Category Archives: Auto Art

Chevrolet Impala SS 510 Prototype

The Summum Bonum of Full Size American Sedans

By Frank Koh

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

Chevrolet was enjoying the immense popularity and the consequent record-breaking sales of the introduced-in-1991 Caprice series. Because of its swoopy, Bauhaus-like contours, the Caprice earned the moniker “The Jellybean”, but Canadian cops fondly referred to it as “The Suppository”. The car handled exceptionally well despite its 4100+ lb curb weight, and the high performance LT1 motor with 260 bhp was ready for fitment into the Caprice 9C1 Police Package variants in 1993.

Product planners realized the immense sales potential of a large American grand touring sedan, and in due time the prototype of the Impala SS 510 was being developed. AutoArt released a fabulous 1:18 scale replica of the prototype SS 510 around 2002-03, and the photos speak for themselves. Actually the AutoArt SS 510 was a modification of the UT Models casting of the regular production Impala SS that the company produced around 1998.  Right before that, mother company Gateway Global phased out the UT Models brand and subsequently ruled that AutoArt would become the surviving entity. And the rest is model car industry history.

I love big old full-size/full-chassis General Motors B-Body cars; hence, this 1:18 scale Chevrolet Impala SS 510 Prototype is one of my favorite models from the brand. The AutoArt version is vastly improved over the UT Models, with opening rear doors, flocked carpeting, correct wheels and tires, and an accurate representation of the heavily modified 510 cubic inch V8 that was used in the actual prototype.

This model is from the early batches of AutoArt models, and it did not stay in production for very long. I certainly hope that the real Impala SS 510 SS prototype is in good hands today. It is a very historic car, because it served as the development mule for the 1994-1996 Impala SS.

AutoArt did a great job in replicating the SS 510 prototype’s wide, meaty alloy rims and high performance steel belted radials. The earlier UT Models Impala SS was criticized for the use of “undersized” wheels and tires which literally made it look like a football player wearing ballet shoes.

That “510” rear license plate proclaims what’s under the hood of this prototype. Regular production Impala SS vehicles got the LT1 260 bhp engine, essentially a detuned version of the engine in the C4 Corvette of the era.

The shape of the the B-Body 1991-1996 Caprice/Impala SS was ahead of its time. The outward visibility of the large “greenhouse” of the car was close to 360 degrees, in fact.

Unlike the UT Impala SS models whose rear doors did not open (despite being cast as separate pieces), the AutoArt SS 510 featured all four doors that would open independently. There was flocked carpeting and an accurate rendering of the modified 510 cubic inch V8 too.

All 3 variants of the UT Models regular production 1996 Impala SS in all the three actual exclusive colors of the real car: Black, Teal Green and Dark Cherry. This is as good (and as complete) as it’ll ever get.

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The Ford in Miniature – 2001 Fortyniner

By Dave Turner

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

Around Ford’s Centenary in 2003 numerous events and creations were produced to celebrate the achievement . One of these was a concept called the Fortyniner as a tribute to the 1949 Ford that in reality could be said to have saved the company in the years following the Second World War. Two examples were created, a black closed car with an all glass top and a red convertible.

That original ’49 Ford featured what was regarded as radical new styling for the time embodying a simple shape with clean body panels combined with what were then modern conveniences. The 1949 Ford was presented with the Fashion Academy Award in both 1949 and 1950. This fifty year later concept car appeared in 2001 and was styled keeping to those original ideas and marrying them to what were significant custom car touches from the period as well as modern elegant and clean lines from Italian designers such as Ghia.

Appearing a year earlier in 2000 was the new Thunderbird concept that subsequently went into production in virtually the same form. Much of the character of this new Thunderbird was also incorporated into the Fortyniners styling.

The concept was powered by a 3.9 litre 32 valve V8 Thunderbird engine, the front fender badges are in the Thunderbird style and are lettered “Powered by”.

So far the only model of the Fortyniner concept to be found came from Auto Art at the time of the real thing and as usual they have done a superb job of it. At 1:18 it represents the ‘closed’ version and captures the simple but elegant lines perfectly having opening doors hood and trunk, steerable front wheels and a complete interior. The latter features the distinctive central ‘console’ that was part of the cars structure while such things as the cruise and radio controls located on the steering wheel was done to echo those bright horn rings of fifty years previous – have all been depicted. Turning the model over reveals a plethora of engine, transmission, drive line, steering and suspension detail. Beware, while enjoying the examination the projecting mirrors are vulnerable and delicate.

