punishment of the constant high revving in all gears. As many of you will know the Manx tarmac is not that smooth either and fortunately I did get to see the car in action on a couple of the stages before it was finally posted as a retirement. The car was sold soon after as John moved on to try his hand in a Metro 6R4. I understand that the Pantera does still exist? Does anyone have any more information?


Nobody has ever made a model of this car but I had found enough good photos to make it possible. The base model by Minichamps is a standard road version of a Pantera which was purchased through eBay for a mere 25 UK pounds. A brilliant model in its own right it came apart easily enough.


A lot of filler was required to extend the wheel arches, front air dam, the wheels and tyres were sourced from the BTS spares box and the decals were specially made for this model.



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Atlas Jaguar Collection – Jaguar XK120 FHC

By Maz Woolley


It would appear from comments on the Atlas website that 31 models are planned in this series which is a curious number, but which probably reflects the number of Jaguar castings available from PCT Industries owner of Ixo. With this model came a flier for the DeAgostini Mercedes Benz Collection which underlines the gradual convergence between the brands owned by DeAgostini which includes Atlas Editions. Maybe they hope that as the Jaguar collection ends people will switch to the Mercedes Collection?


The latest model in the collection is a Jaguar XK120 Fixed Head Coupe. The XK120 FHC is a very beautiful car, perhaps the purest shape Jaguar made in this series of cars. The FHC was introduced in 1951 three years after the XK120 roadster was launched and it was superseded by the XK140 in 1954.


In 1952 a FHC ran for seven days and seven nights at Montlhéry at an average speed of just over 100mph. The appeal of the FHC to the buyer would have been the more civilised noise levels, the prospect of warmer winter motoring and the addition of wind-up windows and wood veneers on the dashboard and interior door caps.


The model is finished in a metallic silver grey colour which shows off the curvaceous lines of the car well. The standard wheels are also nicely reproduced as is the original narrow grille.  The interior has wood coloured dashboard and printed instruments. A reasonable red leather effect for seats and door cars is set off by a gear lever and handbrake in black. The flush glazing used with the chrome surrounds printed onto raised mouldings is extremely effective and substantially less fragile than the application of photo-etched parts to form the frames which is seen on resin models.


Whilst a good model there are a number of issues with the model, most notably with Quality Control. As the picture below shows the model came out of the packaging with a rear over-rider missing. Minor quibbles are that the final clear coat reflects unevenly under some lights and there is a small mark on the bonnet of the car. I am not a fan of the unauthentic number plate at the rear either which only highlights the lack of a front number plate!


As the model is faulty I have contacted Atlas to get a replacement sent to me. I would like to make some observations on Atlas billing and customer service. This has deteriorated considerably over the last year. Phone calls have recently taken around 30 minutes to connect to an agent and they are failing to respond to emails within the target of two days. In fact they are failing to respond to some emails at all. They were featured on the BBC Watchdog television programme recently with complaints about poor customer service and billing. I think that Atlas needs to make a significant investment in improving its fulfilment activities or they will be in danger of gaining a reputation which will  deter people from subscribing to their collections. Have other readers had similar issues with subscription and partworks suppliers?

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Find them on

The Ford Car in Miniature – Ford Thunderbird Seventh Generation

By Dave Turner

“A New Kind of Thunder” – 7th Generation Thunderbird 1977-79

Photographs of the models discussed may be found at the end of the article.

The 1970s was an extremely difficult time for the US motor industry. Apart from the recently mandated 5mph bumper regulations there was the Government dictated CAFE (corporate average fuel economy targets) as well as escalating fuel prices. Having just produced the biggest and heaviest of all Thunderbirds, sharing much of the huge Lincoln Mk 1V structure, there was a desperate need to downsize the T’bird while at the same time retain its super luxury image and features.

For 1977 therefore, the new Thunderbird can be regarded as the successor to the Gran Torino Elite, as well as a close relation to the then new LTD 11. Compared to the previous car, the 7th incarnation of T’bird was no less than 10” shorter in overall length as well as 4” less in wheelbase and 3” narrower. this allowed the car to be 900 lbs. lighter. This together with uprated steering geometry made the 7th Series much more fun to drive. The styling was extremely sharp and square, featuring such features as hidden headlights and the ‘B’ post that extended up and over the roof liked a tiara in which there were small opera windows that must all have made sense at the time. Engine choices were all V8s, 302, 351 and 400ci all with three speed SelectShift automatic. List price had been able to come down by means of deleting a lot of equipment once regarded as standard on the bigger Thunderbirds, although a new model in mid year called Town Landau identified by the brushed aluminium tiara re-introduced them as standard once more adding 200 pounds to the weight and nearly $3000 to the price.

