Category Archives: Trax

Models 56 by Armco and a Load of Cobras: Part 2 Cobras

By Mick Haven

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author. Photographs will be found at the end of the article.

As mentioned previously in MAR Online, Gateway Models near Brisbane, which Graeme referred to, is the trader I have dealt with the longest, probably seventeen years or so. I was fortunate enough to pay them a visit while down there in September 2017. From the outside it looks nothing like a model shop. Appearances are deceptive. It takes something special to keep me quiet but I was temporarily speechless there, and I didn’t see all of it. The place is stacked with model cars.

He also mentions the Falcon ‘Cobra’ GT, although I’m not sure that ‘GT’ is the correct title as I believe the correct designation is ‘XC’. The XC followed on from the very successful XA/XBGT ranges, produced from 1973 to 1976. The XC family was introduced in 1976, and would include a GS500 ‘Hardtop’, a large coupe, not dissimilar to the afforementioned Torino. In October 1977, Allan Moffat, partnered by Formula 1 legend, Jacky Ickx, would win the legendary Hardie-Ferodo 1000 at Bathurst in an XC GS500 Hardtop, in the famous ‘1-2 form finish’ for Team Moffat. By the end of the race his car was virtually brakeless and should have come second, but he was team owner and orders is orders.

By the end of 1977, Ford Australia had built 13 ‘special order’ XC GS500 Hardtops. The modifications on these cars would become the basis for the Cobra XC ‘Option 97’. The company decided to capitalise on the 1977 Bathurst result and wanted to go racing so they needed a suitable car. Four hundred examples of whatever they chose had to have been built to meet CAMS homologation rules. It just so happened they had four hundred XC bodies left over with no buyers when production of the big coupe ceased in April 1978.

Rather than scrap them, Edsel Ford II, who was Ford Australia Managing Director. at the time, suggested they be saved and could be offered to the public as a road going race car. Production began in July of that year. I believe I read some time ago that Carroll Shelby was approached for permission to call the car ‘Cobra’, and to use the familiar Shelby stripes and Cobra badging. By coincidence, the colour scheme was the international colours for American racing cars, as seen on the Le Mans Cunninghams of the 1950s, e.g. Britain had its British Racing Green, Italy was red, France blue and so on.
Four hundred blue and white road going Cobra XCs were built, in two variants, Option 96 and Option 97. Of the four hundred, only 30 were Option 97s. These were numbered from 002 to 0031, and would be known as ‘Bathurst Specials’. The first two hundred would have a 5.8L 351 cu.in. motor, the remainder would have a 4.9L 302 cu. in. Two exceptions were car number 001 which would have the 302 cu. in. motor, and car number 351 which had a motor of that capacity.

There are a number of differences between the two, mainly under the skin, but the most obvious externally is the addition of a ‘power bulge’ on the bonnet of the Option 97 in addition to the two ‘flared nostril’ intakes already in place on the Option 96, and on previous XAs, XBs and XCs, including four door saloon, estate, Ute and van variants. The XC Cobras would also have their own blue and black seats and ‘Globe’ alloy wheels. I’ve got three of these, one in 1:64th scale, one in 43rd scale and one in 1:18th, all by Biante. In model and 1:1 scale, Option 97s are sought after. A genuine full size Option 97 can command big dollars if and when one comes up for sale. Even the Option 96 doesn’t come cheap, but these do get offered from time to time, with prices usually around $100,000 AUD, some more, some less.

Graeme makes mention of its size, citing, ‘some views show it to be a compact’. I’ve referred to it as the ‘big coupe’. So how big were they? They are, or were, easily on a par with the Holden (Vauxhall) Monaro and Audi A5 coupe familiar on UK roads today. For comparison the XAGT coupe was 4808 mm L x 1969 W x 1369 H. The Monaro and A5 are 4789 L x 1841 W x 1397 H and 4673 L x 2029 W x 1371 H respectively, so compact they weren’t. It weighed in at 3500 lbs. I did see one at Ford Fair some years ago and compact it wasn’t. Also, some time ago, I exchanged e mails with a guy who lived in the Oxfordshire countryside and he had an XC Cobra. Negotiating those narrow country lanes with it was interesting to say the least. Attached are the pics he sent me. What I didn’t know at the time was that there were the two variants. Looking at the pics while writing this, I noticed that it’s an Option 97. How much is that worth today? I think he worked for TWR at the time as one picture shows the car outside TWRs premises. I know he emigrated to Australia taking the XC with him. There is much racing footage of them on You Tube. I imagine they were a real handful at racing speeds and they would clock up to 170 mph down Conrod Straight.

