1991 Alfa Romeo SZ

By Karl Schnelle

For the last couple years, I have driven down to Nashville, TN, in the autumn to drive a car from the Lane Motor Museum.    If you are lucky enough and have the funds, you can sign up for a Rally to drive their cars if you donate a certain amount to the museum.  The museum wins and the participants win!  Plus the cars get to be driven as they should be on the back roads of Tennessee for a day.

Being an Alfafanatic, I saw that the museum had just acquired an Alfa Romeo SZ (Sport Zagato) and it was on the 2018 Rally list!   Somehow, I was so extremely fortunate that I was the first in line for this car.  I got my buddy Skip, a fellow car guy and 1/43 collector,  to co-drive since you really need a navigator to read the Rally book and call out directions. He did not need any convincing!

The museum has a short write-up on the car, so I won’t repeat the whole story.  In 1988, Alfa Romeo and Zagato collaborated on a show car based on the Alfa 75 (Milano) sedan, but with 3L V-6 engine, called the ES-30.  The slab-sided body was a little ‘wedgy’ (it was the 1980s!) and nicknamed “Il Mostro”, the Monster.  Either you love it, or you hate it, as they say.  Enough people liked it that they produced 1000 red examples for sale and 1 black one for Signor Zagato from 1989-91.

The Models

After the Rally, I came home and dug out my SZ models.  I have three or four.  I am mainly a 1:43 guy, so I do not have the 1:18 from BBR Top Marques, the 1:24 Alfa Centenary partwork by Hachette, or the small 1:64 from Kyosho.

Being in the US, Matchbox are common so I do have this little 1:55 Matchbox in all red.  Matchbox made many different ones right after the real one came out.

SMTS in their 1/43 Voiturette series made a very nice white metal version.  I acquired this heavy Monster in 1993, so I did not get the newer handmade resin Make Up model later.

Finally, Spark made both the red and black versions in 1:43 over ten years ago, so I picked up the black one.

Have you seen other SZs out there in model form?  Please let me know.

We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page,  or email us at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.

Atlas Dinky Deluxe 523 Simca 1500

By Maz Woolley

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

The latest instalment of the DInky Deluxe Series arrived from Atlas recently. It is a reproduction of French Dinky 523 Simca 1500 painted in light blue one of the two colours seen on this casting, the other was metallic grey. The original Dinky was launched in 1963 the same year that the car was launched with a choice of 1300 and 1500cc engines and was withdrawn in 1969.  It was later re-numbered as 1523. The box with its full period artwork and features list is well reproduced though it struggles to hold the car in its tray and wrapping and mine has come unglued. The period artwork is delightful featuring the car and a very empty Parisian roundabout.

The car features the French Dinky baggage set  to put in the boot which is the only opening feature, and which sadly refused to pose in an open position for the photographs!

The interior is typical red one part tub with seats moulded in and it includes featureless door cards and a simple moulded dashboard. A large steering wheel in white is fitted.

A photograph of the side of the car shows that the overall shape is good and the minimal detail reflects the fact that the original car was devoid of fussy side strips or decorations other than the strip below the doors which has been moulded and painted as it was on the original Dinky.

The front is neatly modelled with the headlight jewels at the full expected size unlike the recent Police Citroen DS. Bumpers are neatly picked out. The indicators are moulded in below the headlights but are not painted.

From the rear the original shape rear end which was altered when the model became the 1301 and 1501 later is neatly cast. Its round light cluster is well captured and the small red jewel makes a nice rear light. The rear number plate is picked out in black when the front one is left in body colour, again a true replica of the original model.

My Atlas accounts shows the next car due as the Opel Rekord II.

We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page,  or email us at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.

Goldvarg September 2018

By Maz Woolley

All text by, and copyright of the Author. Photographs have all been provided by the Manufacturer.