Luckily for Ford, the new cars were a positive hit and the 7th Generation T’birds were the best selling of the whole models history. Cars for 1978 were changed very little, identified only by their bright trim surrounds for the headlamp covers. A new option this year was a ’T’ bar roof with removable glass panels over the front seats while an additional model celebrated Fords 75th Anniversary. This Diamond Jubilee Edition featured a vinyl covering over the rear roof section that deleted the rear side windows.
Once again, 1979 cars changed very little but could be identified by their changed grille with just three horizontal bars rather than the previous six, and the now divided rather than full width rear lights. The lavish Diamond Jubilee Edition became the Heritage. In just three years total 7th Gen production was 955,032.

For 1980 Thunderbird shrunk even further, being based on the Fox platform that began with the Fairmont and Zephyr going on to feature beneath Mustangs, Capris and Cougars.

In view of the real cars popularity when new, it is a little surprising that only a couple of models of the the 7th variant of Thunderbird have so far been found. No models at all of the next smaller T’birds have been found!

For 38 years since the real car appeared, Lindbergs 1:32 plastic kit was the only model of these Thunderbirds available, it is of the simple ‘Snap fit’ type so that assembly should be straightforward, its ultimate success depends solely on how it is painted.

Recently a superb 1:43 ’79 model came from Neo, the detail of which takes time to study. It appears to depict a car with the Sports Decor-Group of extras that include the styled road wheels and the extra instruments in the dash. Even the seat belts are visible extending down from their roof mounting although the dummy luggage straps on the trunk lid are omitted.


Lindberg 1977 USA 383 1978 Thunderbird 1:32 plastic kit
Neo 2015 China 44780 1979 Thunderbird 127mm 1:43 resin



1) Linberg 1:32 plastic kit from USA: 383 1978 Thunderbird

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2) Neo 1:43 resin from China: 44780 1979 Thunderbird

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The 1950 Nash Ambassador in Photos

by Mike DeTorrice

For 1950, Nash continued the super sleek styling cycle it began with it’s ’49 cars. [Click for larger images.]



This diecast Ambassador Custom, in 1/43 scale by WhiteBox, does a fine job of capturing the aerodynamic, torpedo-like design of these big Nashes.



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Book Review: British Sporting Cars in Miniature

by Karl Schnelle


David Wright tells us that he has had much complimentary feedback from readers of his latest book, British Sporting Cars in Miniature (2015), and that it is selling well. It covers classic British sporting cars from the early pioneers of the pre-war era, through the golden years of the 1950’s and 1960’s, and includes summaries of the production of the real cars, and a comprehensive selection of the miniatures, both toys and collectors models.

I find it interesting that the title says ‘sporting’ and not the more typical ‘sports’.  In fact, the author gives a definition at the beginning of the book.  Sporting cars include sports cars as well as those that  “may not have great performance but have a presence and attitude”.  That’s a great way to put it.

It features over 1000 color pictures, some never seen before, from both his own collection  and those of a number of serious collectors around the world. This 300 page book, featuring 85 marques of cars, was launched this time last year and, with Christmas here again, could represent a very nice gift for those interested in this field.

Marques include all those that you would expect, but also ones I have never heard of, from Ashley to Unipower!   A mix of obsolete 1/43 diecast and Matchboxes, early white metal kits, and newer Lansdowne, Minichamps, Spark, etc, etc are included.

More details can be found on his website, or email the author at david at   Happy Holidays!

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Auto Cult December 2016

By Maz Woolley

Auto Cult have announced  a new set of models made in China to 1:43 scale in resin, unless otherwise stated.These will be released in December except for one which is now expected in January. All photographs have been supplied by Auto Cult. Their annual book providing the history of the prototypes of the models they have made this year will also be issued either on its own or with a special VW model to accompany it.

E-03008 Gutbrod Superior Sport Roadster


Gutbrod were one of many German small companies who started up just after the Second World War. Initially producing a closed coupe style car called the Superior 600. To increase sales Wendler, an established coachbuilder, were asked to provide a new design which became the Superior Sport.