From a collecting perspective, the 1:43rd scale is one which I’ve had as long or longer than virtually of all my Australians, for at least fifteen years, possibly more. It almost certainly came from those good ol’ boys at Gateway. The 1:18th scale came next, bought at a Ford dealership near Melbourne, and the 1:64th example by Biante Minicars would eventually follow some years later. Even so, I’ve had that since at least 2011, as it was in a display of Ford models I showed when the club, South Hants Model Auto Club put on a display at Ford fair that year. I also had another one in 1:87 scale by Cooee Road Ragers (Made under contract by Oxford Diecast). The Biante Minicars 1:64 example is my only Option 97 Cobra XC in the familiar white with blue stripes colour scheme, the other two being Option 96s. The total number of Option 97s I have in three scales is eight, of which two are 1:18 scales two are 1:64 scale, and the remainder in 1:43.

One is the Allan Moffat/John Fitzpatrick GS 500 Hardtop ‘Federation’ car number 25 from Bathurst 1979, and I have one of those in 1:43rd scale and one by Biante Minicars. The other 1:18 scale is Biante’s Carter/Lawrence ‘Brian Wood Ford’ from Bathurst 1978, resplendent in its overall dark blue with red and yellow stripes with wide yellow ‘Magnum’ five slot racing wheels with slick tyres. Two of the 1:43rd scales are as raced in 1978 and 1979, by Dick Johnson, the latter a car which he co-drove with ex Formula 1 and Le Mans winner Vern Schuppan at Bathurst. The ‘79 car would be dubbed ‘reverse Cobra’, owing to the body colours being ‘the other way round’ i.e. with white stripes over blue, rather the more familiar blue stripes on a white body. A unique feature about the stripes was in their application and defied the norm. Apparently, rather than take a white body and then apply the blue stripes across the body and along the sides, the blue bits  were applied first, then taped over and the car painted white. Very odd.

Another one is the 1978 Bathurst XC Cobra of once again, Moffat and Ickx, carrying race #1, relating to their win the year before. They couldn’t repeat the heroics of 1977 and the car was a DNF. The other model shown is of the Garry Wilmington/Jeff Barnes 1978 Bathurst runner. This model was produced by Trax in 1993, by whom I have two Falcon road coupes, one of which is an Option 97. Trax also released a Cobra XC Option 96 and a small number of other XBGT and XCs in 1:43 scale, including the # 25 Federation car and the ‘Brian Wood Ford’. They also produced a model of the Jack and Geoff Brabham car from Bathurst 1977. The total number of XA/XB and XC coupes in my collection is twenty seven in three scales, including, aside from the Moffat/Ickx ’77 car, the XAGT Bathurst winners from 1973 and ’74, plus one XBGT saloon by Trax from their Opal range. There are a number of XC Cobra models in other scales by other manufacturers. OzLegends have both Option 96 and 97 in 1:32 scale and these can be found on eBay. Dinkum Classics is another manufacturer of the popular coupe. Models of XA/XB GTs can occasionally be found on eBay, and some via dealers ‘down under’, of which I’m happy to report, there are still a large number. Biante’s XC Cobra in 1:43 scale is rarer, while an Option 96 in 1:18 scale, although slightly less rare, commands good money, see below. Those with deeper pockets may be interested in XA/XB and XCs in 1:18 scale. For example, at the time of writing, Hobby_Link have a Biante Auto Art Moffat/Ickx 1978 Bathurst XC in that scale, for a mere £462.56 plus just £13.11 shipping, or $809.95 + $22.95 AUD if you prefer. Gateway have an Option 96 for just £227.87 + £51.40 shipping, or $489.00 including shipping. Seen on eBay is the Moffat #25 car at £313.46 + £40.68 shipping. This model doesn’t even have the  ‘Camel’ sponsor decals, owing to tough Australian tobacco advertising laws. They can be obtained from other sources. As with all internet buys, prices vary from seller to seller. Then there’s always the added danger of getting stung by Customs and Royal Mail. Ouch! Sometimes I’ve been caught, other times I’ve got lucky and paid nothing. As an owner of more than twenty 1:18th scales by both Biante and Classic Carlectables, I should add that they are superb and worth every penny.