It is amazing to think that Sergio Goldvarg only returned to producing 1:43 scale models just over a year ago. Since then licences have been obtained from Ford and General Motors and once the first cars were released a steady stream of new ones has been announced. The cars are resin moulded to 1:43 scale and finished in China to Sergio’s specification. Lots of attention is paid to having pre-production tryouts made and shown to knowledgeable collectors to help get them absolutely right before production. These pre-production samples also help Sergio to get a good idea of the colours that will sell strongly and builds up a direct relation between the maker and the collectors.

Most of the releases to date have sold out at Goldvarg Collectibles, though some can still be found on the inventories of retail sellers. What is also amazing is that the US price of some of the cars to pre-order today are still at the bargain $99 launch price, and even a few that are not are only $109. This seems to be a bargain price at a time when prices from  European companies like Matrix and Brooklin have increased very significantly over the same period and other competitors are much dearer anyway.

So lets look at some of the models announced but not yet shipped.

1961 PONTIAC CATALINA Twilight Mist


The 1961 Catalina sold for less than a Chevrolet Impala yet was fitted with a better automatic box and was kitted out to the standards of a Oldsmobile and was cheaper than that too. The new squarer, straight through, wing styling front and back heralded the start of the much more conservative styling of the early 1960s.

The Goldvarg model captures the complex curves and pressed surfaces very well.

GC-007 B 1970 FORD Galaxie Caramel Bronze

The 1970 Ford Galaxie was a full-sized car. The name was used for the top models in Ford’s full-size range competing with the Chevrolet Impala. Here the Goldvarg model has captured the typical early 1970s shape well and the intricately finished rear chrome panel and badging are worthy of note.

This car is also to be available in metallic silver with a black vinyl roof.

GC-008 A 1965 MERCURY PARK LANE MARAUDER Ocean Turquoise


In 1965 the chassis of full-size Ford and Mercury cars was redesigned and the Mercury line was given much flatter sides. a much more slab-sided appearance. Europeans will see the influence of the front end on both the German Ford Taunus 17M and the British Mark III Cortina.

The Goldvarg model again has very fine grille work as well as badging. The car is also available in a nice metallic gold finish.

GC-009 A 1969 FORD TORINO Calypso coral


The Ford Torino modelled by Goldvarg is an early car from the second year of production. It is nice to see an earlier Torino as the Starsky and Hutch car has meant that most Torinos produced have been 1973 cars. The Torino filled the mid-range segment and was named after the Italian city of Turin, perhaps to add some suggestion of Italian style to what was only a Ford Fairlane in disguise.

The Goldvarg model looks good even in this early pre-production form with the wheels still not ready to show. The front grille seems to be very neatly replicated and the badging too.It is also to be available in a yellow which is undoubtedly period correct but much less attractive to my eye.

GC010 A 1963 FORD FALCON SPRINT Rangoon Red


The Falcon was the small platform in the Ford line up from 1961 onwards. By 1963, there were two and four door sedans, convertibles, wagons and hardtops. In mid-year a V8 was offered for the first time in the Sprint line only. The Sprint acted as a test bed for the soon to be launched Ford Mustang which may have looked very different but was pure Falcon underneath!

The pre-production model has a few parts that are not yet finely finished as I expect that they will be when the model is launched. But  it captures the lights and grille very well as well as side spear and badging.

This model will also be available in Polar White.

1963 Chevy Nova Laurel Green


The Chevrolet Chevy II/Nova was the smallest platform for Chevrolet cars and went through five generations after being introduced in 1962. Its influence on GMs former European Opel division is clear to see. Powered by four or six cylinder engines the Chevy II/Nova started out intending to be a thrifty purchase but as time went on more expensive variants rapidly emerged. By 1963 the Nova option for the Chevy II was available in a convertible body style, and a two-door hardtop was available from 1962 to 1965. All Chevy two-door hardtops in the range were marketed as the Sport Coupe .For 1963, the Chevy II Nova Super Sport was released and it featured special emblems, an instrument package, wheel covers, special side mouldings, bucket seats, and floor gear change.

The Goldvarg is still at the prototype phase but  seems to me to capture the original car exceptionally well with excellent fine detailing to finish the relatively simple shape of the car well.

