Greenlight Indy Racers and Roadsters

by Karl Schnelle

 

Back in June, I wrote about looking for diecast cars at the Indianapolis 500 open wheeled race.  The race was on May 29, 2016, and was the 100TH RUNNING!  I found some modern Indy style race cars there,  in 1/64 and 1/18 which are popular scales in the US.  That was about all I saw, and I did not buy any.  Then, my Mother, being the ultimate model car collector,  gave me a 1/24 scale Indy Roadster for my birthday.  I did not see this car anywhere for sale at the track in May.    She found it in a magazine ad!

The gold race car is in the style of the late 1930’s and 40’s with a long hood for the engine.   Embossed printing on the hood says 100th Running Indianapolis 500″ in red; on the rails underneath it says “INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY”.  The packaging was definitely for the 2016 race, and the car was made by Enlighten in China,  a large well-known, local company that makes all sorts of model cars.

Because of the retro style of the Roadster, with was unlike any Greenlight I had ever seen, I searched around online and found out that they had also made a similar one ten years before!  For the 90TH RUNNING of the Indy 500, Greenlight made a silver one and called it an Indy Racer on the box.   Not sure why they changed names.  So I was on the search for its twin and found it that same day ending at an online auction site.  The owner turned out to be from Indianapolis and had bought it at the race in May 2006 at one of the track gift shops.  What a small world!  So I had to have it and won it easily.

The box was more generic with no mention of the 90th running or the 2016 race itself.  The copyright on the bottom was 2006 so that was a give-away.   However, the same printing is on the car except that 90th was in place of 100th, still in red. The seat is the same red color, as the newer 100th version!

Here are both out of the box:

Once they were out of the box, other differences became apparent, not just the color and the printing.   The silver one is marked stainless on the box and is much heavier than the newer gold model. The bases are different as well, even they they are the exact same dimensions.

The silver is one-piece with a seam inside running down the middle.   It’s nice to see the date of the 2006 race engraved on the bottom. From my untrained eyes, it looks to be cast, polished stainless steel.  The lighter-weight gold one has a separate baseplate attached with six recessed screws.  Is this diecast made from the typical zinc alloy, like zamak (mazac)?

I assume the cost of a new mold for the gold one was feasible versus the cost of stainless steel, or the 2006 mold was lost?

In any case, 2006 is NOT the beginning of the story.  The box for the silver one talks about the original 1946 version that Tony Hulman (the owner of the track) and Wilbur Shaw (driver and President of the track) gave to drivers and sponsors.

The steel car was typical of the race cars of the late 30’s and into the 40’s.  In fact, ni500cc.com shows many older versions:

  1. Original which looks like the silver Greenlight with a small hole in the baseplate near the front and no writing on the hood (cowl), but the same writing on the rails
  2.  Same but with Wilbur Shaw’s signature embossed on the cowl
  3.  With Clabber Girl Spl embossed on the cowl
  4.  With Clabber Girl Spl sticker on the cowl
  5.  Red with and with out Shaw’s signature
  6.  Yellow with and with out Shaw’s signature
  7.  White with and with out Shaw’s signature
  8.  1947 Nash Pace Car or the 1948 Chevrolet Pace Car with company details embossed on to of the hood
  9.  A plastic version was reported to be made

I have the two new reproductions now, so perhaps I need to start prowling around the antique markets in Indy and online places to dig up nine more! The hunt is on!


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