When I first started collecting them all those years ago, I was astonished at the quality and detail to be found on them, and at the time, with a good exchange rate, great value for money too. Many have opening doors boot and bonnet, steerable wheels and fully detailed engines with plug leads etc, and detailed undersides and interiors, despite being well over ten years old. Biante’s FPV GT nee Falcon XR8, even has a carpeted boot mat and a fire extinguisher. Although a tad more expensive these days, they still make great value. The race cars are truly magnificent. Collectors of Scalextric are not ignored either. There are many fine slot car models of Australian race cars which would make great display models. There’s a plethora of them on eBay including the XA/XB XCs and V8 Supercars. Earlier in the year I took delivery of their Dick Johnson Sierra RS500 1989 Bathurst winner and very nice it is too. Shame about the driver figure. Is that really the great man? How fortunate I am that neither my house or my wallet are overly large.

 

Just for the record, for any MAR Online readers who may be interested in exploring the wonderful world of Australian die casts, I can thoroughly recommend the following traders; Biante, Gateway, Motorfocus, Kollectable Kaos, Jays Models, Pit Stop Models, Top Gear aka Trax, Ace Models, Replicars and Automodelli among many others. There’s always eBay of course from where I got many of mine, but beware, many sellers on eBay au, won’t post up here. If they do they’ll be on eBay UK. A model shop, where you can browse to your hearts content, still exists in Australia. In the early days, I was even ordering them from main car dealers, who usually stock a fine selection of models appertaining to the brand of car, e.g. Ford or Holden. DJR race car models can also be ordered directly from DJR/Team Penske. Classic Carlectables, another fine brand, cannot be sourced directly from them, but the XA, XB and XC doesn’t feature in their range. Their excellent web site does list every model they have ever produced, including a picture of each one and the release date. Biante’s web site does list all their releases since 1998 under the heading, ‘customer service’, then ‘view the list here’, but it stops at 2014 and there are no pictures. The coupes were released long before that.

Give the above traders and models, and eBay a look, you won’t be disappointed. Appreciation for some of the above goes to ‘Wiki’ and to Bill Tuckey from his book   ‘True Blue’ 75 Years of Ford in Australia.


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A few new Aussies from 2018

By Mick Haven

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

Having just read Dave Turner’s Aussie Ford feature, happy to say I’m the proud owner of many of those pictured, and some!

Pictured below are some of the models that I’ve been able to obtain from ‘down under’ over the last year. An interesting mix of racing and street cars.

Biante Minicars Falcon XD and XE

 

 

Dick Johnson’s Mustang

 

 

New Biante Falcon

 

 

Trax Falcon

 

 

Trax Mk II Zephyr Ute

 


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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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Bathurst Holden Commodore

By Frank Koh

Here’s an Australian racing legend that looked a lot like an Opel Rekord, but this Holden was capable of doing great things that four and six cylinder Opels could never have dreamed of. The Holden Commodore and the Ford Falcon were domestic-engineered, locally-built high performance V8 muscle cars that dominated the road racing scene in Australia (and neighboring New Zealand).

While at present there are no more Australian-built V8 muscle cars, Australian diecast brand Trax Models immortalizes these iconic vehicles in 1/43 scale.  Along with competitors Biante Models and Classic Carlectables, the Australian model car scene is bustling with activity, and there are many exclusive-to-Australia-and-New-Zealand diecast and resin miniatures that embody the unbridled passion for performance that the cars from that part of the world possess.