1956 MERCURY MONTEREY Station Wagon


The Marquis-Monterey range had a longer wheelbase and longer body than the Ford LTD, Ford Galaxie, and Ford Custom. The 1956 model had a new engine, the 235 hp (175 kW) 312 cu. in. This year, along with the rest of Ford, Mercury cars started to sport the ‘Lifeguard’ safety equipment. The deep-dish steering wheel and safety door locks were standard.

Here the Goldvarg is in very early prototype form and we can expect to see more prototypes as the details are developed and the colours are tested. Here we can see that the shape seems well developed and the side mouldings are being readied for the woodie treatment.

1962 Buick Electra


The Buick Electra was a full-size luxury car included in the Buick range from 1959 to 1990.  Famed for its extreme rear wings when first introduced it was offered in many forms over the years and here it is in two door coupe form.  The 1962 model had four VentiPorts per front wing and was restyled from 1961 version. The car was fitted with many luxury fitments as standard but came with a lot of options too.

Again this is an early prototype but it clearly has the correct shape and stance and we can look forward to seeing more developed prototypes in the near future.

1964 Pontiac Grand Prix


The 1962-1964 Pontiac Grand Prix achieved strong sales for General Motors during its run,  It set to win over the buyers of Ford Thunderbirds, amongst others. Based on the Catalina hardtop coupe it had unique styling touches and was fitted with T-Bird style bucket seats and a large central console. The name, Grand Prix, was used to add associations to speed and daring. The car could be fitted out with one of five versions of Pontiac’s superb Trophy 389 V-8, from a 230-horsepower economy special to a high-compression Tri-Power version (three two-barrel carburetors) with 348 hp. This, and its lower weight, made the GP faster than the T-Bird. A three-speed manual gearbox was standard, but most GPs were ordered with the new “Roto” Hydra-Matic, a new three-speed torque-converter box. An alternative option taken by enthusiasts was a four-speed manual floorshift.

Again the Goldvarg is in its early stages and much fine detail is yet to be added. The shape appears to be caught very well which is important as the GP is a relatively plain car with limited chrome adornments.

Our look at what is on the way from Goldvarg ends here but I am sure that there are yet other drawings, and work in hand, on yet more models. The current trend for Goldvarg to produce cars from the 1960s seems to be popular with many collectors as there are a lot of cars from that era yet to be modelled well. If you are interested in Goldvarg models their website is https://www.goldvargcollection.com/

We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page,  or email us at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.

Editorial October 2018

October marks the beginning of the final quarter of 2018. Announcements from Oxford Diecast and other manufacturers of their next set of releases, reaching into 2019 are imminent. As ever, it will be interesting to see what the model makers propose, and whether neglected eras and companies come to the fore at last. In the USA Goldvarg has already announced models of US sedans from the early 1960s, which have been hard to find in the past.

My impression is that during 2018 prices of models have generally continued to rise, in all scales, at a faster rate than general inflation, with a particularly rapid escalation in prices for some smaller scale resin makers and the largest remaining white metal producer. Many 1:43 scale resin ranges have crossed the psychological barrier of 100 Euros, which at current consumer exchange rates equates to around 100 GB Pounds. In the US the hundred-dollar barrier has been well and truly passed by many ranges, indeed Brooklin are now breaking the two hundred dollar mark for some products. As ever, we wonder whether this will lead to collectors buying fewer models? Maybe at these new higher prices the product is more difficult to sell, which reduces the income level, and thus makes it necessary to raise the price of the next model?

We congratulate those makers who have tried to keep price rises to a minimum, such as many of the industrial diecast producers like Oxford Diecast, Welly, Burago, Greenlight, and a few others. But even there prices have risen somewhat, due to increased production and shipping costs in China.

We hear of some companies looking for other countries in which to produce models in future, as costs for Chinese production continue to rise, and as other potential political difficulties loom on the horizon. One country which has been suggested to us as a potential manufacturing partner in future is Vietnam.

