By Maz Woolley
The US 1:64 scale market may be dominated by Mattel Hot Wheels but collectors of classic US post war vehicles were more likely to collect models from Johnny Lightning and Racing Champions for their greater realism and fidelity, though even they were not very realistic in some ways, the very over-scale tyre widths for example. Firms like M2, Greenlight, and Auto World have entered in to the market with models clearly aimed at more discerning collectors whilst Johnny Lightning failed under Tomy ownership and ended up being taken on by Round 2 the owners of Auto World.
This article looks at one M2 model from the AutoThentics release 35 and three models from Premium Release 4 from Auto World. In both cases the manufacturer seems to release models in groups of six in sets and then waits for a while before making them available as single models. In the case of M2 there only seems to be one or two new casting variants in each release whilst Auto World usually run to about three. M2 just release a single set at a time of six cars but Auto World release two different sets at a time with the same six models but in different colours. None of these models are available easily or consistently here in the UK and I have to thank a fellow North American collector for obtaining them for me.
M2 Release 35
Chevrolet 210 Beauville Station Wagon 1957
There have been a lot of 1957 Chevy’s made in a variety of scales, but few Station Wagons. Here is one from M2 of the Beauville which was positioned under the Nomad in the range and which was a nine seater with the Townsman being the 6 seater. As shown on the M2 the Beauville was trimmed and finished to a high standard.
Whilst this model is pretty good there are a few features that I find spoil it rather. The first is the opening doors which are not only a terrible fit but also do not close properly on one side either. The second is the wheels. All the web pictures I can find shows the car with slightly wider white walls than those on the model but this is a much smaller issue than that door and they are otherwise very well modelled. Perhaps they are as fitted to a preserved car.
On the plus side all the printing is very neatly done down to Chevrolet scripts an logos. All the lights are neatly modelled and the grille is excellent though a lack wash would make it even better. And of course it is a four door Station Wagon and not yet another Bel-Air Coupe.
M2 have used this casting again in Release 39. This time it is in the bottom of the range Chevrolet 150 Handyman with its basic paint and trim replicated well and a complete absence of white walls on the tyres which is entirely correct.
Auto World Premium Release 4 A
This version of the release includes the following vehicles but only the first three are new castings the others are previous castings in new colours/versions.
1963 Dodge Polara (Blue)
1964 Plymouth Barracuda (Red)
1964 Pontiac Grand Prix (Gulfstream Aqua)
2015 Ford Mustang GT (Guard)
1970 Dodge Challenger T/A (Pink with Black Graphics)
1975 Pontiac Firebird T/A (Silver)
1963 Dodge Polara
For 1963 the wheelbase was longer and the front end was re-styled. Dodge has downsized this premium range in the expectation that its competitors would do the same but they continued with full size cars for 1963. This did nothing for the sales of the Polara which did not start to increase until the front and rear re-styling of the 1964 car.
The model is excellent with nice thin paint and a clean and crisp casting. As only the bonnet opens it has lovely panel lines all round. The black washed grille and the white rear panel are first class in this scale and I really like the white finish to the light lenses it works well. I am not sure that the wheels are 100% right but web searches show similar ones though with white walls in a slightly different place. It would seem from the pictures on the Internet that few Polaras are running on stock wheels now
1964 Plymouth Barracuda
This model was announced some time ago and has taken a long time to produce. After its announcement Auto World had issues with their contract caster in China and may even have replaced them for Release 4. The vehicle has seldom been modelled and my affection for it comes in no small part from the influence it obviously had on the design of the last series of Sunbeam Rapiers here in the UK.
The Plymouth Barracuda was based on Valiant underpinnings and was one of the new breed of smaller “life-style” coupes designed to appeal to those who didn’t want or need a full size sedan but wanted something with style and performance and more space than an out and out sports car. The car could be bought with engines from a 2.8 litre six cylinder up to a 4.5 litre V-eight.
This model is another beauty. The red paint is excellent an all the printing well done. The rear lights though printed are very fine. That distinctive front end is well modelled and the printed grille and badging is excellent in such a small scale. All in all the model is very satisfying to look at.
It is great to have a model of this car to add to the more popular Pony Cars of the period with which it competed.
1964 Pontiac Grand Prix
Whereas the previous two models were of less widely modelled cars the Pontiac GP has been modelled very widely. But the new Auto World casting is a really good one capturing the shape very well.
The Grand Prix was based upon the mid-sized Catalina but trimmed to the level of a the full size Bonneville. The 1964 car had only a few minor changes from the 1963 car and was fitted with engines ranging in size from six to seven litres. A long list of options were available for the car.
Again this is an impressive 1:64 scale model with excellent thin and even paint. The printed badging is tiny but all very neatly done. And the front and rear ends are well modelled with the lights again finished in white at the front. The printed chrome trim is very neatly applied as well making this another excellent model.
Again I am not convinced by the positioning of the white stripe on the sidewalls but otherwise the wheels are nice and like all the others the rubber tyres are well made and not over wide.
Some of the Auto World castings now seem to be appearing in the revived Johnny Lightning range as well.
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