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Diecast Delights: Barkas B1000 in 1:43

Jay Ramey April 3, 2013 Diecast Delights

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Here’s something I’ve noticed about advertisements for 1:43 scale models in magazines: often the scale model advertised will be priced well north of $75.00, and the ad will make a huge fuss about the model possessing a certificate of authenticity. You know, to address the rampant problem of counterfeit scale models of cars. Because at some point in your life you will have to prove to somebody that your very tangible, metal, and heavy 1:18 model of a Lambo Gallardo was not cast, machined, and glued by some guy in his basement in Indiana (thus making it about 26 times more expensive and time consuming to produce by hand). You know what? That would actually be very impressive if someone were to build a one-off metal scale model of a Lambo Gallardo from scratch. I’m betting a jeweler with twenty years of experience may be able to pull it off in 110 hours or so. Imagine how much that “fake” would bring at auction.

And here’s a very detailed model that costs well below $75.00 and is flying out of online stores despite not relying on a framed and matted certificate of authenticity. Or even magazine advertisements, for that matter. This diecast Barkas B1000 in 1:43 is made by IST and usually retails for about $25.00, but can be found for much less if you know where to look. Let’s take a closer look at this beast.

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Diecast Delights: ZiL 130 in 1:43 by Ultra

Jay Ramey March 28, 2013 Diecast Delights

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If this ZiL 130 seems vaguely familiar to you, that might be because its mug is featured in the opening credits of FX’s new documentary drama The Americans, a sequence also notable for a GAZ 21 that gets wantonly blowed up. You might also remember that back in December we saw a much larger and far more dangerous version of the 130, which has since injured several people who have handled it. A staple truck of the USSR if there ever was one, the ZiL 130 first entered production in 1962 and was made through 1994. The 130 was built in so many different versions that even people who have written books on ZiLs still keep finding new variants. Released by Ultra just a few months ago in 1:43, this short-bed 130 is a charming scale model of one of the most common versions of this V8-powered truck.

Even though scale models of the ZiL 130 have been made since he 1980s, this is effectively the first commercially available scale model of the ZiL that one can buy new. It’s also the first commercially available ZiL 130 model that’s actually affordable, as there have been expensive handmade versions made since the 1980s. Let’s take a closer look at this truck.

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V.I.S.I.T. – 1964 Fiat 1500GT Ghia Coupe

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One doesn’t usually expect to see rare etceterini on the street in the Northeast till well into the month of May, though some even find May chilly. But every once in a while I am pleasantly surprised. Which is why the owner of this 1964 Fiat 1500GT Ghia Coupe gets a tip of the hat for driving this coachbuilt Fiat during the first week of March, before all the snow had even melted, and on day when the temperature barely reached 45 degrees.

A closer examination revealed that this was none other than the 1500GT Ghia Coupe that was last seen at Greenwich Concours 2009, which took place not even a quarter of a mile from where I spotted this Coupe a couple weeks ago. The Ghia is powered by a 1.5 liter straight-four, generally believed to make no more than 84bhp. Approximately 846 of these were built between 1962 and 1967, though the number is disputed. A Detroit-based importer is believed to have brought about 36 of these into the country, with no more than a dozen of these thought to still be in the US.

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V.I.S.I.T. – 1969 Austin America

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British Leyland blessed us with many wonderful cars over the years, and was never afraid to pander to the American car buying public, giving us the big rubber bumpers that we demanded. But before 5-mph bumpers became a fad, we had to get by with the smaller chrome ones, as seen on this 1969 Austin America.

Sold for five long years in US and Canada, the Austin America was based on BMC’s and later British Leyland’s popular and sexy-sounding platform called the BMC ADO16, which stood for Amalgamated Drawing Office project number 16. The ADO16 cars came in many different flavors, depending on which market you were in, and these included the BMC 1100, the Riley Kestrel, the Wolseley 11 (probably forgetting a couple here and just going to refer to them as the Morris Nigel and BMC Incognito), and also a trio of Austin cars called the America, Glider, and Victoria. Since American buyers were (arguably) in America, the version we got was called America. 

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V.I.S.I.T. – Pontiac Sunbird

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Is there was ever a car that absolutely demanded a Carter Mondale ’80 bumper sticker, this was probably it. That’s right, a first-generation Pontiac Sunbird. These were made from 1975 till 1980, right smack in the middle of a period we now refer to as…. uhh…. The Great Dejection? No, wait, that was in the thirties. The period I’m referring to was called The Languor…. right? Oh well, it’ll come to me eventually.

Based on the Chevy Vega, the Sunbird premiered as a 1976 model, sharing the H-body platform with a number of other small import fighters, or what were intended to be import fighters. The Vega and the Sunbird, among other offerings from the General, duked it out with what was arguably the first wave of widely successful Japanese automobiles on our shores. Honda and Toyota had of course been around for years before that, but it was really starting in the mid 1970s that they began a wholesale assault on the big three’s small cars.

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ZiL 118 in 1:43 by IST

Jay Ramey March 21, 2013 Diecast Delights

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IST has recently released a scale model of everyone’s favorite bespoke V8-powered Russian minibus from the 1960s, the ZiL 118 “Yunost.” That’s right, this is a 1:43 model of the luxury minibus based on the ZiL 111 limousine, which were handbuilt at Moscow’s ZiL factory from 1961 till 1970. Originally, around 2000 of these were supposed to be built each year, but the 118 fell victim to the complications inherent in a planned economy as well as internal factory politics. But instead of being completely forgotten and the whole project being scrapped, ZiL continued to build these minibuses as the orders came in. And not a whole lot came in. Before the model received a substantial facelift in 1970 (which we briefly saw last week in police livery), just twenty ZiL 118s had been built for various government customers. Yes, that’s averaging about 2 minibuses a year, an indulgence that would have bankrupted just about everybody who didn’t have carte blanche in the environment of a planned economy.

