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Diecast Delights: 1938 Auto-Union Type C Record Breaker in 1:18 scale.

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Museums are divisive in their appeal. On the one hand, standing face to face with legendary machines, breathing in the vapours of oil and leather that time erodes from a classic or historic car is a humbling, nourishing experience.

On the other hand, unless such machines are kept working, you’re looking at corpses. Now inanimate hulks, the record breakers of the past are displayed in limbo between life and death. And if all the museum achieves is to enable us to gawp open-mouthedly at these silent giants, we might as well do that in the comfort of our own homes.

Here’s a good example of something worth revering, in a rather convenient scale.

All images get bigger if you attack them with your cursor and give ’em a damn good clicking.

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As the owner of an Audi, I thought I ought to own a model that does something to reference the history of this (formerly?) fascinating marque, although we might overlook some of the more politically contentious reasons for Germany’s pre-war quest for engineering recognition.

The Auto-Union Typ C was astonishing, a grand-prix racer that seems aeons ahead of its time. Taken from the Audi website:

“The Type C represented the most powerful development stage of the Auto Union 16-cylinder racing car, which developed up to 560 hp. The Streamliner celebrated its debut at the 1937 Avus Race, where the new banked curve was driven on for the first time. In the same year Bernd Rosemeyer drove this car on the Frankfurt to Darmstadt autobahn, accelerating it to a speed of over 400 km/h for the first time on a normal road, and set several world speed records.”

It would also be the car that killed Rosemeyer, but they don’t mention that.

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This model is basically art, and to delve into such minutiae as quality and accuracy would be the work of a philistine,  but I wouldn’t be upholding the proud tradition of Diecast Delights if I didn’t.

So here it is then: The Revell 1:18 Auto Union Typ 3 Record Breaking Car isn’t perfect.

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There are a couple of ripples in the metalwork, a few inconsistencies in shaping around some of the features of that astonishing body, which can only have been caused by limitations in the die-casting process.

But, you know, that’s it. I’m done with criticising it now, because it’s just such a joy to behold. It’s also among my longest 1:18s, and one of the heaviest, too. The silver paintwork is glorious, and somehow it looks period.

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Detail is limited, but what’s there is gorgeous. The tiny, single-seat cockpit lies beneath a hinged canopy, opening which reveals a tachometer which looks like the pressure gauge of a steam engine, and for all we know, is. There’s an open-gate gearchange, too, and a pleasingly industrial-looking brake handle.

You can sense the drama of being sealed inside this tiny envelope, ready for that formidable 16-cylinder engine to get busy behind you.

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This sixteen-cylinder engine, which hides beneath a removable cast metal cover of substantial mass. It’s a beautifully modelled engine, too; without a doubt missing some of the more precise details, but there’s more than enough there to put you in mind of just what a mammoth undertaking of engineering the Auto-Union race cars really were.

A really good model would have the underlying structure exposed for inspection, but that would result in a model that costs All The Money, and would put it way outside the comfortable “look what I found on eBay for cheap” territory that is the Diecast Delights heartland.

I really think that, if you have an interest in this kind of car, this is all the model of it you need.

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406.3km/h on a public road? No problem at all when you have Photoshop.

(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2016)