Auto Art China 72031 2003 Fortyniner concept closed 266mm 1:18 Diecast
Illustrations:

 

 

Auto Art 1:18 diecast from China: 72031, Ford Fortyniner concept.

Auto Art 1:18 diecast from China: 72031, rear view of Fortyniner.

 

With MIRA 1:18 diecast from Spain: 6250, 1949 Ford Coupe the inspiration for the Fortyniner concept.

Rear view of the two Ford Coupes.


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The Ford in Miniature – Falcon XA, XB and XC 1972-79

By Dave Turner

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

Ford Falcon XA

Replacing the US designed Falcon XY in February 1972 the XA was the first Falcon to be completely designed and produced in Australia. While based on the preceding XY and having the same wheelbase, the bulkier and bolder styled body was a couple of inches longer. Five levels in the sedan line started with the basic version, the 500, the Futura, the Fairmont and the GT. 2 door hardtops came as the 700, the Fairmont and the GT. The wagons on a 5 inch longer wheelbase (the same as the contemporary ZF Fairlane) came as the basic version, the 700 and the Fairmont. Then there were the basic and 500 Utility and the van.

Engine choices were a couple of straight sixes in 3.2 and 4.1 litre sizes and a couple of V8s of 4.9 litres and 5.7. The four door sedans featured the ‘coke bottle’ line rather like being a larger version of the Cortina MkIII while the 2 door coupes boasted very deep rear quarters with rather sinister looking rear side windows quite different to the sedans.

As usual various options and specials add to the complexity for example the Grand Sport Rally Pack ‘boy-racered’ up the base, the 500 and the Fairmont while the proposed GT-HO Phase IV was abandoned after just one example. Just 250 of the GT – RPO 83 Falcons were made – 130 sedans and 120 hardtops, and differed only by a few mechanical upgrades with no external changes. Another limited run were the Falcon 500 Superbird RPO – 77 hardtops featuring considerable mechanical upgrades to engine, suspension, instrumentation complete with rear window louvre.

The up-market version of the Falcons were the bigger Fairlanes but these differed from the regular Falcon in size and equipment sufficiently to demand a separate feature – sometime.

Australia seems to have a reasonably healthy model car supply base with several local operations providing miniatures of their home-grown product. For example Top Gear/Trax may be the most familiar on this side of the globe although Classic Carlectibles and Oz Legends have also been imported.

Oz Legends have in fact provided quite a few models of the XA in a variety of 1:32 scale diecast sedans, hardtop and Ute versions. Most of which appear to be limited to 2,500 examples and feature opening doors, hood and trunk. Classic Carlectibles have gone the 1:18 scale route with slight variation on the same subjects.

Back on 1:32 a range on the Signature label (Yatming?) has a few sedans, hardtops and utes and inevitably concentrates on the higher performance end of the line and like the other makes includes a few customised examples. Auto Art offered some Aussie Falcon Hardtops under the Biante name in both 1:18 and 1:43 scales.

Top Gear/Trax seem to have concentrated on 1:43 for most of their vast range of Ford models but the only XA seems to be the 1972 GT Sedans in at least four colours. These came in the relatively expensive Opal Series that featured a vast amount of detail for 1:43. All four doors open as well as bonnet and boot while the interior and engine compartment are detailed to an incredible degree. The door windows are in the lowered position so that the interior can be viewed without opening the doors.

Falcon XA Models

Oz Legends
Ute 150mm 1:32 diecast
Ute GT 150mm 1:32 diecast
Hardtop GT 150mm 1:32 diecast
Hardtop GT RPO-83 150mm 1:32 diecast
Sedan GT 150mm 1:32 diecast
Sedan GT  RPO-83 150mm 1:32 diecast
Classic Carlectibles
18268 China Superbird hardtop show car 250mm 1:18 diecast
18448 China Hardtop GT RPO-83 250mm 1:18 diecast
18545 China Sedan GT HO Phase 1V 250mm 1:18 diecast
18615 China Sedan GT RPO-83 250mm 1:18 diecast
18640 China Hardtop GT 250mm 1:18 diecast
Signature
China Hardtop 351GT 150mm 1:32 diecast
China Utility GT 150mm 1:32 diecast
China Utility GS 150mm 1:32 diecast
China 2016 Sedan GT 150mm 1:32 diecast
Auto Art/Biante
72725 China Hardtop GT 1:18 diecast
72726 China Hardtop Superbird 1:18 diecast
72747 China Hardtop GT 1:18 diecast
China Hardtop GT 1:43 diecast
Trax
T005 China 2008 Sedan GT Ltd 2400 112mm 1:42 diecast