Powered by ZiL 130’s V8 engine making 150bhp, the ZiL 118 could reach speeds of up 140km/h. No two 118s were alike, each one had slightly different interior and exterior details. Most of these were built as luxury MPVs with 17 seats, but a number of special versions were also built, such as an ambulance and a TV truck. Fabrication techniques differed very little from those of the government limousines built alongside the 118, meaning that all body panels were hand-beaten, and it took months to assemble each example. ZiL’s output of limousines was even lower that Rolls-Royce’s at the time, so you can imagine just how much each ZiL limo or MPV would have cost if it was available on the open market. Amazingly enough, the Zil 118, is given very little attention in Andy Thompson’s Cars of the Soviet Union: The Definitive History, which we took a look at a couple months ago. Though arguably, the ZiL 118 was not a mass produced car by any stretch.

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V.I.S.I.T. – Alfa Romeo 164L

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I don’t think anyone will dispute that there are not a lot of Alfa Romeo 164s left in daily use by non-enthusiasts. Those of you living on the two coasts: you must remember when these were still sold new, right? Doesn’t feel that long ago, does it? I think a local dealership chain got by selling Eagles, these, and also Jag-wires. (Although they pronounced it Jag-you-ares in their TV commercials). But Alfa Romeo in the US was in dire straits at the time, and was essentially down to the 164 and the recently facelifted (again) Spider. The Spider 816 was about to come out and start selling in same limited bi-coastal locations, but it never materialized as Alfa Romeo pulled the plug on their US operations in 1995.

Taking over from the Alfa 75 which was sold as the Milano over here, the 164 was only available in the states with the top of the line engine, the 3.0 liter V6. Cause why else would American buyers bother, the thinking went. And they were right, as the Alfas competed with quite heavily optioned cars in America, ignoring for a second the reality that if a customer wanted an Alfa, they probably wouldn’t end up purchasing it because the competition came up short. People bought Alfas because they were Alfas, not because they bested a Volvo 740 in the rear-legroom department. Like the cars of several recently departed brands, the 164s are just now starting to transition from used cars into collectibles, or at the very least, slightly ironic and mechanically adventurous rides.

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Two Wheel Tuesday: Ural Patrol 750

Jay Ramey March 19, 2013 Two-Wheel Tuesday

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Ever wanted an authentic Russian motorcycle experience, but without the Russian traffic experience? This Sverdlovsk-made Ural Patrol 750 motorcycle with sidecar typically retails for $10K in the US, though with tax that usually comes out closer to $11K. IMZ-Ural, the manufacturer, makes only about a thousand motorcycles a year, and 97% of its production goes overseas. The prices for Patrols in the Russian and US-markets are surprisingly about the same, but it’s amazing to see a low-volume Russian manufacturer selling BMW-derived motorcycles based on a late-1930′s design. In the US of A. For Hyundai Accent money.

Years ago IMZ used to make thousands of motorcycles a month, but now its become a niche manufacturer of what are effectively retro bikes. Having said that, the current Urals are packed with foreign components (Brembo brakes, Ducati ignition, etc).  Decent examples of similar models are reportedly plentiful on the Russian market, and typically go for just a couple hundred dollars. If there was an automotive equivalent of Ural, it would arguably be the Hindustan Ambassador, though the Ural’s roots go back even further than the Morris Oxford’s.

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V.I.S.I.T. – 1995 Audi S6 Avant

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How soon we forget about one of the sportiest wagons of the 1990s. That’s right, this is the S6 Avant, which was available for 1995 only in the US, replacing the 100-based S4 sedan and wagon.  North America got these with the 2.2 liter inline-five turbo engine good for hoonage, and also good for 227bhp and a zero to sixty time of 6.7 seconds. Not bad for a station wagon from 1995. Unfortunately, the 4.2 liter V8 was only available in Europe where it was called the S6 Plus.

Naturally, these only came with a manual transmission and an upgraded suspension. Visually the car was set apart by wider wheel arches and larger wheels, though it’s the lower ride height that usually gives these away from a distance. I’d love to see a set of Avus wheels on one of these, but the stock wheels don’t look bad either.

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V.I.S.I.T. – 1962 DKW Junior deLuxe

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First of all, the DKW Junior deLuxe is not the name of a new $13.99 artisan sandwich from Whole Foods. And no, the image above is not of a Ford Thunderbird that shrunk in the dryer. But you have to admit, this isn’t exactly what pops into your mind when you think of an Auto Union car, is it? (Although, if you’re reading this site, it very well could be). First shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1957, the Junior was first marketed as the DKW 600. Powered by a 3-cylinder two-stroke engine mated to a 4-speed manual transmission (tiptronic appeared a little later) the Junior was a rather popular car for a time, and also came in cabrio form. The Junior deLuxe itself was introduced in 1961 and lasted till 1963 when it was replaced by the DKW F12.

This kleine wunder may only produce 34bhp, but since the car doesn’t really weigh a whole lot, it’s reasonably agile. I’ve seen it move around, and it drove quite briskly.  The Deek’s exhaust note actually sounds less like that of a motorcycle than some other two-stroke cars that I’ve seen, like early Saabs. The Junior wasn’t in production for very long, and its successor didn’t hang around for very long either, as in 1964 Daimler Benz sold the company to Volkswagen.

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