M2 Turning Japanese

By Maz Woolley

Most photographs by, and copyright of, the Author. Where photograph is by, and copyright of M2 Castline, it is stated.

M2 have introduced an Auto-Japan line of 1:64 scale models diecast in China for USA. This article looks at the vehicles in “Release One” of this series and at the road car versions of the models in some detail. M2 are one of a number of US model firms that make 1:64 models to a constant scale with much more detail and better finish than Mattel Hot Wheels.

Until now M2 has generally focused upon US made vehicles but this release covers Japanese vehicles originally introduced from 1969 to 1971. Many of these cars were imported into the USA but would have been left hand drive. All the models are actually right hand drive as would be the case in Japan and the UK. But these are clearly Japanese market cars as they carry names such as Fairlady never used on the UK market and I don’t believe that the Skyline GT-R was officially imported at this time either. Finally the style of wing mirror used was not fitted to UK cars. As these have the steering wheel on the wrong side for the American market will this limit sales or is the series intended by M2 primarily as an attempt to enter the Japanese market place? Datsuns were also built and sold in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand who also have RHD and unlike the UK they may have used the Japanese names for their versions. Perhaps these are perfect for collectors in South African, Australia and New Zealand?

 1969 Datsun Bluebird 1600SSS

The Datsun Bluebird was their mid-range saloon competing in the UK with the Ford Cortina and Vauxhall Victor and Hillman Minx. This model is of the 510 series sold between 1967 and 1972. The SSS model was the sporting version with twin carburetors and upmarket fittings originally badged as SS until Chevrolet complained.

Side view shows that tampo printing has been used to show chrome window surrounds well.

The three box shape has been well captured and the “vinyl” roof imitated well. Wheels are generally good though the white stripe on the tyres is not entirely centred on some wheels.

The front end captures the car well but the moulding is a little heavy and the panel line round the lower valence too obvious. The printed badging and indicator on the wing are neatly done.

From the rear the lights are nicely moulded inserts and the over riders have been picked out in black. Tiny badging is printed well and only fully visible if enlarged several times.

The engine is represented with the inline 4 cylinder engine dominated by the additional carburetors of the SSS version. The Japanese style rear view mirrors are curiously left in grey plastic.

1969 Datsun Bluebird 1600SSS (Racing Version)

Pictured below is the Racing Version which is largely the same model.

©M2 Castline

 1970 Nissan Fairlady Z432

The Z432 was a rare version of the Z240/260/280. It was fitted with the heavily tuned engine from a Skyline GT-R and only just over 400 were ever built. The number exported from Japan must have been tiny. The racing version of the car Z432R was made in tiny numbers and was only sold in Japan.

Side view shows the neat badging and neatly moulded wheels as well as the Japanese market wing mirrors.

The front is nicely moulded though the bonnet panel fit is not up to the standards of some other models. The grille has been blacked but is not neatly printed at the top with the “ragged” appearance obvious even without enlargement.

The rear carries some nice grilles and printed badging. The lights are painted on silver effect inserst and are quite acceptable apart from scratching on one lens taking a line of paint off.

The open bonnet shows a sketchy in line six and induction manifolds.

1970 Nissan Fairlady Z432 (Racing Version)

Again a racing version which is very similar other than wheels, bumpers and detailing. This lacks the black hood of the original R version so is presumably a Z432 lightened for the track.

©M2 Castline

1971 Nissan Skyline GT-R

The coupe model was introduced in 1971 and fitted with a powerful inline six cylinder engine and a five speed gearbox. The GT-R was very successful in touring car racing. These cars have become a Japanese motoring icon and yet only around 2,000 of the first generation of GT-R were made.

Side view shows the neatly printed sidelights and the badge on the C pillar and rear wing. The black wheels are neatly moulded and the black wheel surround at the rear painted on.

The front end has been moulded well with lights and grille well represented and excellent tiny badging.

The shape of the car is well captured as shown in this shot from the rear.

The front of the car shows the rather wide panel gaps round the bonnet which some makers of small models are now getting much less obvious than this.

At the rear the lights do not fit straight, or the bumper, which lets down the overall effect. Nicely printed badging down to the small badge on the boot and reversing lights printed on the bumpers are positive features.

The bonnet up shot shows the straight six and induction manifold but is only really a general impression of the engine bay.

1971 Nissan Skyline GT-R (Racing Version)

Another racing version based on on the standard casting.

©M2 Castline

Chase Cars

It is a US market ploy to add a few specially finished models to the boxes sent out to dealers. This has created a market of collectors who only look for these special models which are produced in unrealistic finishes with strange wheel colours and extra printing.

The three chase cars produced for this series are shown below.

1969 Datsun Bluebird 1600SSS CHASE CAR

©M2 Castline

1971 Nissan Skyline GT-R CHASE CAR

©M2 Castline

1970 Nissan Fairlady Z432 SUPER CHASE

©M2 Castline

Although this series has nice models they are not defect free or as finely detailed, or crisply modelled, as Tomica Vintage Limited models. But then most US and European buyers will be able to buy the M2 models for a considerably lower price than Tomicas. I hope that M2 continue with this range as there are a many classic Japanese cars yet to be easily available in constant 1:64 scale at a reasonable price.


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