Falcon XB

Succeeding the XA in November 1973 the XB was very similar but featured a few subtle changes to the bonnet and grille – the latter having a central divider. The sedans got larger tail lights that featured a wrap-around section at each side. Once again there were some ‘specials’ such as the Sovereign Edition based on the 500 and celebrating Ford Australia’s 50th Anniversary. The John Goss Specials were Hardtop 500s with decals and a GT bonnet named after a local race driver while the McCleod Horn Specials were produced by a Sydney Ford dealership and identified by a large strobe stripe on the body side.

The Australian model suppliers have provided even more of the XB series than of the previous one. The same names crop up again but with the addition of a new one on this subject – Hot Wheels, who offered a XB Coupe in no less than 20 versions, and apart from the unsightly wheels they are reasonably acceptable.

Most of the previously mentioned ranges offered both custom and competition versions of the standard issues while some are detailed to a commendably degree once again. For example the 1:43 Auto Art XB GT 351 Hardtop features a great deal of underside detail – even steerable front wheels while deciding not to bother with opening doors etc, and probably looks neater as a result. The Trax Opal Series XB GT 351 Sedan followed their XA in featuring a mass of detail plus opening parts quite neatly. The Oz Legends range now included a trio of Panel Vans.

Falcon XB Models

Oz Legends
Sedan GT 140mm 1:32 diecast
Ute GT 140mm 1:32 diecast
Sedan GS 140mm 1:32 diecast
Panel Van GT 1:32 diecast
Panel Van 1:32 diecast
Hardtop GS 1:32 diecast
Panel Van GS 1:32 diecast
Hardtop GT 1:32 diecast
Classic Carlectibles
Sedan GT 1:18 diecast
18615 Sedan GT RPO-83 1:18 diecast
Hardtop GT John Goss 1:18 diecast
Signature
Hardtop GT 150mm 1:32 diecast
Hardtop GS 150mm 1:32 diecast
Sedan GT 150mm 1:32 diecast
Sedan GS 150mm 1:32 diecast
Ute GS 150mm 1:32 diecast
Auto Art/Biante
52742 China 2003 Hardtop GT 111mm 1:43 diecast
72742 China Coupe GT 1:18 diecast
72796 China Sedan GT 1:18 diecast
72881 China Hardtop GT 1:18 diecast
72886 China Hardtop GT McCleod Horn 1:18 diecast
Trax
T006 China 2008 Sedan GT 351 112mm 1:43 diecast
Hot Wheels
2010 Malaysia 2009 Hardtop GT 351 75mm 1:64 diecast

 

Falcon XC

A second update brought us to the XC Falcon in July 1976 and this was to carry through to March 1979, late examples can be identified by featuring a Ford oval on the XCs horizontal grille. The front of the XC was given a softer look than the XB while a larger rear door window was provided by the use of the Contemporary ZH Fairlane rear doors effectively losing the ‘coke-bottle’ line. Tail lights were now horizontally divided while the GT was replaced by the GXL and the Fairmont given rectangular headlights. A limited run of 400 Cobra Hardtops were finished in white with blue racing stripes.

Models of the XC are far less well represented than the first two of the series. Oz Legends are present again but so far only the Hardtop Cobra has been recorded while the only Auto Art XC seems to be once again the Cobra but in 1:43 this time. Trax have concentrated on the Hardtop to a greater extent, they again did the Cobra first but followed it with at least six further versions, some of them in competition form as the Hardtops were a favourite with the racing fraternity. Another Cobra they did was a model of the projected Phantom that in reality didn’t go into production and this was followed by another rare subject, the GS Homologation Hardtop of which only 13 real examples were made. Finally a model of the production GS Fairmont 4.9 Hardtop was produced. A sedan Fairmont GXL was a recent issue and while it is a highly detailed resin model, it features a degree of stick-on chrome edging – none of which has peeled off yet it must be said.

