Category Archives: Austin

Oxford Diecast Austin Somerset

By Maz Woolley

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

The Austin A40 Somerset was made for only two years replacing the more traditional A40 Devon and was in turn replaced by the much more up to date unibody A40 Cambridge. In essence the Somerset was a re-bodied Devon with a more highly tuned engine and styling similar to that of the larger A70 Hereford supposed to appeal to the American buyer as the UK was trying to export as much as possible to help it pay off its war debt.  Powered by a 1.2 litre engine it could just reach 70mph.

The Devon was modelled in the Classix range to 1:76 scale in two and four door forms and was a very good model of that car, better in some respects than this more recent Oxford Diecast.

Most readers will be familiar with the contemporary Dinky Somerset #161 and the more recent Lansdowne in 1:43 scale. As far as I am aware no contemporary small scale model was made and although John Day Vehicle Scenics made the A70 I don’t think any other modern 1:76 scale model of the Somerset has been made.

76SOM001 Austin Somerset Black and  76OM002 Austin Somerset Buckingham Green

These models have been long awaited and have certainly caught the rounded shape and flowing lines of the original well. Viewed from the type of distance we usually look at them they are good models, certainly for their price.

The black model was issued first and is typical of most of these cars, In a sombre colour with normal tyres. The green model has fancy white walls which would not have been common at the time though are entirely accurate for the car carrying that registration plate although it lacks the headlight peak accessories fitted to that car.

The green car’s printed black screen surround merely emphasises the thickness of the casting and would have been better left off altogether.

One puzzle is the rear lights where the lower light appears to be a red reflector on real cars and not a silver disk as printed on the model.

The interior is simply moulded in red for the black car and brown for the green car. Door cards are included but seem to lack any moulded in fittings. The dashboard has limited moulded details but adequate for this scale.

Frustratingly the Austin of England script along the bonnet side is not printed straight on my models and keeps catching my eye. Another issue is the large vertical  mould mark on the rear wing which can be seen on the model above. This is only the case on the driver’s side and appears on both the green and black cars.

There is a silver printed side chrome strip and quarter lights. Again the printed quarter lights emphasis the depth of the casting and might have been better left off.

The front end captures the car very well but the Austin badge is missing off the grill centre which would have broken up the large expanse of silver and there is no attempt to model the flying ‘A’ mascot on the bonnet. The grille could also do with a black wash but at this price point that is perhaps too much to expect.

Another view of the rear showing the neat number plate, but also the substantially overscale boot hinges.

The front of the Black version has higher contrast and looks better though it is more noticeable that the sidelights on the wing tops are left unpainted whereas on the original car they were silver.

Again the boot hinges look much too large on the black version.

Searching the web using the number plates shows the real cars exist and that these models capture the originals well and show most of their features if not all.

As seems to be typical of Oxford Diecast models recently there are quite a few minor faults which reduce the accuracy of these models but I  am sure that most collectors will not be as critical as I am. The railway modelling fraternity with early British Rail dioramas will leap to buy these as will the growing number of 1:76 scale car collectors.


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Maestro Model in 3D

By Maz Woolley

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

3D printed parts are widely used for prototyping work by model makers and artisan railway scenics producers have developed a lot of 3D printed items to sell over the last few years. Bollards, speed bumps, security fencing and items like that are being made by several established and growing scenics producers like Scale Model Scenery and Shedring Railway. Of late Shedring has started to make vehicle fitments like lifting equipment for lorries and even whole vehicles for use in dioramas like the site dumper shown below.

Photograph by, and copyright of, Shedring Railways

An alternative way for 3D designers to get their products to the public is a company called Shapeways who are commercial 3D printers who run a site where designers can upload their designs and if anyone buys the item Shapeways print it and send it to the customer and pay the designer a royalty. This company appears to run both a US and a European printing operation so the site attracts designs posted from both sides of the Atlantic and usefully an American design can be printed in Europe for European customers. Their site contains many items for diorama makers and has a few models in 1:43, but more in HO (1:87), OO (1:76) and even N (1:148 and 1:160) scales. Sometimes the same model is available in multiple scales. Designs include scenic items, railway engine bodies and fitments to use as transkits on commercial chassis. More importantly for car and vehicle model collectors there are also some lorries, vans and cars available. A selection of these are shown below. Please note that most illustrations on the Shapeways site have been generated from the digital data and are not photographs of the actual product that you will get.

