BY JOHN QUILTER June 2015
It’s getting really confusing these days with the proliferation of 1:43 models under various marketing brand names. I recently acquired two American sedans from 1936 which were marketed under the WhiteBox name but this is where it gets confusing. What appears to be the same castings are also seen as Ixo, De Agostini or even Altaya. The two reviewed are a 1936 Buick Special four door sedan and a 1936 Chrysler Airflow sedan. The Buick is red, comes in a typically nice Perspex display box on a black plinth. In red the car is pretty flashy for a usual upmarket sedan from the mid 1930s, but it shows well and the paint quality is good. I’m not quite sure if a red this bright was a standard colour in 1936, brochure images show a darker red known as Cardinal maroon. The interior is tan and the car has optional white wall tires that were a trendy style in the USA at the time. Chrome features, not painted silver, are the bumpers, grille with hood ornament, wipers, and hubcaps. The door handles are silver painted. A look at the chassis shows pretty basic details of frame, final drive, fuel tank and rear springs. There is no sump or front suspension.
Interestingly there is only the notation ‘1/43 Buick Special’, no brand information or even place of manufacture. License plates are white from South Dakota. Proportions seem accurate and the model shows well. The Buick Special was the smallest of the Buicks, a sort of entry level Buick for people aspiring to an up market brand, just under La Salle and Cadillac. The Specials had the smallest of the relatively advanced “valve in head” inline 8 cylinder engine of a modest CID 223 displacement developing 93 BHP at 3200 RPM. The model’s wheelbase measures 2.74 inches which equates to the correct length for 1:43 scale. This model casting is also seen as a New York taxi with the DeAgostini label in their World Taxi Series. Also spotted is a police version from the city of Monterey, California.
Next is a 1936 Chrysler Airflow sedan also by WhiteBox and also seen as a police version from San Francisco. The model pictured is an all black sedan but there is a interesting grey version with maroon fenders. Again the brands Ixo and Altaya are used. Chrysler Airflows were an attempt to produce an advanced car with a high level of streamlining. Chrysler also sold Airflow styled Desotos and some Dodge trucks in this era. They were launched in 1934 but were a little too radically styled to be widely loved by the buying public and in the next few years Chrysler moderated some of the extreme features of the first editions Airflow such as the waterfall grill that extended up and over the hood but the headlamps still remained fared into the front fenders which was not at all common at the time.
Chrysler was the top of the line brand of the corporation just under the ultra-luxury Imperial who also offered Airflow styling. This model is black, with the usual chrome features and wide white wall tires. Like the Buick described above the chrome grille could do with a black paint wash to bring out the bars more clearly. There is somewhat more under carriage detail on this car but again no model branding, only the ‘Chrysler Airflow 1/43’ information. License plates are from Rhode Island. This model represents the Chrysler designated by the corporation as a C-9 and was equipped with a quite large 323 cubic inch inline side valve 8 cylinder engine developing 130 BHP at a conservative 3400 RPM. New for this year on Chryslers was an all steel roof panel and these cars had a ‘humpback’ trunk for greater luggage capacity. The wheelbase for the C-9 cars was 123 inches, the model measuring out to be correct for 1:43 scale.
Another US car in series by WhiteBox is a dark blue 1936 Ford sedan. It is always nice to see some new additions to the growing range of 1:43 scale models of prototypes from the 1930s even if the Buick has already been done by Brooklin in two door sedan, four door sedan, convertible coupe, and coupe. However, these are much more expensive white metal handbuilts.
A final note is that my supplier had some of the Chryslers on offer at discounted prices due to missing parts or paint blemishes. So buyer beware, if a supplier does not do a careful inspection prior to shipment you may get a model with faults.
Ediitor’s note: WhiteBox is a brand owned by the producer of Neo, Best of Show and other ranges. The models are indeed made by PCT/Ixo for them in China and are based on moulds previously used for a variety of partworks.
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