Falcon XC Models

 

Oz Legends
Hardtop Cobra 140mm 1:32 diecast
Auto Art
52752 China Hardtop Cobra 111mm 1:43 diecast
Trax
TR10 China 1994 Hardtop Cobra Ltd 7500 111mm 1:43 diecast
TR10C China 1998 Hardtop Cobra Phantom 4500 111mm 1:43 diecast
TR10F China 2004 Hardtop GS Homologation 3200 111mm 1:43 diecast
TR10G China 2008 Hardtop GS Fairmont 4.9 2800 111mm 1:43 diecast
TRR 36 China 2016 Sedan Fairmont GXL 115mm 1:43 resin

Illustrations Ford Falcon XA, XB and XC

 

Trax 1:43 diecast from China: TR10G, Hardtop XC GS Fairmont 4.9.

rear of TR10G

Trax 1:43 resin: TRR 36, Fairmont XC GXL

rear of TRR36

 

Hot Wheels 1:64 diecast from Malaysia: 2010, Hardtop XB GT 351 one of at least 20 versions.

 

rear of Hot Wheels

 

Trax 1:43 diecast from China: T006, XB Sedan GT 351.

 

rear of T006

 

Trax 1:43 diecast from China : T005 XA Sedan GT.

 

rear of T005

 

Auto Art 1:43 diecast from China: 52752, XC Hardtop Cobra.

 

rear of 52752

 

Auto Art 1:43 diecast from China: 52742, XB Hardtop GT.

 

rear of 52742

 

Trax 1:43 diecast from China: TR10F, XC Hardtop GS Homologation

 

rear of TR10F

 

Trax 1:43 diecast from China: TR10C XC Hardtop Cobra Phantom.

 

rear of TR 10C

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The Ford in Miniature – 2004 Ford Shelby Cobra Concept

By Dave Turner

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

When Ford celebrated their Centenary in 2003 a whole series of concepts were unleashed, along with the many other related events. Most, if not all, these special productions were conceived to recall one of the memorable and significant vehicles of Ford’s past.

Among these was the Shelby Cobra that resulted when Carroll Shelby inserted a big US Ford V8, first a 4.2 and for production a 4.7, into the front of an unsuspecting AC Ace. This had previously been the home of the old 6 cylinder 2 litre AC engine that dated back to the 1920s and from April 1956 there was the option of a straight 6 Bristol 2 litre. For just over a couple of years from March 1961 the 2,553cc Ford straight 6 was employed.

Since the production of the first Cobras ended in Jan 1969 there have been many copies and kit cars replicating the Cobra, in fact Carroll Shelby produced a very limited number of 2 seater roadsters in the late 1990s that had a degree of GM content and called simply Shelby Cobra.

The 2004 Concept car was produced by Ford and featured an all-aluminium 6.4 litre V10 engine that was claimed to be able to propel the car to 267mph – although it was actually electronically limited to 100mph. Its chassis was based on that of a Ford GT, modified to be front engined but with the transmission in the rear. It was not registered for road use but was subsequently purchased by one of its designers, Chris Theodore, at auction for $825,000, the proceeds going towards the restoration of Henry Fords Fairlane Estate.

Models of the Shelby Concept as might be expected appeared in the few years following the real cars appearance. Auto Art gave us no less than three quite different models, a big 1:17 scale diecast and much smaller one in 1:64 and in between a plastic slot car in 1:32. Mattel also produced the model in two sizes, their Hot Wheels examples came in at least eleven versions and in many cases almost being little models rather than pure toys. Their larger 1:18 diecast were excellent despite coming in a variety of colours, the real car was only ever silver.

Matchbox also issued a small diecast Shelby that looks very like the Hot Wheels version and it came in at least six versions. Minichamps issued their 1:43 Shelby in a three part “The Ford Power Trilogy” set in 2005 along with 2005 Mustang and 2005 GT, all finished in the silver/white stripe colour scheme. The Shelby was then issued separately for a couple of years.

Model Listing

Auto Art  China 20541 1:64 diecast
Auto Art  China 13101 slot car 1:32 plastic
Auto Art China 73031 228mm 1:17 diecast
Mattel  Malaysia G6687 67mm 1:60 diecast
Mattel  Malaysia H3051 215mm 1:18 diecast
Matchbox 42 1:60 diecast
Minichamps  China 146430 93mm  1:43 diecast

Illustrations 2004 Ford Shelby Cobra Concept

 

Mattel Hot Wheels 1:60 diecast from Malaysia: G6687, in authentic colour scheme.
Minichamps 1:43 diecast from China: 146430, also came in set 402 058000 “The Ford Power Trilogy”
Rear of Minichamps

 

Interior of Minichamps

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