Bedford TJ design by coasters120 on Shapeways

The Bedford TJ (thanks to Brendan Leach for correcting my error in calling it a TK) flatbed shown above is to 1:76 and looks like a one piece print. It is an interesting model as there are currently few TJ models.

Bedford OL by Transport Models on Shapeways

1:43 scale models are few and far between but provide interesting variants which can often be mixed with bodies and wheel sets off commercial models. The few 1:43 scale models seem to be made of a greater number of parts. The cost of the 1:43 scale models when additional parts needed to finish them off are taken into account are considerably dearer than Oxford Diecast trucks.

MIni Estate by Digitawn on Shapeways

This is a typical OO 1:76 scale model from the Shapeways site. It produced as a solid model with separate wheels. In addition to Minis there are also Transits and other Fords available on the site. The Mini model is certainly more accurate than many ready made models are.

Mercury Montego by Madaboutcars on Shapeways

The Mercury model shown is a digital generation of a 1:87 scale model. It is one of many US prototypes designed by Madaboutcars. All the US models I have seen are solid and  in either 1:43, 1:87 or Continental N scale of 1:160.

The model that I would like to look at in detail today is a 1:76 scale Austin Maestro designed by Alternative Model Railways which is available in 1:87, 1:76, and 1:148 scales. The 1:76 is available with the metal bumper or the plastic bumper, the plastic bumper version being shown here. A 1:76 scale van is also available. Shapeways can print with a wide range of plastics but model designers restrict the materials that can be used for the model and the Maestro can only be purchased made of a high quality plastic which makes the kit quite expensive, it costs nearly as much as four 1:76 Oxford Diecasts or two of the cheaper John Day Vehicle Scenics kits. The justification for the use of the expensive matte translucent plastic is that it shows fine and intricate details better.

The Austin Maestro was codenamed LM10 and was a five-door hatchback produced at Cowley from 1982 to 1987 by British Leyland, and from 1988 until 1994 by Rover Group. It went on to be produced in China until 2007 using a Toyota engine. It shared its platform with the MG derivatives as well as the Montego saloon.  It replaced both the Maxi and the Allegro and was fitted with engines from 1.3 to 2.0 litres.

Models of later Leyland, and Rover group, vehicles are scarce with the only other Maestro models known to me being the contemporary Scalextric and Corgi models. I know of no Montego model or models of the next generation Rover 200, 400, and 600 series cars. These once common cars have all but vanished from the roads now but there are many who remember driving them or as their parents or grandparents car. This generation of UK made vehicles are an opportunity for a small scale producer to fill if Oxford do not do so.

The model supplied is much like the digital illustration below though transluscent. Parts are printed and placed into protective plastic bags with different parts in different bags. As the illustration shows there is no glazing supplied.

Alternative Model Railways Maestro Kit as shown on Shapeways.

Unusually the designer also has a simple assembly diagram on the web site something that few others seem to both with.

Alternative Model Railways Maestro Assembly schematic on Shapeways

So what was it like making this kit? The first thing to note is that it all fits together quite snugly. The surface finish on the roof and in other areas does show the printing artifacts with the roof in particular having distinct contours. In 1:76 scale or smaller this is not too obvious but in 1:43 it may be a considerable disadvantage.  The kit was very crisply printed and I have few criticisms of the accuracy and quality. As my modelling skills are basic the defects in appearance are mainly from my poor finishing.

The side view of the car has been very well caught. The 3D printing of the side strips, wheels arches and the side ‘scallop’ are all very accurate. As are the window frames, door handles and fuel cap. The very finely printed detail presents a challenge to the average kit maker as many kit designers will make details slightly over scale to make the easier to pick out. This is not the case here so painting side strips and window surrounds proved challenging.

The front view is good though there were some artefacts in the grilles particularly below the bumper. But overall quite an accurate reflection of the fairly plain Maestro front end. No attempt is made to model screen wipers.