One wonders what the future impact will be of impending tariff wars between the USA and other countries (China in particular of course), and also the possible impact of ‘Brexit’ here in the UK.

Many thanks to the two generous readers who have made contributions towards next year’s hosting. Their names have been added to the charter subscribers page. If you would like to add a donation as well, then please email maronlineeditor@gmail.com for details of how to participate.

Abrex Skoda 136 Rapid

By Maz Woolley

All text and photographs by, and copyright of the Author unless otherwise acknowledged.

Abrex are a Czech firm who have models diecast in China to 1:43 scale.  Their models have previously been cast by Hongwell and the latest model looks like a Hongwell production as well. The focus of the Abrex range in recent years has been Skoda cars and in particular the later releases produced after they were taken over by Volkswagen. But in between the new cars they have produced models of the older cars produced when they were behind the iron curtain.

In recent times Abrex output had slowed down and the retail model shop associated with them in Prague stopped trading.  Just a few months before that they had announced an intention to make the 136 Rapid but when contacted on Facebook they said that it was unlikely to be released. Turn the clock forward a couple of years and to my surprise an Italian model shop trading on eBay advertised Abrex Skoda 136 Rapid models in various colours and in right and left hand drive. Since then I have also seen the models listed by UK importers.

Skoda publicity shot as shown on AROnline..co.uk

So why all the interest? I owned two Skoda Estelles, a 120 and a 130. I found them comfortable, quick enough to keep up and reliable. The jokes about Skodas were commonplace, but Skoda owners had the last laugh as the contemporary UK built cars were not noted for reliability or build quality but cost a lot more. What is more Skodas were fun to drive once you got used to the tail heavy handling and light steering. The interior plastics were crude but they stood up to kids and life in general. I always hankered after a 136 Rapid after the famous Autocar review proclaiming it to be “As Much Fun as a 911” , see cover reproduced below. But two door cars and young children did not mix so I never had the chance to buy one.

Autocar front cover image as shown on AROnline.co.uk


So to the Abrex model. This captures the lines of the original vehicles very well. To my eyes the 136 was quite a balanced design and the model catches the fact that the car has a complex series of curved surfaces – no box shapes here.

The black paint is not as even as it could be, though it appears to have a clear acrylic coat over the top to give it a nice shine. This is quite appropriate as Skoda black paint often showed an ‘orange peel’ texture.

The wheels are not bad replicas of the original ones which were British. The empty containers going back to Skoda from the UK were full of Goodyear tyres, UK sourced sun roof mechanisms, and UK sourced alloy wheels. In return most cars sold in the UK were fitted with those items which added to the showroom appeal.

The rear of the car with the badging and large rear lights as well as the exhaust pipe and the matt bumpers is all very well modelled. Underneath the base plate has been given some detail and the spare wheel which sat at the front under the luggage space has also been modelled in showing above the front cross member.

Inside the car is all black but that is exactly what the real one was often like. The door cards and dashboard are neatly moulded with quite a bit of detail. The instruments are also moulded in though none are highlighted in any way. The steering wheel looks accurate too.

There are a few minor issues with the car in RHD form. Firstly, the sunroof should have been scribed on this car as to my memory this model was always fitted with a sun roof. Secondly, the Czech number plates need swapping for UK ones. something I may do later.

All in all though a good model of a largely forgotten car of which only a handful remain in the UK, and for me a reminder of reading that particular edition of Autocar and wishing I could own the real thing.

We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page,  or email us at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.

Togi History – Part IX

by Karl Schnelle and Koen Beekmann

We are now more than half way through the Togi story! In Part VIII of this series, we looked at the Togi Alfa Romeo Carabo and Montreal.    Now, we will examine the more sedate sedan from the early 1970s.  The actual 1750 Berlina  came out in 1968, and then Alfa Romeo upgraded it to the 2.0 liter 4-cylinder, the 2000,  in 1971.  Production at Alfa lasted until 1977.