This 1984 Holden VH Commodore was a formidable, if not exceptionally colorful, competitor at the Bathurst racing circuit in Australia. Trax Models released this beautiful car as part of its line of 1/43 scale cars that raced at Bathurst. Today the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) remains one of the most popular racing series, but with the closure of the Holden factory last year, the era of the Australian-Built V8 Powered Muscle Car has come to an end.


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Farewell to Australia, In More Ways Than One?

by Graeme Ogg

I bought the latest copy of Autocar magazine and read that Australian car manufacturing will come to an end when the iconic Holden brand closes its last domestic plant later this year. Ford stopped building cars locally a year ago. Toyota will close its assembly plant (building Camrys for export) a couple of weeks before Holden. And of course Chrysler, another big name in Australian automotive history, sold out to Mitsubishi around 1980, and Mitsubishi eventually gave up in Oz in 2008.

1/43 Trax Ford Falcon GT

The problem for local manufacturers is that Australians have become spoiled for choice with foreign brands, and demand for home-grown Fords and Holdens fell off to the point where local component manufacturers couldn’t make a living from the low production numbers so, ironically, components were being imported to build cars in a country which is surrounded by developing nations like Thailand and Indonesia where labour costs are much lower. Not really a viable long-term option (subsidised by the taxpayer to the tune of AU$5 billion over the last 10 years).

And now the problem for Aussie car buyers (or at least for those who want fast, powerful cars) is that they are starting to wonder what can replace the hot Falcons and Commodores which gave them spectacular turbocharged V8 performance at a fraction of the price you pay for such cars elsewhere. Unfortunately, Ford and Holden could only afford to develop these low-volume specialist hot rods when the profits from healthy high sales of their bread-and-butter models were pouring in. No longer.

For 1:43 collectors who have taken an interest in the Australian motoring scene over the years, I guess it’s the end of an era, and we should be grateful to the likes of Trax (and maybe Biante and Classic Carlectables and one or two oddballs like Dinkum Classics) for filling our shelves with a decent representative range of models from what I suppose will come to be called the Golden Age of Australian car production.

Alas, for me, I think there’s another kind of Australian farewell on the cards. I recently ordered a model from the Trax “Wrecking Yard” (remaindered stock). A Ford Falcon GT in the Opal series.

1/43 Trax Ford Falcon GT

Just AU$35. But shipping was AU$20, and it seems that UK Customs are so desperate to increase revenues they are picking on every little package, so they added £8 (AU$13) import duty, and Royal Mail added another £8 processing charge for collecting the duty. So my AU$35 model cost me $80. The new Trax Ford Galaxie looks pretty good, but at AU$ 160 it’s more than some Matrix models and nearly 50% more than some of the best Neos, Trax shipping for this series is double their usual, and I can just imagine the import duty scaled up accordingly. So I fear it’s “Goodbye, Trax, nice knowing you”.

[Editor’s Note: GM also said goodbye to Vauxhall and Opel this week.  Big changes are happening globally in the auto world.]


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Making Trax for 2017

By Maz Woolley

 

The latest announcement by Trax of Australia shows two models in their Select Series which are bound to be of considerable interest and which have already got US collectors asking if Trax can produce them in LHD. These are 1:43 scale resin models made in China for Australia.

1951 Ford Custom twin spinner.

 

This classic Fordor looks to be very nicely modelled. Most models of Fords of the early 1950s are of the ground breaking 1949/50 car with its single spinner in the radiator as modelled by Dinky, Precision Miniatures  amongst others. Brooklin have modelled a 1951 but as the up-market Victoria Coupe

1965 Ford Galaxie 500

 

A real classic from Ford this has been modelled many times but the new model from Trax looks very crisp with the chromework round the windows looking very good indeed.

Trax Club Members Model

 

This years Club Members Model is a Holden FC Panel Van from 1958 in Ansett ANA livery. I think that the model is slightly spoiled by the Trax Club 2017 Member printing on the door which removes its authenticity – what do readers think about that?