At the rear the modelling is simple and no attempt at wiper is made, It is however quite a good shape. The rear lights are supplied as transluscent plastic which has to be painted and fitted into slots. The shape and fit are good but painting them is difficult to this size and a decal to overlay or making them in coloured plastic might be a better solution.

The model’s stance is good and the overall shape excellent. It would have been better if a vacform had been supplied as glazing it is a real challenge. My thanks to Daryle at John Day Vehicle Scenics for giving me some vacforms for lorry cabs to cut down for the front and rear screens which has worked quite well. The side windows have been been glazed using Kristal Klear and because of the size of the gaps it has not created the nice flat surface I had hoped for though it is flush glazed which is the effect I wanted.

Another view of the car shows that the wheels are well finished with the wheel cover often seen on the Maestro in body colour. Again fine rims made painting difficult as a more pronounced rim makes it easier to paint the tyre correctly.

Another unusual model to add to the collection, and an introduction to making 3D printed models. My personal feeling is that, at present, the high cost of models on Shapeways means that it is only really worth considering for models of vehicles that you cannot get in any other way like this Maestro. Perhaps if Shapeways could find a way of making vacforms and reducing cost then they might become more popular.


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Amateur Building #2 – being a reconstruction of GFCC’s Austin 7 of 1930

By David Holcombe

Unless otherwise stated all text and photographs are copyright of the Author.

When Maz reviewed this little fellow in all its 1:43 glory (MAR Online, 31 Dec. ’17), he concluded that it “.. really would benefit from taking the model apart and treating it like a kit.” That’s when I decided it was time to find one for myself.

I acquired mine a couple of weeks ago (the postage from China was far more than I paid for the model); I had only pictures with which to compare, for I have never seen an Austin 7. But surely the staid English motorists of 1930 would not have used this green! So I turned to my long-suffering internet pals on Forum 43 and braced myself. Comments flowed, “Needs window glazing,” “like the postal slot in brass,” and from Master John Roberts, “different colour?”. One collector even posted his hot rod version. Horrors!

First, I made an attempt at just cleaning it up by touching the door handles and hub caps with silver/chrome, and adding a bit of pin striping. It still didn’t work. That green was just too green. So, I started with the conclusions of Maz and implemented the others as best as I could (where I agreed with them, anyhow). The model has two basic parts of die cast metal, being the cabin and the fenders/subframe. The rest, including a well-formed undercarriage, is plastic. The roof is also plastic, somewhat simplified. It appeared that the Austin was held together by two minute screws, but after removing them and the undercarriage, I found a third. Very small tabs, all plastic, tended to break as their glue gave way; but construction was so simple that they went back together rather easily.

The window glazing was relatively easy, working from the inside, as the metal of the cabin is quite nicely finished. That is, until I attempted the windshield (that’s “windscreen” in the UK). Sorry if a smear shows, but even my third attempt was faulty. I applied a light grey on the seats to ease all that black, and even picked out a little of the minimal dashboard. One of the guys who hangs around my models volunteered to drive, and he is still there.

Final touch-up was simple, as that’s the term for the Austin 7. My chosen dark red was advised by John Roberts, even though I found many, many shades of red in restored Austins. Chrome is only a touch here and there, and I had fun adding the pin stripe for a black on red contrast. That’s not paint; it’s a trimmed slice of the plastic striping I applied on my 1:1 PT Cruiser about 15 years ago. Never throw away something that you might need in the future. And, yes, I used a brass/golden tint on the postal slot. (I wonder if that is the correct term. Oh well, I like it and it seems to fit.)

If all this seems a lot of fuss over the very small car, then I suggest one of the several Austin 7 models that have been produced over the years. Oxford, I think, has one still in production. But none of them have just quite the same features as mine. (Big Smile!)

Picture from unknown source.

 

The 1:1 Austin 7 (sometimes referred to as the Austin Seven)

This is how it arrived, well packed but with no pretty box.

So I attempted a little work, but it still was too green! Time to “do a Maz!”

And so, we took it apart. And then I had fun!

And here it is now, on the streets of London, c. 1930. Okay, this driver found some pavement.

 

Here is how it looked in comparison to its English kin. That’s a Western Model’s version of the 1926 Rolls Royce Phantom 1 Doctor’s Coupe. And it’s a 2-passenger car. The Austin 7 was designed to handle four.