In 1972, a year after the Montreal, Togi introduced the 2000 Berlina.   The baseplate is marked “Scala 1:23-8/72”.   The red Togi below was bought in Belgium at the local Alfa dealer in the mid 1990s.

As a side note, my Dad bought a 1972 2000 in the USA new.  I remember it being a metallic light blue.  I don’t remember ever seeing a family photo of it, oh well.

The Alfa Romeo 2000 Berlina is perhaps the most beautiful Togi casting.  There are a few different evolutions. The oldest model has 4 opening doors, hood, and trunk.  That 4 door version is special because they seem to be very rare. You usually find the model with only the front doors that can be opened (like the red one above). The model was developed in 1972 and at some point later, Togi decided to simplify the molds and to close those rear doors, unfortunately.

Here are two prototype bodies sitting on a Togi bench (photo from an old 1970’s Alfa Romeo magazine):

It turns out that differences can also be seen in the first version; the hinges on those rear doors were redesigned. The very first version had a base that was part of the bodywork and  the door was hinged to  the body with a thin pin (a kind of clipped pin).  A later version has a kind of (black) bridge that is screwed to the bottom plate by means of 2 screws to which the doors hang.

So there are three different versions and not two. In the photos are three old versions, borrowed from a fellow Alfa Romeo collector (Frank Janssen, with photos by Benjan Spiele).  The dark blue is a special version that has been fitted with other wheels by Togi:

The beige one has the oldest hinge design:

Raw castings of the later version (2 opening doors) were pictured in the Togi article in Quattroruotine magazine N°206, Nov. 1997:

Many different views of a later version one can be seen in the next photo.  The baseplate shows where the two holes for the rear doors were filled in. 

And with all parts opened:

A few special versions exist.  Were they one-off, limited editions, or promotional items?   An early 2000 Berlina with 4 opening doors could be a promo for the Mondialpol security company. Striking is the searchlight on the roof that can not be found on any other Togi. This model was on display ten years ago at the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo in Arese. (photo Dinky Boy)

Other specials are the Carabinieri and a Polizia (with Togi scratched off the baseplate).   Was that a prototype from the factory or a 3rd party version?  Who knows.

And finally, here is an early advertisement from a 1973 magazine:

Next in Part X, we will look at all the Togi Alsasud variations!

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Autopioneer September 2018

By Maz Woolley

All text by, and copyright of, the Author. Photographs provided by the manufacturer.

Thorsten Sabrautzky the owner of the Autopioneer model range has sent us details of his latest release. The model is made in resin to 1:43 scale in Europe and is limited to 50 pieces. A programme of six models is planned per year.

Borgward “Windspiel” 1937


Borgward was a traditional German car manufacturer based in Bremen making vehicles from 1929 to 1961. Four brands were
produced: the “Lloyd” small car, the “Hansa” mid-range cars and the “Goliath” delivery van, as well as high end cars under the Borgward name including land speed record and racing sports cars.  For most of their existence they were the fourth largest car producer in Germany.  Borgward also made trucks and buses as well as tractors, tanks and helicopters.

The “Windspiel” four-door sedan was developed in
1936 by Borgward’s chief designer Herbert Scarisbrick and their factory manager Friedich Kynast at the Bremen “Hastedter” plant. It first shown in 1937 at the German International Motor Show. With its streamlined bodywork and the patent four-piece windshield, the Borgward “Windspiel” attracted considerable attention.

The “Windspiel” had a top speed of around 130 km/h. It was powered by a four cylinder petrol engine with rear wheel drive and an output of 40hp.

Streamliners were making an intellectual claim to be the future of design in Germany at this time as the new Autobahns allowed people to drive faster, for longer, imposing new demands upon cars which now needed to run at high speeds for hours on end. Aerodynamic experts Paul Jaray and Reinhard Koenig-Fachsenfeld were amongst those trying to persuade the market that streamlining was the way forward. Sadly Borgward did not put this car into production as the conservative market place preferred the older upright styles so popular in the 1930s, an attempt to re-use the engineering for a car under the Hansa badge failed too.