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Interesting Comparisons, Or Then Again, Maybe Not

By Graeme Ogg

A package arrived this week containing the BoS Chevrolet Caprice wagon. Not always keen on BoS models, some of them have quite drab or insipid colours and weak-looking trim detail, and look built down to a price (which of course they are). But I’d say this wagon looks pretty good.

Caprice_wagon_BoS

I did my own version some years ago, based on the fairly crude Road Champs sedan, so couldn’t resist comparing them side by side. The main thing that strikes you is the apparently huge difference in length, although that impression is partly due to the Road Champs being too tall in the body and sitting high on oversize wheels, making it look dumpier. Still quite a striking difference in the look of the two models, though.

Caprice_wagons_3.rdJPGCaprice_wagons_1rd

I wondered if the RC body was too short in 1:43, or the BoS version was a little too flattened and stretched, so I got the calipers out. I have the BoS sedan (the New York taxi version – also one of their better models) and surprisingly the RC and the BoS sedans are identical in length at 128 millimetres.

Caprice_taxis

The real sedan was 17’10” (5435 mm) long, which in 1:43 should be 126 mm so both models are pretty close, although the excessive height of the RC makes its proportions less convincing.

Caprices_BoS_2

The wagon was 18’4″ (5740 mm) in length and in 1:43 that is 133 mm. The BoS wagon is spot-on, whereas my version lacks the rear-end stretch so comes up short. Mind you, 6 inches in 1:43 is only 3.5 mm, and the BoS wagon has a stretch of just under 5 mm, so it’s surprising just how much longer it looks compared with the taxi.

But the real moral of the story is – give a nerd a cheap pocket calculator and he’ll bore the socks off you.


Valiant_wagons_1rd

Also in my package were the BoS Valiant sedan and wagon. They are OK, but not exciting. They will go on a shelf to fill a gap in the 1960s Yank section, but will never be much of a turn-on.

Valiant_wagons_2rd

And of course I also did my own Valiant wagon some time ago, so once again a comparison was in order. I think I come out of it pretty well, all things considered, but obviously my views are not entirely unbiased. By the way, mine does actually have the “valley” down the middle of the roof, it just didn’t show very well in the photos.

Valiant_wagons_3rd

Since my wagon is based on the Trax model of the Australian Valiant, there are small detail differences which nerdy nitpickers might criticise as “unauthentic and un-American”. But we don’t have people like that around here (loud cries of “Damn right we don’t”) so I may just get away with it.

Thank you for listening.


This post was originally published in Diecast Forum 43.  We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page.

Trax Wolseley 15/60

By John Quilter

 

Trax, an Australian based model producer and vendor concentrates on Australian  vehicles, many of which are completely home grown and many of which are adaptations of US built cars from the Big Three, or English cars from BMC, British Leyland or Ford UK.    This example is the late 1950s early 1960s Farina styled Wolseley 15/60 which was for all intents and purposes exactly the same as the version sold in the UK.   It was essentially a upmarket version of the Morris Oxford and Austin Cambridge.  The first version used the evergreen BMC B series engine of 1489cc using one SU carburettor.  The UK also had twin SU carburettor Riley and MG Magnette versions taking the badge engineering under BMC to new heights. Later versions featured the somewhat larger 1622cc engine and sometimes with an automatic gearbox the Borg Warner 35.   It was felt necessary to cater to all the loyal MG, Wolseley,  Morris, etc. buyers and the diverse and separate dealer network in the UK at the time.  Everybody had to have a piece of the action in this medium saloon market.  This basic body and estate car version of the Austin and Morris  lasted until 1971 and some were even fitted with BMC diesel engines.

The Wolseley by Trax and sold by Top Gear (TRR18) is resin and comes in the usual clear Perspex display box  with a small introduction card.   This is the early version the Farina styled cars having the taller and more pointed fins and different tail lamps.   For comparison I have pictured it with the Vanguards Morris Oxford showing the slight restyle and muting of the fins in the second generation of these cars.    In Australia there was also an Austin Freeway which was essentially an Austin Cambridge but with minor differences including a different grille treatment.