 

Sometimes it’s fun to take something apart and put it back together. . . kind of.

Yes these are both to 1:43 scale!


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Cult Models for 2018

By Maz Woolley

All photographs provided by the manufacturer and may be prototypes subject to refinement and changes.

Cult Models has a past history of making 1:18 scale models of classic British cars and four more are expected in the first half of 2018. These models are made in China for Cult.

Cult have been known to offer some of the more reasonably priced 1:18 scale models in the past but the price has risen steadily over the last year or so making each model a significant investment for collectors.

Land-Rover Discovery Mark I metallic red 1989

This model of an early Land Rover Discovery with the graphics printed on should prove popular. The wheels seem to be very accurate and the large areas of matt black also seem well printed.


Austin 1100 Glider yellow 1969

The car is a four door illustrated with right hand drive and the correct grille bars for the 1100. I don’t believe that the name “Glider” was ever used on a UK car, though looking at the web shows it was used and perhaps in the Netherlands as most of the references using this name seem to be Dutch.

The model seems to capture the shape well and though the colour is certainly authentic the Author wishes they had done it in another colour.


Sunbeam Supreme MKIII white/maroon 1954

From 1953 the former Sunbeam -Talbot 90 was marketed by Rootes Group as the Sunbeam Mark III. On the radiator shell instead of “Sunbeam Talbot” used on previous versions “Sunbeam Supreme” was to be seen.

This model captures the cars shape well and again the wheels seem to be neatly represented as does the chrome belt line.


Triumph Spitfire MKII blue

A popular vehicle for modelling and one that is available in almost every scale commonly available. The Cult model seems to be a good replica of the real thing. The early Spitfire front and rear end is clearly captured as are the simple painted steel wheels and chrome hubcaps.


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Dinky Small Auto Set

by Terry Hardgrave

The 1953 US Dinky Toys catalog pictures a small red racing car that many collectors might not have seen before.

In fact there are other cars in a little set. These were originally introduced in 1936 and called the Small Auto Set, and numbered 35a, 35b, 35c, and 35d. They were tiny, only a little over 1″ long, and made to OO scale. All of these were discontinued in 1941, due to the war, then re-introduced in 1946.

35a is called the Saloon Car and has the appearance of an early Triumph. It was made until 1952. 35b is the Midget Car Racer and is modeled after an MG Type R race car, and was the longest made, being deleted in 1957. 35c is the MG Sports Car and based on the MG Midget or Type P. This was deleted in 1952.  35d is the Austin 7 car, modeled on the Austin 7 Opal 2-seat touring car. One source says it was deleted in 1948, but it appears in the 1951 US Dinky Toys catalog.

The pre-war 35d models only came with a wire windscreen … postwar without. My example,shown below on the right, is the only pre-war model of this set that I have, and it also shows the pre-war style white tires and thinner axles.

The price lists from the early 1950’s catalogs show these as being priced at $0.35 each, and they always came in trade boxes of 6.
Here is another photo of this little, very antiquated set of tiny Dinky cars!


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Silas Austin Maxi 1750HL

By Maz Woolley

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

The Austin Maxi was one of the last cars developed before BMC became British Leyland and was one of the last to have input from Alex Issigonis. It replaced the long in the tooth Austin Cambridge and was followed by the Maestro. A five door hatchback with lots of space it was functional like the Mini and 1100/1300 and this restricted showroom appeal compared to the jazzed up interiors from Ford, Vauxhall and Chrysler.  The 1750HL was a second generation car and had a larger engine and an improved five speed gearbox. Unfortunately the build quality was not good with rust and failure of electrical components frequent.  My wife’s first car was a 1750HL Maxi and  yes it rusted, things  like windscreen wiper boxes broke, internal switchgear failed, and the thinner wiring under the bonnet broke so often that I carried a crimping kit  in the car to fix it. But it was otherwise a comfortable, quiet and relaxing car to cruise in with lots of space for luggage and friends. It should remembered that cars from its competitors were often no more reliable or free from rust.