Ahead of its time, elements of this design finally made their way into the 1938 Hansa 2000 and it was influential on the shapes of the post war Borgward and Hansa cars by which time the public had started to catch up with the desirability of streamlining.

Thorsten tells us the next model car to be released will be the Opel Regent of 1928, officially the Opel 24/110. No trace of this car exists today as after GM took over a majority of the shares in Opel they realised that this eight cylinder model from Opel was a huge sales threat to the Cadillacs and Buicks that they hoped to sell in Germany. They stopped production of this car and bought back and destroyed every car already sold to clear the market for their US built models which ironically failed to sell in significant quantities as the economic crisis hit Germany in the early 1930s which was to be followed by nationalistic buying habits encouraged by the Nazi Party.

The photograph above shows a pre-production test model.

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More Sad News – Bob Haines

From Jerry J. Broz

Following the post today telling us of the passing of Frank Waller. I write to let you know of the passing of  Bob Haines of REH Distributing on September 18th. Bob was one of the first slot car distributors in North America and was involved in the slot racing his
entire life. I knew him from my time in the Auto World and from my involvement in slot racing. He distributed most of the slot car products ever made.

He was a great guy, friend and supporter of the slot car hobby.
I just though you would like to know.

Essence of the Car September 2018

By Maz Woolley

All text by the Author, photographs are all supplied by the manufacturer.

David Roots, the owner of The Essence Of The Car model range has informed us of two recent releases. David’s models follow a different path to the super detailed models from makers like Matrix or Auto Cult. They are made to 1:43 scale and are meant to capture the essence of the form of the vehicle giving them a sculptural quality.

SAAB Quantum V

The SAAB Quantum V was the last model designed by Walter Kern of Quantum Motor Cars. Quantum cars were made in the United States and the V was made in 1965 and only one was produced. The Quantum V was manufactured using a modified Ginetta fibreglass body.

Walter Kern‘s first Quantum, named the Quantum I/II, was built in 1959. Walter Kern was working at IBM at the time and used his spare time and computer resources to engineer a chassis. He was a nuclear physicist trained at MIT. He had raced several cars but he realised that engine oil starvation on tight turns was responsible for many engine failures, so he was drawn to the Saab two stroke engines. He designed his cars for series production and even approached SAAB in Sweden to see if they would like to make the Quantum III themselves but they declined.

Mercedes-Benz W129 540K with body by Jaray

Here is another model of a car meant to compete in the Berlin-Rome race that never happened due to the outbreak of the Second World War. The race was intended to be run at continuous high speeds on the prestigious new Autobahn and Autoroutes built in Germany and Italy in the 1930s. All makers keen to enter the race had streamlined bodies built to allow them to reach higher speeds than their standard cars.

Here Mercedes-Benz used a standard W129 chassis fitted with a five litre, supercharged, inline straight eight producing c.180hp. But fitted it with a body created by Paul Jaray specifically for the 540 K Streamliner. As well as streamlining a number of weight-saving technologies were used.

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Another sad loss to modelling

We have recently heard that Frank Waller of Road Transport Images has passed on after a battle with cancer. Frank ran RTI as a retirement pastime and was a much loved producer of transport related transkits and components in resin and white metal to 1:76 scale. In more recent years RTI began to make all the components to allow modellers to put together the cab, chassis, wheels and trailers to make up whole vehicles without needing any diecast donor. The models made were mainly from UK manufacturers and largely from the post-war period through to the 1970s.  Frank was always keen to discuss your project with you when you called for advice and would quickly give you a shopping list for the parts you would need to create your modified model.

Frank’s range included many neglected subjects such as the BMC EA vans and cabs from the wide range of UK manufacturers which are totally unobtainable in a diecast form.

I understand that Frank’s family will be seeking someone to take on RTI as a going concern and that until that has happened there will be no more sales of RTI products.

The many postings on bulletin boards when the news was published by his family show how well regarded Frank was and shows the gap he will leave behind him.