Going by the Vanguards Morris Oxford,  Trax got the scale correct and the only obvious flaw is that the A pillars are a bit too fat.   The distinctive Wolseley grill is nicely replicated as is some detail on the undercarriage.  Separate chrome door handles, photo etched wipers,  and badging are provided.

Trax models are produced in relatively limited quantities and often sell out.   Shipping from Australia to the USA is $19.50 Australian dollars ($14.00 USD) and in my case took over a month to arrive.


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Austin Kimberley

By John Quilter

Leyland Australia built many cars that were based on UK BMC or British Leyland designs but they often modified them for specific market conditions in the Australian market which was quite different than the UK where they were competing with locally built versions of “compact” American cars such as the Ford Falcon,  Chrysler Valiant or scaled down GM cars in the form of Holdens.     One of these Leyland Australia cars was the Austin Kimberley and Tasman made from about 1970 to 1973.   This car was a redesign of the British market Austin 1800 and later 2200 six cylinder car.   The Australians used the E series single overhead cam engine as did the BL 2200 made in Morris, Austin and Wolseley marques.

The Australians redesigned the C pillar, filled in the quarter window and extended and enlarged the boot.  Front styling differed as well accommodating rectangular headlamps and a horizontal thin barred grill.  The Kimberley was the more upscale version and the entry level Tasman used two round 7 inch headlamps and smaller hub caps versus the full wheel covers on the Kimberley.   Interiors were plusher on the Kimberley and there were some power differences since the Kimberley used twin SU HS6 carburettors while the Tasman made do with a single SU all on the same basic 2200cc engine.   Standard gearbox was a four speed manual with an optional automatic.   One interesting feature included in the model is a center high mount stop light, well ahead of its time in the early 1970s.  For design and tooling economy the BL empire made maximum use of the doors of this car, they first appearing on the 1800, then the Maxi, then the Austin 3 liter and even overseas on the Kimberley.

The model of this car is by Trax based in Australia but made in China and sold by their agents, Top Gear.  It is a resin casting with all the usual details such as photo etched wipers, window frames and chrome features.  There is some detail on the undercarriage as well although the engine sump seems to me more applicable to a rear wheel drive car.   The color, harvest gold, was a common color of this era and often seen on BL cars such as the MGB.   Trax offers a number of Australian cars in their range including he British redesigns but they are of relatively limited production and sell out rapidly in many cases.   Sometimes they are reintroduced in new colours to extend the production time.

The photo shows a comparison of the BMC 1800/2200 car as produced in the UK and clearly shows the enlarged boot and windowless rear pillars.


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Australian Jottings

by Graeme Ogg                                                     July 2014

A little while back I saw some photos of an interesting 1:43 1959 Australian Ford Fairlane which was being offered on eBay. Unfortunately the model was photographed in its box, making it hard to see some of the detail. I found the website of the maker, Ace Models (www.acemodelcars.com) and just for fun I contacted them to ask if they had any decent photos. It turned out that the owner, Tony Hanna, knew me from my scribbling days in MAR and was happy to provide some background info.

He spend 20 years working as a pattern-maker for Trax, but has also produced models on his own account, like the Holden Torana GTR-X Concept and a Broadspeed Mini, under the Modelcraft Miniatures and Revolution names. Ace Models is his latest independent venture. He supplied me with the Fairlane shown here in pale blue and white resin. The brightwork is a mix of photo-etching and adhesive chrome strip (like a kind of very heavy-duty Bare Metal Foil).

 

He was very honest about the fact that he would like to improve some small details. For example the rear amber indicator lamps (which were white reversing lamps on US cars) are a little too large. He also hoped to improve some of the trim pieces. But as you can see, it is a pretty attractive model as it stands, and there are plenty of resin models on the market with more serious detail faults – and not a word from their makers about correcting them!

