By Maz Woolley
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.
Auto World is both a US store and a manufacturer producing models under Auto World, Johnny Lightning, and Racing Champions brands. Models cover multiple scales and even include HO scale slot cars. In 1:64 there is a difference between Johnny Lightning and Racing Champions models (made under licence from Tomy who no longer make them) and Auto World ones. Johnny Lightning continue as they have always done with models of American vehicles with fat speed wheels and some custom finishes to give them on the peg appeal at a pocket money price. Racing Champions seem to have a less clear cut identity with prices similar to AW and some features like wing mirrors that AW models lack but slightly less detailed models in some cases. Auto World was created with the collector of classic American vehicles in mind and is a series stated to be to strictly to 1:64 scale and which is finished in realistic colours, with realistic wheels and fitments, and well printed detailing. Its main competitor is probably Castline’s M2 ranges. In my eyes Auto World tend to look rather more realistic than M2 because they do not include the opening doors which detract from many M2 models.
Here I look at two new AutoWorld models which are recolours on existing castings and which I think show how collectable US 1:64 models have become.
AutoWorld 1964 Plymouth Barracuda Vintage Muscle Series release 4b #3
Aware that Ford intended to use its compact Falcon as the basis for a sporty car other manufacturers started to design their own. Chrysler created a fastback design based on their new compact Plymouth Valiant. The large rear window was the largest producer for a production car at that time. Engine and gearbox options were the same as the Valiant’s, including two versions of Chrysler’s slant-6 engine. The highest power option for 1964 was Chrysler’s all-new 4.5 Litre V8.
Though the Barracuda was launched two weeks before the Mustang it only sold 23,443 units in 1964 compared to Ford’s 126,538 Mustangs.
The styling influence lived on with the large rear window being a key feature of the Chrysler owned Sunbeam Rapier and Alpine 1750 Arrow cars.
The casting captures the shape of the car well. The printed chrome round the windows is well done as is the rear window surround and fuel filler.
Good wheels have the smaller white sidewalls that emerged in the early 1960s.
From the front the grille is neatly moulded in and then black washed and all the chrome printed. The lights are printed in white which is quite effective and seems to be becoming popular on US 1:64 scale models. Even the moulded in wiper arms are neatly over printed in silver.
That huge rear window and all its fittings are nicely caught. Rear lights are printed on with silver base over printed with light lenses. An effect which is acceptable in this scale.
The rear scripts and boot fittings are all printed very finely and all is topped off by a registration plate though there is none fitted on the front.
Some attention has been paid to the engine bay which appears to house the optional V8.
AutoWorld 1958 Plymouth Belvedere Classic Chrome series release 4b #2
This casting has been seen before in several colours and in the special movie related “Christine” model from the film based upon Stephen King’s book.
The Belvedere modelled here is the version sold from 1957 to 1959 at the height of the era of Fins as styling statements. The design was so forceful Chrysler advertising was under the strap line “Suddenly, it’s 1960!” In 1958 the Belvedere was the top trim level and was available with a large V8 engine called the Golden Commando.
The profile of the car with its jet fins has been nicely captured and the side ornamentation printed well right down to the door handles and the Belvedere badging which can only read clearly if you enlarge photographs of the model.
The wheels and tyres are modelled well though a black wash on wheels might make them look more realistic.
The front grill and huge bumper are well modelled and this time a number plate is included though it only carries the legend Belvedere. In the centre of the grille the V sign is picked out in gold. The bonnet emblem is printed over a raised moulding and even has a tiny Plymouth script printed on it much too small for the naked eyes to read clearly.
From the rear the excellent printing on the lights, huge bumper, and even the tiny Plymouth script along the lip of the boot, are all clearly visible.
Finally we get the view under the bonnet which clearly houses a large V8 engine painted gold as one imagines that the Golden Commando would have been.
Two nice models of classic American cars.
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