This roadster was introduced in 1952 and had a fabric roof with a plastic rear window. It was fitted with a two cylinder, two stroke engine made in house of 700cc. It was front wheel drive and had a three speed gearbox and a top speed of around 70mph. Numbers made are disputed but appear to be between 12 and 20.


01002 Walter WZ 1500


Walter were an early pioneer of motoring born in the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Motorbikes were already in production in 1901 and by 1913 the first cars were made. After the First World War the cars continued to be made in the Czech Republic and in 1921 the WZ1500 was launched with a 1500cc, two cylinder, water cooled engine. It was a high performance car for its day.  The car is in the livery for a mountain rally Bergrennen of 1924″.


05009 Bizzarini 1900GT


Giotto Bizzarini was a freelance designer who collaborated on the production of the Ferrari 250 GTO and worked on the development of the 350 GT engine for Lamborghini. By 1965 he had created his own design house Automobilli Bizzarini and whilst working for others he had ambitions to produce his own sports car.

In 1966 the car was presented at the Turin Motor Show. The car had a plastic body on a fine tubular frame and was fitted with a 1900cc engine made by Opel. Given the light weight body and the 110hp produced by the modern Opel engine a top speed of  around 130mph was possible. Again production numbers are not clear but it thought that no more than 17 were made.

The model represents a car from 1969 when the production ceased.




This model was due for sale in December but will now be shipped in January due to some technical issues.

This Austrian made utility vehicle dates from 1968.  It was fist demonstrated on the Kitzsteinhorn. It was targetted for those who needed a utility vehicle for use on mountains.  It used many components of the Steyr-Puch Haflinger but combined them a specially designed chassis and  tracks. It was powered by an air cooled, twin cylinder, boxer engine from the Haflinger.

Between 1968 and 1972 81 of these vehicles were made in Kitzbühl in Austria.


80001 Otto Mathé Fetzenflieger


This is a model made to 1:18 scale.  It is a racer built in Austria by Otto Mathé in 1952 which was nicknamed ‘Fetzenfluzeug’. based on VW components and an 100hp Porsche engine. Mathé  was based in Innsbruck and raced the car up until the end of the 1950s.

The car is on show today in the PROTOTYP  museum in Hamburg.


99116 Set of the Year and 99016 Book 2016


Each year Auto Cult issue an illustrated book giving the background history of all the models that they have made. This comes in two editions. One just consists of the book and the other includes a special model.

This year the special model is the Volkswagen T2b Curry from Austria. A Currywurst is a well known German and Austrian snack consisting of a smoked sausage in a roll with a dollop of ketchup flavoured with curry powder. It tastes marvellous after a few pints of beer!

The vehicle was a collaboration between Austrian artist Erwin Wurm and Volkswagen. It was based on on old VW T2b  and built by trainees from Audi-VW. It was shown in 2015 at Wolfsburg Museum.

Auto Cult have also announced their next 1:18 scale model which will be an Adler Trumf Rennlimousine which is due for release in March 2017.

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Editorial December 2016

This month sees the first anniversary of our website We hope that you are enjoying our posts. We suggest that you get involved with our Facebook page as this is where readers can comment on articles, make suggestions, or even put forward their own ideas. Our thanks to all those who have responded to our posts and to everyone who emails us, writes for MAR Online and who read our posts.

We look forward to 2017 with great interest, even if these unsettled times may bring challenges to model producers and collectors alike. A trend that will continue is the increasing use of ex-partwork castings as a basis for models for other ranges. We have recently seen Greenlight getting involved in this activity, as it allows them to produce models that fit into their usual themes, with the bonus of low development costs. Another trend that is likely to continue is that retail prices will increase, as raw material costs are rising, and currency instability continues. On the positive side, many manufacturers have started to announce interesting model subjects for next year.

The Wessex Toy & Model Collectors Club, which has ordered special Club models from Brooklin since 1987, have announced that there will be no Brooklin club models for 2016. This is due to the number of orders received being below a new minimum batch size of 100 models set by Brooklin. Another sign of the times perhaps? With the Canadian Toy Collectors’ Society ceasing to order club models from Brooklin last year there are now very few club models made by Brooklin. The WMTC prototypes of the Pontiac and Ford Squire woodies hand-made by John Roberts in colours not used by Brooklin in their standard ranges will now remain unique and will be auctioned for charity.

Finally, here is a reminder that we always welcome contributions to MAR Online; short or long. I am sure many readers have news, information or insights to share. Remember we are happy to edit any contributions, so if you haven’t written for us yet, why not give it a try?

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