Some of the first examples went to a well-known Australian model shop, Gateway Models, so to us foreign buyers it looked like they were the only game in town, as the Ace website doesn’t show them. But in the meantime Tony had been approached by Trax and offered a deal, with the result that they took the rest of the first production batch. Suddenly, the model is on the front page of the latest Trax mini-catalogue. They don’t actually claim it is a Trax model, it is meant as a stop-gap until the next real Trax models come along. Apparently it is part of the deal that the additional stocks now being produced will keep the model in its original form, without any changes, so if an enhanced version eventually appears, it will come out under the Ace Models name. In the meantime he is working on a 1959 Fairlane station wagon in both Australian and US versions, to be followed by a 1959 Dodge Custom Royal four-door and 1960 Dodge Phoenix four-door (both cars were imported CKD from the States, so they will effectively be the US versions). I don’t know at the moment if these will also be marketed by Trax, or independently under the Ace brand.

He also mentioned that other forthcoming items this year include a 1966 Chevy Nova, initially in sedan racing form for Australian race fans, then in a civilian version for world-wide sales, a New Avengers Broadspeed Jaguar XJC (complete with John Steed figure!) and a Goggomobil Dart, which was a diminutive but surprisingly pretty Australian fibreglass-bodied sports car. It was based on the what is of course acknowledged to be one of the finest sports car chassis of its generation, the Glas Goggomobil microcar.

Tony is currently looking for overseas distributors in the UK and elsewhere. In the current overcrowded market he will have to come up with models that fill a gap and catch the imagination, at an acceptable price. Brave man; I guess we should wish him well.

The fact that the banner at the top of the Trax catalogue says Getting Trax back on track … is quite revealing. Without getting into personalities, it seems that the management changes at the top were a bit turbulent, and model planning and commissioning got somewhat sidetracked in the process. That was compounded by production delays and erratic deliveries from China, which cannot have helped the cashflow situation either. And just like MAR before it went digital, there are ongoing concerns about the impact of increased postal charges.

 

Tony reckons this whole upheaval cost them about a year of normal operations. There haven’t been many really new models, the only new item showing on their website for the past few months has been a re-hash of the old 1:24 Chrysler Charger. And they seemed to be pushing their luck with too many versions of the very nice Holden Statesman in the Opal series (basically just grille and colour variations) and may be struggling to unload them all. Then they pulled a real stunt with the Holden Trax LTZ mini-MPV, requiring Trax fans to cough up AU$100 dollars advance payment, with the balance of another 30 dollars or so payable when (or if) it eventually emerged. After some production problems it is now on release, which must be a relief, although unlike their usual limited specials not all were sold out in advance, so they are now on offer to all comers for a mere AU$99. Those who paid up front for the exclusive must be really happy. Available in eight colour choices each model comes with a cheap digital watch with a plastic strap matching your colour choice. (If that doesn’t break your resistance, nothing will). By the way, this SUV was apparently designed by Opel in Germany, mainly styled by Ford in the US but, oddly enough, with the nose and grille style contributed by Holden, and it is built in South Korea. There will also be Chevy Trax, Opel Mokka and Suzuki Kruze versions.

The mini-catalogue shows a couple of other forthcoming models, a Surfer Roo, which was a one-off built by Ford in 1969 based on an XW ute, and a Holden Commodore Walkinshaw Group A racer built by Holden Special Vehicles in 1988. Both models are resin, and look a little rough in the photos but Tony confirms they are mock-ups he produced some time ago and should be much better in production form. Whether they are of much interest to many people outside Australia is another matter.

 

It seems that much of Trax future production will be resin, and apparently at twice the price of their old-style diecast models. I don’t know how well that will go down with their traditional buyers, or maybe they have decided that casual demand for models of Oz family favourites is dwindling, and they are now catering to a hard core of serious buyers.

Another new string to their bow is that they seem to have joined forces with Century Dragon and are offering a 1:43 resin Land Rover (made from 166 parts) for AU$149 and a Toyota Land Cruiser (made from 266 parts) for AU$165. Again, not your usual pocket money model from Trax, but a lot of parts for your money.

Speaking personally, I thought they struck the best balance between the simple diecasts and the expensive Select models with their Opal series, which had nice quality and a distinctive style. But there you are.

Let’s hope they manage to get their act back together. There are still things to be done. A note at the back of the catalogue says COMING SOON … Things We Missed from the Past and Aussi Icons (Gee, I thought they’d done all those). We shall see what emerges.


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