The Maxi has not been modelled very often. The only contemporary model that I am aware of was an Airfix kit to 1:32 scale. Since then a white metal model has been made but it was not a very good representation. Then more recently Silas made it in Resin. The 1500 was initially sold a couple of years ago and now a new batch of the 1500 and some 1750HLs are available. Though as only one hundred are made in each colour they will no doubt sell out quickly. The 1750 is available in  Harvest Gold, Teal Blue (as photographed), and Tartan Red.

The Silas model has a good profile but this is let down a little by the very flat tops and bottoms of the PE chrome round the windows which need to be slightly more curved to fit the apertures properly particularly at the top,

This front three-quarter view shows the model at its best.

The rear is not quite so good with a  slight twist to the resin body, the number plate printed slightly at an angle, and the PE window surround kinked at the bottom. The lights and bumper are nicely modelled.

A good front end with Grille and badging well modelled and the detail on the 1750 badge is extremely fine.

Another picture that shows the slightly distorted rear window surround. The interior is all in black with steering wheel part picked out in silver. I would have preferred the dash to be in the simulated wood finish that our car had.

The tiny wipers seem a little to delicate to me. I seem to rememeber them as quite substantial assemblies. But maybe that is just because they stuck across the screen so often!

The wheels are slightly shiny and would have benefited from some black detailing but are otherwise quite good.

Finally a quick look at the very simple base.

Silas have made a good attempt at this rarely modelled car, though it is not as good as their Rapier or Herald but better than their Hunter. I am glad to have this model as I will be very surprised if we see it modelled in diecast metal by Corgi, Oxford, or even Ixo/PCT.


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Oxford Diecast Austin Seven Ruby

By Maz Woolley

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author except where otherwise stated.

The model shown here is the second release of the Austin Seven Ruby from Oxford Diecast.  This follows the previous release in various colours of the original Austin 7.

In August 1934 the ‘7’ was re-styled with the saloon version being called the ‘Ruby’.  The new model was recognisable by the longer bonnet and cowled radiator, whilst the tail was slightly downswept with the spare wheel enclosed by a metal cover, this item also concealing a folding luggage grid. These changes brought the styling of Austin’s smallest car in line with the larger ones
The Oxford model captures the Ruby’s diminutive size and its curved shape very well. And the colour split is very nicely achieved.

From the front the Austin badging has been well printed though the Austin badge is just a silver print with no red colour applied.  The badging on the radiator is well done but the silver inset around the grille is a little overscale. The headlights are lovely units with clear plastic lenses.

The picture above shows how well the car’s profile has been captured and the suitcase on the luggage rack is a nice plastic casting.

Another view of the case shows the printed straps. The number plates are nicely printed as are handles and catches all round the car.

The roof has a nicely printed fabric section and the interior has a nicely finished dashboard with instruments printed a neat steering wheel, moulded door cards and nicely matt finished seats.

On the down side I am afraid that the wheels do not match the quality of the rest of the model. Setting aside the fact that the “wire” outer has fallen off one wheel whilst handling, the rear wheels do not turn without binding on the body. But the worst feature is the way that they look. Oxfords technique for “faux wires” has looked OK on many previous models but it really lets this one down. Somehow the plastic nature of the outer wires is obvious and the clear disk is cloudy and stops the inner disk showing through, though on some wheels the inner wires are not properly fitted into the centre either. This is a real shame as it stops this from being an excellent model when it so easily could be.


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Anonymous Alloy models from China

By Maz Woolley

 

Every now and again eBay throws up some curiosities as we have seen with the recent articles on GFCC Jaguar and Pontiac models in MAR Online. Indeed GFCC has come up with another US model recently, a Studebaker Speedster Coupé , which the Author has ordered and will review when it arrives. A photograph from the eBay listing is shown below.

 

At the moment there are a number of sellers of models described as “alloy classic models” which do not appear to have originated from Part Works or other known model ranges . Four seem to be available and photographs from eBay listings are shown below.

 

Austin Seven


Skoda Hispano


 

Rolls Royce Silver Ghost


 

Ford Model T


 

All the models appeared to be finished in a “Yesteryear” style with no window glazing but as the models were being offered very cheaply with no postage charges I decided to buy the Austin Seven to see what it was like.

The model is marked C.I.L. on the base but I seem to be unable to find any details of this company on the web. If readers have any details please let me know. As I expected the model is like a later “Model of Yesteryear“. It has a plastic roof but diecast body.

The wheels are one piece plastic affairs but as can be seen they have excellent spokes and rims and if they had been fitted with rubber tyres I would rate them as better than the wheels on Oxford’s equivalent model. The front lights are picked out but the rear ones though moulded in are not printed.

The body casting has been neatly detailed with handles, flaps and coachwork lines but none are printed. Underneath the chassis is made in plastic in some detail.  All in all this is quite a nice basic model but the one thing that lets it down is the paintwork this is far from smooth and the model really would benefit from taking the model apart and treating it like a kit.


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Wolseley 2200 Conversion

By John Quilter

Photographs by, and copyright of, the Author. They can be seen below the text.

So what do you do when you end up with a duplicate model of one you already have? A while back a fellow model club member, who only works with 1:24th scale models, gave me a Heller plastic kit of an Austin Princess 2000. So what to do with this since I had already built a stock Princess 2000? Checking the British Leyland product range circa 1975 I found that there was a Wolseley version, the Wolseley 2200 of the controversial Harris Mann wedge design era that included the Triumph TR7.

The only real noticeable differences between the Princess and 2200 were the shape of the bonnet and a trapezoidal grill. So I decided to modify this kit into a Wolseley by adding a bulge to the bonnet and a modified grill. A layer of styrene plastic to the bonnet and a grill made from a piece of solder bent to shape made the conversion possible. Google images showed that there was a gold colour offered in 1975 with a tan interior. This is a nice addition to my Wolseley shelf, and if I am correct, it was the last BLMC vehicle badged as a Wolseley before the marque faded into obscurity.


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Ace Model Cars (Australia) An update

By Graeme Ogg

Back in 2014 I posted a piece about Ace Model Cars, from whom I had just bought a nice resin model of a 1959 Ford Fairlane 500.

They were promising one or two other things in the pipeline but then I heard no more. So I got in touch with them recently and thought you might like an update on some of their current or forthcoming items. (Photos reproduced with their permission – some images may be changed on the website to show final production versions).

Needless to say, I am not acting as any kind of agent or touting for business on their behalf, but I know some of you are interested in Australian models (including Aussie versions of U.S. cars), and it isn’t a site you might come across in casual browsing.

There was a promise of an estate (wagon) version of the ’59 Ford, but apparently the man behind Ace Models, Tony Hanna, wasn’t happy with how it came out so it is still a work in progress, although now that Motorhead Models have done one in their Genuine Ford Parts” series, that could affect sales of the Ace version if/when it appears.

Also promised was a ’59 Dodge Custom Royal 4 door sedan. The first attempt at that didn’t satisfy him either so it has been re-worked and production is not too far away now.

No mention of the fate of the proposed 1960 Dodge Phoenix, but the nice (though imperfect) Neo model may have discouraged that idea.

An interesting Australian model that is almost ready for sale, needing just a few minor corrections, is the 1975 Ford Landau, a fastback coupé based on the Ford XA Falcon but with the front end from the Ford Fairlane LTD (which was a stretched Falcon). It will be offered in Port Wine (dark maroon), Grecian Gold, Ivy Green and Metallic Blue.

Also available is a ’62 Falcon XL in red, white over red, white over green, plain white and black.

Another U.S./Australian model now available is a 1966 Chevy Nova, with street versions in silver or red and three racing versions. I’m not enough of a Chevy man to know how it compares with the U.S. version but I believe that, like the Falcons, the Australian cars were imported CKD and re-trimmed to Australian specification,

A more typically Australian item is a Ford BA 1 ton flatbed pickup in metallic purple, metallic blue, orange or metallic green.

And a British/Australian mongrel currently on offer is an Austin A40 Hi-Lite ute in beige or light green. To the best of my knowledge Austin never offered this pickup on home territory, but the Ozzies love making ute versions of everything, Seems to be cultural thing.

All these models are resin, and prices are comparable with Trax so I guess that by the time you add shipping from the other side of the world, you would have to have a fairly specific interest in these niche models before parting with your money. But it’s nice to see things a little bit out of the mainstream.

If you want to take a look at these and other models on offer from Ace, the website is http://acemodelcars.com/index.php?route=common/home


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